Reducing waste saves energy, time, money and valuable natural resources. By making small changes to reduce waste in our everyday lives, it can make a powerful difference.

Waste reduction initiatives

Battery collection

Curbside battery collection

Each year, Thunder Bay offers a special curbside collection of single-use household batteries.

Prior to the two-week battery collection period, a special orange battery collection bag will be delivered to homes who receive curbside waste collection. Residents can place used batteries in the bag and put it out for collection at the curb on the battery collection day indicated on their waste collection calendar. City waste collection staff will collect the bags. Battery bags are collected separately from recycling.

The batteries, along with the bags, will be taken to a recycling facility to be processed and recycled.

Did not get a bag (or need extras)?

If you are in a rural area and receive your mail at a communal mail delivery box, the orange battery bag will be delivered with the advertising bag containing The Source. If you did not receive an orange battery bag, or need extras, you can print off the battery bag insert and use it in your own re-sealable bag to put out batteries for collection. Alternatively, you may call our Dispatchers at 625-2195 to arrange to receive a bag.

Between curbside collections, you can also drop-off batteries for recycling at many year-round locations around the city.

Year-round battery recycling drop-off locations

These following locations accept primary (single-use) household batteries throughout the year:

  • Brodie Resource Library, 216 Brodie St
  • County Park Library, 1020 Dawson Rd, County Fair Plaza
  • Mary J. L. Black Library, 901 Edward St S
  • Waverley Resource Library, 285 Red River Rd
  • Victoriaville Civic Centre, 111 Syndicate Ave S (next to the Cashiers, during regular office hours)
  • Household Hazardous Waste Depot, Solid Waste & Recycling Facility 5405 Mapleward Rd
  • EcoSuperior, 562 Red River Rd
  • Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre, 700 River St

Rechargeable/cellphone/laptop batteries are also accepted at the following retail locations:

  • The Source, Intercity Mall
  • The Source, Arthur Street Marketplace
  • Thunder Bay Communications, 1080 Lithium Dr.
  • Best Buy, 767 Memorial Ave
  • MGM Electric, 724 MacDonnell St.

Car batteries are accepted at the following locations:

  • Auto Parts Central, 1239 Amber Dr.
  • Lakehead Scrap Metal, Mission Island
  • Lakehead Alternator & Starter Co. Ltd., 565 Eleventh Ave
  • Household Hazardous Waste Depot, Solid Waste & Recycling Facility, 5405 Mapleward Rd
  • Magnacharge Battery, 665 Beaverhall Pl

Button batteries can be dropped off at the jewelry departments at Walmart.

Residents should call businesses ahead of time. Some businesses may charge a fee to accept your items.

Why recycle batteries

It is very important to keep batteries from going into the landfill. Batteries release potentially toxic metals such as nickel, zinc, lead, mercury, lithium, cobalt and cadmium into the soil, water and air. When the same batteries go into recycling, useful materials are recovered and contamination is avoided. Battery recycling even lowers greenhouse gas production by reducing the need to mine new materials

Christmas recycling

Christmas tree chipping program

Each year, the City of Thunder Bay offers a Christmas tree chipping program after boxing day until mid-January.

Fresh-cut Christmas trees can be dropped-off at different locations across the city to be chipped and added to the compost pile at the City's landfill. In the spring, when the compost is mature, it is given

to residents free of charge to enrich flower gardens and lawns.

Christmas tree drop-off locations

North:

  • Brent Park (Balsam at Margaret)
  • County Park Tennis Courts (County Blvd.)
  • Grandview Arena (Westminster United Church parking lot off Madeline Street)
  • John Jumbo Recreation Centre (Toivo St)
  • Strathcona Golf Course

South

  • Delaney Arena (Legion Track Dr.)
  • Kinsmen Northwood Centre (609 James St N)
  • Westfort Playing Field (off Neebing Ave)
  • West Thunder Community Centre (915 S Edward St)

Residents should remove all ornaments and plastic tree wrap before dropping off trees at the collection site. Do not put trees out for curbside garbage/recycling collection.

Choosing the right tree

When preparing for the holiday When preparing for the holiday season, there is a lot to consider when choosing a real or artificial Christmas tree.

Eco-friendly gift wrap

During the holiday season, the average Canadian family sends 25-45% more waste to the landfill. Much of this waste is gift-wrap and wrapping supplies. Glittery, coloured, and metallic wrapping paper is not recyclable. It is heavily saturated with dye and contains little fibre for recycling.

Residents are encouraged to wrap gifts using recyclable materials, such as newspaper, old maps or brown kraft paper, or to use fabric bags, reusable gift bags, tea towels or scarves that can be used repeatedly, year after year.

Composting at home

Composting is the natural process of decomposition and recycling of organic material into humus, which is a rich soil additive. Compost improves soil quality by providing important nutrients and helps retain moisture, which will improve plant health. Composting diverts organic material from the landfill. It is good for your plants and it can save you money from not buying fertilizer.


Learn more about how and what to compost.

City of Thunder Bay's Composter Subsidy program

City residents can purchase a composter at EcoSuperior, 562 Red River Rd., for only $30. Rain barrels are $75. Cash, cheque or debit are accepted. Make sure to have proof of address (any ID card or document with name and address). EcoSuperior will include all the information you need to get started.

Pumpkin compost drop-off bins

After the Halloween celebrations are over, residents are encouraged to drop-off their pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, and organic fall decorations to one of the pumpkin compost bins. Do not put candles, plastic bags or trash in the bins.

Pumpkin Compost Bins are in place starting November 1, for approximately 10 days. Bins are available at the following locations:

  • Westfort Playfield - Neebing Avenue
  • Intercity Shopping Centre overflow parking lot - Fort William Road (near former Lakehead Labour Centre)
  • County Fair Plaza

This popular collection began in 1995 as part of Waste Reduction Week programs coordinated by EcoSuperior and paid for by the City of Thunder Bay. Since that time, nearly 400 tonnes of pumpkins have been diverted from the City's landfill to the composting facility. The pumpkins are blended with leaf and yard waste and wood waste to be made into compost. The compost is available to residents at no charge for pick up in the spring.

Hazardous product alternatives

Making your own household cleaning products is less expensive, safer for you and for the environment, and there is less packaging.

Make your own everyday cleaning products

All-purpose cleaner

1/4 cup baking soda

1/2 cup white vinegar

2 litres of warm water

Mix all ingredients together. For tough grease and grime, you can add a 1/2 cup of ammonia. Be careful though, ammonia when mixed with bleach produces deadly fumes.

Glass cleaner

1/2 cup white vinegar or lemon juice

1/2 cup warm water

Stir until mixed. Pour into a bowl or spray dispenser. This cleaner will effectively remove greasy fingerprints. Ball up old newspapers and rub on windows sprayed with mixture.

Toilet bowl cleaner

Mix baking soda and water and use a brush to clean the bowl. To disinfect, add a little borax and let it stand for 30 minutes and then scrub.

Drop 1000 mg of vitamin C in the bowl and leave overnight, then scrub. The bad news is that frequent cleaning is the answer.

Laundry detergent

1/3 cup washing soda

1 1/2 cups soap flakes

Add 1/3 cup of washing soda as water is filling washer. Add clothes.Then add 1 1/2 cups of soap.Use 1/4 cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle to soften clothes.

Carpet shampoo

1/2 cup of dishwashing detergent

1/2 litre of boiling water

Mix dish soap and boiling water. Let cool. Whip the paste into a stiff foam and apply to carpets with a damp sponge. Work into carpets, a small area at a time. Wipe off excess suds. Rinse with one cup of white vinegar mixed in 4 litres of luke warm water. Dry and vacuum.

Make your own garden products

Fertilizers

Instead of chemical fertilizers, use organic compost, and fishmeal. Leave the grass clippings on the lawn instead of raking them. If you practice grass cycling, the nutrients from the clippings will be reabsorbed into the soil. When you think about it, if you fertilize your lawn too much it will grow faster and you will have to cut it more often. Do you really want to spend every Saturday cutting the lawn?

Pesticides and herbicides

Ant Control: Pour a line of cream of tartar, red chili powder, paprika or dried peppermint at point of entry. Garden Insects: Use organic gardening techniques. Strong hosing washes insects from plants. Pull weeds instead of using herbicides. The leaves of houseplants can be washed with soapy water and then rinsed.

Fly killers

Keep garbage cans clean. Wash and sprinkle dry cans with pure soap after they have dried. As an alternative, use flypaper strips available at hardware stores.

Tips for everyday chores

Oven cleaner

Commercial oven cleaners are corrosive to skin and eyes. The best strategy for dealing with ovens is to line the bottom with aluminum foil or a metal tray that can be removed and cleaned in the sink. Spills are easier to clean up if attacked before they are baked on. Sprinkle tough spots with dry baking soda and leave for 15 minutes. Then scrub with a damp cloth. Put baking soda on a wet sponge to clean the glass oven door.

Refrigerator freshener

Put a dish of pure vanilla or an open box of baking soda in the fridge.

Bathroom cleaners and disinfectants

Bathroom cleaners need to be able to handle soap scum and mildew. Many commercial bathroom cleaners are marketed as disinfectants that kill germs. A good general purpose cleaner and a scouring powder are all that is needed in most homes.

Drain cleaners

Use a plunger or mechanical snake and flush drain with 1/4 cup of baking soda followed by 1/2 cup white vinegar. Let stand for a few minutes then pour in boiling water.

A strainer in your drain may help prevent clogs from forming. Pouring boiling water down your drains once a week should help too.

Spot removers

For blood, mildew, butter, chocolate, coffee, mud or urine stains, dissolve 1/2 cup of borax in 2 cups of cold water. Dab on stain and let dry, then wash as usual. For stubborn stains, dab spot with a cloth dampened with 1 teaspoon of vinegar in 1 quart of cold water. If this fails, try straight vinegar. Club soda or immediate cold water is considered a safe and effective spot remover for most stains. Ink stains should be soaked in milk. Wine stains can be removed by pouring salt and then cold soda water on the stain immediately. Soak in milk before washing. Gum: Rub with ice and gum will scrape off. Grease: Use borax on a damp cloth.

Silver polish

Soak silver in 1 quart warm water with 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt and a small piece of aluminum foil.

Brass polish

Mix equal parts salt and flour with a bit of vinegar and rub. Polish with worcestershire sauce. Don't forget to wear your gloves.

Furniture and floor polish

Dissolve 1 tsp. lemon oil into 1 pint of mineral oil. Polish unvarnished wood with olive, peanut or almond oil. Rub toothpaste on wood furniture to remove watermarks.

Rug and upholstery cleaners

To clean and deodorize carpets, vacuum; sprinkle liberally with baking soda then vacuum again. Or, clean and deodorize carpets by mixing together 2 cups of cornmeal and 1 cup of borax. Sprinkle on carpets, leave for one hour and vacuum. For tough stains, try cold soda water or blot repeatedly with vinegar and soapy water. Always test for color fastness on a hidden section of carpet.

Litter box freshener

Place baking soda or borax in the bottom of your pet's litter box.

Lawn and garden greening

There are many ways you can help the environment in your own backyard.

Grasscycling

Grass clippings are not accepted in the City's Leaf & Yard Composting program, or picked up at the curb. When mowing the grass, leave the clippings on the lawn. Clippings are a natural, nutrient-rich fertilizer. Leaving them on your lawn saves you time, reduces waste and promotes a healthy, resilient root system. In turn, a healthy lawn helps to purify our air and limit stormwater runoff.

Xeriscaping

The goal of xeriscaping is a garden in which the plants can survive during dry periods without water or fertilizers. Water your garden only when necessary, and use a soaker hose for a longer period, rather than a sprinkler or running hose for a shorter time. Also, use mulch (chopped leaves, bark or pea gravel) to reduce water evaporation.

Pesticide-free gardening

Achieving a green and healthy lawn and garden without pesticides is not difficult, but takes a bit more planning. The key to a successful pesticide-free lawn and garden is using a variety of plants, and checking that they are naturally pest resistant. The next step is to provide conditions that will make the plants naturally healthy, which include appropriate soil, sun and water.

Treasure exchange days

Are you searching for that special something? Want to get rid of an item you no longer need? Thunder Bay's Treasure Exchange Days are a great opportunity to exchange reusable household items, furniture, small appliances, toys, and more for free!

Treasure Exchange Days are held twice a year, during a weekend in June and in September.

Fall 2018 Treasure Exchange Days

The next Treasure Exchange Days is taking place on Saturday, Sept. 15  and Sunday, Sept. 16. 

How Treasure Exchange Days work:

  • Clearly label items you wish to give away with the word "free." Place them at the curb after 5 p.m. on the Friday of the Treasure Exchange Days
  • Keep items that are not giveaways, like bikes, toys and tools well away from the curb to prevent misunderstandings
  • Over the weekend, tour your neighbourhood to see what great deals you can find at the curb
  • Remove all uncollected items from the curb by 7 p.m. on the Sunday of Treasure Exchange Days. Items left at the curb are subject to enforcement as per City By-laws.
  • If your treasures are not claimed by other treasure-hunters, consider donating them to such local agencies as the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Salvation Army Thrift Store, Canadian Diabetes Association Clothesline and others.

The Treasure Exchange Days event is an action item from the City's Solid Waste Management Strategy.

Spring Up to Clean Up

As the snow melts, litter comes to the surface in our neighbourhoods and affects the beauty of our community. Spring Up to Clean Up brings residents out to pick-up litter and help make our city clean, green and beautiful.

Every year since 1997, Thunder Bay residents have taken part in the annual Spring Up to Clean Up event. Each year, nearly 11,000 volunteers take to the streets and clean up more than 250 areas in the city. The month-long event is funded by City of Thunder Bay and delivered by EcoSuperior.

Participate in Spring Up to Clean Up

Individuals, families, community groups, workplaces, and schools are invited to register their own clean-up activities, to take place in or around the month of May when so much litter has come up in the thaw.

Register your clean-up activity with EcoSuperior, you'll get everything you need, including clean-up supplies, draw prizes and recognition on the EcoSuperior website and in the local media.

In addition, registered groups can enter the Spring Up to Clean Up Photo Contest. Tweet your clean-up pictures to #springuptbay, post them to EcoSuperior's Facebook page, or email them to shannon@ecosuperior.org

20-minute makeover

One option for participating in Spring Up to Clean Up is to take part in the "20-minute-makeover" event. Choose a 20-minute period on the announced day each year, to do an intense clean-up of a specific area, and know across the city are doing the same. Contact EcoSuperior for your 20-Minute-Makeover kit with clean-up supplies and bags, and be eligible to win great prizes.

Waste Reduction Week

Each fall during the third week of October, residents of Thunder Bay take part in the nationwide Waste Reduction Week program to raise awareness of changes we can make to reduce waste. EcoSuperior Environmental Programs, the City of Thunder Bay and many community partners coordinate a dynamic range of activities.

Waste Reduction Week is funded by the City of Thunder Bay and delivered by EcoSuperior. For more information on Waste Reduction Week, visit EcoSuperior's website or call 624-2141.

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