TO on Strike? How to Reduce, Reuse, & Store Waste

The Toronto Civic Employees' Union Local 416 (CUPE) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79 have announced that they are on strike. The locals were in a legal strike position as of 12:01 a.m. on Monday, June 22, 2009.

See the City of Toronto Website for more details:

 Waste Campaigners Tips

Below is a Quick List prepared by our Waste Campaigner Heather Marshall of what you can do to reduce, reuse, and store waste during the strike. 

After originally posting this list we had a great response from our members and Toronto residents.  With their permission we have posted their own tips and suggestions below.  Check them out and feel free to send your own to heather(at)


  • Leave wasteful and bulky packaging at the store if you can.
  • Buy items in bulk.
  • Carry groceries home in reusable containers or bags.
  • Try to buy items sold in refillable containers [examples: refillable milk and yogurt containers have deposits]
  • Return your LBCO and Beer Store bottles and containers to the store and get back the deposit.
  • Pack a waste-free lunch with reusable containers and a lunch bag.
  • Make sure you rinse all your food packaging before putting it in the recycling bin or garbage bag to prevent smell.
  • Make sure you flatten or break down recyclables or garbage before you throw it away to save space. [examples: pop cans, plastic jugs, milk/juice cartons, cardboard boxes, Styrofoam containers, etc.]
  • Find other uses for the containers and packaging you brought home [examples: crafts, pots for plants, bird feeders].
  • No one is picking up litter during the strike, so think twice about buying on-the-go packaging like pop cans, water bottles, candy wrappers, take-out food/beverage containers. 
  • Buy a refillable coffee mug.  Toronto uses over 1 million disposable coffee cups every day. What a waste!
  • Buy a refillable water bottle.
  • If going to a park or beach, pack litter-free snacks and bring a small bag to store any garbage to take home with you. Remember, litter bins are not in service!



  • Throw away less organic waste by wasting less food. Buy only what you need for short periods of time and freeze leftovers if they will otherwise go bad.
  • If you have space, buy a small composting bin to turn your organic waste into healthy soil for plants.
  • If you do not have space, try to find a nearby location to compost with your neighbours or contact a community garden that may be able to take it.
  • Store small amounts of organic waste in a bag in the freezer so it won't rot or smell.
  • Some high-rise buildings in Toronto have composting on-site, but very few.  Talk to your property manager or building association about it!
  • Vermicomposting is a form of composting that uses live worms to break down organic material.  Kept in space saving containers that can be stored indoors or outdoors, they provide a viable option for high-rise residents!
  • If you are throwing your organics out with your garbage, wrap it in some newspapers to soak up some of the liquid.


  • Donate items that are gently used [examples: clothing, dishes, furniture, etc.]
  • Wait out the strike by carefully storing waste that needs special handling [examples: paint cans, batteries, electronics, bulky items like furniture]

Your Tips!

Thank you to those who sent in the following tips. 

Terrel Wong, a TEA member and Environmental Architect, says: "The Giblet Bag: Anything smelly and organic that can’t go into the composter can go in a small bag which is keep in the freezer for the green bin weekly. During the strike we have chosen meat with less bones to reduce the volume of waste.  With all the other composting we have only a 3L milk bag every two weeks.  It does not smell – no critters in the green bin – the green bin stays sanitary. "


Loree P says: "I've gone back to composting vegetable matter (including eggshells) back into the tall plants in the front yard as well as tossing it amongst the plants in the back yard....although it is not a proper 'composting bin' it has been working just fine and only attracting fruit flies The racoons have no desire for it. The other stuff like cheese, meat bones are still going into my green bin----family of 4, I actually still have room to fill it"

Anna Luengo, a TEA member, says: "I just want to say, though, that I have found absolutely no coverage of the issue with disposable diapers and wonder why this is the case.

I am old enough but not too old to remember using only cloth diapers for my son right through winters and summers without any problem whatsoever and without a dryer -- I actually still don't have one.  It was very easy and there were very few diaper rashes.  And this was when a lot of people were using disposables so I was quite different in that respect.  I didn't believe in having all of this garbage to deal with and cloth was a good, tried and true, way of coping. 

To give a few messy details:

Once the main mess of the diaper was flushed down the toilet and the diaper rinsed by just holding the edges of it while the toilet flushed, you could squeeze it out on the side of the toilet (without having to wring it with both hands), put it into a solution which I used to use call "NapiSan".  It was an Australian product that was baking soda based, I think, and you just put some of the powder into a diaper pail of water.  By the next day, once you had a bunch of diapers soaking in the NapiSan, you simply drained the Napisan water off and threw the diapers into the washing machine with a soft detergent like Lux.  The Napisan took away the toxicity of the urine and basically sanitized the diapers for another use.  I hung the diapers out in my basement with a fan on them and they would be dry in about 5 hours or so.  I did this for almost three years, while working full-time with another older child.  It worked very well.  Perhaps researching a product that is like Napisan would be a good idea.  Perhaps it is not environmentally friendly."

Suzanne, a TEA member, says:  "I have been drying my organic waste. I spread some organics on a pan to dry them before putting them in the green bin.

Peels and vegetable bits dry up rather than rot if left in the open air and they don’t smell.

If you allow much of the water content to evaporate you don’t end up with a bag of smelly brown water."


@MMiddleton, suggests via twitter: "If you have a garden, dig around your plants and bury your veggie scraps for free fertilizer."