Zero Waste 101

Tips for Staying Low Waste

If you have any questions or low-waste tips to share, please email:!

This holiday season, stay low-waste by following some simple steps

Gift experience, not waste:
When it comes to gift-giving, the most special gifts are the ones that create lasting memories. This year:

  • Gift experiences
  • Gift something second-hand
  • Gift something you made
  • Choose gifts with less packaging
  • And, shop local. Nanaimo has a variety of local businesses that provide unique goods and services.

Wrap it Smart
Now that you have the gifts, it’s time to wrap them. Skip the plastic bows and ribbon and choose recyclable or reusable wrapping options such as:

  • Newspaper
  • Gift bags
  • Boxes
  • Old calendars
  • Fabric
  • Paper bags

Or, don’t wrap it at all. 

Decorate Wisely:

This time of year is dark and chilly and there is nothing like Christmas lights to brighten up anyone’s day. When decorating, choose items that are long-lasting or ones you find in your backyard, like fallen acorns, clippings from a holly tree, branches and more. Gather a collection by adding one item each year. Get creative and repurpose items already in your home. 

For more tips on creating a low-waste holiday season, visit Metro Vancouver’s Create Memories, Not Garbage website

For holiday cleanup tips, use the What Goes Where Tool on the Nanaimo Recycles app to check before you chuck. 


Making online purchases:

In situations when buying locally isn't an option, use the tips below to reduce waste in your online purchases.

  • Email, phone or open a chat with the retailers' customer service team, and ask them to make a note on your account for low waste packaging.
  • Keep watch for retailers offering low waste options (see Amazon's “Frustration-Free Packaging”).
  • Bundle your purchases into as few shipments as possible, avoid 2-day shipping. 
  • Reuse or repurpose the packaging.
  • Recycle in your Blue Cart: cardboard, paper wrapping.
  • Bring to a depot: plastic bubble wrap, all-plastic mailing envelopes and overwrap.
  • Garbage non-recyclables: paper mailing packets with bubble wrap lining.

At the grocery store / market / farm stand:

  • Leave your reusable bags in your vehicle so they are handy when you make an unexpected grocery run.
  • Bring your own reusable fruit/vegetable bags. 
  • Car free?  Find the least bulky reusable bags you have, and fold and store them in your purse, backpack or pocket. 
  • Just buy what you need.  Say no to food waste by making a meal plan, and sticking to it.

Getting take-out food:

  • Support restaurants that offer low-waste food packaging. Ask if packages are compostable or if you can bring your own?
  • If you're planning to bring it home to eat, let your restaurant know you do not need cutlery, napkins/wipes or condiment packages.
  • If eating out, bring home recyclable packaging to rinse and place in the blue bin or take to a depot so it doesn't end up in the landfill.

Inside your home:

In the yard:

What is Zero Waste?

Zero Waste is the...

"...conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health." - Zero Waste International Alliance

What is the Zero Waste Hierarchy?

The Zero Waste Hierarchy expands on the 3Rs - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - highlighting the prevention and best uses of resources, then leading down to landfilling as the last resort. By practicing Zero Waste principles, we can:

  • Minimize the need for raw resource extraction.
  • Keep materials that have already been produced within the loop, diverting from the landfill.
  • Limit the end-of-life impacts on the environment.

Zero Waste Hierarchy new

*Hierarchy adapted from the Zero Waste International Alliance

Contact Us

Zero Waste 250-756-5390
Monday to Friday | 8:00 - 4:30

Last updated: August 9, 2023

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