Good Choice Initiative

Eco/Life Hacks & Resources

A list of free or low-cost goods, services, resources, and tools that are good for you, your bank account, and the environment!

Choose from the topics below to learn more.

You can also visit our list of Eco Learning  resources—including books, documentaries, and more—to learn about sustainable lifestyles and how we impact the planet.

Buy Nothing


REDUCE CONSUMPTION FIRST

If you’re trying to reduce your waste and avoid unnecessary purchases, Thrifting / Buy Nothing Facebook groups are a great place to find pre-loved goods—and even donate what you no longer need to someone else who could use it, without sending it to the landfill.

REPAIR BROKEN GOODS

Broken household goods? Don’t throw them out! Ottawa Tool Library has regular repair workshops to help people fix their broken household items such as a toaster, blender, or vacuum, and give it a new life rather than throwing it away. 

tools, awl, pliers

Composting

You can find everything you need to know about municipal composting the City of Ottawa’s Green Bin Program on their site, from what goes inside to when it’s collected.  
The Box of Life uses vermicomposting as a way to reduce food waste. You can read more about it in our blog post.

No green bin in your building or at work? 

See if you can use a neighbour’s. Otherwise, uOttawa has several large green bins between BioSciences Complex and Marion Hall.

Donations

BOOKS

Little Free Libraries:  a place to take or leave a book. You can search Little Free Library Ottawa on Google for a list of registered LFL.

EMPTY POP CANS, BOTTLES, ELECTRONICS & E-WASTE

Empties 4 Paws allows you to donate your empty pop cans, empties, electronics or e-waste to help support animals’ well being.

 

Operation Come Home’s BottleWorks is a social enterprise that employs at-risk youth to collect empty alcohol bottles and cans from local Ottawa establishments.

 

Take your empty liquor, wine, beer and craft beer bottles to the drop-off depot at 150 Gloucester St.

CLOTHES

The Debra Dynes Family House is a community resource centre in a low-income social housing area, always in need of clothing (and food stuffs, services and various pieces of equipment). See their list of ongoing needs. 

 

Dress for Success is a place to donate your lightly used, preloved clothes to someone who will be given the opportunity of leaving a good impression when they go to their next interview.

PENS

The University of Ottawa has partnered with Terra Cycle to provide recycling bins in the Morisset Library and across campus. 

SHOES

Soles 4 Souls: donate your shoes which will be given to someone in need worldwide

CRAYOLA MARKERS & CRAYONS

Crayola’s ColorCycle is an an initiative for students in K-12 schools across parts of Canada that collects and re-purposes used Crayola markers.

 

Earthub partners with Ottawa restaurants to repurpose their crayons and donate them to the Debra Dynes Family House community resource centre. 

MASCARA WANDS

Project Wild Wands Canada: a place to donate your cleaned mascara wands to be reused in wildlife centres when caring for animals.

SPORTS EQUIPMENT

Cubacan Kids: a non-profit grassroots organization in the Ottawa Valley that welcome donations of used sports equipment and gear, which are sent to children and youth in Cuba.


See their list of accepted items here.

                Green Initiatives

 

Ecology Ottawa is a volunteer-driven, non-profit organization working to make Ottawa the green capital of Canada.

 

EnviroCentre provides people, communities and organizations with practical solutions to lighten their environmental impact in lasting ways.

 

Green Ottawa offers a gateway to a green, sustainable Ottawa with a sustainable business directory.

 

Green Living Ottawa is a solutions-focused blog dedicated to environmental living in Ottawa

 

Sustainable Enterprise Alliance is a network of local businesses, organizations and community leaders in Canada’s National Capital region. SEA supports and encourages working toward sustainable business practices and supporting local.  

 

Earthub works towards a sustainable future. They donate various products to organizations and initiatives around Ottawa—and internationally! 

  • prescription pill bottles, cleaned with label and residue removed — to a disaster relief organization to use as medical supplies (International)
  • aluminum pop cans — to raise funds for Empties 4 Paws (Ottawa)
  • 4L milk bags, external bag only — to DND’s workplace campaign to support the Royal Canadian Legion for the #LeavetheStreetsBehind Operation, making sleeping mats from milk bags for homeless veterans (Ottawa)
  • egg cartons — to food banks (Ottawa)
  • plastic drink pouches — to “Eco West Enders” of Stittsville (Ottawa)
  • and more

SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES DURING COVID-19

Burrow Shop by Buchipop:  an online grocery to help support local growers, makers and small businesses, with pick up and delivery options.

Love Local Delivery:  A food delivery service responding to the public “Stay at Home” Ottawa City Health guideline to contain COVID-19.

Mel’s Hangry Table: Founder of the #eatlocalmovement, Mel is Ottawa’s Local Food Blogger who has created a directory of the city’s best restaurants for people to support.

Together Apart Ottawa: a resource for the residents of this city to find local retailers and restaurants to order from and support during COVID-19.

LOCAL CRAFT & FARMERS’ MARKETS

For information about local arts & culture events in Ottawa:

 

Apt613: a volunteer-run not-for-profit organization and blog dedicated to uncovering the best of Ottawa’s arts and culture. 

 

Buy local and handmade goods from producers:

 

613flea: a flea market in Ottawa that features the creations of the creative community, along with small independent businesses.

Cheerfully Made: a handmade hub for local makers and the people who love them; both a Canadian-made gift shop AND a series of craft shows that call the Ottawa Valley home. 

Freewheeling Craft Market: curating the best independent Canadian brands, and creating inspiring markets and shopping experiences for you to connect with local creatives. 

Ottawa Artisans: a marketplace for local buyers and sellers of handmade goods from the Ottawa Valley.  

Ottawa Farmers’ Market: all produce/food is fresh and homemade from within 100km or less of the farm to the buyer, and all goods are handmade directly by the artisans that sell them. 

Ottawa Handmade: a community of artisans and crafters that has come together to bring you a one-stop-shop for finding locally, handmade items.

Ottawa Neighbours: a community photography blog focused on the people behind the businesses of Ottawa.

National Capital Artisans: Ottawa area’s premier artisans group bringing together well-known artists and artisans, as well as new talent.

Square Lemon: a non-profit artistic marketplace that celebrates and promotes Ottawa’s artistic talent by hosting regular craft markets and workshops. 

SUPPORT BUSINESSES OWNED BY BLACK, INDIGENOUS AND PEOPLE OF COLOUR

Explore our directory to find local BIPOC-owned and operated businesses.

 

Afro Biz has created a directory of Black-owned business in the Ottawa/Gatineau area.

Apt613 created a web page with a map showing Ottawa food businesses owned by Black Canadians, Indigenous people and people of colour.

Black Owned Ottawa is a page to feature BLACK (and BIPOC) businesses in Ottawa and surrounding areas.

Together Apart Ottawa compiled a list of Black-owned businesses in the Ottawa area. It lists restaurants, grocery stores, health and wellness-based businesses and beauty salons, clothing stores, services and more. This five-page Google document is a work in progress.

SUSTAINABLE FOOD

Edible Ottawa celebrates the local food culture of the National Capital Region, Prince Edward County and Eastern Ontario, season by season, community by community

Hidden Harvest is a way to find or enlist food that would otherwise go to waste. Hidden Harvest Ottawa is a social enterprise aiming to create a blended return on investment that is financial, social and environmental. By picking and sharing the fruit and nuts of Ottawa that might otherwise not be eaten, we make good use of local food and inspire a food-tree friendly city.

The Table Community Food Centre is a place where community members come together to access, grow, prepare, share, and advocate for good food.

Just Food is a local, non-profit, community-based organization that works on both rural and urban food and farming issues in Ottawa and the surrounding region.

Savour Ottawa is a partnership project between Just Food, City of Ottawa and Ottawa Tourism. Their Buy Local Guide features operating farms, agritourism experiences, food businesses and locally processed beverages that use local food/products in their production. Search for breweries, restaurants, farmers’ markets, and more!

 

SUSTAINABILITY & FOOD WASTE APPS

Sustainability:

  • Good On You (clothing)
  • Yuka (food & beauty products) — rates the product’s health factor by scanning its barcode.

Minimizing food waste:

  • Food Hero — shows you discounted food items in nearby grocery stores, and the amount of CO2 saved by diverting food from landfill.
  • OLIO
  • Flashfood

Waste & Recycling

Waste

The City of Ottawa Garbage & Recycling is the city’s go-to source of information to find out what goes in the garbage, recycling or compost bins. Use the City of Ottawa’s Waste Explorer to search accepted recycling by item. 


Capital Junk’s Ottawa Recycling Guide is another useful resource with a comprehensive directory to identify where to donate or recycle unwanted goods, instead of throwing them in the garbage. These include home appliances, used clothing, bedding or other textiles, furniture, bicycles, and more.


The Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Centre is for residents of the Ottawa Valley (Pembroke, Petawawa and Laurentian Valley) to find out what goes in which bin.

Books, batteries & more

The University of Ottawa’s Sustainability Office has recycling programs available to the public, ranging from batteries to books.


Cosmetics, contact lenses, razors & more

Terra Cycle has free recycling programs for some food packaging, some cosmetics, some contact lenses, razors, Nescafe capsules and e-waste to name a few.

Electronics, Computers & More

Computer Recycling Canada collects these items free of charge and oversees the recycling and salvaging process.


Another alternative is to drop off these items at Staples, Best Buy, or other similar drop off points. These will be sent to recycling centres that sort out the metals and other products contained within.

Eyeglasses

Merivale Vision Care donates used sunglasses and eyeglasses to the Lion’s Club of Ottawa, to help give sight to someone else in need. You can also ask your optometrist’s office to see if they have a donation program.

PLASTIC BAGS

Since plastic bags are not recyclable in Ottawa, plastic-free alternatives are preferred. However, if you do have clean and dry plastic bags you are no longer using, you can bring them to any grocery stores participating in the Take it Back! program.

TIP: FOR ITEMS THAT NEED TO BE DONATED OR RECYCLED, WE RECOMMEND KEEPING THEM IN A BOX, CONTAINER OR BAG UNTIL YOU HAVE A LARGE ENOUGH QUANTITY TO MAKE A WORTHWHILE TRIP TO THE APPROPRIATE DROP OFF LOCATION.

 

YOU MIGHT ALSO CONSIDER STARTING A NEIGHBOURHOOD RECYCLING OR DONATION DRIVE, WHERE EACH HOUSEHOLD COMMITS TO ACCEPTING SPECIFIC ITEMS FROM OTHER HOUSEHOLDS—THIS WAY, EVERYONE CAN AVOID MULTIPLE TRIPS.

 

ZERO WASTE 

Plate Share Ottawa is a platform where people can host or borrow party supplies such as reusable plates, cups, and forks — for FREE!

 

ZERO WASTE GROUPS IN OTTAWA

Eco West Enders 

 

Life without Plastic 

 

Foodsharing Ottawa –  Share It – Don’t Toss It 

 

Ottawa Upcycling and Waste Diversion 

 

Ottawa Reduces/Ottawa Reduit, an environmental group that identifies businesses who have committed to accommodating customers’ zero waste efforts by accepting their reusable containers .

 

Zero Waste – Ottawa 

 

Zero Waste Ottawa – Resources

 

Zero waste ottawa – zéro déchet ottawa 

FAQ

 
How can my internet searches have a positive impact on the environment?

Ecosia is an alternative search engine with proceeds used to plant trees worldwide.

 

What businesses can I support locally to have a positive impact on local and global communities?


Pearls4Girls
helps to prepare girls entering high school in Lesotho to become leaders.  All proceeds from the purchase of their pearl jewellery support the girls in the Pearl Program and can be made online or at one of their retail partners in the Ottawa/Gatineau region.

United World Voices
has an online boutique features items that have been produced by the homeless youth in Operation Come Home’s ArtWorks program. All items are eco-friendly products made by reusing or recycling other material, such as bicycle tires and tubes and proceeds from sales support youth in this program.

 

As a business, how can I reward a volunteer as a token of their time?


HourThanks
is a site which facilitates rewards for volunteering, by offering gift cards to local businesses. They celebrate volunteering in Ottawa by connecting volunteers with perks from local businesses who want to say thank you.

 

How can I offset my carbon emissions if I'm going to be flying?


Mindful Flights
 is a means of offsetting your carbon emissions by supporting climate neutral projects certified by the United Nations, from green energy to clean drinking water.

Did we miss anything you think we should feature? Let us know!

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