Vancouver neighbours launch community project to recycle things they can't blue-bin

It all started at a block party.

East Vancouver neighbours Iona Bonamis and Sarah Lusina set out a few waste-sorting bins at the party and noticed people were enthusiastic about using them.

That prompted the women to apply for a grant from the Vancouver Foundation and use the money to set up permanent stations, in hopes that people would use them regularly to recycle items not normally picked up by the city. 

And they are.

Two stations are now set up in the neighbourhood. They both have bins that accept two types of plastics, clean Styrofoam, clothing that cannot be re-worn and small electronics. According to Bonamis and Lusina, there are 50 area residents on their email list of people who are using, or plan to use, the stations.

Each bin is clearly labelled and regularly emptied, sorted and transported to the Vancouver Zero Waste Centre by neighbourhood volunteers. 

The women are hoping it will inspire their neighbours to toss less and think more about their purchases in the first place.

"We thought through interacting with these materials and sorting them themselves that they might be inspired to make different choices about what they bring into their home and what they consume," said Lusina.

Rachel Sanders/CBC

Bonamis said getting together with volunteers to organize the trash is "a fun experience" and has already started to make a difference.

One volunteer was so turned off by the amount of bread bags she was throwing out she has decided to start baking her own loaves. And a nearby strata complex has beein inspired to set up a similar system for residents. 

The challenge, according to Lusina, is knowing how to properly sort everything.

"It is really tricky to know what's included and what's not included," she said, adding the women organized a workshop with neighbours to learn the ins and outs of what goes where, and where the bins should be located.

Information on the proper disposal and recycling of a wide-range of materials can be found on the city's website.

To hear CBC's Rachel Sanders speak to Iona Bonamis and Sarah Lusina tap the audio link below: