Stories & Features

Does that old DVD player spark joy?

Image of home electronics
Many of us have switched over to streaming services like Netflix, Crave, and iTunes. It's a great time to consider recycling old electronics and small appliances if you're looking to declutter.

If you're looking to declutter, consider recycling old electronics, small appliances, and children's toys

Netflix knew what they were doing when they released the new streaming series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on January 1. The world-famous decluttering expert has converted thousands of fans to her system of decluttering and simplifying the items in your home. And tidying up, getting things in order, and getting rid of stuff remain a perennial favourite for New Year's resolutions.

If you're among the Kondo fans or simply still going strong on your 2019 goals to take control of your stuff, you might be wondering what to do with all the things you no longer need or that no longer spark joy.

Some are a great fit for donations or to pass along to a friend or family member who would still enjoy and use them. But if it's simply time for them to go, don't reach for the jumbo trash bags right away. You can recycle all kinds of items easily and for free, at locations all over B.C.

Where to recycle or donate: electronics, small appliances, lighting

These days, your recycling options go well beyond the tuna cans, newspapers, and flyers that are typically collected by your municipal waste programs. There are programs to recycle almost everything that you might need to get rid of. Some items (such as used or old paint) might require a quick trip to a specialized depot, but many popular items can be dropped off at recycling locations across the province.

  • Electronics such as VCRs, DVD players, and game systems: If you've cut the cord on your cable, you've replaced your Wii with a Nintendo Switch, or simply don't need the VCR in the basement, Return-It depots accept your electronics for recycling.
  • Small kitchen appliances: Here at BC Hydro, we're a big fan of small appliances since they usually use much less energy than your stovetop or oven. If you've got an older one that you've recently upgraded, a juicer collecting dust from a New Year's resolution of years past, or a broken mixer still hanging out in the garage, head on over to ElectroRecycle to find the nearest spot to drop them off. For those that are still in good working order – consider a free ad on services like Craigslist or Kijiji to offer it up to a home where it will find use before you head to the recycling depot.
  • Large appliances including fridges and freezers: Many of us know that recycling large appliances, particularly fridges and freezers, needs to be handled carefully due to the chemical components inside. Your options for dropping off a large appliance for recycling will depend on where you live. Check out the Recycling Council of B.C. for guidance.
  • Power tools: More than 400 products are accepted for recycling at ElectroRecycle locations, and that includes power tools. If your home-improvement days are behind you – or a tool's better days are behind it – gather them up for recycling safely, and free up some space in your garage.
  • Books and toys: Anyone who has read her book and subscribed to Marie Kondo's system of organizing will know that many of us could stand to cut down on our books. If you're ready to say goodbye, check out your local library for donations (not everyone has switched to e-readers these days). Many communities are also starting "little free libraries" which are also a great place to donate – consider starting one in your neighbourhood. For children's books (particularly board books) and toys, check with community centres, after-school programs, and daycare centres in your area to see if they accept donations. For electronic toys that run on electricity or batteries, if they're no longer in working order (and can't be donated), Return-It depots will accept them for recycling.
  • Light bulbs and fixtures: If your holiday light string was mostly burnt out when you took it down this year, or you're ready to make the switch to LEDs, your old bulbs, fixtures, and light strings can be recycled. LightRecycle locations accept many types of bulbs and fixtures in communities across B.C.

Decluttering could spark joy in your electricity bill, too

A simpler, more joyful life may not be as easy as decluttering your space and getting rid of stuff, no matter what the organizing experts say. But there is one benefit you might see if you choose to reduce the amount of items in your home – you might just reduce your electricity bill too.

Switching out a desktop computer for a laptop, streaming Netflix on a laptop instead of a gaming system that you never play games on, and unplugging the old slow cooker you never use are all small changes that could add up. (But another great option is to dust off that slow cooker, and give it a whirl instead of the stove or oven).

Who knows? Maybe in your quest to spark joy, you can spark a little savings too.