Skip to content

Ep. 31 Reduce, Reuse, Recycle for the Planet with Michelle Dias

KWE Logo

It’s no surprise that we love our planet. We love nature, and we want to protect it! Today’s episode teaches us how to lessen our impact on the environment through recycling and compost. Michelle Dias, an expert in the two, teaches us what the three R’s should REALLY be, (with a C mixed in there)!

The Three R’s: 

  • REDUCE (as much as possible, first)
  • Then REUSE,
  • And if you can’t do either of those, RECYCLE (recycling does require a lot of energy, so put YOUR energy into the first two!).

Michelle Dias, born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, studied Biology at the University of Calgary. She now works for the Waste & Recycling Services at the City of Calgary. She has been a naturalist and environmental educator for over 20 years, and has always felt curious and inspired by nature.

Fun Fact: Michelle did a blended program with her two children for school, which included home school, as well as outdoor school. It’s called Windsor Park.

Some of the information below will be Calgary, AB specific, so please check the rules for the recycling and composting programs in your municipality.  


  • Try products with less packaging, like laundry detergent strips, or bar shampoo and conditioner
  • Remove purely recyclable items from your kitchen, such as Ziploc bags, and use reusable jars or bags instead


  • Get things second-hand
  • Reuse items like jam jars and other containers!


  • The three categories of recycling are: Containers (plastic, tin, glass…think kitchen and bathroom packaging), paper, plastic bags
  • Loose bags do not belong in the blue cart. Plastic bags should be stretchy material and bundled all in one, so they do not fly away at the facility. Crinkly plastic bags, like pasta bags are not collected
  • Household items like toy trucks, shoes, and toothbrushes are not for the blue cart (when recycling, think about packaging over items)
  • Black plastic can be a challenge to recycle in some systems, because of black conveyer belts camouflaging the items and the scanners not recognizing them
  • Recycling metal, glass, and paper is way more valuable than recycling plastic (although, we should still recycle plastic that can be recycled…or reduce it in the first place!)
  • Rule of thumb: anything smaller than your hand cannot be recycled. For example, Starbucks lids or to-go sauce containers. However, if recycled at the locations you received them, they usually have a program to recycle!


  • [In Calgary, specifically] no food packaging and plastic can be composted, even if it says compostable (remember, it also takes a lot of resources to make compostable containers)
  • Some offices or festivals have their own compostable systems that can handle compostable containers
  • Food and yard scraps can be composted

*Terra Cycle is a company that recycles old items like toothpaste and other mixed material items. Michelle thinks it’s worth looking at the energy spent on shipping one item at a time; we don’t want to negate the benefit.* 

City of Calgary Waste and Recycling:

Library programs:

Virtual KWE Planet Cleanup:


Check out KWE’s #patch4apurpose to support 1, or all 8, charities:

Production: @kpmediaproductions. Music: @michaelferraro_music.