Green Teams: working together towards zero waste
TEA has learned a lot from people and buildings like yours that are interested in taking action to reduce waste. We’ve seen consistently that a “Green Team” or environmental committee made up of residents - and sometimes staff - can play a key role in helping move a vertical community towards zero waste.
Green Teams are volunteer groups of residents that work together to reduce the environmental impact of a building. By working as a group, Green Teams can accomplish more than a single resident on their own. Members can build upon each other’s ideas, share the workload, and carry more influence when proposing new projects or ideas for the building. They’re also a great way to meet other neighbours that care.
Resident Green Teams can do a number of things in a building. For example, they can:
- Host special collection events or learning events
- Research and propose new green programs or policies
- Communicate with neighbours, using newsletters, notices, posters
Green Teams can be most effective when they work in partnership with building staff and management. They can help bridge the gap between residents and management such as by identifying and highlighting resident priorities, or by supporting management to roll out new environmental policies.
Green Teams can come in all shapes and sizes. There is no single rule for what a Green Team looks like - a resident team can meet monthly, or plan activities and projects by email. Your building may already have a group of residents who want to work together on a specific project, or you may just be getting started. While many people imagine the perfect team is made up of 20 or more people, we’ve seen that some of the most effective green teams start out - or stay - at just two to six people.
Whether you’re just starting out, or your building has had environmental committees for decades, below are some thoughts on how to make the most of resident Green Teams.
1. Don’t try to do everything at once.
Your Team may have great ideas, but don’t spread yourself thin working on too many things at once. Focus on one or two goals that you can make progress on at a time. You can also break bigger projects into smaller parts.
The resident Green Team at a downtown building researched cooking oil collection, contacted service providers and had a collection barrel added to their waste room. By focusing on one thing, they were able to improve waste services for residents during the pandemic. Read their story here.
2. Celebrate success
Once you achieve your project goals, make sure you celebrate success with your team, as well as with residents and staff. For new teams, having some early success or ‘wins’ will keep your Team excited, attract new members and build support in the building for more environmental projects.
A co-op Green Team created a thermometer display to track their reduced garbage and associated cost savings compared to previous years. This simple celebration and proof of the building's success is an ongoing motivation to all residents.
3. Welcome participation in all forms.
While many residents in your building care about the environment, not everyone is able to join a Green Team. You can offer other ways for neighbours to get involved and gain from the skills and energy of even more people.
The Homewood condo Green Team welcomes ‘Greenies on the Go’ who help out on specific projects. One resident volunteered to use their art skills to make creative and funny displays about waste sorting for the recycling room.
4. Make participation fun. Environmental issues can be daunting - but dwelling on this isn’t motivating. Feeling part of a community with shared values and goals, on the other hand, can keep people energized and active. Look for ways to incorporate fun and social experiences into team meetings and activities for residents.
A downtown co-op adds a bit of time at the start of their virtual meetings for social time to ‘catch up’ with team members or recognize birthdays and special events in their neighbour’s lives.
We’ve seen that one of the greatest strengths of high-rise buildings is the fact that so many neighbours sharing one community can work together towards shared goals.
The Community Strengths form in the Zero Waste High-Rise Project will guide you through an assessment of how you or your Green Team can collaborate and communicate with others in your building.