Najiba and Karthika worked in the Malvern community in Scarborough-Rouge Park this summer to discuss waste management strategies and help communities reach their zero waste goals.
Scarborough-Rouge Park is a diverse riding equipped with a tight-knit community, incredible services and programs, and devoted residents committed to helping their community.
We were both excited to do outreach and research in this part of Scarborough that we both know well: Karthika is from the neighbourhood, and Najiba spent time visiting her family in the area.
Our goal this summer was to highlight the zero waste heros existing in the Malvern neighbourhood, learning what worked well in the community, and how locals were working towards improvement!
We were very excited about being in Malvern to talk about zero waste since it’s home to 430 Mayfair on the Green, a high rise building with one of the highest recycling and waste diversion rates in the city - the residents reuse, recycle and compost more than 85% of their waste!
Though we’d read and heard about the building, actually visiting in person made the story come alive. We met Princely, the building’s superintendent and talked with residents at community events.
Other residents and community groups were also excited to hear about what 430 Mayfair on the Green was doing to reduce waste. We gave presentations about the building and what people can do at home. A neighbouring high rise building in the same complex is starting up their own waste reduction plan and we hosted information tables in the lobby to talk with residents about what they can do.
However, we realized that while people were interested in reducing their waste, they face a lot of barriers. These barriers include a lack of education, and lack of access: some residents didn’t have up-to-date translated recycling or green bin guides. Community organizations and businesses have to use private waste services and can’t get City waste collection. That means they don’t have access to affordable Green Bin organics collection or easy-to-use Blue Bin recycling.
Also, each private waste company has different waste sorting and recycling rules. This makes reducing waste confusing for people who have different rules at home from when they’re out.
If there is one take-away lesson from our time with TEA in Scarborough, it’s that people want to do the right thing and reduce waste, but what they need is the right resources and the right education!
Najiba and Karthika’s summer jobs were funded by the Canada Summer Jobs program. They were based at the Malvern Family Resource Centre. Najiba is now at McMaster University pursuing a Masters degree in Globalization Studies. Karthika is in her fourth year at Ryerson in the Environment and Urban Sustainability program.