Zero Waste High-Rise Project Spotlight: 40 Homewood

We are profiling the stories of success from buildings participating in the Zero Waste High-Rise Project. Learn more about 40 Homewood and how they are creating spaces that enable zero waste in their building.

40 Homewood is a building near Cabbagetown in downtown Toronto. Built in 1972, it has a single tower with 32 stories and 492 units. The building joined the Zero Waste High-Rise Project in winter 2018. 

The building team: The project building team is led by the resident Green Committee, with support and participation by building staff, property managers and the condo Board of Directors.

SUCCESS SPOTLIGHT: Creating spaces that enable zero waste

40 Homewood is a leading building when it comes to creating spaces that encourage waste reduction. Due to their consistent efforts at making zero waste options in their building more intuitive and easy to use, they have decreased garbage and increased recycling and organics collection over the past three years.

The Green Committee at 40 Homewood was established in 2006, and over a number of years has worked steadily to promote environmental awareness and actions in their building. They hosted educational talks, clothing collection drives and bike repair events and even tracked waste and recycling rates in the building.

After joining the project, the Committee learned about and toured waste rooms at other buildings in the Zero Waste High-Rise Project. They realized that in addition to their education efforts there was an opportunity to support residents in reducing waste by making recycling and waste spaces more inviting and easier to use.

Revamping the waste room

The Committee evaluated their waste room set up, identified some ideas, and worked with building staff to make simple changes.

To start, the building upgraded the lighting and added a fresh coat of paint to their waste room to make the room brighter. Next, they rearranged the garbage and recycling bins in the room to reduce confusion and mistakes. Now, recycling and organics bins are always placed along one wall with a large information poster above them, while garbage bins are against the opposite wall. This has reduced mistakes when materials are accidently placed in, or spilled over into the wrong bin.

The building changed the lighting, and repainted the waste room to make the area bright.

Organizing space for special waste

Next, the Green Committee added shelves and collection bins in a corner of the waste room. They added clear labels, signs and distributed flyers to let residents know they can drop off hazardous special waste, electronic waste and refundable alcohol containers. The Green Committee monitors the area and lets management know when the Toxic Taxi should be called to schedule a free pick-up.

Residents in the building responded and started dropping off their special waste, but the Green Committee noticed that people also wanted a place to leave reusable household goods like toys, dishes and housewares. The Committee created a designated ‘Free Boutique’ space in another community room for residents to share reusable goods to keep the waste room clean and free of clutter.

To help residents understand the waste and recycling options in the waste room, the team also posted a simple map of the waste room near the room’s entrance to show where to place different materials.

Steady efforts

One of the ways the Green Committee is able to achieve and maintain all these different changes is by taking a slow-and-steady approach. As an established and respected building committee, they use teamwork to share the workload and stay energized, and they understand that some efforts take time and effort.

Lisa explains: “I think just chipping away slow and steady at what our goals were has actually been a pretty effective strategy. Starting small on things and then building on it over time has given us momentum and allowed us to retain our members in the committee and have the [support] of management.”

It took just under six months to complete the initial revamp of the waste room as they researched and discussed options with management and staff. Though each individual aspect of the revamp may seem small, the combination of all the efforts has created a waste room that the building is proud of. It’s bright, it’s clean, and it’s clear that people care about sorting waste correctly.

How they made it happen:

  • The building team learned from the success and approaches taken by other buildings through peer learning sessions with the Zero Waste High-Rise Project. 
  • The Green Committee coordinated with building staff, management, and board members to make the waste collection space inviting and easier to use.
  • The Green Committee meets regularly and is respected in the building because of their consistent and visible efforts.
  • The team’s approach to making steady and incremental improvements over time has allowed them to achieve big changes.
  • Watch this recording to learn how Michael and Lisa and their green team reduced waste in their building.

Get involved with the Zero Waste High-Rise Project! Sign up for our online program to learn more about reducing waste in your building and get access to tools, resources and peer learning events!