In face of the overwhelming imperative to reduce our waste, how do you get over 200 people in a high-rise dwelling to work collectively toward advanced recycling initiatives, lowering their carbon footprints and working toward zero-waste goals?
It’s a question that vexes many single-family neighbourhoods, let alone large high-rise towers. But one of those towers in the West End is pointing the way to an innovative answer through its “Green Team”. For more than a decade, Panorama Place on Pendrell Street has spearheaded extremely successful recycling, waste reduction and “greening” initiatives that have saved the building thousands of dollars each year. In just one year, by reducing dumpster pickup from three times per week to two, the building has saved almost $7,500. The Green Team educates and energizes residents to reduce, re-use and only then recycle everything – far beyond the usual glass, paper and container recycling offered by the City. From batteries to ink cartridges, soft plastics to small toiletries, electronics to broken umbrellas, the Green Team has a plan to keep it OUT of the dumpster. And its message has transformed with the times, now moving toward education on avoiding waste altogether and tips for zero-waste living.
While the Green Team offers an inspiring example of how one can actually DO something in the face of our overwhelming environmental challenges, the underlying story is really about how to connect with others and build community in a high-rise setting. In addition to the Green Team’s recycling initiatives, other residents at Panorama Place organize cocktails in the lobby on Friday nights, film screenings and club meetings in the social suite, coffee and pastries in the lobby on Christmas morning. This sense of a vertical community in the middle of a big city, a place that has a social conscience and where people strive to take care of one another and our environment, doesn’t need to be unusual.
The Green Team is eager to spread the word, to help other buildings and communities build similar initiatives, engaging in conversations around waste reduction and reducing our footprint – and saving money in the process! If you are interested in learning more, or want to start a Green Team initiative in your building, feel free to contact the Panorama Place Green Team at firstname.lastname@example.org . “We’re in this together, and every step in the right direction counts!”