Roncy Reduces neighbourhood cleanup in October 2020 which included among other items 2016 cigarette butts. The fibers of cigarette butts create microplastic pollution in the water.
No Reduces group in your neighbourhood?
The Reduces movement is all about local, which means that every group starts in a different way, and you can build waste reduction in the way that fits you. This page is meant to serve as a resource both to help individuals start groups and to assist existing groups in growing their impact.
Below are the 3 key steps to building a Reduces movement.
GET A STICKER
Step 1: Connect with neighbours. Build a group.
Many people are deeply troubled by the devastating impact of plastic waste. That’s why in the case of Roncy Reduces it wasn’t difficult to find a few neighbours who care about plastic waste but find it hard to reduce. These are the people you want to locate and tell about your interest in starting a neighbourhood initiative. Check below for a list of ideas where to find them. You only need a handful to get things started!
While trying to move towards zero waste by yourself can be daunting, discussing waste and sharing ideas in a group is a lot of fun! You can even turn your group into a temporary book club and read Zero Waste Home or Zero Waste Living The 80/20 Way or watch a film together. This can help everyone to become more educated about waste and plastic issues, too.
Tip: Plan in some time. Ask people to reply by a set date. Invite them to a first community waste discussion! You can reach out to an existing Reduces Group to get a speaker and book a meeting room in your library branch. Set the next meeting date.
Speak to neighbours you know in your building or on your street!
Email everyone you know (even remotely) in your neighbourhood and ask them to forward your email to any friend who could be interested.
Post a flyer at your local health food or bulk store, coffee shop, library branch, community centre, popular takeout food place, farmers’ market, elementary school, fitness studio, movie theatre, second-hand shop, bus shelter or hydro posts.
Post about it in local Buy and Sell Facebook groups.
Visit local green groups to let them know what you are planning and ask them for input (in the case of Roncesvalles these were Greenest City, Green 13, Green Parkdale).
If you’re in Toronto, contact the Green Neighbours Network who can put out a call for volunteers to its broad network and members.
Talk to your city councillor, BIA, resident association, MPP and parents or parent councils of local elementary schools and daycares so they know about you.
Chances are, some of them have a special interest in waste reduction or simply like to help the environment. Or they can direct you to someone else who does or are valuable contacts in other ways.
How to find community members interested in reducing single-use plastics in your neighbourhood
Step 2: Get a sticker and contact businesses.
One of the big tasks for your group is getting local businesses to display your sticker and welcome customers to BYO.
To visit and convince businesses takes time and often 2-3 attempts until you catch the right person at the right time. Start with those that already allow you to BYO, your local health food store, or your favourite restaurant.
Food-related businesses (restaurants, coffee shops, groceries) are most important, but those that sell zero waste tools (produce bags, mason jars, reusable containers etc.) or refill soaps, or those who get creative in order to participate (a dental clinic with a Terra Cycle box for used toothbrushes) are just as great!
What you need to get started:
BYO sticker – design, size and printing
You can get the same sticker design as Roncy Reduces with your own neighbourhood name by contacting us. But of course, you can also develop your own design. Check out all of the logos here.
Our round sticker is 5 inch in diameter and sticks to the inside of a window.
Many groups printed locally at StickerYou in Liberty Village, Toronto for approx. $2 per sticker. Bonus: pick up by bike and request no packaging (none!).
Email address – it’s good to have an email address (such as canada.reduces[at]gmail.com) for communication with stores, group members, venues, media, etc. to avoid using a personal email address. You will need someone to administer this account.
Social Media – social media accounts are an important tool to spread the news in your area and to promote businesses that have your sticker. Tip: spread the responsibility among a few group members.
List of streets and shops your group wants to canvass – create a shared document (table or spreadsheet) for your group with the businesses, their location, and space to report on canvassing visits, sticker updates, etc.
A flyer to leave with the business. Here is an example.
A handout for your group members with canvassing tips for your group members. Here is an example.
Health safety information: even before the pandemic there were health concerns around BYO. The reality is that BYO is safe, even during the pandemic and there are no by-laws prohibiting it. You can find more information about the safety of BYO here.
While this is not an expensive endeavor money is needed for the stickers, and possibly additional things you may choose to do, such as: snacks for getting people together, printing flyers, event space rental, etc. If you intend to apply for grants or ask for donations consider opening a bank account such as a small business account with Meridian ($9/month).
You can look into grant applications from TD Friends of the Environment, Lush, community waste reduction and other city grants, as well as Meridian’s Good Neighbour Program and more.
The Green Neighbours Network offers microgrants and a range of supports for emerging community groups.
Please get in touch with us if expenses present a barrier for your group.
Step 3: Spread the word.
Once a few businesses in your neighbourhood display your BYO sticker, it’s time to celebrate and spread the good news! Recruiting businesses is only half of the equation: now shoppers need to learn and adopt it. This is the third - and most important - ongoing step. Existing groups can find new ideas here, too!
Here are some ideas for reaching out to fellow shoppers in your neighbourhood:
Organize a film & speaker event
We have a list of great films here. To make your evening an impactful community event introduce your initiative before the film screening, name participating businesses and allow time for a short Q&A. Inspire everyone by inviting a speaker such as a waste expert from the city or an environmental organization, or a zero waste blogger. For ideas check out our list of friends’ websites here. School screenings are also a great way to engage kids.
Bring youth into waste reduction
Waste reduction workshops or a litter cleanup for students at local elementary and middle schools, paired with a discussion about plastic waste involves work but is a great way to connect with kids who are often takeout food fans and therefore exposed to a lot of single-use plastic.
Organize a shoreline cleanup or neighbourhood cleanup. Don’t forget to register your cleanup (shoreline or not) with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup because your data is very valuable when combined with data from cleanups from all over Canada.
Solicit media to help spread the word
Reach out to Media such as CBC, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Blog TO, Toronto.com, neighbourhood magazines and others and see if they want to do a story about your initiative.
Join in an environmental holiday
Use special dates such as World Water Day (March 22), Earth Day (April 22), Endangered Species Day (3rd Friday in May), World Environment Day (June 5) or World Cleanup Day (3rd Saturday of September) for your events.
Additional engagement ideas:
Other small but impactful actions to become well known in the community could be: table at a farmers’ markets, street festivals or community events such as Seedy Saturdays (community seed exchanges, usually in March), Zero Waste Fairs, Plant Fairs, neighbourhood holiday or flea markets, and Community Environment Days.
Organize a waste reduction poster contest at your local school or a downsize-your-bin contest to inspire people adjusting their waste output to smaller recycling and waste bins.
Borrow your BIA's ad space
While bus shelter posters are usually expensive ad rental spaces, some are used by the local BIAs. Ask your BIA if they will let you use their poster space for one month.
Join the events of other initiatives
Sample canvassing tools
Tell your community all about your initiative and your upcoming events and activities, and make sure they know how to BYO.
This sample trifold flyer was placed in residents' mailboxes to share upcoming news and how they can get involved in waste reduction.
Are you starting a group?
We'd love to know! We can include you in this website, keep you in the loop about upcoming events and new initiatives, and celebrate how Canada Reduces is growing.