Windmill Line Co-op honoured for their environmental sustainability work
Published June 29, 2022
Windmill Line Co-op in Toronto is the recipient of our 2022 Award for Co-operative Achievement, for their work to improve the co-op’s environmental sustainability.
Windmill Line is a 206-unit housing co-op in the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood of downtown Toronto.
The co-op is home to a diverse and vibrant community, including pioneers of the co-op movement who have lived there for over 40 years.
Working towards sustainability
In 2019, the co-op’s membership passed an environmental sustainability policy, which prompted the co-op to review their waste reduction practices.
Windmill Line then contacted the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA), who introduced them to their Zero Waste High Rise Project.
Since that time, with TEA’s help, the co-op has:
- Converted their garbage chutes to instead collect organic materials, leading to a substantial reduction in the amount of garbage the building produces
- Re-organized their recycling room
- Set up a cooking oil collection drum
Co-op members came together and formed a volunteer Zero Waste Team to implement sustainable practices.
One factor that has helped the project succeed has been the work that the Zero Waste Team did to educate and communicate with the wider membership.
They put banners and signs throughout the co-op to explain the process and started the Zero Waste Newsletter to keep members up to date. They also adopted a mascot for the program, a small green alien, to catch people’s attention.
Message for other co-ops
When asked what they would say to other housing co-ops interested in becoming more sustainable, the co-op’s Zero Waste Team leader Camille Hines replied:
“I would say go for it. You not only are working towards environmental sustainability, but while you’re doing it, you’re building a community, you’re reducing your costs, you’re making members aware of the wider world and how the efforts you make within your building can benefit so much more than just yourselves.”
The co-op’s General Manager, Juan Vidal, recommends:
“Other co-ops that want to become more sustainable, they really need to engage with their membership. They need to engage with their board, talk to other co-ops, or talk to the federations in the sector to see if you can implement an environmental sustainability policy. Contact local environmental organizations, and ask them what kind of initiatives they could recommend or if they can work with the co-op.”
As Camille Hines puts it,
“I’ve found out that once we get people involved in especially the projects that zero waste team has put into place, this camaraderie and the support we get and the encouragement we get is just unbelievable.”
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