Roncesvalles Village is not just a neighbourhood with hipsters, families, dogs and baby strollers. It’s a community with a conscience.
For resident Tina Soldovieri, making a difference meant starting locally. In January, Soldovieri joined with about 20 like-minded people in her community to form Roncy Reduces, a group dedicated to reducing single-use plastics and packaging along Roncesvalles Avenue, one business at a time. Since word got out, six other neighbourhoods in the city have contacted Soldovieri about how they can start similar initiatives in their own backyard.
So far on Roncesvalles, it’s working. Over the last several months, almost 35 restaurants, cafés and stores along the strip have committed to supporting the campaign to reduce waste, says Soldovieri. Businesses show their commitment by posting the Roncy Reduces sticker in the window, which lets customers know that they can bring their own bulk food and take-out container, (or produce bags and coffee cups) when they shop, and that they are making other efforts to minimize waste.
Many have come up with innovative ways to do this. Guardian Drugs has said they would relabel prescription bottles when people come in for refills rather than giving them a new pill bottle each time they fill a script. Tuk Tuk Canteen uses lemon ends soaked in vinegar to wipe down counters. Tim Hortons has committed to giving customers 10 cents off their coffee if they bring in their own mug. Aniq restaurant is reducing plastic straws and looking at introducing metal ones. Evergreen Natural Foods sells many bulk foods from rice and beans to snacks so that people can choose alternatives to packaged foods, and will weigh containers for products like almond butter so you don’t have to use plastic tubs.
Soldovieri and her team are optimistic that they can get at least 15 more businesses on board by Wednesday, June 5th, the date of a community film and info night that Roncy Reduces will be hosting at the Revue Cinema. It also happens to be World Environment Day. At the event, they will be screening the award-winning documentary The Clean Bin Project, about a couple’s attempts to live with zero waste for one year. City of Toronto waste expert Charlotte Ueta will be a guest speaker. Roncy Reduces will be highlighting the efforts of participating local businesses in the war against plastics.
Tickets to the event on June 5 are $10 per person. Google “Eventbrite and Clean Bin Project” to buy your ticket in advance.