It’s not every day that a municipality gives out awards to its citizens for their leadership. And it’s not every day that citizens who collect recyclables from our garbage are awarded the Greenest City Leadership Award. But that’s what happened on Feb. 28th when the Binners’ Project was honored with a 2017 Award of Excellence for their incredible efforts to divert waste, directly enhancing the City’s Greenest Action Plan goals. The team accepting the award was made up of binners who are members of the project, project staff and a volunteer steering committee. Kathleen Leahy, UBC Learning Exchange Director and chair of the steering committee, said it was great “to be in such wonderful company with residents from across the city being recognized for their work to make Vancouver a better place to live, and for citizens like Michael and Bill, who are active binners, to be able to earn an income while being recognized for what they are – leaders in the City.”
The Binners Project, as a Tides Canada initiative, focusses on raising awareness of the opportunities and challenges binners face, and organizes a range of peer-led projects that enable members to earn income while diverting the amount of material that ends up in landfills. Addressing concerns about our collective waste coupled with the need to carve out more opportunities for low income individuals, in places like Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), are at the top of the agenda for many organizations in the DTES, including Urban Core, which the Binners Project is part of.
The Greenest City Award for the Binners Project exemplifies how it’s not just the household names, who are in the spotlight every day working on environmentally and socially innovate solutions, who need to be recognized. If change is really going to happen it just might be the everyday citizen in Vancouver who will point the way forward.