Toronto City Councillor Candidate, Running A Plastic-Free Campaign

A recycled way of campaigning, without destroying the environment

By: Adam Smith

As long as I knew there was an environment to consider, I have always been environmentally conscious. I can still recall when recycling first came to our area in elementary school. My parents and I dutifully separated all our bins and made sure to understand all the rules. Fast forward 30 years, and our waste disposal in Toronto is abysmal, with contaminated recycling causing most of it to go in the trash.

Whether it’s accelerating climate change, improper waste disposal, or the many ways we’re moving away from a circular economy, I worry more and more about our collective future and what we’re leaving my son and his generation. Very few of our politicians are making decisions that do right by our environment and society, and that’s why I eventually decided to run for council.

The question was how to run an environmental grassroots campaign that could compete with deep-pocketed incumbents without adding to an election campaign’s enormous amount of plastic waste. The solution came to me while delivering Meals on Wheels.

I would pick up the meals at True Davidson Acres, a city-owned long-term care home. They were always throwing old wooden delivery skids in their trash, and I thought, “What a waste, I can do something with that.” I started bringing delivery skids home, dismantling them, and storing the wood under a tarp in my yard. Then my landlord was replacing his fence at the time, so I took those boards and stored them too.

After about two years of storing scrap wood, it was the 2018 election. A team of volunteers and I stood in my driveway and created an assembly line churning out the signs. I then painted them with stencils and had 22 reclaimed wood lawn signs. I didn’t win in 2018 and paid to store the signs until this election.

My plastic-free campaign is not a gimmick; it’s the only way I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day. I even found a place to make my buttons without the mylar coating. In my platform, I advocate for eliminating ALL election signs, not just because of the waste, but because the public should not have our shared space overrun with repetitive advertising of candidates.

I implore more candidates to take a page from my book, either find a more sustainable way to make signs or go without them and make sure people know it’s an environmental choice, not a lack of budget. If we’re ever going to transition into a sustainable future, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard, starting with our elected officials.

Adam Smith
Ward 19, Toronto City Councillor Candidate