Illustration by Brian McLachlan/Torontoist.
Forget the red carpet. In these parts, awards season is all about the colour green. Nominations are now being accepted for the Green Toronto Awards, the City of Toronto’s annual celebration of the people, organizations, initiatives, and companies that help keep our town smog free—er, less smoggy than it would be without them. With categories ranging from water efficiency to green roofs, there’s no community garden too secret or multi-million dollar solar-panel project too vast to merit a shot at recognition.
Like the endeavours they support, the awards rely on substantial community involvement. Nominations are submitted by the public at the awards’ official website, with eligibility extending to any green initiative that operates within the city. Got a favourite conservation charity? Give them a chance by filling out the online form. Little sister spearheading an environment club at her school? Sign her up for the youth category. Think your own business is an asset to the earth? Self-nominations are cool, too.
Farmers’ market regulars might be especially interested in the local food category, introduced this year to promote the reduced carbon footprint and healthier lifestyles associated with homegrown produce. “It’s something that people are definitely taking more notice of in Toronto,” says Annemarie Bayton, events coordinator at the Toronto Environment Office, “We saw that there was an increase in projects being submitted that had a tie-in with local food, and we thought it was deserving of its own category this year.”
Nominations are being accepted until February 12, after which they will be turned over to a panel of judges for deliberation. This year’s committee consists of about thirty individuals from different areas of the environment sector, including representatives from Grassroots, AutoShare, Zerofootprint and the Toronto Environmental Alliance. Having seen the awards grow incrementally during their six years of operation, Baynton hopes to surpass their record of 180 nominations this time around. “Last year we had seven hundred people attending, and we want to beat that this year. We just hope to raise the profile of the great green work that’s going on in the city and inspire others to take on similar projects or initiatives.”
This message of awareness filters all the way down to the prizes themselves. While shiny golden statues may look great on a mantel, an inert hunk of metal doesn’t exactly fit the bill of efficient, sustainable products. Instead, winners get five thousand dollars apiece for their contribution to the earth—but not for keeps. The loot must be donated to a charity of their choice, keeping the focus on progress rather than profits.
The awards ceremony will take place on April 23 as part of the Green Living Show at the Direct Energy Centre, and will be hosted by David Miller, Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone, and a to-be-announced local person of note. Can’t wait for awards day? Check out this promo video of David Miller looking cool as a locally grown cucumber in his Live Green Toronto T-shirt. Way better for the earth than watching this year’s trophy-toting eco-sham Avatar.