2018 #SFTop25 Finalist - Dillon Mendes
HOMETOWN: Pickering, Ontario
TRADITIONAL TERRITORY: unceded Anishinabek (ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᒃ), Haudenosauneega (Iroquois), and Huron-Wendat territory.
One day in grade 12, Dillon saw his friend Sam picking up litter by the side of the road. He stopped and asked Sam -- "Why are you picking up garbage?”
Sam’s response: "What if for one day everyone picked up one piece of litter. That's 7 billion pieces of litter that will not end up in our waterways, killing our animals and contaminating our water supply!"
That statement resonated with Dillon. He couldn’t shake it out of his head. So that night, he called Sam and asked how you take that statement and turn it into action. From that day, PickWaste was born.
PickWaste is a community initiative that started out of the necessity to clean up the spaces in our communities. This group picks up litter for one hour once a week and spreads awareness about the pollution solution through speaking engagements at high schools, elementary schools and expos.
Dillon empowers individuals to unleash their potential to make a change in their society. Since PickWaste’s inception, the team has received support from mayors across the Durham region and have partnered up with the City of Pickering, Showa Group and Evolution Bags. They have been featured on a number of podcasts, includiing Linda Cole's podcast, Continual Growth and What's Up Waterloo!
The City of Pickering takes care of our disposal, Showa Group has donated 3,000 biodegradable gloves and Evolution Bags donated 500 garbage bags, which are made from garbage themselves.
Dillon and team are currently located in the City of Pickering, but are expanding to Ajax, Scarborough, Waterloo and Hamilton soon. They have over 400 people signed up to participate and have over 4,000 followers on Instagram. We have been invited to speak at the largest Youth Empowerment Conference in Canada-Experience Your Life as well as Katei Zepperi's Girl Empowerment Conference which will be held at the Metro Convention Centre.
Dillon hopes to spread want this initiative to be all over Canada by having clean-up crews located in different communities.
His next step is to tackle one item that gets littered quite regularly: the coffee cup. They are soon creating a campaign around their reusable coffee cup with the slogan "Buy a cup to fund a clean-up!" As Dylan told us: “Picking up litter is a great way to spread awareness, but if we only pick up litter, we are going to be doing that for the rest of our lives! We need to reduce the materials we are picking up.” Dillon believes this solution can help consumers understand the need of committing to small consistent actions will lead to massive impact.