The minimalist movement is gaining momentum. From New York Times Best Seller The Life-Changing Art of Cleaning Up to wardrobes that contain 15 to 33 items (depending on how you count accessories), people are rethinking the ownership models they’ve previously taken for granted. The exciting thing about this trend is that it’s moving us closer to the six Rs of environmental stewardship – a framework for zero waste living.

Most of us have heard about the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. But unless we work in the waste management industry or have a passionate interest in zero waste, six Rs might sound frivolous. Zero Waste Canada has adopted a hierarchy for waste management that we’ve turned into a pyramid diagram. At the top, we begin with Rethinking; and after Recycling, we look at Recovering and Residuals Management (otherwise known as disposal).

Businesses such as H&M Group are beginning to market their ability to rethink, reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover, but most Canadian cities haven’t begun to implement the systems necessary for a zero-waste society. In many cases, it is individuals, community centres, and non-profit organizations that are initiating some of the most progressive zero waste conversations in North America.

Many condo owners are already putting the Rethink aspect of zero waste into practice. If you chose condo living to be closer to work, or to minimize the amount of land required for your place of residence, you’re a step ahead of people residing in single-family suburban homes. Condos have the potential to be more energy efficient than a house, but the largest reduction of greenhouse gases comes from their proximity to workplaces and other amenities that minimize vehicle use.

“if more suburbanites opted to move out of their low-density detached homes and into walkable, mixed-use urban communities … we’d be on our way to taking a real whack at carbon emissions.” (Emily Badger, City Lab)


Rethinking ownership is one of the best ways we can start moving towards zero waste. Sometimes referred to as the “peer-to-peer” or “sharing economy,” Airbnb is a prime example of how people are rethinking ownership, renting out a room in their home to someone they’ve never met. The internet has made these forms of sharing possible globally, but some of the most unique forms of a sharing economy exist in our own communities.

North Forge – North America’s largest fabrication lab – is located in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. Craft, woodworking, metalworking, printing, engraving, and electronics rooms can be rented, giving users access to sewing machines, band saws, 3D scanners, air compressors, and a host of other tools. Winnipeg also has a large number of bike repair centres where users have access to every conceivable tool needed to repair their bicycle, as well as the expertise to teach riders how to use these tools themselves.

Many non-profit organizations offer resources that can be shared rather than purchased, but they also tend to have limited marketing budgets to inform community members about those options. We’ve created a list of places in Winnipeg that foster a sharing economy. With limited square footage in a condo, you’ll appreciate the extra space you can free up if you don’t have to purchase supplies for everything from seasonal tasks to spontaneous hobbies.


Bike Dump North Forge Arts Junktion
Orioles Bike Cage Tool Lending Library Martha Street Studio
The Wrench Vacuum & Steamer for Bed Bugs Video Pool
UWSA Bike Lab  UMCycle


Zero Waste Condos: Where Are We At? | Rethinking Ownership