Sam Demma pictured at U of T Scarborough.
Sam Demma, co-founder of the environmental initiative PickWaste, is starting his undergraduate studies at U of T Scarborough in September. (Photo by Alexa Battler)
Monday, August 27 - 2018
Tina Adamopoulos

For most of his life, Sam Demma’s only goal was to be a soccer player. That all changed when he was injured. But it also opened the door to new prospects, with a little inspiration from his teacher.

“He would say, ‘If you want to make a change in the world, you have to commit to a small and consistent action,’” says Demma, who is entering the first year of his undergrad at U of T Scarborough in environmental studies and political science.

He started collecting waste on his walk from school. This caught the attention of a friend and grew into a community initiative with weekly clean-ups.

Demma is one of the recipients of Canada’s Top 25 Under 25 Environmental Award. He and his friend, Dillon Mendes, co-founded PickWaste, an environmental initiative that started in their hometown of Pickering. The community initiative is expanding to Scarborough and Ajax.

They’ve filled more than 650 garbage bags of litter in Pickering alone.

“I think we have too many distractions,” Demma says. “I feel like if people understood that the environment isn’t separate from humanity, they would take a lot more time to learn about it.”

On Aug. 18, they launched Awareness Day in Pickering. The duo laid out four months’ worth of recycling in front of their old high school. The point? To act as a wake-up call to the impacts of human actions on the environment.

“There are three resources we need to survive: food, oxygen and water,” Demma explains. “There is a big correlation and we want people to understand that it affects our health.”

Demma hopes to get PickWaste involved on campus and wants to see if PickWaste can hold monthly clean-ups at U of T Scarborough.

“There are so many issues in the world,” Demma says. “If you have your own passion, start your own action with this theory.”

To contact PickWaste, email them at