I was invited to give a little presentation about my own experiences as a Master Composter/Recycler in the last four years, and just the exercise of writing that little talk reminded me what a wonderful thing it is to be counted among the ranks of Edmonton's MCRs. I've met so many wonderful, environmentally-conscious people, and had many opportunities to encourage friends, neighbours and members of my community to become more conscious of ways to be kinder to the planet.
I’ve also discovered that being an MCR is a lot of fun through lots of different activities, like talking up Edmonton's world class Recycling Program with any interested person, esp. new neighbours and the Simplicity Study Circles I facilitate. Somehow, that leads to conversations about grass cycling, and rain barrel water conservation and lasagna gardening, and the benefits of the Reuse Centre, and EcoStations and a lot of other good stuff.
Helping friends and family with their composters has been fun, as has encouraging people I know to compost, and being a “leaf thief” from neighbours who don’t compost. My garden is admired by those neighbours, and they are sometimes a little puzzled when I thank them for their contributions.
Facilitating Recycling displays for the city is easier than you’d expect. I took one to a Green Fair in Millwoods (invited by someone from the Green Party), and I’ve helped with displays at the home reno and home and garden shows at the Agricom. Being an introvert, it didn't come naturally at first, but I’ve learned how much fun it can be to stop people in their tracks by offering them a free blue bag or composting brochure.
Doing backyard composting workshops has been a great way to build community. Who knew wine, neighbours, and red wigglers would be the recipe for a fun evening? I’m hoping to host another one this spring through my community league. Last year I also helped my daughter’s Grade Four class set up a vermicomposter that did quite well on the Grade Fours' apple cores and other organic lunch leftovers (that's where our red wiggler condo got its fifth level of occupants).
Helping at the reuse tree display at City Hall has been a great way to get into the spirit of the season. I spent my time there showing off crafty tree ornaments made of recycled items and promoting the city's ReUse Centre across the street, and the bonus was that I got to hear some school choirs sing carols the entire time I was there.
One of my sidelines is facilitating what’s called a Simplicity Study Circle. It’s all about ways to live more simply, with less of an impact on the earth, and bits and pieces of my MCR training is always creeping into workshops. For one event, I actually got a group together to tour the Waste Management Branch. All I can say is that it's an amazing place. Edmonton's recycling success rate is 90%, and visiting the Materials Recycling Facility and seeing the conveyor belts moving recyclables from our blue bags past workers who sort them at incredible speeds is an unforgettable experience.
Two weeks from today, I will be speaking at a Social Justice Symposium that will be dealing with the wastefulness of our economy. When you really think about it, wastefulness is a justice issue, and recycling and composting and doing whatever we can to make it easier for our planet's species to cope with human existence is critically important. My MCR training will come into play at the Symposium as I remind people of the importance of all those R words and share with them the wonders of our city’s recycling programs and facilities as part of their way to take responsibility for each other and the Earth.
In one month’s time, my workplace will be moving to a new facility that will require someone to set up a new recycling program for it. That would be me.
But the bulk of my volunteer time these past four years has been spent out at the Food Bank Plant-a-Row, Grow-a-Row garden at the Edmonton Waste Management Branch during the summers. My girls and I had a lot of fun, mainly hacking out weeds, doing away with potato bugs, and watering. I’m hearing rumours about a new PARGAR in the neighbourhood of the Muttart Conservatory, which is just down the hill from where I live, so we're looking forward to helping out there if we can.
Like many things in life, what you get out of being a Master Composter/Recycler depends upon what you put into it. When I graduated, I thought I’d put in my 35 hours of service to pay back the program and call it good. But volunteering has turned me into a bit of an activist, and it’s been so much fun, they can’t get rid of me that easily. Being at the graduation events today has gotten me re-enthused about my status as an MCR volunteer, and put a few new ideas into my head. I met a new grad named Rahul, and in our five minute conversation, was inspired toward opportunities to connect my workplace with Reuse fairs and the ReUse Centre downtown. Why didn't I think of it before? I guess I just needed to be inspired by the MCR class of 2011.