Friday, September 4, 2009

Volunteering for a Greener Ribfest

This evening I was volunteering at the Canada's largest annual Ribfest, held at the waterfront in Burlington, Ontario. My task was to sort waste into the proper recycling/composting bins. I did this with several other 'green' volunteers. I was situated at a waste station located in the middle of an eating area. I think the recycling program at this year's Ribfest turned out to be very successful, and much of the waste can actually be recycled and biodegraded. This is because all of the people eating bring their leftover compostable trays, ribs, pop cans, water bottles, and other waste to us when they finish eating. They simply put their waste on the table in front of us, and we take it to properly sort into the respective bins. For example, if someone gave me a biodegradable tray with a platter of rib bones, and an empty pop can, I could put the ribs and tray into the green biodegradable bin and the empty pop can into the recyle bin. These bins are conveniently located behind me, in the waste sorting station so the process can be done in an efficient manner. After all, there are hundreds of people enjoying their ribs and bring their garbage to us once they are done.

After a gruelling four hours sorting garbage (Yes, I know. Other volunteers do it for the entire four day span of the festival) I really realized just how much waste we produce every single minute, since I was getting food scraps piling up on the table in front of me every minute. I also realized the importance of sorting garbage, and the consequences of not doing so. They say that if more than 2% of the sorted waste in a bin is contaminated with the wrong type of waste, it can not be recycled/sent off for further processing. Therefore, it was crucial that I sort everything properly!

I really learned a lot from this short but meaningful volunteering event. As always, I enjoyed making a contribution to my community, and because I got to help the environment as well, I was especially happy. Some people would shy away from sorting garbage non-stop because they think it's dirty and a hassle. But I would definitely do it again in the future if I get the chance, because I feel that it is a very important task that needs to be done, and its importance should be understood and appreciated by everyone. After all, if no one sorts garbage, who will?

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