Paul Turcotte is a 2018 graduate from Cobourg Collegiate Institute. He will be heading to the University of Guelph in the fall, and has joined our Waste Audit Team for the summer. Joining us as a summer student has given Paul an opportunity to gain insight into the world of waste and recycling. In this blog post, he shares how this job has changed and enhanced the role of waste diversion in his daily life.
Working for the Waste Audit team at MASS Environmental Services Inc. has been a great summer job so far. Being on the road with the team has got to be one of the best experiences I’ve had. This is my first time working in a close team environment, and it’s been very positive.
Doing Waste Audits means that I am on the road anywhere from 2 days a week, all the way to 5 days at a time. Spending a lot of time on the road doing audits means that in just 4 weeks working with MASS, I have already had lots of experience with learning what goes into which bin when it comes to recycling, compost and waste. In this role, the lingo that you pick up will stick with you quickly. Terms and concepts like ‘Bin Volume,’ ‘PETE recycling’ and ‘HPDE recycling’ (the audit team abbreviates this to just ‘H’) have become a part of my daily vocabulary. I’ve learned about the differences between Single-Stream-Recycling vs. separated recycling programs – for example: Cardboard Only recycling.
So, what have these things changed in my everyday life when it comes to waste? I’ve started paying more attention to the little things. Before I started here, I was a pretty good recycler and composter and I knew what materials went into which containers (most of the time). Now though, when I place recyclables into the recycling bin, I will check the bottom of the container to see what type of plastic it is. Another part of life that this job has made me more aware of is my environmental footprint. By this, I don’t only mean the garbage at home, but the garbage that I am using and producing on-the-go. For example, when I eat at a restaurant, I now think about things like “what food packaging am I creating in the waste stream when I order this meal?” I’ve also learned to take actions like asking for my drink to be served without a straw, because I know that a plastic straw will end up in the waste.
Seeing the behind the scenes of waste & recycling has opened my eyes to how much waste we, as humans, are actually producing. In just four weeks, I know that I have only seen a sliver of what is actually out there. All this knowledge and insight to waste is not only something I will learn and hold onto while at MASS, but afterwards as well. For my post-secondary education, I am planning to study business. One thing a lot of entrepreneurs probably don’t consider when starting a business, is garbage. But personally, I believe that as we continue on as a society, and our landfills fill up, it is going to become even more of a problem. I believe waste and recycling should be one of the first things that entrepreneurs consider and plan for, when starting a business. As the landfills fill up, I believe people should become more aware of what their environmental footprint is. Having a strong recycling plan is a good safeguard for when those problems occur down the road.
Overall, this experience is one that I think people of all ages should have at least once in their life. We are all on this earth, and we all play a part in protecting it. It would make sense for everyone to know the size of the mark they are leaving. But for now, I will keep doing my part to reduce as much as I can.