Today, our team will be bidding farewell to Nathalie Heyden, our co-op student who has been with us this semester from the University of Waterloo. During her time with us, Nathalie has worked in the role of “Projects Coordinator” taking on many valuable tasks including the design & launch of new education programs, blogging, creating internal and external communication pieces, completing a number of research projects and more. She has traveled with our team for the launch of a new organics diversion program for a large restaurant client, she’s supported the waste audit team out in the field, and she’s even seen the Rocket Composting system in action, learning all about how it works! Today, Nathalie is sharing a reflection on her time with MASS. We want to thank her for her hard work, and wish her the very best in her future endeavors! We know she will do great things.
During my time at MASS Environmental Services Inc., I worked as the Projects Coordinator co-op student. I worked under Heather Varner the Special Projects Manager. I can’t say enough good things about Heather and how much she has helped me to grow both professionally and personally. Heather has an incredibly optimistic personality, a keen eye for detail and she is an eloquent and thoughtful writer. She has helped me to learn the ins-and-outs of the waste industry, and has trusted me with the completion of many self-directed projects. Heather is someone I admire, and I am very excited to learn of the amazing things she accomplishes in her future.
During my interview for MASS, Heather went on a tangent about how much she loved the waste industry. I left the interview both excited about the enthusiasm of my soon-to-be manager but, was also left questioning “how exciting could garbage really be?” Four months later, I can confirm that garbage, or the more technical term – waste, is extremely interesting. Daily at MASS, I am exposed to the complex issues of the waste industry, and I am able to learn from Canada’s waste diversion leaders how to resolve such complexities.
When I first arrived at MASS in January, the Customer Service and Administrative Team (Katie, Alexsandra and Cassandra) took me under their wings, and were able to quickly and thoroughly answer any questions I had about MASS’ operations. They are a wonderful, intelligent group of women, and I have learned a great deal about excellent customer service simply by working nearby them. I have witnessed the team resolve all service conflicts – done so in both a professional and efficient manner, no matter the difficulty of the situation.
In February, I was able to accompany Mac and Heather on a day-trip to launch the Organics (composting) programs for multiple locations. Seeing first-hand the different issues that businesses brought-forward during the organics launch was very eye-opening. Coming from an environmental studies background, I had strong environmental biases that previously would not have accounted for certain business concerns. Learning these concerns has given me insight on how to implement changes from a business’ perspective.
Later in February, I began helping Heather with educational webinars for our clients. Webinars have become a daily routine for me, and with time, she has even entrusted me with leading webinars. Webinars are very rewarding as we are able to educate our clients on how to divert their waste properly, all while continuing my own growth learning more about the waste industry and improving my presentation skills.
In April, I joined the audit team on a waste audit. I worked alongside Mac, Erik and George to sort through the site’s waste. George and Erik were given the task of sorting through the food-waste organics (the audit team has such a positive attitude, and truly do love this!) while Mac and I sorted through many bags of recyclables. The Waste Audit team has a system that is extremely efficient, which is invaluable when sorting through a large facility’s waste. The audit team is such a passionate and motivated group. It is really quite moving seeing such enthusiasm directed towards sorting through waste. After the audit, the team took me to another site to see a Rocket, which is an on-site food waste composter. This specific composter continuously processes up to 3500 litres of organic material, creating an end-product of nutrient rich mulch that the site can use as topsoil for their landscaping. What I was very surprised about was how quiet the Rocket was (I think the microwave in our staff-room is louder than the rocket). This day was such an amazing hands-on experience that I would have never been exposed to in a classroom setting.
A very rewarding outcome of working at MASS has been being able to apply what I learn here at work to other aspects of my life. I now have a much broader understanding of the recycling industry, and I am able to explain to my friends and family why certain materials are not able to be recycled even though they may have the trademark recycling triangle imprinted on them. ‘Greenwashing’ is the term we use for this phenomenon, as many plastics will have the recycling symbol, but unless there is a facility willing to accept said plastic, it will be sent to a landfill. In addition to recycling, organics diversion has become near and dear to me, as it was the topic of many of my webinars and research projects this term. With that, I have begun looking into backyard composters to set-up at my own house, as we do not have a municipal program for organics. With spring in full swing, I am very excited to get started on this new task.
MASS Environmental Services Inc. has taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined. Marnie and George are such inspiring business owners, each maintaining a drive for success and a commitment to their environmental and family-oriented values. Like Heather, Marnie and George have been invaluable in my growth as an environmental student and as a person. I want to thank George and Marnie, along with the managerial team Alex, Mac, Heather and Jesse for giving me the opportunity to spend my first co-op here at MASS.
After being a part of the “MASS family” for four months, it is a bittersweet feeling having to say goodbye. Though I will be returning to Waterloo to continue my undergraduate education, I am sad to be parting from such an amazing group of people. MASS welcomed me onto their team with open arms, not only making me feel as though I was a part of a great work culture, but as a part of a family.