Sunday, April 17, 2011

What I'm All About..

Growing up I never thought much about recycling, reuse or the environment. At home we recycled, fed our food scraps to chickens, had a garden and enjoyed the outdoors; hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, etc. This was our way of life and no one made a big deal of it. I ended up staying in my home state and getting a BS in Environmental Studies at University of Vermont with a concentration in environmental education and wildlife conservation. I had found my passion.

Nature Center in NJ
After graduation I was employed at a nature center in NJ and a residential environmental education center in GA. Between those amazing opportunities I worked retail at a big box store, DSG  in Williston, Vermont. That job almost killed me. Seeing the all the excess and unnecessary packaging and lack of recycling drove me crazy. Although I enjoyed my job, I felt guilty every day I worked there. I continually applied for jobs in environmental fields and was continually rejected. Not enough experience, too many applicants. For a while I felt hopeless.

My luck finally changed at the end of 2009. I took a part time job as a "compost monitor". I stood in the lunchroom at a central Vermont school and helped students separate their food scraps from trash and recycling. Although it was only 2 hours a day (and was highly over-qualified), and made my retail schedule awful (working nights 5 days a week), I was happy and felt good about what I was doing. Quickly after that luck was on my side again. The woman who was my supervisor found out she got into graduate school and was leaving the job in one month. I was snatched up for her position faster than I could ever imagine! See ya later retail!!

Simon the dog with his new sweatshirt!

 So now here I am. Working as the School Zero Waste Coordinator at the local solid waste district. I help set up composting programs in schools and am working to help schools reduce waste and recycle more. I am working to create recycling program and convince schools (students, faculty and staff), why they should invest into the 3Rs. This is not as easy at it may seem. I have come up against many people who think composting is ridiculous and recycling is a waste of time. It's safe to say that some days I come home feeling hopeless about the future of the planet.

Rosie the pug with her fancy sweatshirt!

Well, enough about work life - my life outside of work is much more exciting. I love to knit and craft. My newest hobby (which may becoming an obsession) is reusing materials and making them into something new. So far I have made 2 dog sweatshirts out of old sweatshirts from work. I envision making more dog clothes and stuffed animals out of old t-shirts, etc. I am also collecting old clothes to use to make a patchwork quilt for my bed. Anything I can do to reuse materials I will do.

 My strive to be green also includes reducing the amount of stuff that I own and making responsible purchases. I want to buy local and American and really buy only what I need. Determining the difference between wants and needs has been an amazing journey for me. My Mom is still amazed when I say that I there is nothing I need right now (I would say that I am a reformed shop-a-holic). Over consumption is a problem that is plaguing this country and I am putting a stop to that practice in my life immediately.

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