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Comox Valley volunteers help divert items from landfills

Waste diversion policy puts money back into community
Tess Hyde, left, and Fiona Kennedy enjoyed their time as waste station volunteers at Ribfest 2019. Photo supplied

Attendees at MusicFest, Ribfest and Market Day in Cumberland are likely to have noticed the number of young volunteers who have helped people place recyclables and garbage in appropriate bins. Their efforts are helping to divert items from landfills, and to turn waste into compost to use in gardens.

“It’s a great initiative,” said Stephanie Valdal, services co-ordinator with the Comox Strathcona Waste Management service. “It does end up diverting quite a bit of material from landfills. With Ribfest alone, we do about two tonnes of organics a year.”

She notes that environmental committees at schools are another way to involve students with special event waste diversion.

“We need to engage kids,” said Peggy Carswell, Green Team leader for Ribfest and a director of the Strathcona Sunrise Rotary club. “I think if we start to understand the connection between looking after the soil, growing healthy food, not being dependent on purchased inputs and diverting stuff that creates methane (a greenhouse gas), it’s a win-win all around.”

And it’s fun.

“We had such a great time volunteering for Ribfest,” Fiona Kennedy said on behalf of herself and her friend, Tess Hyde. “We decided to volunteer together and that made it even more fun. We helped with waste stations which kept waste out of the landfill. We had a front row seat to all of the great bands. We met a lot of great people and learned a lot about Rotary. We felt really good about volunteering and doing something positive for our community.”­

The CSWM has a special events waste diversion policy that puts money back into the community.

“It allows them to bring in their garbage for free on a tipping fee waiver if they do the diversion,” Valdal said, noting Coldest Night Of the Year and Relay for Life events participate in the program. “With Ribfest, they raise over $30,000 every year that goes back into the community for these programs that are not funded by taxpayer dollars.

“We are seeing more people interested in waste diversion,” she added. “It really shows that there is that care there.”

Carswell is looking for Green Team volunteers for this year’s Ribfest, which runs Aug. 26-28 at Cumberland Village Park.


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