Our Zero Waste Station operates smoothly each week due the phenomenal hard work and dedication of volunteers. Proudly dubbed Zero Waste Ambassadors. These individuals make sure that our reusable dishware program runs trouble-free; they get engaged in conversations with market-goers, answering questions about waste reduction; and help to keep the contents of our waste bins sorted, thereby reducing contamination. And those are just a few of the important contributions they’ve made!
Thanks to our Zero Waste Ambassadors, the Withrow Park Farmers’ Market has averted over 5000 items (namely disposable packaging and plastic cutlery) from becoming waste, this season alone. And that number increases every week! A dishwashing tally is maintained and updated after each market, you can check it out on our Zero Waste Initiatives page, found here.
We’d like to introduce you to some of the amazing people who are participating in our zero waste initiatives this season at the farmers’ market, and how they are reducing waste in their own lives.
Is there a special meaning for you to be able to volunteer as a Zero Waste Ambassador? Is it related to your career or profession? It’s very special for me to be a Zero Waste Ambassador because I worked in the last 7 years with waste management in my home country (Brazil). So, with this opportunity, I will be able to learn about this field here in Toronto.
What makes volunteering in general meaningful to you? As a volunteer you don’t go only to help a cause, you will be able to learn a lot of things, meet good people, and enjoy good moments.
Tell us more about yourself including your interests and hobbies – What do you like to do? I like to enjoy outdoors, beach or mountain, I like hiking or ride bicycle, I love travel to know new places, new culture and I love to try new foods.
What is one thing you do to cut down on plastic waste? I don’t use plastic bags to put vegetables or fruits when I go to groceries.
Is there special meaning for you to be able to volunteer as a Zero Waste Ambassador? Is it related to your career or profession? My job involves greenhouse gas emissions accounting and compiling corporate sustainability reports. I’ve encountered waste data as an important metric for companies that are aiming to simultaneously reduce their waste disposal fees and improve their environmental record in response to investor concerns. As someone who usually deals with waste behind a computer screen, volunteering as a Zero Waste Ambassador and getting “hands-on” with waste has been an enriching experience for me. I certainly gained a greater appreciation for the real-time effort that goes into supporting waste diversion.
What makes volunteering in general meaningful to you? Although we’re more connected to the world than ever before, I think it’s become harder with all of our modern distractions to be a part of something local and immediate to the places we frequent. In my experience, volunteering is a remedy of sorts to this sense of detachment, and it also provides a new perspective on how big, global issues affect us closer to home.
Tell us more about yourself including your interests and hobbies – What do you like to do? I enjoy cycling, cooking and travelling when I can. I particularly like visiting the west coast as my family lives out there. I’m also slowly (but surely!) learning how to code with the goal of applying what I learn to small side projects.
What is one thing you do to cut down on plastic waste? To cut down on plastic waste, I rarely, if ever, buy bottled water. I’m also working on getting better at taking a tote bag to the grocery store.
Is there special meaning for you to be able to volunteer as a Zero Waste Ambassador? Is it related to your career or profession? I am really happy to be a part of the zero waste team. It gives me accountability and makes me stay on top of my personal commitments. I don’t always do as much as I would like to but being in the zero waste environment and associating with like-minded people helps a lot.
What makes volunteering in general meaningful to you? Giving back to the community and being a part of something meaningful is a big part of who I am. Since I was a kid my mom raised me to always give and help when possible.
Tell us more about yourself including your interests and hobbies – What do you like to do? I love cooking and shopping for food. On my day off, especially Sunday, I can go grocery shopping and cook all day. I am happy listening to country music or folk music and just chillin’ while I meal prep for the week. I also sew, garden and cat sit, and work with rescue cats. It sounds like a lot of work but it is all fun for me 🙂
What is one thing you do to cut down on plastic waste? I bring reusable grocery and produce bags, coffee mug, and water bottle all the time. I try to remember to-go containers but that one hasn’t quite become natural yet. I shop at the bulk barn, make my own laundry and dish soap, meal prep. It all takes a bit of time at first but once I got going things just seemed second nature.
Is there special meaning for you to be able to volunteer as a Zero Waste Ambassador? Is it related to your career or profession? I have a Bachelors of Environment in International Development so learning about environmental issues has been part of my schooling, however, I really got interested in reducing waste and environmental sustainability about a year ago and am very passionate about it. I would love to have a career related to sustainability in some way so I thought this opportunity would be a great opportunity to learn more and help with a zero-waste initiative happening in the city.
What makes volunteering in general meaningful to you? It’s meaningful to me because I care about and love the earth and nature so knowing that I am helping to play a small part to keep it healthy is a great feeling. I want to do as much as I can for the environment.
Tell us more about yourself including your interests and hobbies – What do you like to do? The thing that most people who know me probably identify me with is that I love animals – If I see a dog, squirrel, bunny, pigeon, or whatever animal, there is a 100% chance that I will get very excited and stop to observe. In relation to this, I love almost anything to do with the outdoors – hiking, camping, swimming, etc. I also love to travel and learning about different cultures and places in the world. In the last year, I have also fallen in love with yoga and practice every day because I find it so beneficial for the body and the mind.
What is one thing you do to cut down on plastic waste? I bring produce bags and reusable grocery bags to the store. I try to buy as much as I can without packaging. I mostly use public transit or walk/bike places. I eat plant-based. I buy clothing and a lot of other things second hand. I’m always seeking new ways to lower my footprint.
If you see one of our awesome Zero Waste Ambassadors at the Market stop to say ‘Hi’ or give them a high five! Does volunteering sound interesting to you? Find out more here.
About the author: Katrina joined Withrow Market by way of initiating the zero waste station in 2018. She is now a CLFI Director and volunteer at the Market. She is a devotee of reusable programs as a solution to food-packaging waste. She reads a lot about climate change, sustainability, and the circular economy, and she really enjoys engaging others in conversations about these subjects. She suggests becoming a member of the Facebook group Zero Waste Toronto, and checking out the awesome work done by Toronto Environmental Alliance. You can find Katrina on Instagram @learningtolivewastefree
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