05 November 2018

Meet Our Recycling Ambassadors

Meet Our Recycling Ambassadors

Natasha Kalvas - Eastern Midlands Recycling Ambassador

Natasha is one of our Eastern Midlands Recycling Ambassadors, she's our go to for County Meath and surrounding areas. Here she shares some of her highlights presenting the workshops and an example of a truly green festival experience! 

"When I saw the ad looking for Recycling Ambassadors I felt it was right up my alley. I work as a sustainable development workshop provider and already I had bags of household packaging ready to be inspected by primary school pupils. They would gather in teams and practice recycling - relay race style!

Highlights for me in my work are 1st year students debating doggedly amongst each other whether their school should ban single use drink bottles… or kids’ excitement when presented with upcycled designs. A bracelet made from an old fork? I too want to make a picture frame from unwanted coloured pencils!!! A shop selling wallets that used to be old bicycle tyres?? Wow people are so creative and make this stuff!!!??

It is great now being part of this nationwide recycling programme and connecting with householders (sadly without the relay races). Giving attendees a chance to practice in pairs with bags of packaging, helps to solidify the new recycling list. I like how we are encouraged to focus on what CAN be recycled and if in doubt throw it out. It helps to keep it simple.

I live in Ashbourne and offer workshops in Meath and Louth. Many of those attending live in the country. They thus receive no kerbside bin collection and would routinely visit their closest recycling centre to dispose of waste.

This has brought up questions about differences between what is accepted in bin collections/vs recycling centres, but the essential message of clean, empty and loose remains consistent."

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Natasha went along to Earthsong Festival earlier this year and wanted to share the great work being done to leave no trace;

"Have you ever seen really clean recycling on a scale bigger than your own household bin? So clean that it doesn’t feel like stuff for the bin but something with value just begging to be turned into something else?

My toddler and I were at Earthsong’s Dance Drum and Movement Camp, a 9 day retreat in a beautiful natural, secluded setting in Ireland. Around 500 folk attend this always sold out, family friendly camp, so when I saw heaps of used food packaging all shiny, happy, clean and sorted in the one spot, well it made my heart sing! How did they do it?

In its 10th year, the aim of Earthsong is to create a space to remember how to be sensitive to our own needs, our neighbours’ and our natural environment. To encourage a sense of playful creativity and peaceful spiritual awareness, exploring wonderful music, song and dance from many cultures.

For me and my toddler, both attending for the first time, the real drawcard was knowing it was also a safe space for her. There are no drugs, alcohol, electricity or electronics and no late night noise. What a relief! It just meant getting on with enjoying the whole experience where one of the highlights was the evening meal in our group of 20, cooked every night over the fire.

Earthsong is beautifully coordinated with a large meitheal. In previous years, recycling was tricky to manage and located in the car park. With the new Irish recycling list  set in motion in late 2017, the team decided to try a new approach. This year a tent just for recycling was placed almost in the middle of all the daily activities, next to the children’s area. Clearly signed, it opened each day at lunch and dinner prepping time. The key ingredient was a volunteer present at all times to advise. If stuff wasn’t clean it wasn’t accepted. Large boxes segregated materials, as some were reused for onsite art projects

Emily Robyn Archer and Liadain Butler coordinated the festival's recycling initiative. She visited every camp site early on, sharing details of the new recycling system, handing out the free VOICE Ireland fridge magnets with visuals of what can be recycled. Emily and her team are enthusiastic and driven to make a difference to Ireland's festival waste reputation.

"While the Irish festival scene's reputation for waste management is as grave as ever", explains Emily, "it's promising to see a small gathering show we can have mindful celebrations without the mindless waste."

500 living in one space together could become a big smelly, dirty mess generating huge waste after 9 days. This simple well organised system meant recyclables stayed out of it and Emily and her team actively engaged with many people on the topic and in her words, achieved 9 days of immaculate recycling.

Image - It’s Mary Bray from Bective ICA Meath