Waste experience hardly a wasteful experience
A student co-op job at the Cowichan Valley Regional District certainly wasn’t a waste of time for Meghan Larson.
The Cowichanian’s summertime stint at the CVRD in 2008 fueled a career in waste management that’s taken her to the Philippines, and now Indonesia.
She Jan. 12.
“I worked with the (CVRD’s) environmental department, doing bylaw inspections, some outreach, and helping develop the Zero Waste campaign when it was starting out,” said Larson, 27.
“It was definitely the co-op that really sparked my interest in waste management.”
That interest took Larson to the Philippines last year, when she worked with Sustainable Cities International to help develop integrated community solid waste management plans.
She enjoyed the work but wished she had more time to expand on it.
Which is why Larson leapt at the opportunity to work in Indonesia for the next two years, working as a waste management advisor with CUSO International.
Larson will use her training and experience from home and the Philippines to assist with the creation of a solid waste management system in Ende.
“I’ve always had an interest in travelling, and seeing how other places do things,” Larson said. “The opportunity to go overseas and work with organizations that are working on waste management issues really appealed to me because I think so many of the lessons learned in Canada can be applied in other countries, and lessons learned in those countries can be brought back home. And it opens your eyes to how unique each community you work in is.”
Of course, there are challenges in preparing for a lengthy stay in Indonesia — but not necessarily the ones you may think.
“Learning to ride a motorcycle — that’s a challenge and a big hurdle,” Larson said. “It’s fun, and really exciting, but learning in the temperatures we’ve had lately has been the main challenge.”
The rewards are immeasurable, though.
“Getting to work with such a diverse group of people,” said Larson of the highlights, “and seeing how a topic such as waste management really effects different people’s lives. It can be a really positive way to bring a community together, and have them be proud of how clean and green their community is.”
For more information about Larson’s work in waste management, visit her blog at www.rubbishreport.org.