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August 26, 2017: Out in the Real World

I primarily work in the sorting area. I offer directives to volunteers related to collecting and sorting recyclables. The past volunteers know what to do. And they have been generous in passing on their hard-earned knowledge to me.

For instance, one woman suggested that small rocks be put in the wagon. These can be placed under the wheels when the wagons are parked next to the collection barrels. She also suggested that the daily fair schedule be placed in the carts and given to those who have logistical questions. Great ideas.

I have been working in the sorting area. But yesterday I also worked in the collection area, which is the fairgrounds itself. I was for a few hours a picker. Pickers, using long tongs, remove plastic bottles and aluminum cans from the green barrels, and place them in large plastic bags on the cart. Pickers also flatten and put the cardboard in the wagon.

I went out on a run with my long-time recycling partner and husband, Pete Praetorius. We’ve been pickers for a decade, and in this time have developed a system that works for us. We each take a cart, and work one side of the trail or the other, in near unison. We both work in a

focused, concentrated fashion, stopping once in a while to talk with vendors or those who are curious about what we’re doing. Sometimes one of us will veer off the trail and clear out the barrels in a side area. The other will go on ahead and continue working.

In the past, I filled my two large white garbage bags with cans and bottles, and jammed the cardboard between the bags. My cart was always wobbly and I often had to stop and pick up an errant can or bottle. This year, I refined my collection system. I looked closely at how other pickers were arranging their wares on my first two days of work. I noted that those with the most goods had struck a cardboard/bag balance, and so I determined to do the same.

Pete and I headed out on the red trail, an area with a large number of food vendors. We quickly deduced that it was going to be a good haul in that most of the barrels were partially full. I began filling my first bag. When it was a quarter full, I came to an area with a considerable amount of cardboard.

How to deal? I had an ah ha moment. I needed to prioritize. Rather than think cans and bottles first, I needed to think cardboard first. I took my bag out of the cart, set it on the ground, and lined the bottom of the cart with flattened cardboard. I next took additional cardboard and made four upright walls on each side of green cart. This then provided a base and walls for my two bags.

I then moved on. If need be, I could put cardboard between the two bags. It was fortuitous in that I didn’t come across any more cardboard on this run. It was all cans and bottles the rest of the way around the trail.

Near the run’s end, I jammed soda cans between the cardboard walls and my now full bags.

On this particular day there was less garbage in the recycling cans than previously. And furthermore, a larger-than average number of fairgoers said thank-you for doing the collecting. My sense is that past efforts of those involved in fair recycling is paying off. People are taking notice. I am honored to be playing a small role in this very significant cosmic shift.

Next; 234. 8/27/17: Interlude

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