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September 5, 2017: Fair Enough

The Alaska State Fair ended last night; the vendors closed up shop at 8 p.m. Most think that this was it – and didn’t realize that for many, that today, the hard work continued. Of course, the vendors were cleaning up and moving their goods out. And the maintenance people (always driving lime green trucks) were filling their two dumpsters from garbage that they were collecting from red, yellow, and purple barrels. All day, I watched as the dumpster mound of white plastic bags filled with trash grew higher and higher.

And there was us recycling folk. Early on in the day, Pete and I picked up the green barrels and lids, which we placed on our flatbed trailer and hauled back to the Recycling Sorting area. We also gathered up the blue plastic recycling bins that

were inside Raven Hall. We were momentarily waylaid by an army helicopter that was preparing to take off. Pete said that when it lifted off, that it blew over a Port-a-Potty.

Along the way we gathered up some cardboard and put this in the back of the Tundra. I rooted through the red, yellow, and purple barrels and pulled out the cans and bottles on the top. Otherwise, these perfectly good recyclables would end up in the Mat-Su Borough Landfill.

We unloaded the barrels in the sorting area, placing the bags full of materials and garbage by the sorting tables. Larry and another worker, Jeremy, spent the morning doing cardboard runs.

The weather was utterly miserable. A light drizzle became a downpour. In the afternoon I assisted Amy, an inveterate volunteer, with the sorting. She worked mid-morning to mid-afternoon alone. I wince thinking about it – the bags contained bottles and cans and garbage. We were later joined by my good friend Bill Schmidtkunz who had come to the fair to pick up his woodworking entries.

As usual, the sorting banter centered on waste, and how much was in the bags. I contributed to this conversation by observing that the number of volunteers was down yesterday afternoon, at what was a critical time – we then needed more people on hand, so that they might grab some of the bottles and cans in the non-green barrels. Everyone liked my idea – next year we might invite the hardest workers to a final collect and sort session. After, we’ll have a barbecue and maybe pass out some awards.

I gave most of the volunteers white ribbons with the words “I Recycled” on the front. Most were appreciative. If I had my druthers, I’d have given each one a hundred dollar gift certificate to a really nice restaurant. And even this would not have sufficed. There really was no way to thank those like Amy or Kaliah, who came nearly every day and worked their butts off.

I have one day of work remaining. Tomorrow is probably going to be much like today. We’ll collect the barrels and after sort the goods. We’ll then put the tools of our trade, orange rubber gloves, blue plastic aprons, green wagons, and collecting grabbers, into storage. Hopefully, it will not be raining.

Next: 246. 9/6/17: Fare Thee Well

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