Can Volunteer Organizations Get Greener?


By Bruce Rhodes


December 8, 2004


My family began to attend a church in Richmond Hill over a year ago. After most services, coffee and tea are served to the congregation. I observed that tea bags and coffee grounds were dumped in the garbage. After befriending the head of the “kitchen committee”, I arrived one Sunday with a large plastic container and scoop, and offered to be the person to haul the tea bags, etc. to the church’s neglected but still functional compost bin. After a little reluctance initially, others have offered to do this little job as well.


Every Friday, I’m part of a team of volunteers that serves breakfast to kids at a local public school. When I joined, apple juice tins, jam jars and orange peels were tossed in the trash. I offered to take these materials home and recycle or compost them. In the New Year I hope to persuade our purchaser to buy the kids’ milk in 4L returnable jugs from Mac’s Milk, rather than in the non-biodegradable plastic bags.


Just because volunteer organizations do worthy deeds does not mean that there may not be opportunities for them to operate in more sustainable ways. Look at your schools, clubs, volunteer groups, and places of worship: are their outreach and social events “zero waste”? If not, are there new approaches that you could champion, to head in that direction?