07 December 2010

EverGreening the Market

This season, PFM launched EverGreen, a comprehensive waste reduction initiative designed to make our markets more sustainable. We had hoped to divert 50% of the garbage produced at the PSU Market and we are proud to share that not only have we reached our goal, but we’ve exceeded it by 30%!

This amazing feat would not have been possible without the leadership of our own Anna Curtin (PFM’s Education and Outreach Specialist), vital support for the program from the Mayor’s office and cooperation from our many vendors and shoppers—thank you all!

PFM would also like to offer a very special thank you to the Brown Brigade, our amazing crew of coordinators and volunteers that put this program into motion each week.  We’d like to introduce you to two individuals whose dedication to this program has made it an undisputed success.

EverGreen Coordinator Damien Lopez

As PFM’s dynamic Evergreen Coordinator, Damien Lopez has hauled, sorted, weighed and documented the nearly 17,000 lbs of garbage generated at the market this year.  Hailing from Hoboken, NJ, Damien and his girlfriend Nicole (also a market staff member) were drawn from the East Coast to Portland for the mild winters and progressive culture.

To support their passion for sustainability and local agriculture, Damien and Nicole began volunteering for PFM as soon as they landed in Portland in 2009.  Damien was drawn to the ideals behind the EverGreen program.  He recalls, “When I first heard about recycling, as a child, I remember thinking how cool it was to re-use material that used to end up in a landfill. Composting food waste and using products that can break down quickly is a further extension of that and just makes sense to me.”

Damien is also intrigued by the fact that sometimes an old solution can work on a new problem.  As he puts it, “I find it interesting that a society so far removed from its agricultural roots has found an answer to the ever-increasing problem of waste management in an old farming practice like composting.”

Although he knows it’s not always easy to break old habits, Damien sees EverGreen as a worthy challenge and enjoys being a part of the solution. He has long been a believer of the adage, “Live simply, so that others may simply live” and feels that his work as part of the Brown Brigade helps to support this conviction.

EverGreen Volunteer Coordinator Bethany Davidson

Bethany Davidson loves helping people learn how to reduce their waste.  Her sustainability breakthrough came while taking a class at Portland State University called Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling.  For an entire week, her class was charged with holding on to everything they would normally recycle, compost or discard.  She was amazed at how much we throw away and it made her wonder, where does all of it go once we are done with it?

With her new perspective, Bethany knew she wanted to share what she had learned with others, which led her to volunteer for PFM’s EverGreen program.  As our EverGreen Volunteer Coordinator, Bethany recruits team members for the Brown Brigade and helps educate market shoppers about the importance of reducing their footprint.  She is grateful for the many volunteers that returned each week, rain or shine, and acknowledges that we couldn’t have accomplished nearly as much without their dedication.

This month, you can find Bethany at a special EverGreen booth at the market, where she is dispensing information about composting and waste reduction along with tips for greener living.  Stop by to learn more and to play some sustainability-minded games, complete with prizes (like tamales from Salvador Molly’s)!

If you are interested in joining our EverGreen campaign and making an impact in your community, please click here for more information.