22 April 2010

Reduce, Recycle, Ryan McLaughlin

Photo by Allison Jones

Ryan McLaughlin came to Portland from North Carolina in search of adventure. Heading Portland Farmers Market’s waste reduction and redirection campaign, Ryan has managed to elevate a concern for the environment into action. The program named EverGreen by Market fans through a Facebook contest, is funded by the City of Portland, specifically the Mayor’s office, and aims through waste reduction, composting and recycling to reduce the amount of waste the Market sends to the landfill by 90% over the next 3 years.

Waste – simultaneously unglamorous and vital to a healthy urban environment, is now an important facet of Ryan’s life as he works to reduce the 13,000 pounds generated by the Market each season. As a relatively new Portlander, Ryan has noticed the city’s green ideals are elevated to an even higher standard at the Market – “Shoppers expect us to uphold a strict environmental ethic, and look to us as community role models…I feel [an obligation] to our community to succeed.”

“Portlanders are an amazing set in the sense that most of them already recycle and many of them compost.” While our civic habit of recycling is nearly instinctual, the Market uses a slightly different system of sorting waste than the city’s curbside program. Rather than wishing for a greater level of environmental awareness, Ryan’s only desire for market goers is that they slow down a little and ask for help when they are unsure how our EverGreen program works.

Every Saturday you can find Ryan working to reduce and recycle the amount of waste generated at the market. If anyone is interested in hanging out at the EverGreen stations, Ryan promises the ideal combination of “meaningful impact and dirty fun”. Intrigued? Email ryan@portlandfarmersmarket.org for volunteer opportunities. For the armchair-internet type of activist you can raise consciousness via the information on our EverGreen page.  Metro’s Sustainable Living and the Portland Office of Planning and Sustainability‘s websites also contain info on how to make every day Earth Day.