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Aug 17th, 2023

Meet Chloe and Nubi: Waste Administration Students Help Foster Cleaner, Greener Communities

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In July we sat down with two Waste Administration Summer Students – Chloë and Nubi. Chloe is a recent graduate of Environmental Studies at Carleton University and Nubi, a Ph.D. in Environmental Sustainability.   

They have a crucial role in helping to maintain clean communities.  

Their day is often spent outside, checking around the community waste areas and identifying issues such as improper use of the recycling, cardboard, or organic waste bins. They speak to tenants one-on-one and provide education about waste diversion practices. Their passion and dedication have just helped support the success of the waste diversion project but have motivated everyone on their team.   

We asked both Chloe and Nubi: What is a typical working day for you?  

Chloë said, “I think on a typical day – normally in the mornings, we walk around, look at the garbage just try to see where the community is at with their waste disposal. A lot of the time there’s garbage spilling on the ground – that determines our day.”  

She added that the team then sees which areas need more education and which buildings they need to re-educate, for example, if the garbage is looking bad due to waste overflow or improper sorting.  

Next, the two would brainstorm new ways to educate them to complement other engagements already completed.  

“It’s also about re-education. Our manager sometimes would say: ‘Can you go to this apartment at 4:30? Make a map, show them where the recycling is,’” Chloë said.  

Nubi added the team has a schedule planned out including the building locations and the number of tenants they need to speak with.    

How does your degree align with your job at OCH? How did you find the employment opportunity?  

Nubi said she found the waste diversion job position on Indeed, which aligns perfectly with her experience in waste management and environmental sustainability: “I thought it was practical. And it’s going to help me be able to help the community.”  

“The major thing is about making a change. Waste management has always been an issue everywhere. And so, you can talk to people and help people understand what they are doing wrong, and how they can make it better,” she added.   

Chloë said the position interested her. She has heard about Ottawa Community Housing before and was excited to see a position dedicated to waste diversion, since she studied Environmental Studies.  

“The description seemed interesting,” she said. “I really liked the education part of it and actively engaging with the community.”   

What do you like best about your job?  

Chloë said her favourite part of the job is speaking to tenants. She gets the chance to see a lot of parents who want to be role models for their kids.    

“I think it is cool to see parents with that mentality,” she said.   

Nubi added what surprises her, is the diversity of people and the diversity of knowledge they have about waste management and recycling. She said people have different levels of engagement with waste diversion, so she is motivated to provide information and help people change their recycling habits.   

What surprised you once you began working at OCH?  

Chloë said she didn’t think there were so many different managers and different positions within the corporation.  

Nubi had this to say: “I think for me it was the office culture. Everybody’s so respectful of each other. Everybody’s very loving and caring. Everybody really wants to help you. One thing I was quite surprised about, (that is), you’re a student, but they don’t treat you as a student, they treat you like you are part of the team.”  

What do you find challenging about your job?  

Chloë said she finds it a challenge that change happens slowly. “Sometimes we will go into a community and do education and come back and still see garbage on the ground,” she said.    

Nubi added: “Gradually, we’re seeing changes. Some days you’re motivated when you see people comply. So that really helps.   

Nubi said there are sometimes language barriers – and it’s important to recognize tenants have many things going on.   

“Sometimes they just don’t have time to talk to us. And they have so much going on, right? They have jobs, kids, etc. Sometimes, the last thing they want to hear is like us talking to them about recycling,” Chloë said.  

What motivates you to go to work every day?  

Chloe said the key is that the team feels like they are making a difference.  

There is a part of their work that holds tenants accountable for dumped waste, such as Amazon boxes. She said part of their work is to take the box back to the tenant and clarify which bin it should be placed in.   

When asked what would be the one takeaway from this summer experience…

“First, it will be the fact that I have made a change, because now I have educated people. The greatest thing is being able to educate people on how to improve their ways. I have the chance to pull out the knowledge I’ve gotten from the university to somebody else,” Nubi said.  

Chloe added that it’s heartening to see tenants who are really working to make a change because they want to see their community clean.   

What’s the plan for the rest of the summer?  

Nubi said they’re trying to do is draw up a plan to be able to get to more communities, not just at the Central, but also wherever it is as they need it.  

“In the next couple of months, we do want to engage with more property managers as well. Because they’re also struggling with garbage in their communities,” Chloe said.  

Nubi mentioned one highlight.   

“On World Environment Day (June 5), we had the opportunity to speak with everybody in the office about recycling. We saw some changes. That was one good impact. It has to start from the office first before we also talk to the tenants,” she said.  

When asked if they’d recommend OCH to prospective summer students, Chloe said, “I feel like it’s a good opportunity, it’s a really rewarding position as well.”  

Nubi added that she would definitely return. ” You’re learning and then you’re also able to give back,” she said.