The County of Simcoe, Ontario has revved up waste management promotion and education with a Mobile Education Unit (MEU). Both children and adults enjoy this “rolling classroom” packed with interactive games that promote waste reduction as well as the county’s collection and diversion programs.
The MEU is a 30-foot trailer wrapped with wall-to-wall graphics on both its interior and the exterior, and is hauled by a bio-diesel fuelled pick-up truck. The interior of the MEU is designed to resemble a streetscape with four different interactive stations incorporated into the design. These stations follow the lifecycle of products from point of purchase, to use in the home, to collection at curbside and finally to processing. The activities are designed to appeal to today’s technologically-inclined youth and feature six 24-inch touch screens as well as eight digital photo screens.
Upon entering the MEU, the first activity is the Green Grocery where players travel down the aisles of a virtual grocery store to select the most environmentally friendly option for each item on their shopping list. Items are dragged and dropped into the player’s virtual grocery cart while messaging encourages better choices. The activity teaches the importance of the three Rs at point of purchase.
The next activity is called the Smart Home where visitors are taken on a virtual tour of the home by a member of the “Smart” family. Players are required to select various items in each area of the home and divert them properly in order to complete the game. The activity illustrates the types of wastes that can be diverted in various areas of the home in order to increase capture and diversion rates.
Next, visitors can tour Lifecycle Lane where eight digital photo screens sequence through the lifecycles of common recyclable materials and provide information on the importance of diverting organics and education about disposal.
The Waste Plant is the final activity station where various waste items travel across a virtual conveyor belt to be sorted by participants by dragging and dropping them into the county’s four-stream system: containers, fibres, organics and garbage. The player attempts to achieve a high score by sorting the items properly while the speed of the game increases to enhance the challenge. The activity encourages proper waste sorting to increase capture rates and reduce contamination in the county’s recycling and organics programs.
The MEU, which was completed in the spring of this year, is being utilized extensively at schools as well as at various community events within Simcoe County.
The Continuous Improvement Fund (CIF) provided the county with partial funding in support of this unique educational tool. For further information about the MEU, visit the county’s website at
www.simcoe.ca or contact the Solid Waste Management Department at 705-735-6901.
Listening to Junk
Mark Sepic has a vision that musical playgrounds could help save the world. To that end, the Toronto musician has started using junk items in the construction of large musical play stations in public places.
Says Sepic, “My ultimate vision is to create public parks that inspire everyone to ‘unplug’ and play. If every playground in the world could be a variation on this music park, with recycled, weatherproof marimbas, strings, pitched pipes and slide whistles, etc., these irresistible, acoustic toys would let everyone learn while they play, like we do as children, with no interface or monthly fee.”
Sepic calls his orchestral inventions “Junkestra” percussion parks, believing that playful adventure will yield discovery and connection, inspiring the natural artist, musician and athlete in all of us. He hopes that this would offset some of the time and money spent on passive consumer entertainment like video games. Using recycled materials underscores his message that we need to build a global village in which pollution, waste and conflict are a distant memory. Junkestra also provides many school curriculum connections, i.e., music composition, improvisation, dance, drama, environmental studies and industrial arts.
To learn about having a Junkestra percussion park created for school or public space, contact Mark Sepic at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.marksepic.com
Willma Bureau, Contract & Collections Supervisor for the County of Simcoe’s Solid Waste Management Department in Midhurst, Ontario. Contact Willma at email@example.com