Marin County Office of Education

By: Aimee de Blaauw (Class of 2018)

At my internship, I have been working at the Marin County Office of Education to turn them into a zero waste model site. My biggest accomplishment so far, though I am still in the middle of doing it, is turning all the bathroom trash cans into composts so that the paper towels are diverted from the landfill.
To start this project, our zero-waste team of five- Jessie and Mike from MCOE, Casey from Zero Waste Marin, Izzy from Marin Sanitary, and myself- met and discussed our project’s timeline and the tasks we need to do to accomplish our final goal by May. The next week, I was introduced to many members of the staff at MCOE, as well as made a spreadsheet mapping out all the tasks and goals we talked about in the meeting. Looking it over after finishing, my supervisor, Mike Grant, and I decided the first thing we should do is divert the paper waste in the bathrooms.

The first step was to order the bins, so Mike, Jessie and I brought one of the tall green compost bins from the hall into the bathroom. After talking it over, we agreed that these green bins would be the best choice for the paper towel compost, and we would keep the built-in wall receptacles for trash. Mike then ordered bins for all the bathrooms. My next jobs were to draft an email to the staff about the new change, and to make signs for the bins in the bathrooms.

Our next steps are to edit and send the email I drafted, to train the janitors and staff, as well as to put the bins and laminated signs into the bathrooms. To be successful, we had to communicate with each other, research what we were doing, as well as split up the work between us.

One lesson I have learned in my internship so far is that you can be heard as a teen, even when in a group of adults. All the people I work with and around are older than me, but I am still treated with respect. I saw in our group meeting as well as from the tasks I have already done, that my ideas can be implemented, built off, and are important to the project.

The main skill I have been improving through my internship is communication. There have been a few instances where I have had to reschedule my hours for the week and had to communicate it to Mike. This is teaching me to always communicate when you have a conflict and do it as soon as possible. I have also been learning to write professional emails, and how to talk to adults professionally in person. I have already had to audit all garbage cans in the offices inside MCOE by telling each employee in a personal office or cubical about our zero-waste goals.

So far, I am having a really good time interning at the Marin County Office of Education. I love the people I work around, as they are all professionals yet are still nice and joke around with me and each other. I’m excited to see what we will accomplish this year if, already, our Zero-Waste team has done so much!