When Benafsha Amiri was tasked with managing waste at the 2017 Mulaqat in Montreal, she was determined to throw as little as possible into the trash. Leading up to the Mulaqaat, Amiri and her team worked with the caterer to figure out how to package meals and snacks so that most packaging could be recycled, rather than thrown away.
“I made sure to minimize the purchase of materials that generate waste in the day's routine activities,” says Amiri. “An example of this is when we bought small hand vacuums. We bought these knowing they were reusable after the Mulaqat, as we could use these often in our Jamatkhanas.”
With 100 dedicated volunteers, her team ensured proper management and sorting of conventional waste, biomedical and hazardous waste, and recyclables at the Mulaqat with more than 8,000 people in attendance.
“The toughest part was making the Jamat understand that they needed to separate the garbage from recycling,” says Amiri. Volunteers had to be specially trained to ensure the crowd followed the procedures.
Amiri, who holds a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric sciences and a master’s degree in environmental management, has long been concerned about raising awareness of environmental issues, especially climate change.
"Climate change is difficult to understand, as you can't physically see the impact," says Amiri, who is an environmental development officer at the Regional County Municipality (MRC) of Vaudreuil-Soulanges in Greater Montreal. But with increasing natural disasters like floods, she predicts people will soon understand the consequences.