Finding Happiness at BIRD

May 19, 2016 - 3 minutes read

This spring, Bowen Island Community School’s Parent Advisory Council (BICS PAC) will once again hold a spot in the line-up of Bowen Island organizations whose volunteers box and stack refundables at the Bowen Island Recycling Depot (BIRD). You may have noticed that some of these volunteers radiate a kind of happiness that you wouldn’t ordinarily associate with the handling of stale beer cans.

One way to explore the mystery is to see how volunteering for the BICS PAC’s shift at BIRD fits the 10 key steps on the path to happiness identified by Action for Happiness (see actionforhappiness. org) and discussed last fall in BICS principal Scott Slater’s blog (here). Summarized as the acronym GREAT DREAM, these 10 key steps to happiness help to unlock the secret of finding bliss as you box empties. Here is just one interpretation: feel free to imagine your own answers.


You are giving your time to raise money for worthwhile projects such as the BICS community playground.


You are connecting with your fellow volunteers and island neighbours in a spontaneous way. Friendly eye contact. Frequent grins. The occasional chat with a new acquaintance or old friend. People leaving their smartphones in the car.


As you set bottles and cans in motion on their journey to a better place than the dump, you are working your major muscle groups.


You are appreciating that in the glorious Bowen springtime, you have a relatively painless way to do your part. No sweltering heat. No plague of wasps around the juice bin.

Trying Out

It’s all about innovating and refining your technique as you corral wine bottles of varying girths into a cardboard box. There’s no shame in being a novice.


You have a discrete task and two hours to do it. You will never face another more direct and easily achievable goal in your week.


After the first time you realize that you’ve mistakenly tossed a white-lined juice box into the silver-lined juice box mega bin, you know you will bounce back from wading your hand into the juice slime and will be stronger for it.


Your fellow islanders radiate positive energy as they weave around you and sometimes throw a kind word your way. How can you not soak it in?


Whether you go through your BIRD shift like a Zen master, a chatty bartender, a human sine curve, or Mrs. Tittlemouse, you accept the unique traits that you bring to this noble undertaking.


As a parent volunteer, you are helping your family, your school, your community and the planet. It’s hard to pack that much meaning into two hours of volunteer time, but you’ve done it. Go home, your mission is complete.