The entire student population of Sprague Elementary School crowded into their gymnasium last Friday to hear professional entertainer Jack Golden of Greenfield make his case about environmentalism. But Golden’s presentation wasn’t just a simple speech or PowerPoint slideshow. The gym echoed with laughter as Golden played a comedic role as “Dr. T., the wizard of waste, a trashologist that loves to talk trash.”
The performance was coordinated in cooperation between the Recycling and Disposal Facility (RDF) and Sprague Elementary School in honor of America Recycles Day, generating awareness about issues surrounding trash disposal and the waste cycle in elementary school students. In addition to hearing from Golden, students took part in the event by giving short speeches about ways to be more sustainable as part of the introduction to the assembly.
The show’s main feature was Garbage is My Bag, a comedic performance about solid waste. Golden focused his presentation on information surrounding the solid waste disposal process and alternative forms of waste disposal like recycling. He emphasized how “garbage in trash doesn’t go away, it just goes somewhere else,” pointing out that “recycling starts and ends with us.” Golden encouraged students to reduce trash through composting, sorting recycling, and reusing items. He also emphasized the importance of students reminding their own parents to recycle and simply reducing the amount of trash they produce on a regular basis.
Golden began his career as a comedian in the circus for six years, but according to him, as he began to learn more about recycling, he sought to give his show more meaning. He began creating shows that he calls “seriously funny” with a combination of humor and serious topics. Among other recognitions, Golden has received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Administrators’ Award for Solid Waste Education for his education skits. He now travels the country presenting his sustainably-inspired show to schools, conferences, theaters, and anyone else who will listen. In addition to teaching theater classes at Boston University and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Golden is active in sustainability organizations like the National Recycling Congress and MassRecycle.
Golden hopes that by adding a comedic twist on serious issues, “kids will start to associate recycling words with having a good time. It’s an attitude thing, and we want kids to see recycling as fun and not a chore.”