There are three primary roles for Recycling Ambassadors:
- Establish yourself as a resource.
- Educate others.
- Create opportunities.
Ambassadors may select or create projects that meet any of these three needs depending on their time, abilities and interests. We recommend beginning by establishing yourself as a resource through introductions about your new role to your communities. Consider ways that you may engage with your neighborhood, community groups, friends, extended family networks or workplace. You may decide that you want to focus your efforts on engaging with one or two of these communities, or you may decide that you want everyone in your life to be more active in recycling. This decision is up to you.
Do you have your own project ideas to add? Looking for more projects to do? Visit our Ambassador Forum to add and look for ideas.
Introducing Yourself as a Resource for Recycling
Making your presence known is a key part of opening doors to discussion in your communities. Let your networks know that you are a resource for recycling and have knowledge of the different options for recycling in Kanawha County (see Where and What to Recycle and Alternate Methods to review these options). If they have any questions, you can answer them or connect them to the right place to get answers (Feel free to refer anyone to the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority! See Connect to Us for more information.)
- Neighborhood Door-to-door Introductions (In Print)
- Print out short introductions (may be set up as multiple introductions on one sheet to save space, then cut into smaller sections) and insert them in your neighbors mailboxes.
- My name is ____________________, and I’m a Recycling Ambassador in the neighborhood. I’m passionate about making sure everyone in the neighborhood is recycling to the best of their abilities. Recycling isn’t just about helping the environment, in many cases it’s more cost effective and it also creates jobs. In the past few decades, 6 landfills have filled up and closed in Kanawha County. Recycling more waste will slow down this rate and help preserve West Virginia’s natural beauty. If there is anything that is stopping you from recycling, or if you have any questions, please call me at ________________ so we can talk.
- Neighborhood Door-to-door Introductions (In Person)
- Knock on your neighbors’ doors and shake their hands! Tell them a similar statement to what is found in the sample print introduction, and let them know any ideas you may have about improving recycling in the neighborhood. You may want to have something available to hand them with your contact information.
- Introductions for Community Groups and Co-workers
- The next time you meet with a community group you are active in or convene a staff meeting, inform everyone about your new Recycling Ambassador role. Ask for questions, let people know their options for recycling (e.g. City curbside recycling programs and area drop-off sites listed at Where and What to Recycle) or propose ideas to get people recycling (see Creating Opportunities section below for starter ideas).
- Inter-office Email Introduction
- If you don't regularly meet with your co-workers, or if you work in a small team at a large office, send an all-staff email about being a Recycling Ambassador. Encourage people to email you with questions or stop by your office, announce any ideas you have for starting recycling in the office (see TerraCycle in the Creating Opportunities section below - great place to start!) and ask for feedback or other ideas. Let people know they can check to see if they have a recycling program in their city or find a place to recycle close to them by visiting the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority website:
- Email Lists and Facebook Groups
- Compile a list of emails or create a Facebook Group for your neighbors, friends, family, etc. who are interested in hearing more about recycling. Send out informal updates about how to recycle and Kanawha County recycling-related news. Periodically send out reminders about what you’re doing and ask if anyone has any questions or if they’re interested in starting recycling more in their home.
Educating Your Communities
Knowledge about the importance of recycling is the greatest barrier to getting people involved. Residents of Kanawha County place relatively less importance on the idea of recycling than their peers across the nation. When people hear about the ways to recycle in the area and why they should start a practice from a trusted friend, family member, neighbor or co-worker, they are more likely to begin recycling on their own. In addition to the project ideas here, we've listed many of the questions and misconceptions we hear from the community on the Q&A page. These may come up in your conversations.
- Distribute Flyers
- We will provide you with educational print materials about recycling in the area, and you may hand them out to your neighbors, friends or co-workers. You may also walk your neighborhood and place them in your neighbors' mailboxes. If you have a personal or work event coming up, or if you have a facility in your neighborhood that regularly hosts events, hand them out in person there.
- Local Foods Potluck Dinner + Info Session
- Invite people to each make a dish featuring a local food. The Capitol Farmer’s Market is a good place to send people if they are unsure about how / where to buy local. During the dinner, take a moment to talk with everyone about your thoughts on recycling. Offer resources and places to find more information, such as our website: www.kanawharecycles.org.
- Simple Afternoon Information Session
- Invite people for a simple afternoon session (30 – 60 minutes) to explain about different options for recycling in Kanawha County and to answer any questions. Encourage people to think before they come about unused items stored in their home now, such as cell phones and TVs, which could be recycled.
Creating Opportunities to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Once you have people interested in the idea of picking a sustainable option for getting rid of their waste, consider creating ways for them to carry out this idea.
- A mass-cycle is a morning or afternoon event where you collect recycling. You may specify the types of items you are looking for, such as paper. For example, suggest to your neighbors that everyone saves their paper items for 1 month. Then, designate a location for everyone to bring their paper to. Take a photo of the final amount of paper to share with your neighbors. Transport the paper to a nearby recycling facility. This has the added effect of being a visual reminder in each of your neighbors’ homes about how much paper they actually throw away in one month. You may also make this an ongoing or semi-regular event with differing themes – ask your neighbors to bring one to two types of items each time. Consider picking non-traditional recycling items such as batteries and light bulbs.
- The mass-cycle may require a truck or van, and you may want to be considerate of which types of items you agree to collect. Recycling can be a messy business.
- Clothing Swap
- A clothing swap is a party where each person brings at least one item of clothing or accessory they haven’t worn in a while. At the party, friends trade clothing and accessories. The more you bring, the more potential you have for a swap. Clothing swaps are creative ways to "donate" unwanted items and get something in return.
- DIY Upcycle Craft Night
- Invite your neighbors and friends over for an evening. Ask them to bring an out-of-use or under-used household item to make their craft as well as 1 – 3 craft supplies of their choice. Provide additional craft supplies and a little inspiration. If desired, create a theme for the night so that everyone has an idea to start working from.
- Upcycling is a creative way to reduce the waste we send to landfills. See the Alternate Methods page for more information about upcycling and to find places where there are upcycling craft ideas.
- Terracycle is a national business that creates opportunities to recycle uncommon items such as writing utensils, inkjet and toner cartridges and Scotch tape dispensers. They are a good option for creating a recycling program in offices and community centers. Many of their recycling programs are free or low cost. Participants are asked to fill a shipping box with one type of material, such as dairy tub containers, and send it to the business for recycling. They offer the ability to print shipping labels as well. A list of materials accepted is available on the TerraCycle website . They organize these materials into groups called "brigades."