Columbia hopes to boost recycling through ambassador program

8 months 3 days 8 hours ago September 19, 2016 Sep 19, 2016 Monday, September 19 2016 Monday, September 19, 2016 4:42:00 PM CDT in News
By: Emma Rechenberg, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - The city is calling for volunteers who are passionate about sustainability to become recycling ambassadors.

The Recycling Ambassador Program is open to the public, and training will take place Tuesday evening at the ARC, from 6-8 p.m. Columbia’s volunteer programs specialist, Jody Cook, said all are welcome to enroll in the program.

“We have a wide range of ages and backgrounds, and the average recycling ambassador generally already has an interest in environmental issues,” Cook said.

Recycling ambassadors will participate in various events throughout the year and must complete a minimum of 12 hours educating the community on recycling and waste reduction. Cook said although recycling “should be something everything just does,” she said some community members do not realize its importance.

“Recycling is the greatest way an individual can make an impact on sustaining our environment for future generations, but very few people in the grand scope of things recycle,” she said.

Different communities have different rules for sorting materials, and Cook said educating residents on these specific requirements is a key reason why the city needs recycling ambassadors.  

Hannah Peterson, who has served as a recycling ambassador since February, said she enjoys volunteering at household hazardous waste drives and Columbia’s Earth Day celebration. She said volunteering at Earth Day is just one way being an ambassador can make a difference in the community.

“People from all different backgrounds and all walks of life come to that festival and get to interact with environmental things and social causes,” Peterson said.

Working at the MU Sustainability Office, Peterson said she sees the importance of educating college students on sustainability methods.  

“Students and young people are the future of our world and our working force,” she said. “Without the knowledge of how to sustain our earth, how to sustain our resources, how to sustain our communities, things are quickly degrading, and a lot of people may be unaware of that.”

Peterson said she encourages anyone with a passion for sustaining the earth and caring for nature to consider becoming an ambassador.

“This is an awesome opportunity,” she said. “Not only do you get to learn about it more and be engaged with the city, but you also get to transfer that knowledge to others.”

Cook said last session there were about 25 ambassadors. She said she anticipates at least 15 will return for another year. For more information on how to enroll, visit the city’s volunteer webpage here.

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