Training prepares new Recycling Ambassadors

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COLUMBIA – The Columbia Volunteer Program held a training session on Monday at the ARC for Columbia’s 14 new recycling ambassadors.

The ambassadors work to increase recycling in Columbia and educate others about the importance of reducing waste.

“We train the ambassadors on Columbia’s recycling programs, on the dos and don’ts of recycling, on recycling alternatives,” Volunteer Programs Specialist Jody Cook said.

There are currently 27 active ambassadors of all ages.

“After their training, they go out and spread their knowledge and motivate others about recycling,” Cook said.

The ambassadors have the opportunity to do presentations on recycling, work informational tables at festivals and educational events, create community outreach programs, and act as assistants in waste audits.

Cook said the ambassadors really enjoy doing waste audits at schools and organizations, where they can go collect all of the trash for the day and sort the items into containers, fibers and trash.

The program, which started in 2014, allows Columbia residents to get hands-on involvement, and many of the participants are already very invested in sustainability.

“There will be many people at this training that are avid recyclers, but they’ll find out that there are several things that they’re doing wrong,” Cook said. “So I suspect everyone who’s trained here tonight will learn something new."

The ambassadors must invest at least 12 hours a year in the program, but Cook said most people do more than the required hours.

“Everybody must understand that recycling is not black and white, it’s local, find out how your community recycles,” Cook said.

Cook said since Columbia is a very transient community, with students and teachers who only come to the city for a short amount of time, many people don’t know how Columbia recycles.

“We all have a responsibility to recycle, and there’s many communities across the United States where it’s habit, and we need it to be habit here in Columbia,” she said.