Volunteers train to educate others about recycling

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COLUMBIA - The city of Columbia trained new Recycling Ambassadors Saturday. Recycling Ambassadors are citizen volunteers who educate other citizens about recycling and waste reduction. 

The Recycling Ambassadors program is designed to foster communication between recyclers and those who don't recycle, said Volunteer Program Specialist Andrea Shelton. 

"It's very difficult to convert a non-recycler to a recycler," said Shelton. "Hearing this information from a city employee may be a little more difficult to digest than hearing it from another ordinary citizen who recycles."

According to the city's website, Columbia has a recycling diversion rate, the percentage of items recycled and not placed in the landfill, of 17 percent. Its rate is well below the national average of 34.5 percent. 

Columbia resident Barbara Shaffer said she wants to become a Recycling Ambassador to make a difference.

"I was interested in making my carbon footprint a little smaller," said Shaffer. "And I was eager to take it beyond me to see if there are other people I could convince." 

Shaffer said she wasn't sure just how to encourage fellow citizens to recycle before she attended the training.

"Maybe this is one of the things that will help stimulate me to understand how I can help," she said. "I think I'll be eager to encourage other people in my own life."  

To learn how you can volunteer, visit the city's website

(Editor's note: This story has been updated with clarifications.)