Recycling Volunteer

Insider Info

As more and more people aspire towards a healthy environment, recycling programs will continue to grow.

Recycling is the process of dividing all the trash of a given home or organization. Items such as paper, glass, plastic and cardboard that can be reused are sent to the proper recycling agency.

Recycling volunteers usually gather and separate glass, different types of paper, plastics and wood. Once the products are separated by type, they are delivered to the organization that will do the recycling.

Volunteers may also be in charge of setting up a recycling program. This means they have to know what is recyclable. They must be aware of how those products have to be separated and prepared for recycling.

Another job that volunteers may perform is educating others about how to properly separate recyclables and why the practice of recycling is necessary.

Louise Offers is a recycling program volunteer. She says that she has many duties as a volunteer.

"My duties vary according to which part of the program I am involved in," she says. "Mainly I work on public education and information at special events, such as community days or parades, or set up static unstaffed displays in libraries and community centers."

But Offers has favorites among the jobs that she performs as a volunteer. Those are the duties that lead up to a project -- the planning and creating with other volunteers. "And I really don't have any least favorite [jobs]," she says.

Volunteering in a recycling program isn't all work for Offers, who once dressed up as a composter for a parade.

She says the indifferent attitude of the public frightens her. "The area of recycling is more than just putting your paper or cans in a bag or bin. Anyone who is interested in helping others understand how they can and need to make changes in consumption all the way through disposal can join in."

William Baker is a recycling volunteer. He says he volunteered for the program on the advice of a friend. "Being involved in something I believe in is important, and I'm good at what I do," he says.

"My duties are to spread the word on recycling in town. I man information booths at public events, make presentations to schools, neighborhoods and other groups, and in daily informal conversation."

For someone who wants to get involved, "interest is the key," says Baker. He has volunteered for numerous programs, including the Peace Corps. "Volunteerism is a lifestyle dedicated to doing the right thing. Get involved!"

Mary Pat Baldauf volunteers in a recycling program. She heard about the program in the news and called to volunteer. "This is a great opportunity to make a difference, have fun and learn more about the environment, too," she says.

Of course, learning about the environment can have its surprises. While volunteering for a Christmas tree recycling program, Baldauf says the most frightening moment was finding mice in a nest in a tree.

"And the weirdest was seeing people bring artificial trees to be ground into mulch -- and that people don't always remove the ornaments and lights from the trees before bringing them in."

Baldauf says the work has given her the sense that she's making a difference. "The Grinding of the Greens program wouldn't succeed without volunteers!"

How to Get Involved

There is no special training or costs associated with volunteering in a recycling program. All you need to get involved is the desire to help.

"Although there may not be too many waste reduction and recycling organizations out there that operate volunteer programs, there are many other ways students could become involved if they have an interest in recycling and other environmental issues," says Heidi Schimpl. She is the community programs coordinator for a recycling program.

"Many schools now have environmental clubs and hands-on environmental stewardship and education programs where students can become involved through a wide range of creative activities," says Schimpl.

Volunteering is as easy as getting involved with an organization that has a recycling program, or needs one.


National Recycling Coalition Inc.
805 15th St., N.W., Suite 425
Washington , DC   20005


Global Recycling Network
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