Over the past year, Global Green has been piloting food waste reduction and recycling programs in multi-family residences. We have tested innovative outreach strategies for reducing food waste and for recycling that which is wasted. As part of this approach, Global Green created an Eco-Ambassador program to increase community engagement and scalability and efficacy of the program.
We developed our ambassador model based on the successes of existing programs, such as Seattle’s Friends of Recycling and Composting (FORC) and Toronto’s 3Rs Ambassador Program. These programs enlist community members to serve as educational resources for their neighbors in addition to supporting a recycling program through real-world feedback and interaction. The recycling volunteer teaches residents about recycling, organic and landfill waste diversion by checking the collection containers and distributing flyers and posters, as well as by answering questions as they arise.
Our food waste ambassador work happened organically (pun intended) in Santa Monica, with tenants of two multifamily buildings spearheading and taking ownership of their buildings’ participation in our food waste recovery program. Based on the success of these self-selected “Eco-Ambassadors,” we began to explore this model for the rest of our food waste recovery work throughout California. In tandem with the Southern California workshops hosted, in April 2017 Global Green cohosted an eco-ambassador workshop in San Francisco with the San Francisco Department of the Environment. We will host an additional six workshops over the next six months.
Ambassador-style programs empower residents to be the change they wish to see in their communities. Global Green currently utilizes an ambassador model for its food waste recovery work by creating a stable group of community members whom are committed to the success of recycling in their neighborhoods.
The program works by recruiting those citizens that are committed and interested in helping out with the food waste initiative in their buildings; this could be a building manager or simply a resident excited about the project. Along with logistical responsibilities such as ensuring the distribution of materials, hosting community events and conducting visual inspections of food waste bins, ambassadors are seen as the pivotal connection between sites and Global Green. Connections such as these are valuable because they organically create relationships that can propel outcomes. This layered approach is effective because it delivers information and materials to multi-family residents through different portals to offer multiple options and reinforce key content.
The recruiting and training of ambassadors are vital to the continued support and sustainability of the program itself—from choosing the ideal candidate with enthusiasm, to ensure they have the tools to succeed. Through this program, we hope to bring together like-minded individuals to discuss the future of waste diversion in our communities and homes. The training involves a two-hour workshop including a presentation, a group problem-solving session, and dissemination of tools and resources.