DExecuting the Plan
Developing The Initiative
With support from the Waste Watchers Coordinator (described more fully below), conduct an initial planning meeting with all initiative partners. Good potential partners will be organizations with expertise in waste management and recycling; organizations with experience in volunteer recruitment and management; groups responsible for planning large public events; and city agencies – including those responsible for public works, sustainability, and waste management – that can support the initiative. The planning meeting is an opportunity to:
- Introduce partners and clearly define roles and expectations;
- Identify the public events most appropriate for Waste Watchers;
- Share and/or develop goals regarding the initiative, including the proposed impact metrics;
- Discuss the city services and supports that will be made available for the Waste Watchers initiative. At a minimum, identify the agency or vendor responsible for collecting, weighing and hauling the recycling and trash, and the office or agency responsible for designing and collecting impact metrics; and
- Determine the number and type of volunteers needed for this initiative (including volunteer leaders) and identify potential sources of these volunteers.
Identify the Waste Watchers Coordinator. This individual will be responsible for:
- Planning and facilitating meetings with the planning committee;
- Creating a project timeline and volunteer recruitment plan (see below for considerations in developing the timeline);
- Communicating with event staff;
- Creating a “cheat sheet” with visuals for typical waste items at the event for volunteers to use as a reference guide;
- Leading volunteer recruitment efforts;
- Scheduling and facilitating volunteer leader training;
- Serving as the key liaison with city agencies engaged in Waste Watchers;
- Serving as the primary contact for all Waste Watchers-related questions, volunteer inquiries, and concerns leading up to and on the day of the event;
- Serving as the lead operations person on the day of the event;
- Collecting all impact metrics; and
- Following up with and thanking volunteers.
Design the specific training the volunteers will receive as part of the initiative, and the person/group responsible for delivering the training. Given the large number of volunteers that may be engaged on the day of the event, a “train-the-trainer” approach where a group of volunteer leaders receives training from the recycling expert and in turn, trains and supports a subset of the volunteers works best. Volunteers are trained on what types of waste go into the recycling bin, trash bin, and compost bin (if applicable). Volunteers are also trained on how to interact with event attendees and how to educate them with easily accessible language. (See Resources Section for sample volunteer training guides.)
Develop a budget to cover materials and supplies. (See Resources Section for a sample Budget and Materials List.)
Create a project timeline, taking into consideration the following:
- Large city events are planned far in advance and their dates are usually set regardless of inclement weather.
- If the event recruits volunteers through its own website or system, plan on including a description for Waste Watcher volunteers. The volunteer sign-up link can then be included in all recruitment communication, but you must consider the event’s timing and follow any existing guidelines for volunteer recruitment.
- Bin deployment is time consuming. Obtain an event map (GIS version is ideal) early in the planning process to determine the location of recycle and trash bins (and compost, if appropriate). It is best to have the Waste Watchers Coordinator work on this with support and guidance of appropriate event staff and experienced city agencies when possible, and communicate the deployment plan to all team members in advance of the event.
Develop a communications plan to mobilize, connect, and update the volunteers, event staff, and others involved in the initiative, with particular attention given to communications on the days leading up to and on the day of an event.
Securing Resources For Waste Watchers
When planning to integrate Waste Watchers into a public event, it is important to consider the following costs (Sample Materials and Budget List in Resources section):
- Waste Watchers Coordinator: percentage of staff time or contract cost, if this person is not a full-time volunteer
- Waste hauling service
- Supplies (bags, gloves, signs, etc.)
- Waste collection staff wages (if overtime pay for city staff is required)
- Waste receptacles/bins labeled for compost, trash, and recycling
- Branding materials (t-shirts, buttons)
- Beverages and snacks for volunteers
Although the cost of Waste Watchers can be absorbed across multiple city departments and event sponsors, additional funding can enhance impact. While city funds can be used for the Waste Watchers program, the event should absorb as much of the cost to implement Waste Watchers as possible. If event management includes Waste Watchers costs in their budget, it greatly enhances the likelihood that the initiative will continue on in following years even if city funds are not available.
A proposal to potential funders could include:
- An overview of the Waste Watchers initiative as it relates to the Mayor’s sustainability goals
- Amount of funding requested and a description of how those funds would be used
- Metrics used to assess the initiative’s impact on the environment
- Information on Cities of Service (http://www.citiesofservice.org)
- Waste Watchers Blueprint (download at http://www.citiesofservice.org/ resources)
- Description of a recognition plan for the donor
National nonprofit organizations that focus on recycling and other sustainability practices, such as Keep America Beautiful, www.kab.org, have information about grant opportunities to support recycling campaigns and may offer recycling materials at no cost.
Waste Watchers gives people of all ages the opportunity to learn about waste diversion. It can be positioned as a volunteer opportunity for individuals as well as groups (e.g., families, corporate groups, youth groups, veterans groups, neighborhood associations, and job training programs focused on urban sustainability). There are at least two different types of volunteers – Waste Watchers Leaders and Waste Watchers Volunteers. Waste Watchers Leaders are often enthusiastic returning volunteers, or people connected to the mayor’s office who are interested in the initiative and able to commit to the training described below. They are charged with training and supporting other Waste Watchers Volunteers on the day of the event. Waste Watchers Leaders must be willing and able to dig through trash, be on their feet and mobile for several hours, and able to motivate, encourage, and instruct their fellow volunteers throughout the day.
At least a week prior to the day of the event:
- Waste Watchers Leaders complete a mandatory training to prepare them for the following tasks on the day of the event: providing an orientation to Waste Watchers Volunteers including guiding them to their waste stations; circulating throughout an assigned area to ensure that volunteers are sorting correctly; and interfacing between volunteers and event staff.
- Waste Watchers Volunteers receive a training manual via email that includes: an overview of the initiative; a picture of the compost, trash, and recycling stations that they will be managing; a list of the types of waste that belong in each bin; and information on where to check-in on the day of the event. Cities may also wish to include a visual guide (“cheat sheet”) of the waste that volunteers can expect to encounter at the event; it is particularly helpful to have this cheat sheet categorize the objects as compost, recycling, or trash to provide clarity.
On the day of the event:
- Waste Watchers Leaders arrive at least 30 minutes in advance of the start of the volunteer shift to get acquainted with the location and number of waste stations in their area. Each Waste Watchers Leader is responsible for multiple waste stations.
- Waste Watchers Leaders brief the Waste Watchers Volunteers on tasks at the start of their shift. The Volunteers receive an exclusive Waste Watchers t-shirt for easy identification, a “cheat sheet” that shows which items go where, an event map, contact information for the Waste Watchers Leader, and multiple pairs of protective gloves.
- Waste Watchers Volunteers are invited to take the following Recycling Pledge:
- I pledge to learn what can and cannot be recycled in my city.
- I promise to talk to and teach my family, friends, and neighbors about the importance of recycling.
- I pledge to recycle everything I can, whenever I can, and wherever I can.
- I will reduce my own trash by conserving resources and reusing objects.
- I will not litter on my block, at my school, or in my or any other community and will do my best to take care of the planet.
- Waste Watchers Volunteers oversee waste stations with recycling and trash bins, direct event attendees towards the appropriate bin to use, and thank attendees for their participation in the initiative.
After the event:
- Waste Watchers volunteers are encouraged to fulfill their Recycling Pledge by becoming advocates for recycling, reducing their own trash output, and increasing their recycling efforts.
Recognizing And Thanking Volunteers
Although the Waste Watchers initiative is meaningful and engaging, and the atmosphere can be fun and exciting, volunteers should be appropriately thanked and recognized for tackling unglamorous tasks with admirable enthusiasm.
The Waste Watchers Coordinator should send volunteers a thank you letter or email the day after an event. High performing volunteers may receive a personal thank you email from the Waste Watchers Coordinator that also encourages them to serve at future events. Superb returning volunteers may be offered the opportunity to be Waste Watchers Leaders for future events. The Waste Watchers Coordinator should also provide community service certificates for volunteers who would like to submit community service hours to a school or other organization.