“We have not inherited the earth from our fathers, we are borrowing it from our children.”
— Native American saying
If you live in Toronto, you have a unique volunteering opportunity that allows you to help your community while helping the environment. It’s called the 3Rs Ambassador Volunteer Program. Developed by the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) Working Group, a citizen’s advisory group that gives input to the City of Toronto’s Solid Waste Management Services, the program’s primary focus is to help decrease the amount of materials going to landfills. The group is accomplishing this goal by arming volunteers with information and materials to teach residents living in multifamily buildings how to reduce, reuse and recycle. According to the City of Toronto, there are more than 5,000 multifamily buildings in Toronto, housing nearly half the city’s population. In 2008, the average residential waste diversion rate was 44%. Multifamily residential buildings, on average, diverted only 15% of the total amount of waste they generated, compared to 59% in single-family households. The long-term goal of the program is to have one or more volunteers in each building. Once approval from the building manager is obtained, the 3Rs ambassador volunteer will organize education and outreach campaigns. The city provides free resources that include literature, posters and stickers and support from the city’s staff. The types of campaigns differ depending on the building and the volunteer. Some examples include putting up information posters in common areas, organizing a clothing drive or coordinating a waste-free building event. The volunteers are required to attend two days of training before they begin, and the recommended time investment is about 10 hours a month. They receive training on effective communication, learn of opportunities to meet other 3Rs ambassadors and are regularly updated on Toronto’s reduce, reuse and recycling programs. Every city should have a program like the 3Rs Ambassador Volunteer Program. Residents should have access to programs that enable them to reduce waste and recycle their used materials. Visit toronto.ca/3rs/ for more information.