Twenty regionally-based volunteer coordinators have been funded by the charity Zero Waste Scotland to lead the search for volunteers across the country to provide grassroots support to local and national zero waste initiatives.
The charity warns that, despite huge efforts to increase recycling rates across the country, more must be done to tackle the waste of valuable resources.
Tim Morton, Zero Waste Scotland’s national partnerships manager, who met with volunteers in Fife recently to mark the launch of the programme, said the strategy to enlist local volunteers would have a vital role in its bid to help individuals and communities across Scotland achieve a zero waste society.
“Volunteers can help people in their local community by giving them simple, practical tips to help them reduce waste and recycle more. From combating food waste and reducing unwanted mail to promoting home composting and recycling, volunteers can help people to go green and often save money in the process.”
Groups across the country are funded by ZWS to support waste reduction. Each group employs a part-time coordinator, who recruits, trains and coordinates the group’s activities to deliver the campaign messages at a local level. These include the Home Composting, Love Food Hate Waste, Recycle Now and other waste reduction and prevention campaigns.
Coordinators and volunteers undertake a full training programme supported by the Regional Partnership Managers and are encouraged to share best practice across the network.
Volunteers specialise in their own areas of interest and can choose the number of hours that they contribute, by attending events, generating media coverage and providing advice and support to householders. Drawing on their own skills, experience and local knowledge they will work to encourage a change in public opinion and behaviour towards waste.
Scotland has what is regarded as the toughest and most ambitious targets to combat climate change in Europe, possibly the world.
Central to this is the target of reducing emissions by 40 per cent by 2020 – a target campaigners believe will only be reached if the consensus of the public is swayed by the the environmental message.
The volunteer programme already has over 500 volunteers working with 18 community groups in over 20 local authority areas in Scotland. Falkland Centre for Stewardship, a local charity, is one of those already signed up to take part.
Helen Lawrenson, the centre’s director, said that she knows that the scheme is a great way for her group to connect with householders all over Fife.
“The Fife volunteers are really keen to get out and about and talk to as many people as possible. We hope that, as more people hear about the new programme, we can attract even more volunteers. We hope to be able to develop our facilities to bring messages about reducing food waste and saving money to a much wider audience.”
Areas yet to be covered include Inverclyde, Renfrewshire, Shetland, South Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire for which the programme wants to hear from interested parties.