VOICE Recycling Ambassador Programme
RAP-ing up for Christmas
By Tad Kirakowski, RAP Liaison Officer
Looking back to one of our very first planning meetings this time last year, I remember lots of discussion around what we wanted to achieve through this programme and the ambitious goals we had set up for ourselves.
I left that meeting feeling like I was sitting on my surfboard, watching an oncoming wave building behind me and realising I’d better paddle hard or this thing is going to come down on me! In think to some degree we all felt something similar (the metaphor changes depending on the individual).
Since that day we’ve reached over 20,000 people face to face through our workshops across the country, we’ve hosted 670 workshops so far and we still have a good few left in these last few weeks. We’ve reached people at music festivals, in work canteens, at farmers markets and in parish halls. We've even run the workshop in Irish and some of the communities who received the recycling grant have taken the initiative to help translate it into other languages.
But we really couldn’t have done this without such a fantastic team. Our ambassadors went above and beyond to help us make the programme work. Each individual brought their own personality to the workshop and helped us build long lasting relationships with communities.
For me, hearing about what’s happening in local communities following workshops is the most rewarding part. In Waterford, a group we presented to began organising monthly beach cleans. In Monaghan our workshop attendees joined forces with local environmental groups to host an environmental awareness day to highlight excess waste at Christmas time.
The major barrier to being environmentally friendly is education. People can’t get involved in sustainability or become more aware if they don’t have the basics.
From the huge demand for workshops, and the hunger for knowledge, it’s clear the public are crying out for solutions and to find ways to get involved in making a difference to our environment.
Communities, businesses and event organisers have been looking for answers, and the recycling ambassador programme was able to shine a light on one aspect of Ireland’s journey in tackling waste.
Of course, there is much more work to be done, and VOICE will continue to run programmes to empower communities and present tangible ways to make change.
We hope these workshops act as a catalyst, we are already seeing the knock-on effect it’s having with communities taking further action through initiating local initiatives and spreading the message beyond the workshop presentation.
A year on from seeing that wave come over me on my imaginary surfboard I can say that it has been some ride. Now it’s time to turn the board back and paddle out for the next one. Surfs up!