Jump to main content.

How to Include Volunteers in Your Special Event Recycling Program

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

On this page:

From outdoor concerts to craft fairs, summer festivals to holiday jamborees, special events are not simply opportunities for entertainment—they’re also perfect occasions to collect the beverage containers, packaging, and pamphlets that otherwise would become trash.

Because they are temporary in nature and usually are held in locations without a permanent recycling infrastructure, special event recycling programs typically are staffed by volunteers who are willing to donate their time to environmental service.

View and print this fact sheet (PDF) (3 pp, 108K, about PDF).

This fact sheet is written for recycling and special event coordinators and other key decision-makers involved in planning and managing short-term public events in locations without permanent recycling programs in place. It explains how to involve volunteers in a successful short-term recycling collection effort.

Steps for Including Volunteers in a Short-Term Recycling Effort

Volunteers play key roles in all phases of a temporary recycling collection effort. They usually monitor and empty bins, ensure that signage stays in place, support vendor and concessionaire participation in recycling, and educate the public about recycling.

Top of Page

Build a Volunteer Base

Make Volunteers Visible

Volunteers must be easily identifiable by both the public and each other. Provide volunteers with event-specific recycling t-shirts, hats, or buttons, which also can serve as great souvenirs for them. Coordinating colors, buttons, or stickers may also help improve visibility. Refer to the Lowell Folk Festival Success Story (PDF) (4 pp, 167K, about PDF) for information on how to finance such items.

Recruiting volunteers can be easy if you know where to look. Contact local colleges, universities, and high schools. Don’t forget local service and religious groups such as the YMCA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs, the Boys and Girls Club, and church groups. Advertise for volunteers through a variety of media, such as:

Create a volunteer database of past volunteers and those who show interest in helping. People who volunteered in previous years often are willing to donate their time again.

Top of Page

Assign Roles to Volunteers

While volunteers’ roles and duties should be tailored to each specific event, the following roles will benefit a temporary recycling program of any scale:

Top of Page

Communicate with Volunteers

The Personal Touch

When soliciting volunteers for a recycling program, personally contacting prospects by phone or in person is more likely to yield positive results than simply sending a letter or e-mail. After the event, send thank-you notes to everyone involved.

Once you assign roles to volunteers, give them an overview of the entire program and inform them about their individual responsibilities. Include details about:

Top of Page

Gather Program Feedback

Vendor and Concessionaire Assistance

Assign several volunteers to help vendors and concessionaires with their recycling efforts. These volunteers should stop regularly at vendors’ stations to collect their recyclables. Be sure to tell vendors which materials should be recycled during the event. Refer to the How to Involve Concessionaires & Vendors Fact Sheet for more suggestions.

Because volunteers are on the recycling front line at a special event, their feedback is invaluable. At the end of the event, evaluate the program by discussing its effectiveness with volunteers. Discussion topics might include:

Top of Page

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.