Skip to main content


August 16–19, 2020

Please note that this is a tentative schedule and items are subject to change. 

Citizen Training Programs- Make Your Outreach Really Matter

Monday, August 17, 2020 at 2:00 PM–3:30 PM PDT add to calendar
Room 3
Session Description

Waste is a human invention, so it is going to take people to find solutions and instill cultural shifts.  Problem is, the public is overwhelmed about "what' goes in which bin due to a litany of misleading packaging labels, increases in single use disposability, wish-cycling, and a lack of understanding  that recycling isn’t only about “saving the Earth”, it’s part of a commodities market cycle that needs to sell clean feedstock to compete with virgin materials in price and quality. 

How do we as recycling professionals break through this clutter, apathy, and confusion?  Through direct education with residents that already want to learn more about waste reduction.  Investing in them with the tools to help better understand what recycling really entails, results in building a resident-led waste reduction tribe that quickly becomes a dividend that pays off in both the short and long term.  Each resident that graduates from these programs grows your army of advocates that fully understand not just waste reduction, but what we need to do to get there. 

This session will show you three models of extensive direct resident engagement that creates a "multiplier effect" as the graduates educate their networks, influences their workplaces and schools, and make personal changes that instill these life-long values in their families.   You'll learn how to create your own program with topics covering:  


Leslie O'Malley, City of Santa Cruz

Waste Reduction Program Manager

Speaker Biography

Leslie O’Malley is the Waste Reduction Program Manager for the City of Santa Cruz, Public Works Department. She holds professional association certifications in Zero Waste Principles and Practices and was recently named Sustainability Champion of the Month by University of California, Santa Cruz.

Her creative and bold education and outreach strategies garnered her department the "Outstanding Recycling Program" award from  the California Resource and Recovery Association in 2019.


Abstract Title

Master Recycler Program - Small investment - Big return!

Speaker Abstract

Now is the time to increase efforts to engage and educate community members about the importance of reducing waste and recycling properly.

Daily, people witness a barrage of news stories about the current state of recycling and the need to rethink purchases and avoid creating waste in the first place. Receptivity is high, don't squander this opportunity!

Providing community members with the history, current practices and future goals of sustainable materials management will amplify and expand the efforts of a small staff tasked with reducing solid waste disposal and contamination in recycling streams. A Master Recycler Volunteer Training Program is an efficient and effective way to accomplish this.

No need to reinvent the wheel. This "How To" session will leave attendees inspired and armed with the information and framework they need to design and implement a program of their own. Why, What, Who, How and Where will be our guide. Topics covered will include; Identifying your end goal or outcome, creating a curriculum, finding guest speakers, advertising and recruitment, communication tools and retention strategies.

Investing in this program now will yield results immediately and into the future. Within weeks you will have community champions with specialized knowledge to educate and empower friends, neighbors, schools, businesses, local groups, and special events to waste less and “recycle right.”


Amy Hammes, Burbank Recycle Center

Recycling Specialist

Speaker Biography

Amy Hammes is the Recycling Specialist for the City of Burbank. Prior to joining the City, she was the Director of Reuse for EcoSet Consulting where she created an award-winning materials recovery reuse and food donation program from production set cast-offs. She served on the Leadership Advisory Board for the LA Food Policy Council and is currently a Board member for the California Product Stewardship Council. Amy earned a Master’s in Public Administration and Sustainability from Presidio Graduate School and holds a certificate in Recycling and Resource Management from California Resource Recovery Association.

Abstract Title

Waste Warriors Program: Waste Reduction Fans Find Their Tribe

Speaker Abstract

The Waste Warrior program is a volunteer training for people who want to learn more about Zero Waste, engage their community, and shape the future. Burbank Recycle Center has hosted this program for 6 years, graduating over 120 of the most engaged residents, armed with real world knowledge and created a vast alumni network of Change Agents.

The programs includes eight classes highlighting the 6 Rs of waste reduction:
• Rethink (redesign systems, habits, & mindsets)
• Refuse (say no to unnecessary waste )
• Reduce (share it, rent it, borrow it)
• Reuse (repair & repurpose)
• Recycle (sort it & send it on)
• Return (give nutrients back to nature)

The Waste Warrior program is free. Classes include lively discussions, hands on learning,
tours, guest speakers, and instruction from the professionals at the Burbank Recycle Center.

Waste Warriors who complete all eight classes and thirty hours of volunteer time
receive a graduation certificate and recognition by the Burbank City Council. Volunteer committments can include their own personal interets and community projects that focus on waste reduction, thoughtful consumption, composting, recycling, policy,  product stewardship, and manufacturing responsibility. 

Avana Andrade, County of San Mateo, Office of Sustainability

Sustainability Specialist: Climate Action Planning

Speaker Biography

Avana Andrade is a Sustainability Specialist at San Mateo County. She leads a public environmental education program, called the Sustainability Academy, and the County’s Climate Action Plan. She has worked on environmental policy, land conservation, and western land issues for over ten years in the National Park Service, the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Public Lands History Center at Colorado State University. Her undergraduate degree is in Environmental History from Colorado State University and her masters degree is in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Abstract Title

Building Cultural Relevance in Environmental Education

Speaker Abstract

After seeing the same demographic coming to events, Sustainability Academy staff began wondering how to be more responsive to diverse interests. This endeavor has unearthed a range of questions: what would environmentalism and environmental education look like if we expanded the kinds of topics we covered? What do we hope to get out of “educating” people about the environment? What are these kinds of programs really for? The Sustainability Academy is in the process of exploring these questions, expanding its reach and altering its curriculum to reflect deeper cultural relevance for more members of San Mateo County.

The Sustainability Academy started over 10 years ago and focused primarily on training and building up a composting community network. It is funded through the County’s solid waste tax (AB939) and is oriented around solid waste reduction through public education and making resources available to community members to make changes in their daily lives. The program currently includes the following:

  • Master Composter Course – 6 weeks
  • Fundamentals in Climate Change and Natural Resources– 9 weeks
  • Resource conservation workshops and edible forest at the Maple Street Jail
  • 2-3 hour workshops throughout the year
  • Socials, field trips, volunteer workdays

The key changes made to date in the program are:

  • Transitioning into more dedicated partnership with community leaders and organizations
  • Moving away from a “general public” marketing and curricular model
  • Locating workshops in neighborhoods and centers where people already gather/where important community events already take place


Laura McKaughan, Envirolutions Consulting

Principal at Envirolutions Consulting