A Volunteer to Know

The Lawn Company has amazing customers! We would like to share information about one of our customers, Val DeBrunce, who was recently recognized by the City of Columbia as the February Volunteer of the Month.

“Val DeBrunce has volunteered as a Recycling Ambassador for over a year and was a charter volunteer for the program. He has reached out to the Downtown Community Improvement District to educate businesses and their employees about recycling practices. He will soon begin outreach to residential property owners, managers and residents to continue his impact.”

We appreciate Val taking the time to share the following information with us about his volunteer involvement:

I am committed to recycling because it’s the right thing to do.  In every community where I have lived I have done my part to divert “usable” trash into one of several recycling streams.  Even so, much of how a recycling program works and the cooperation needed of ALL parties involved is something I am just now beginning to understand and appreciate, and it’s all because of my role as a Volunteer Recycling Ambassador for the City of Columbia.

The measure for determining a community’s commitment to recycling is called the Diversion Rate.  “Diversion” relates to that percentage of trash which is actually diverted into productive uses rather than being deposited in a landfill.  By diverting useful components of trash into recycling, landfills grow more slowly, thus minimizing the impact our collective lifestyle has on the environment.  The National Diversion Rate is around 34%.  Columbia’s is close to 17% and has remained at that level for at least the past 10 years.

As stated previously, much of what I have learned comes from serving as a Volunteer Recycling Ambassador (RA).  Some of you may be aware that through the cooperative efforts of the Downtown CID and Columbia’s Public Works Solid Waste Division an initiative focused on increasing recycling in that part of Columbia known as The District was launched in 2015.  It included an increase in the number of recycling receptacles and a crew of 10 committed volunteers who had responsibility for communicating an awareness message to between 400 and 600 businesses.  Yes, there are that many businesses in The District.  Relationships between RA’s and business managers/owners are developing and follow up visits are underway.

The initiative is focused first on The District because collectively it is one of the more significant ontributors to the city’s overall waste stream.  The tenant/resident component, which will concentrate on the 2500+ individuals living in The District, will be undertaken later this year.  Evidence of success with businesses lies is the fact that the additional receptacles placed last summer are filled to overflowing on a daily basis.  Equally important, those which were in place previously are similarly full.  RA’s are more responsible for the increase than one could even imagine.  They encourage those who are already committed recyclers, they create awareness, they provide information such as the location of the closest recycling receptacle and they are gathering valuable information concerning situations which have the potential to increase Columbia’s diversion rate far beyond the national average.

If you are interested in more information or just want to share your recycling ideas and experiences, you can contact me via e-mail through the Contact page on this website.  No phone calls please.  If you want to help move Columbia’s diversion higher, when you visit a business, especially one in The District, ask if the business recycles.  Hopefully you will get a positive response.  If the answer is anything less than a full on “You bet!”, you will have at least planted a seed that might grow into a commitment by that business to improve its recycling habits.


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