Living Planet @ Work Champion of the Month: Amy Castator

© WWF-Canada

Inspiring people to help you pick up garbage can certainly feel like a challenging task. Amy Castator, Environment and Business Analyst at HP Canada, was a newbie to the role of leading an employee cleanup this past spring, but she learned that finding willing participants wasn’t hard to come by with some prep work and the right communication . With the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup just around the corner (September 2012), we caught up with Amy to find out the ins and outs of being a cleanup site coordinator:

"When I first volunteered to be the site coordinator for our HP employee shoreline cleanup, I was very eager and excited to get started. Not only would I be helping to restore local shoreline habitats, but I would be educating people about something I’m truly passionate about: sustainability."

This excitement quickly turned into anxiety once I realized that I didn’t really know how to get started. My head was swimming with unanswered questions: How do I prepare for the event? How do I recruit others to volunteer? Who is going to pick up this garbage after the cleanup? Where am I going to get the supplies? At first, it all seemed too overwhelming.
I started to look for some resources that might help me out in managing the event.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to look too far, as the Site Coordinator Manual gave me almost everything I needed to know about organizing a shoreline cleanup. The manual provides all the guidelines needed to organize a cleanup and report the findings, including arranging a cleanup site, obtaining supplies, and communicating with participants  - don’t leave home without it!

One of the biggest challenges I had for the cleanup was recruiting volunteers. I wanted to foster excitement and generate awareness about the event to as many employees as possible, but I didn’t have much time to do so. Realizing this, I asked a few colleagues to help me out. With their help, we were able to quickly spread the word by:

–Posting signs on digital screens throughout the office
–Hosting a volunteer table in our front lobby
–Making announcements over the PA system
–Sending company-wide emails
–Engaging in “water cooler” conversations with coworkers
–Hosting a volunteer kick-off event with music and refreshments
And soon enough we recruited a whole team of enthusiastic volunteers!

A team of approximately 20 volunteers helped us clean up the shoreline, and we ended up collecting all sorts of things including old pylons, car parts and even a crib! After the cleanup, the feedback that I received from employees was tremendous – many of them couldn’t wait to do it again! By organizing this cleanup, I helped to improve employee morale while helping to improve wildlife habitats. I’d call that a successful event.”

This September, take this opportunity to lead a cleanup in your community with thousands of other Canadians. The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup can help you inspire your colleagues to get outside, make a positive impact with hands-on conservation work and meet new people while having fun too. .

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