Introducing the G4 Ambassadors

McKinnon Bell
a group of G4 volunteers around one of the G4 waste bins. They're all wearing green vests.

In 2005, the Garnet and Gold Goes Green (G4) gameday recycling program was introduced on FSU’s campus. Since then, G4 volunteers have made an appearance at every home game to encourage sustainable practices at tailgates. Throughout the years, the G4 program has continued to evolve and expand in hopes of reaching the most people to create a larger impact. Part of this growth has led to the re-introduction and re-imaging of the G4 Ambassadors. 

The G4 Ambassadors are a group of dedicated volunteers who are leaders for waste reduction on Florida State University’s campus. They go beyond volunteering at G4 during tailgates, as their role is to think critically about how to reduce waste at FSU, learn how to live more sustainably, and lead by example for other students in these practices. While this is not the first semester that G4 Ambassadors have been active, their roles this semester have evolved to fit the needs of a campus that is constantly changing and improving. Carly McGovern, the current Waste Reduction Student Coordinator at Sustainable Campus, has been instrumental in restructuring and reviving the G4 Ambassador program. 

“My job at Sustainable Campus has evolved, so I wanted more hands on deck to be able to get more done with Sustainable Campus, beyond recycling. It’s more than just recycling and more than G4. We’re reworking our system on campus, and the Ambassadors will be a part of that. Creating new signs for recycling bins, more work across campus, and partnering with other Sustainable Campus programs like the Food Recovery Network are just a few of the ways things are changing this semester” said McGovern. 

Part of this growth with the G4 Ambassadors has been having the Ambassadors involved in more educational outreach on campus. While the role initially had the Ambassadors acting as leaders for recycling volunteers at tailgates, their leadership opportunities have expanded beyond Doak Campbell Stadium. This semester, the Ambassadors have been involved in a new social media outreach campaign titled Trash Talk. Every Thursday in November, a new Trash Talk video is uploaded to social media where the Ambassadors entertainingly discuss different practices related to reducing, reusing, and recycling. 

“We can be really creative in G4, and that creativity will not only help us do these video segments but is a skill we’re developing that can help with anything we may do in the future. I didn't know how Trash Talk would come off when I initially suggested it. I’m so glad to have seen it happen and to have these creative opportunities” said Emily Byrd, a current senior and G4 Ambassador. “Actually, my favorite G4 memory so far is when we talked about making a social media segment. It was very inspiring because we were brain-dumping all of our ideas onto the whiteboard. There were so many ideas we couldn’t even fit them all onto the board!”

This creative spark is just one of the few attributes sought after in G4 Ambassadors. To become a G4 Ambassador, students do not initially need to be experts on the topics of waste reduction. Rather they need to have a passion for learning and changing their behaviors so that they may become leaders in the topic. 

Maritza Marrero, a current sophomore and G4 Ambassador, had relatively limited knowledge when she first applied. “I’ve always thought the environment was so important, so I thought by becoming more involved I could learn more about how to change my lifestyle. So far, Carly has been great in teaching me” said Marrero. “I’ve also learned to be a leader, before G4 I’ve never really been in a leadership position. I didn’t even know the layout of FSU because I’m only a sophomore. Now, I love these people.” 

As the roles of G4 Ambassadors continue to grow, the Ambassadors each have ways that they would like to make an impact when it comes to sustainability and waste management. For example, Victoria Montalvo, a current freshman and G4 Ambassador has only begun her sustainability journey at FSU but is already brainstorming how to create a change in the future. 

“I hope to establish permanent and long-lasting changes in people’s behaviors that make sense and are easy ways to practice sustainability. Like bringing a reusable water bottle or reusable utensils. No one likes feeling guilty about the environment, but it’s the hard choices that lead to change” said Montalvo.

As this semester comes to a close, the Ambassadors are already conceptualizing what the future of waste management looks like on campus for next semester and beyond. To those interested in becoming a G4 Ambassador in the future, the current Ambassadors have a simple message. 

“Do it! You’ll get a lot out of it, you’ll be able to become a part of a team and have your ideas heard no matter what. Hopefully, the continuation of G4 will lead to more events and inspiration, so do it!” said Byrd.