Grassroots organizing is an effective way to get the word out and provide support for college recycling efforts. In a grassroots effort, it is important to keep folks involved in pertinent issues because all actions are community based and build up a working structure through a strong social base. Many collaborative opportunities can arise through grassroots activities such as co-sponsorship of events, publications of educational materials, and local political campaigns. A wide range of factors impact a campus's ability to be involved in recycling (especially relating to markets for recycled content materials) and other environmental issues. Grassroots efforts span the spectrum from local to global issues that have a direct impact at home.
Ideas for Campus Grassroots Efforts
Build a recycling program through grassroots efforts in the form of petitions, surveys, letter writing campaigns, phone calls to administrators, newspaper coverage, etc. Students have been catalysts for many college recycling programs starting through grassroots efforts.
Large quantities of bottles and cans are generated on college campuses. Assist with waste reduction by jumping on the Bottle Bill bandwagon through grassroots political pressure.
Colleges purchase millions of dollars worth of copy paper each year. Grassroots education, action, and activities help inform folks about the importance of purchasing recycled content paper so that a market is provided for the materials collected on campus. This also creates a prime opportunity to let the campus printing department know that the community is supportive of purchasing recycled content paper. Although this seems simplistic, many colleges resist purchasing/selling recycled content paper even though it is a vital step in supporting recycled materials collection at colleges.
Encourage producer responsibility on electronics and packaging waste. Garner grassroots support for manufacturer buy-back agreements and/or waste fees in campus purchasing contracts. This will assist in responsibly managing all materials generated on campus and gain revenue in the process.
Work with central administration to install bottle refill spouts on all campus drinking fountains and to ban bottled water on campus. Educate students and staff on local and global water issues, and campus spending on bottled water.
There are endless opportunities to educate and activate folks and a college campus is a great place to do it. Grassroots efforts play an important role in providing a voice on campus and global environmental issues. People on college campuses are interested in taking steps to support environmental issues. It is all about education to action. See Chapter 23: Education to Action for more ideas about how to implement grassroots strategies.
Grassroots Recycling Network
Organize to Win: A Grassroots Activist's Handbook by Jim Britell
Toolkit for Soft Drink Contracts