Chapter 23
Education and Promotion - Getting the Word Out

Promoting the idea of recycling/waste reduction as part of the recycling program is essential to the success of sustainable waste management practices. Unlike most operational sectors, recycling/waste reduction requires a change in cultural behavior. In order to implement new systems, creative education and promotional activities must compliment regular operations. It is important to train folks to incorporate new practices into daily activities. The goal includes refocusing societal perceptions and collective actions.

Recycling is just one step away from the garbage can and is merely a stop gap measure. The larger picture of best management practices involves waste reduction and material reuse. This involves pre-cycling, which is consuming less by buying products that are reusable and repairable instead of ones that are disposable and are difficult or overly expensive to repair. Pre-cycling also involves choosing products that are minimally packaged in recyclable packaging. In order for recycling efforts to be successful, there needs to be a demand for the materials. This demand can only be created through consumers choosing recycled content products.

Recycling is more than just another garbage can; it involves closing the loop. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle: practicing the intention of this phrase maximizes resource use efficiency. The key to the success in closing the loop is through excellence in education and promotion of these ideas to the culture as a whole while stimulating a consciousness that follows this path: Buy Recycled Products So We Can Recycle the Products We Buy.

Where to Begin
When considering educational opportunities, remember that there is not a catch-all strategy for getting the word out. Everyone responds to different cues. Some people respond to pictures, others to printed words, music, or even dance. Diversify educational and promotional activities in order to reach the greatest amount of campus community members.

There are many opportunities to include waste reduction education into all campus practices. Incorporating this information into all program materials and operations is just a beginning. There are several promotional strategies that employ printed materials, but promoting waste reduction and recycling can be incorporated into actual activities and events such as Earth Day and America Recycles Day. There are many opportunities to promote the idea of waste reduction and recycling and also promote the school and recycling program in the process. 

Promoting recycling and waste reduction can be a very inexpensive project or can involve higher costs. There are many effective options. The key is to be creative and resourceful and implement multiple strategies simultaneously. Being on a college campus is a plus because there are numerous resources available by the very nature of being part of an educational institution. There is a diverse population of experts and students who are looking for real world, hands-on experiences to compliment academics.

Professors are always looking for practical application projects to incorporate into academic classes. This is especially true of journalism and advertising classes. Therefore, college classes are a good place for students to do projects that can be utilized within the academic realm and also benefit a recycling program. Through classes, internships or practicums, students can produce brochures, business plans, waste stream analyses, posters, advertisement campaigns, etc.

Additionally, as the new generation of computer literate youth pursues higher education, there is a huge opportunity to involve students in producing graphics and web site materials at little or no cost. The recycling program gets free PR materials and the students get an opportunity to see their work published, build their portfolios, and gain practical experience.

Program Visibility
Recycling Programs on college campuses serve the university through great PR merely by the presence of recycling systems on campus. When students preview universities to attend, seeing recycling containers gives a message that the school has an environmental awareness which also indicates that the school cares for the campus community as a whole.

Additionally, as institutions of higher education, our job is to create contributing community citizens. As the UO Campus Recycling Motto states, "Recycling IS Higher Education!"

Create a Program Name
Many campuses call their recycling department “Campus Recycling.” Others incorporate the name of the school, for example, "Vermont Recycles.” Due to the inconsistency of where recycling programs end up being administered, it is important to create a name that makes the program accessible. Folks do not automatically know that the recycling department is located within facilities or central administration or student government. Additionally, recycling programs are very unique in that they are an operational function that involves much more administration than typical trade functions or custodial functions. Recycling programs also incorporate education and promotion into daily operations and involve other aspects such as creating conservation practices within existing university procedures. Through good PR and convenient collections, waste management will become an economic success.

Create a Program Logo
This can be put on all recycling collection stations, program vehicles, signs, printed materials, employee T-shirts, newsletters, posters, and recycling containers. A program logo is the foundation for building a recycling program. It identifies the program and also inspires the practice. This could be as simple as utilizing the generic recycling symbol with the school's name in the center.

Basic ideas to Begin Educating the Campus Community

Social Networking Websites and YouTube
As online communication becomes more and more popular, social networking websites such as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter can be an asset to a campus recycling effort. Utilizing such sites creates a means of reaching out to the campus community to promote events, post educational materials, alert the community to changes in recycling collection procedures or routes, and network with program allies. These sites provide an informal means of outreach that allows students, staff, and faculty members to become familiar with the recycling program and have questions answered even if attending an event may not be possible. Make sure to update social networking sites regularly so that interest will be maintained over time. Include contact information on the site so that the online communication systems can be used to facilitate more direct communication and networking in the future.

YouTube is another online means of promoting waste reduction and recycling efforts and learning about strategies used on other campuses. Make educational videos, post them online, and put links on the program's main website and social networking profiles for maximum viewing opportunities. Post links to other educational videos related to waste reduction, recycling, and sustainability.

There are endless ways to promote waste reduction and recycling on campus. If more ideas are needed, just ask some students what works to get their attention. The great wild ideas that come from brainstorming are always surprising.


California Integrated Waste Management Board Instructional Materials

EPA for Students and Educators 


Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment

Grassroots Recycling Network 


Recycling Resource Project 


University of Oregon Campus Recycling Ed/Promo Section