Education and outreach are essential components to any successful recycling program. These efforts serve to generate awareness of and enthusiasm for campus waste reduction and recycling programs; and instruct users how to properly participate in a program.
Best Practices in Promotion and Education Programs
Successful education and outreach programs include:
Defining the audience;
Tailoring the message to the target audience;
Creating a recognizable slogan and/or logo;
Ensuring there is consistency among communications;
Selecting the appropriate avenue to reach the audience;
Ensuring that messages are well-timed and frequent; and
When developing a message for a specific audience, consider the following questions.
What message are you trying to send?
What, specifically, do you want the target audience to do?
What seems to motivate the target group?
How can the target group be reached? What will get their attention?
How can the target audience be kept engaged?
Promotions and Events to Consider
Specific days and events exist for which it is natural to promote recycling and waste reduction efforts on campus. These include:
MOVE-IN DAY, Beginning of the Academic Year – Move-in Day is a great time to familiarize new students with campus recycling and waste reduction programs. Many colleges and universities create a fun, energetic atmosphere with incentives to introduce students to the program. Move-in Day typically generates significant quantities of cardboard, so plan to collect cardboard, at a minimum.
AMERICA RECYCLES DAY (ARD), November 15, can be used to reinforce the importance of recycling – and perhaps introduce or expand recycling efforts. For tips and ideas about organizing events for ARD, visit Keep America Beautiful at www.kab.org.
PRE-HOLIDAYS – Many campuses use the holidays as an opportunity to teach students about zero waste gift ideas and other options for using disposable gift wrap. This also is a time when students might donate reusable items to a local charity through a campus collection event.
RECYCLEMANIA – A contest among colleges/universities to recycle the most as well as other interesting contests to generate enthusiasm. The contest runs for several weeks beginning in January and ending in March.www.recyclemaniacs.org
EARTH DAY, April 22– Many colleges and universities offer events that re-confirm their commitments to create sustainable campuses and take this opportunity to educate the campus community about sustainable practices they can adopt. Some colleges/universities create an Earth Day Committee to plan this event and include entertainment and games.
CLEAN YOUR FILES DAY, Week of Earth Day – This is a day to encourage staff and students to "purge" their paper files. Many colleges and universities contract with a shredding company to shred sensitive documents, alleviating a barrier to recycling such material.
INTERNATIONAL COMPOST AWARENESS WEEK, The First Week of May – An event of the U.S. Composting Council, this is an opportunity to make students and staff aware of the amount of organic material generated on campus, options for disposing of organics and the benefits of using compost. See www.compostingcouncil.org for more information. The organization lists events taking place during Compost Awareness Week, which might provide ideas for activities on campus.
MOVE-OUT WEEK, End of Academic Year – Most colleges and universities have move-out week collection events to collect reusable items for charity or for future use by students. Items collected during such events include unopened toiletries and non-perishable food items, clothing, books, loft materials, furniture, household items and small appliances.
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Recycle U provides customizable educational material at no cost that is especially beneficial for colleges and universities with limited budgets and resources. Contact us if you would like more information having our graphic artist create customized material for your college/university.