Set expectations that everyone will participate, including supervisors, staff, coaches, students, and visitors. If the buildings and grounds department is not part of your recycling team, take extra time to educate those employees about the new system. The best way to get people to participate is to help them understand the importance and purpose of the program, how it works, and how they can get involved.
Some education/promotion ideas include the following:
- Using the list of material you researched in Phase One, create a recycling guide for students, teachers and staff, including the buildings and grounds department. Include images of the different items. Address acceptable and unacceptable materials. Here are examples of recycling guides prepared for some schools in Morris County by the county recycling office:
Acceptable Recyclable Materials in Morris County Schools
Preparation of Corrugated Cardboard
- Include the recycling symbol in all of your educational and promotional pieces; e.g., flyers, posters, videos. See the popup box explaining the recycling symbol and an example of the creative use of the symbol to customize a logo.
- Present the new recycling system at a school assembly; be sure to include a “show and tell” using the acceptable recyclable materials. Make the “show and tell” into a fun skit, and include representatives from various “areas” of the school and its organizations.
- Have older students visit younger students to teach them about the benefits of recycling and how to sort.
- Present information in school newsletters and in school announcements.
- Create a list of Frequently Asked Questions, accompanied by the correct answers, to be used wherever deemed appropriate.
- Post information about recycling on the school website.
- Use existing (or create your own) lesson plans about trash and recycling in the classroom.
- Email new program communications to parents.
- Have students create educational posters.
- Give a presentation to the school board and/or PTA/PTO/Home and School Association.
- Have the municipal recycling coordinator or county recycling coordinator speak at an assembly or host an education table.
- Tent cards on cafeteria tables.
- Customized posters (students could create some) posted throughout the school in hallways, break rooms, and on classroom bulletin boards.
- Create an activity for people to commit to recycle. For example, create a giant poster to sign or ask people to write their reason for recycling on white boards then post their picture. Also presented in Phase 1, here is a link to Union County’s Go Green Pledge.
- Be absolutely sure to address/explain the recycling program at faculty meetings.
- Request the principal to send via email or otherwise, written instructions to all faculty and staff members (this will illustrate that the administration is fully supportive of the program. In fact, the principal might tell a story of sorts about her/his devotion to recycling, as part of her/his commitment to planet Earth, in order to personalize the “letter” that she/he sends.)
- Write a welcome letter to be given to each new student, to express delight that yet another recycler has joined the school community.
- Create a screen saver on computers and/or on display monitors/message boards (TVs) throughout the school looping with photos taken during the walkthrough and/or waste audit. Students enjoy seeing teachers and the principal, along with other students explaining how to recycle right!
- Students (or Green Team members) create and film a video clip, to include students, teachers, and the principal doing a “show and tell.” This project has been very well received in schools. Each person in the video holds a recyclable item and makes a brief statement about it. There can also be a “show and tell” of items frequently generated at schools that do not belong in the recycling stream. Here is an outline of what can be included in the video. Filming this project in a variety of areas in the school makes it tailored to that school and students will connect with it. Promoting the green team by wearing Green Team shirts for the video and holding up recycling containers found in that school are also very important. The video could be used in many ways and could be turned into a game version as well – Must you recycle this? The video can be posted on the school website for parents who have passwords to view.
- Students and/or parents (or Green Team) do lunch- and- learn during lunch periods. Containers for trash and recyclables are placed in one area of the lunchroom. Those educating the students stand at the disposal area and monitor students disposing of their waste and direct them to properly recycle! There should also be a provision for liquids, as all bottles and cans must be empty. Some school recycling programs include milk cartons and juice boxes, while others do not.
- Do a sorting activity using three buckets and a variety of items (on a table). Ask participants to put each item into the correct container.
One bucket labeled for recycling
One bucket labeled for trash
One bucket labeled reuse
This is a great way to educate students and faculty and a nice activity at your school’s green fair.
- Promote your efforts online. See zerowasteleonia.org for district wide school recycling efforts in Leonia, NJ
- Host a Green Fair with recycling information among other environmental education and activities.
Here is a sample notice from Middlesex County to school staff and students.
Here is a sample loudspeaker announcement.
Here is a sample cafeteria announcement.
Incorporate education for the entire school into a regular schedule for each school year. The messages should be presented multiple times each school year. The messages need to be repeated every year, especially for new students, staff and facility.