How To Introduce Recycling to a College Campus

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Starting a recycling program on your campus is a good way to help the environment and to create a tangible change that will remain at your college after you are gone. This type of program requires solid research and good presentation skills, however, so be prepared to show that you are committed to carrying out the recycling plans if your university officials implement them. The initial phase of starting a campus recycling program will be about research. Then you will move to the meetings and inevitably the waiting for decisions to be made. Follow these steps to help you succeed in bringing recycling to your school.

  1. Begin by researching the current situation at your campus. Find out some sample numbers, such as how much paper the psychology department uses annually. You can use these numbers to create charts showing how recycling would benefit your university and the environment. While using research from outside sources is helpful, you should tailor the information to your locale as much as possible.
  2. Determine where you would recommend putting the recycling bins. Draw up maps and consider any pros and cons of your plan. Be prepared with alternatives in case certain locations get tossed in the process.
  3. Find out what this program will cost the university. Universities are, at their heart, about profit, and yours is no different. Consider the cost of purchasing the bins, maintaining them, and paying staff to empty them. You should be willing to volunteer students to do this job for at least the first year.
  4. Find out who on campus is in charge of these decisions. Most likely you will need to go through a vice presidential office. Set up a meeting with this person to present your plan. Have a handful of students and at least one faculty member present so that you can show your research. Be ready to answer questions or to find out any answers you don't know.
  5. Follow up politely. Universities are bureaucratic, so decisions move slowly. Ask if there is a lower-level staffer who can brief you on any progress. Check in with that person every two to three weeks to find out if there is any progress.
  6. Get the campus media involved if nothing is working. Sometimes officials need a little push. The campus newspaper is a great resource for any campus activist, and you can use it here to draw attention to the lack of recycling on campus. The attention should help you connect with students who support your cause and may help you find allies among the faculty and administration.
  7. Continue asking for meetings and writing letters. If your initial meeting doesn't get any results, then you should ask for another meeting. Move up the food chain if necessary and don't be afraid to push for an answer. Getting like-minded students to write polite letters in support of your cause can help swing momentum your way as well.


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