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Each of the previous tools involves communication and can advance your program beyond the traditional information campaign. Information is powerful, yet can be even greater when used in combination with prompts, norms, incentives and commitment.

Here are some tips for a great communication component:

Clip art of a recycling bin.

  • Use captivating information, such as alarming factoids to grab attention. Use N.C. specific facts – such as "Every year, North Carolinians throw away enough trash to circle the earth twice." Use artwork found on or
  • Use a credible source (such as the city or county recycling agency, yourselves, etc.). Always include your phone number and Web site on all materials. People may want to recycle, but may not know how. With all these social marketing tools pushing them over the edge, make sure you give them a way to find out how to recycle!
  • Use personal contact.Get the message out by speaking to people who can help influence others.
  • Make your message specific and easy to remember. Make it easy to remember WHAT to do, HOW to do it, WHEN to do it and WHERE to do it. Since your program should focus on recycling all bottles with necks, that's an easy message to tell.
  • Provide program targets for individuals and the community. List your goals for recycling in the local newspaper and in your program materials. List personal goals for each individual/family/household, to give people program targets to work toward.
  • Model sustainable behavior. Social diffusion theory shows that people adopt behaviors based on others around them. For more information check out the book "Diffusion of Innovations," by Everett Rogers.
  • Know your audience - including their beliefs, attitudes and behavior. Understand the audience you are working with and how important recycling is to them. This will help determine how you should best communicate with them. More information about this is below.

Before starting a campaign, it is essential to know about the audience you are trying to reach. A software program called PRIZM can help with that. Using Neilson, census and Equifax data, along with almost a million personal surveys, the company created a marketing database.

A small, free version is available at My Best Segments. When you type in a ZIP code it gives you a snapshot of the community including:

  • Demographic descriptors,
  • Age range,
  • Homeownership,
  • Employment,
  • Education,
  • Ethnicity and race, and
  • Lifestyle preferences such as what the group watches on TV or reads, where they eat, what kind of car they drive and what kind of music they listen to.


Oral Communication

Oral communication is an essential tool when attempting to reach members of the community. Below are some successful examples of organizations that have used oral communication.

A. Land-of-Sky Regional Council's Mobile Environmental Learning Center
Designed and operated by Asheville's Land-of-Sky Regional Council, the Mobile Environmental Learning Center is a hands-on waste reduction education classroom. Since its inception in 1999, MELC has educated more than 20,000 students in western N.C. counties about the importance of recycling, composting and proper waste disposal behaviors. It addresses the need for source reduction, increased participation in existing recycling programs, and more awareness of household hazardous waste issues.

B. Mecklenburg County PLANT Program
The Piedmont Landscape and Naturescape Training Program in Mecklenburg County works with local neighborhood groups to promote community naturescaping though workshops and neighborhood compost demonstration sites.

Written Communication

Written communication can also be a very successful tool at reaching the desired demographics and participants of your program. Written communication can be visually posted as a consistent reminder to an individual about the importance of your message.

Examples include:

  1. Brochures –
    If your community needs help designing a recycling brochure, you can contact DEAO for assistance. You will first pick out a brochure cover (option 123, or 4) and template that you like. A completed version of our brochure can be seen here. Then you will complete a short questionnaire so that we know what to put into the brochure. Turnaround time varies based on work load and schedules. There is no charge to local governments for brochure designs but local governments are responsible for the cost of printing.


    Local Government Examples:

  2. Decals –
  3. Newsletters –
  4. Posters –
  5. Truck Advertisements –
  6. Social Media –
    • Learn about's use of social media to educate about recycling via this article in Resource Recycling's December 2009 issue.
  7. Press Release/Letters to the EditorTemplates


 Land-of-Sky's mobile environmental learning center

Land-of-Sky Regional Council's Mobile Environmental Learning Center