Marketing Your Program

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Waste reduction hinges on the participation and support of employees, managers, and customers. It involves rethinking the way we do things and changing old habits. Changing habits may be a challenge, but the results can be rewarding both in savings realized and meaningful environmental action.

Changing old habits and forming new ones is an ongoing process that begins with exposure to, and assimilation of pertinent information. An individual uses information to create a perception of the relative costs and benefits of adopting a new behavior. If a new practice isn't reinforced by an ongoing growing perception that benefits outweigh costs, any change will likely be temporary.

In addition to some time and patience, it helps to have the accumulated wisdom of those who have gone before. Here are some ideas that proved effective in the effort to educate and motivate employees to reduce waste.

Make the Right Visual Impression

  • In our information age we are bombarded with all kinds of messages. It is important to make your message stand out. The right visual impressions can actually be stronger than words.
  • Create a marketing program that uses images to encourage people to participate.
  • Use a catchy logo and slogan for your program.
  • Create pictures and graphics to jazz up written materials, recycling containers, and coffee mugs.
  • Show people how much waste they generate using photos, videos, or displays.
  • Present a short video to employees.

Use Motivating Messages

  • Use startling facts. Facts should be put in terms people can relate to and the message should be easy to understand. A startling fact can help motivate a person to seek change.
  • Personalize information and relate it to what people already experience.
  • Don’t assume employees and managers are very familiar with key waste reduction words or concepts.
  • Explain why it is important to stop wasting resources. Where possible, focus on the benefits: cost savings, resources saved, customer satisfaction, corporate and personal responsibility toward future generations.
  • Present information so it stands out; avoid being redundant or boring.
  • Avoid giving too much information at once; give information in manageable pieces.

Use Person-to-Person Methods

  • In addition to distributing or posting written educational materials, where feasible, present information person-to-person. Talking to someone is more influential than written materials alone.
  • Seek volunteers in each work area who are willing to be trained as "waste reduction pros." The pros provide a friendly and knowledgeable source of information throughout the organization. And they can provide feedback on how you are doing.
  • Train new employees. Let them know they are expected to use resources carefully and fully participate in waste reduction programs. Explain how to prevent waste and recycle materials.
  • Use all-employee gatherings to promote waste reduction. Show what is being done well and what areas need improvement.

Motivate Employees By Giving Them Feedback

  • Graph progress and show people how they are doing by division, floor or other unit.
  • Create a contest and award prizes or trophies (reused, of course).
  • Financially reward employees for ideas that generate significant cost savings and waste reduction.
  • Offer discounts to employees who purchase coffee using their own washable mug.
  • Recognize employee's waste reduction efforts in front of others.

Involve Employees

  • Employees best know how operations work and are critical to the success of any program. Solicit ideas and involve them so they have ownership in the program.
  • Let employees be part of the decision-making process; invite them to participate in a waste reduction team that is responsible for implementing waste reduction practices.
  • Ask employees to make a waste reduction pledge.

Set a Good Example

  • To help make new practices mainstream be sure to practice what you preach.
  • If using promotional giveaways or prizes, make sure they exemplify waste reduction (e.g., a coffee mug with your program's slogan, a refillable pen made from recycled plastic). Don't give away premiums or materials that will end up in the trash.
  • Distribute information in the least wasteful way. Send messages electronically, if that option is available. Route messages or post them on a central bulletin board. Print or copy using both sides of the page and format documents so there isn't excessive white space.
  • Ask employees to bring their own plate or mug to gatherings where food and beverages will be served.

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