What I Learned From Doing A School Recycling Audit

One of my responsibilities as a Recycling Ambassador for my city involves conducting “recycling audits” on local schools. These audits aid schools in bettering their recycling practices by pointing out areas of improvement. After auditing schools, I gained a better understanding of what works in encouraging large groups of people (kids and adults) to properly recycle. So use these tips if you are looking to encourage better recycling practices at your office, school, or other community space!

  • Put trash next to the recycling. Like. RIGHT NEXT TO IT. Don’t stick it 5 feet away. Otherwise, people will just throw things away in whatever is closest/most convenient.
  • Put trash and recycling cans next to all exits, under sinks, in hallways, and in bathrooms. These are the top locations that people will be looking to pitch items.
  • Signs, signs everywhere. Preferably with pictures. Make it very clear what items go in each container. You would be surprised to learn how many times I’ve been asked whether paper towels can be recycled. (The answer is no. However, it can be composted!)
  • Make sure your janitorial staff is aware of the recycling guidelines in your city (i.e. recycling must either be unbagged or bagged in clear bags; glass and paper should be recycled separately, etc.). Put up guidelines (with pictures) in any cleaning closets. Ensure that trash and recycling are ending up in the correct outdoor dumpsters.
  • Finally — educate those around you. Tell people WHY they should recycle. Find out what would incentivize them to recycle more. Teach them about better recycling practices.
Encourage recycling at your school or office pin.
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