How-To: Tips to Conduct Outreach with a Smaller Ecological Footprint
By Danielle Schultz
Planet Forward Intern/George Washington University
Here at Planet Forward we do a lot of outreach — to gain content, attendance at events, inform people about our cause, and so much more. That being said, we want our outreach to be as green as possible. And if we can do it, other groups definitely can. Help your organization and university achieve its sustainability goals. Here are some ways to be more sustainable when reaching out to your peers:
1. Go electronic. This is the easiest, most obvious way you can make a difference. Reach out via email and telephone, rather than snail mail. Not only is this method much quicker, but you can reach more people with no paper waste. And skip the fliers on campus. Instead, make a digital version or craft a short, entertaining video (and hope it goes viral!). It’s also more likely that more people will see your message if you’re directly targeting the audience you want to reach.
2. Use smaller paper. If you must hand out fliers, try a quarter sheet or a palm card. You can typically get just as much information on that size, and still get your message across. Some printing companies also offer recycled paper options, and can include a brief message at the bottom letting others know that the product was printed on post-consumer waste.
3. Make it a goal to hold Zero Waste events (or as close to it as possible). Have bins for recycling and composting at any events put on by your organization or group. To help eliminate food waste, if you’re serving food at your event, family-style or buffet serving options produce less waste overall, as leftovers can be repurposed. Plated food cannot be reused and therefore ends up in the compost bin — or worse, the trash.
Serving breakfast as a buffet at the 2015 Feeding the Planet Summit helped reduce food waste. Our venue,
the House of Sweden, offered composting, in addition to recycling, to make our event as sustainable
as possible. / Planet Forward
4. Incentivize sustainable behaviors. If you are hosting a competition or fundraiser, incorporate a sustainability component into the event. Encourage people to “battle it out” and see who can go a week using the least amount of electricity, or who can produce the least amount of trash. Then, reward the winner with a (green) prize!
5. Give out green swag. Awesome events have awesome swag. Check out some websites that sell upcycled, recycled or reusable products that can be customized to feature your logo! Many sites sell products like this, and it can be something reusable like a water bottle or shopping bag, or something completely new and unique, yet still made of recycled product. One key thing to keep in mind with swag is you want it to be useful, otherwise it might end up in the trash. And that’s not very green!
(Image at top by Wilson Adams)