Reprinted with permission from the July 2003 Bulletin of the Association of College Unions International. Copyright 2003. The Bulletin, Volume 71, Issue 4, July 1, 2003, pages 14-18.
Think before you drive. Think before you trash it. Think before for a better after. These were all slogans used in a campaign on the California Polytechnic State University campus in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Two students worked with their college union and other areas of campus to promote recycling and energy and water conservation. The central goal of this campaign was to influence students to think about their actions and change their behaviors to be more eco-friendly. The recycling opportunities at Cal Poly are plentiful. Students, staff, and faculty members each have two containers in their dorm room or office, one for recycling and one for trash. Trash cans and recycling bins are found side by side across the campus. The means to recycle were available, but people were not consistently using them. On a typical day trash cans were overflowing with recyclables such as soda bottles, newspapers, and plastic juice containers. Beside the full trash containers stood half-empty recycling bins. Why were students not recycling, especially when it required no extra effort? Surveys and personal interviews during the summer quarter of 2002 revealed that many students were unaware of the importance of recycling or were confused about what could be recycled. The survey results also showed that many students perceived energy and water conservation solely as a way to save money. The campaign sought to combat this lack of understanding by educating students about the importance of recycling, teaching them what could and could not be recycled, and convincing them that water and energy conservation are more than just financially motivated. By uniting the entire campus behind the "Think Before" ideas, students would not be able to ignore the message.
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