November 1, 2018

During the 2018 spring semester, College Library’s director, Carrie Kruse, worked with the Department of Life Sciences Communication senior capstone course (LSC 515) taught by Professor Bret Shaw. Students enrolled in the class hoped to address a real campus issue through better marketing and communication strategies. Carrie asked for their help in creating a marketing plan that would improve recycling efforts at the library. Since a major issue facing campus is the contamination of recycling streams (e.g., food waste and/or plastic in the paper recycling; non-recyclable material such as straws in recycling), the class broke into teams and competed to create the best campaign.

In order to complete the assignment, the students employed observational methods, qualitative interviews, and quantitative market research to better understand the beliefs, knowledge, and behaviors of undergraduate students at UW-Madison as they related to sorting waste at College Library. This research was then synthesized into actionable recommendations for how to improve the waste sorting behaviors of patrons of College Library with plans to implement the best of these ideas the fall 2018 semester.

The winning campaign features the tagline #RecycleRight and focuses on teaching library users proper recycling methods with a combination of easy-to-comprehend graphics, pithy instructions, and explanations as to why it is so important to keep recycling streams uncontaminated. Grant monies from the Office of Sustainability at UW-Madison helped fund a graphic designer, Brooke Weiland, to work on the campaign; she spent the summer creating graphics for waste & recycling bins, posters, table tents, social media, and more.

Set to unveil in the next week, the campaign began with a waste audit to assess the current state of recycling at College Library. The library and campus partners will then launch a full campaign using new signs, social media, and didactic materials to encourage library patrons to #RecycleRight! The staff of College Library extend their thanks to Prof. Shaw and his LSC 515 students; Brooke Weiland; Nathan Jandl and Ally Burg of the Office of Sustainability; and Prof. Cathy Middlecamp of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.