During his presentation at a recent CURC Zero Waste workshop Bruce Buchan, CleanRiver’s CEO, created an “ah-ha moment” among the audience when he identified the negative impact CAVE people have on recycling programs.
Citizens Against Virtually Everything (CAVE) is a tongue-in-cheek reference to those people who resist any type of change. They are the biggest barrier to the success of your recycling program.
CAVE people are the negativity spreaders, the people who say things like “Why should I bother recycling? It doesn’t make a difference anyway”.
Buchan states “The key to dealing with CAVE people is to ignore them and instead focus your efforts heavily on the people who can make real difference to your culture”.
Here are 5 things you need to do to overcome negative influencers:
- Communication is key. Tell everyone about your program; where the containers are located and what you’re collecting. Having a program re-launch will raise awareness of why recycling is important. Clear graphics on your containers show people what can be recycled and/or composted. Using images of facility-specific waste in your graphics further increases participation by reducing confusion over what’s recyclable.
- Tell everyone about your program goals. People buy into a program that they feel is making a real difference. Recording your metrics and showing everyone how the program is performing helps them take it seriously.
- Senior Management and key stakeholders need to walk the talk when it comes to the recycling program. They are the influencers of your culture and others will follow their lead.
- Recognize people’s efforts. A thank you sign for customers or employees posted next to the containers motivates people to continue to recycle effectively. Some organizations award prizes to departments with the best diversion rate to motivate participation.
- Use social media to promote your recycling program achievements to customers, students and employees. Consumers’ buying decisions are now influenced by the social responsibility of companies. Students now consider Universities’ environmental initiatives in their application selection process. At the 2014 National Restaurant Association Show, Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice-President of Research and Knowledge, stated that if restaurants didn’t become more sustainable in their business operations they would be out of business within 10 years.
The positive energy you put into communicating your program will help shift your culture to one of engagement and proactivity. When people are engaged they care. And when people care they are going to take the time to recycle effectively.