environmental education made easy

As policies and best practices for solid waste management and education seem to evolve daily, it's important to have a seat at the table where the discussions are taking place. 

To make sure you don't miss out on these important dialogs, we have participated in both the National Association of Government Communicators 2015 Communications School and the National Recycling Coalition Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Summit. Each SMM Summit attendee was invited to complete a one-page white paper to share his or her unique insight into the suggested policy direction for SMM. Our white paper, summarized below, outlines the "dream of a common language" and four key points we feel are essential for sustainable materials management to succeed.

We also attended the annual Indiana Recycling Coalition Conference in early June, where I participated in the "Trends in Environmental Education" session. My presentation will be submitted to SWANA as a webinar in a longer and more detailed form, so please watch for more information about that. I would love to have you join me on the webinar!

Keep current and keep recycling!

Elizabeth Roe
Eco Partners
The Dream of a Common Language
Photo credit: iStock.com | Sashatigar

As professionals in the solid waste and materials management industries, we speak in our own code. Eco Partners job for nearly three decades has been translating that code into the language of regular people: the adults and children who must act for local programs to succeed. 


The poet Adrienne Rich speaks of "the dream of a common language." In communicating with regular people leading their day-to-day lives for whom "zero waste" or "sustainable materials management" are not top of mind, effective communications focus on simple, action-based steps. These communications need to use plain language, avoid jargon, and repeat instructions regularly. 


When we use terms such as "zero waste," we need to frame them properly and explain them clearly so that the language supports, rather than undermines, our goals. To achieve these goals, we should: 

  1. Create definitions for terms such as sustainable materials management, zero waste, etc. that can be used by all stakeholders nationwide.
  2. In citizen communications, use terminology that is clear, plain, and easily understood.
  3. Focus citizen communications on the concept of "waste as resource," which employs commonly understood terms and concepts. 
  4. Communicate both program goals and how-to messages regularly in citizen communications.

Read the full white paper.

Eco Partners helps you deliver local environmental educational information 

cost-effectively and efficiently. 

We do all the heavy lifting. You get all the credit! 


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