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Social Media Meets Sustainability
Ensuring sustainable goals through the use of student-friendly initiatives.
By Cherilyn Winkler

Social MediaSocial media has become an essential digital tool for organizations to reach a wider audience and convey messages. When it comes to sustainability, this effort is paramount in our world of an “always-on” audience. The UW Recycling Facebook page has become a main pipeline to speak with students and staff, and to raise awareness about campus-wide efforts towards sustainability and waste reduction.

Through social media applications such as Facebook, organizations can customize the message to what is current and applicable to their target audience. Social media lends the ability to interact in ways never before possible. For example, followers can speak directly with an organization and relay their points of view, and organizations can answer back seamlessly. Conversation and engagement have now become vital.

"The use of social media is a key component in audience engagement these days," said Alex Credgington, communications manager for UW Recycling. "As organizations, we need to look beyond simply conveying information that's important to us and learn to integrate information of value into digital discourse."

Very often in social media the content speaks for itself. In relation to sustainability, having an outlet such as Facebook allows organizations to relay an authentic message and inspire the audience to work toward change. The content of a Facebook page can be a surprisingly educational experience for an audience and the catalyst for further research and involvement.

UW RecyclingAudiences are also looking for facts. When it comes to sustainability, and specifically recycling, it is often the raw statistics that have the most impact. Using social media, organizations such as UW Recycling can meet the needs of its audience and become a reliable resource. The success of a sustainable campaign can come down to the value of the content. Proper social media creation is an important focus for any organization in order to maintain credibility.

In order to continue efforts toward a greener campus, UW Recycling launched a social media effort in conjunction with events like Earth Day, UW Trash-In, and SCRAM.

"Students are the best advocates for environmental change," said Credgington. "We want to build our story in a way that resonates with others so they can be information ambassadors--carrying our message and building on the conversation."

UW Recycling now implements social media elements into all of its campaigns. Currently, the educational panels on the side of the new Solar Kiosks in Red Square are equipped with a QR Code. Scanning this code with a smartphone will bring up a webpage with further information about waste disposal on campus.

"The goal is to educate, inspire, and engage the UW community," said Credgington. "Social media applications such as Facebook are the key to ensuring our goals are met."

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