There are few social movements that omit children from their list of important audiences. Just ask any parent who has been coached by their child to quit smoking, put their cell phones away at dinner or recycle their empty containers.

Social marketers understand that children are strong influencers in families. They areeager to learn and willing to adopt new ideas and new practices that are consistent with the values they learn at home. As a society we often leverage their enthusiasm to gently shift prevailing social attitudes. The non-smoking movement is a case in point.

Supporting environmental education that’s fun

This summer the Carton Council of Canada (CCC) partnered with the City of Vaughan in Ontario and Quebec-based Reseau Environnement’s Tri-logique program to deliver environmental education programs focused on teaching good recycling practices to children.

The Tri-logique program engaged 36 municipalities with a combined population of 400,000 between May 7 and August 10, an increase of 125% over last year. Under the theme “Sorting, makes sense!”, five outreach officers delivered 59 presentations throughout Quebec, in schools, day camps and at public events.

In Vaughan three libraries hosted a waste diversion basketball activity that attracted 372 participants at 10 events this summer. Response to the game was very positive with one youngster observing: “Now I know what goes where and I can do it at home.” One parent took a picture of the game because he was thinking he’d like to make one for his home.

The CCC provided both programs with support, including promotional banners, as well as stickers and tattoos for participants, adding to the fun and education.

Investing in young Canadians offers the promise that, as they grow and become more fully engaged in our society, they will associate the good practices they adopted as youngsters with positive experiences. And recycling should be one of them.