Another Classic Ad Campaign? Nonprofits Reunite for Recycling Push

More than 40 years after their iconic “Crying Indian” campaign, Keep America Beautiful and the Ad Council are debuting ads and a site aimed at getting Americans to recycle.

Two nonprofits, the Ad Council and Keep America Beautiful, have teamed up on  a public service campaign that targets Americans who don’t avidly recycle.

The goal of the “I Want to Be Recycled” campaign is to “raise awareness about the benefits of recycling with the goal to make recycling a daily social norm.”

“We are thrilled to be again collaborating with Keep America Beautiful, our longstanding partner in creating PSAs that lead to a more sustainable environment, as we work to increase rates of recycling nationwide,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council, in a statement. “Together, I know that we can reach the ‘occasional’ recycler and transform recycling into a simple, daily habit for millions of Americans.”

Keep America Beautiful, which says its mission is “engaging individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community’s environment,” first partnered with the public-service-oriented Ad Council in 1971 to create “The Crying Indian” campaign. With its iconic ads highlighting how litter and other pollution hurt the environment, the campaign was launched on Earth Day in 1971 and ran until 1983. Ad Age named it one of the top 100 advertising campaigns of the 20th century.

The new public service effort directs people to, a website with a localized search tool allowing users to find where to recycle either at their curbside or their nearest recycling center, as well as more information on the recycling process.

“This campaign is the emotional push needed to raise awareness and positively change people’s behavior to recycle more. Our intent is to increase recycling rates, which translates into measurable benefits including waste reduction, energy savings, natural resource conservation, and job creation,” said Brenda Pulley, Keep America Beautiful senior vice president of recycling, in a statement.

“Based on survey feedback, we know people want to recycle. This campaign is designed to tap into that desire as well as provide helpful tools to make recycling easier,” Pulley said.

The Ad Council released research recently that found only 52 percent of Americans say that they are “very” or “extremely” knowledgeable about how to properly recycle. Also, only 38 percent said they are “avid recyclers.” One of the most common reasons given for not recycling are that respondents did not have enough information about where to recycle or what types of materials can be recycled.

(Keep America Beautiful/Ad Council)

Daniel Ford

By Daniel Ford

Daniel Ford is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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