Canada united in the achievement of zero waste, now and for future generations

Go Bagless Initiative Edmonton, Alberta, 2014


​​​​Increase participation in grasscycling (leaving grass clippings on the lawn when you mow) by city residents who have a lawn to mow.

Region: City of Edmonton
Population: 730,000
Target Audience: Men 30-55 living in single family homes


In 2013 and 2014, following several years of conducting media campaigns in the summer to encourage residents to grasscycle, the City of Edmonton's Waste Management Branch launched a more rigorous "Go Bagless" initiative that included:

  • a mass media advertising campaign
  • outreach activities and displays at community events and facilities
  • a social marketing campaign involving canvassing selected communities in Edmonton.

For the social marketing canvassing program approximately 5000 residences in three communities were targeted in 2013 and 15,000 residences in twelve communities were targeted in 2014.

In 2014 canvassers asked both residents who already grasscycled and those who bagged their grass to make a specific commitment to continue/initiate grasscycling. Canvassers conducted follow up visits and residents' waste set outs were inspected to determine if grass was being put out for collection.


Between 2005 and 2014 the percentage of Edmonton residents with lawns who grasscycle most or all the time has increased from 35% to 65% (estimated).

In 2013 campaign recall for the Go Bagless campaign was 60%. For the 2014 campaign canvassers were able to solicit a commitment to leave the clippings on their lawn when they mowed from 66% of residents who previously bagged their grass. Eighty percent of the residents who bagged their grass and made a commitment did not have grass put out when their garbage set out was inspected.

Campaign elements

Research conducted in late 2012 indicated that for those residents who grasscycled the primary benefits were that clippings helped fertilize the lawn and that leaving the clippings on was more convenient (mow faster, less effort). For residents who bag their grass the primary barrier to grasscycling is a fear that leaving the clippings on the lawn will cause pr​oblems that damage the lawn (thatch etc.)

Advertising campaigns and messaging for canvassers in 2013 and 2014 have been built around appealing to the motivations and overcoming the barriers revealed by the research. The impact of the 2014 campaign was to remove up to 3,000 tonnes of grass clippings from the residential collection waste stream.

Media Campaign

  1. Transit - King extension and headliner on 16 buses 10 week run
  2. Radio - May-August full rotation purchase on three stations with 500+ 30 second spots, on air interviews, show sponsorship and contesting.
  3. Online - Banner, mobile, facebook and google ads – May and June 13,000,000 impressions with .003 CTR.
  4. Website - May and June 7700 page visits – web site features four 30 second produced videos on grasscycling key points.
  5. Videos
  6. City of Edmonton social media - Monthly schedule of "Go Bagless" facebook posts and twitter feeds.

Community Outreach

  1. Retail - Go Bagless hangars installed on new lawn mowers at retail outlets.
  2. Event display - Interactive display at major summer festival and summer markets.
  3. Lawn signs - Residents who grasscycle request Go Bagless lawn sign on the web site. with draw for lawn mower.

Target Community Canvassing

  1. Door hanger - Leave-behind at canvassed residences where nobody was home. Canvassing success rate 50%+.
  2. Doorstep conversation brochure - Key to canvassing was doorstep conversation to solicit commitment and talk to residents about barriers.
  3. Lawn signs - Commitment by residents included taking a lawn sign which acted as a prompt and agent for social diffusion.


Creative development$70,000
Media buy$138,000
Lawn sign production$9,000
Canvassing print material$12,000
Canvasing and evaluation direct staffing costs$38,000
Grasscycling motivation research$14,000
Campaign recall research$4,200
Participation research$2,500

Lessons Learned

Community canvassing is an effective tool for changing resident's grasscycling behaviour. Detailed understanding of motivations and barriers, comprehensive training of canvassing staff and attention to carefully scripting the canvassing interaction are key factors in producing positive outcomes.




How to use the campaign

For more information email Laura Henderson​, Social Marketing Coordinator, City of Edmonton, Waste Management Services.