Most of us are aware of the strain our waste puts on the environment and our health. And what is more, most of us care about it. So, we recycle. But we don’t recycle as much as we think. Studies show that there is almost always a discrepancy between self-reports and observed behaviors of recycling (a few references below). We recycle less than we think. Period. Confirmation bias perhaps? We notice the times we recycle but (unwillingly?) ignore the times we don’t?
This brief observation can also be found in the following nice graphic, focused on plastic recycling, brought to my attention by Allison Morris.
Here’s a slide show, by professor P.W. Schultz, that shows what might work to stimulate recycling behavior. No great surprises, really: make it convenient, apply social pressure and set goals.
(Suggestion: turn it into a game? Beat your own high score, compete with friends and family, earn rewards,… Anyway, just a thought…)
Barker, K., Fong, L., Grossman, S., Quin, C., & Reid, R. (1994). Comparison of Self-Reported Recycling Attitudes and Behaviors with Actual Behavior Psychological Reports, 75 (1), 571-577 DOI: 10.2466/pr0.19126.96.36.1991
Chao, Y., & Lam, S. (2009). Measuring Responsible Environmental Behavior: Self-Reported and Other-Reported Measures and Their Differences in Testing a Behavioral Model Environment and Behavior, 43 (1), 53-71 DOI: 10.1177/0013916509350849
Corral-Verdugo, V. (1997). Dual ‘Realities’ of Conservation Behavior: Self-Reports vs Observations of Re-use and Recycling Behavior Journal of Environmental Psychology, 17 (2), 135-145 DOI: 10.1006/jevp.1997.0048