Recycling, Implications (09-01-21)

Recycling stations are designed into many spaces, both public and private.  Van Doorn and Kurz have identified interesting repercussions of recycling; designers who are aware of their findings may devise ways to counter the effects noted.  Van Doorn and Kurz found that “when presented with [recycling] options people may come to psychologically frame their waste creation as a contribution to the collective good that makes them feel good about themselves. . . . making people aware of initiatives designed to limit the environmental damage of their consumption can go beyond hampering attempts to reduce waste . . . or increasing the quantity of recyclable products consumed. . . . communicating such initiatives can actually cause people to be more likely to unnecessarily discard products, or to choose a single use product over a re-useable one. . . . respondents are well aware that acting in a less-wasteful way is the more responsible thing to do, but that these perceptions become (erroneously) disrupted when the recycling option offered is advertised as leading to the creation of societally beneficial new products.”

Jenny van Doorn and Kim Kurz.  2021. “The Warm Glow of Recycling Can Make Us More Wasteful.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 77, 101672, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2021.101672