The Psychology of Recycling

September 4, 2013

Crumpled Paper

photo by *_Abhi_* via Flickr.com

Would you think twice about dropping a torn piece of scrap paper into a trash can as opposed to recycling it? How about a full sheet of standard notebook paper? An entire newspaper?

Researchers from the University of Alberta have found that the more damaged something appears to be, the more likely people are to throw that thing away. Co-author of the study Jennifer Argo explained that “people are psychologically hard-wired to believe that products that are damaged or that aren’t whole—such as small or ripped paper or dented cans—are useless, and this leads users to trash them rather than recycle.”

Changing the Way We See Our Trash

Interestingly, the same ripped pieces of paper were recycled 80% of the time after participants were asked to use them to perform a creative writing task, the implication being that once the paper was given a purpose, it was then understood to have a value that warranted recycling.

The full results of the study are set to be published in December, and Argo hopes that her research will inform policy and even product design decisions. She believes that if packaging can be kept more intact once it has been opened, then people will be more likely to recycle it than if it had been torn to shreds.

CJ Environmental Makes Recycling Easy

At CJ Environmental, we want to help you make the most of your old and broken gold and silver jewelry, your electronic scrap, and your unwanted cell phones. Instead of either throwing it in the trash or letting it take up space in a closet or drawer, you can sell your precious metals and electronic scrap to us. We will take care of recycling everything in an environmentally friendly manner for you, and you will get cash in return. For more information on how to start selling your precious metals and electronic scrap for cash, request a quote today.

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