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Blogging on how to use behavioural science to make behaviour more likely

Making it more likely people recycle

January 4, 2018

2 min read: Most of us would say that we are concerned about our planet and that we value things like greener energy and recycling. Yet one fact remains: we humans are inherently lazy. 

Behavioural science tells us that the more effort required, the less likely the behaviour is to occur. Thankfully we can use this knowledge to our benefit, especially when it comes to recycling efforts. Studies tell us that simply changing the locations of recycling bins can have a massive impact on whether or not people are likely to recycle their bottles and cans. 

 

Most companies start a recycling program by having one or two bins in common locations. This may seem like a good space (and cost) saving idea, but research suggests that no matter how big the sign or how flashy the bin, the effort required to take bottles to a common location means people are much more likely to toss them in the trash at their desk, and this means your green initiative may fall flat. 

 

So what’s the key? Lowering the response effort required. How do you do that? By locating recycling bins as close to the location where people are consuming the beverages as possible. That means a recycling bin in every office, break room, and meeting room as possible – with the ideal being one next to every trash bin. Studies repeatedly show that the location of recycling bins can have big impacts on behaviour, and one study showed that recycling on a university campus increased by 60-70% when the recycling bins were located in the classrooms instead of in common areas (like hallways). 

 

So take advantage of our laziness and save the planet by making a simple change to the local environment to make recycling as easy as possible.
 

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