Reinforcing the Culture of Recycling

published Aug 18, 2016
1 min read



The culture of recycling in recent years has been an important part of sustainability for people around the world; within households, organisations (public/private), individuals, etc.

The role individuals play has been encouraged and fortified by the rules and regulations put on by the government into practicing a culture of recycling ;an extrinsic motivation for recycling.

However, the development of the internal mechanisms of control of individuals will ensure a long lasting recycling activities as recommended by behaviorist like De Young, Stephen M. Burn, Rachel and Stephen Kaplan and others.

Intrinsic Motivation as the Best Alternative

Educational campaigns and persuasion give a thorough understanding of the impact recycling has on the environment. Thus, individuals are internally satisfied when they feel as a part of a great cause; the feel of a sense of participation.

Personal satisfaction, as being directly involved in a meaningful activity, increases the individual’s’ willingness to engage in such kinds of activities. According to psychologists Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, intrinsic satisfaction aspect of human motivation is in connection with adaptability of humans, information generation and utilisation of individuals.

Another intrinsic motivation of recycling is frugality. Individuals who are frugal always find ways to avoid creating waste, keep using items longer than their normal life span compared to the number of years the average individual would use it.

Frugal individuals also re-make old items instead of throwing them away. Consequently, individuals engaging in recycling activities are likely to maintain this culture in the long term period.

Why Extrinsic Motivation Method Is Not the Best Option

The use of common extrinsic motivation methods, in the case of the reward systems, like the so called “trash for money” has been effective in most countries, especially in the Scandinavia region.

This is exemplified with the increasing success of “pantamera”, returning empty cans, glasses and bottles to a machine in return for money.

Contrastingly, behaviorist like Shawn M. Burn presents that the reward way of encouraging recycling usually fades away after the reward system is stopped; thus, in the long run, it is not a good method of continuing the culture of recycling.

Negative reinforcement strategies like punishments and fine (extrinsic motivations), has been discouraged by psychological behaviorist like Efim Geller.

Positive reinforcement strategy has been highly recommended as one of the best methods into building a stronger culture of recycling.Thus, the effectiveness of the extrinsic method of reinforcing recycling activities within the household is questionable.