The Effects of Geography on Recycling Participation Rates

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Effects of Geographic Location and Recycling Participation.

EFFECTS OF GEOGRAPHICS AND RECYCLING Abstract Research was conducted to determine if recycling participation is affected based on where an individual lives and/or where they grew up. Many psychological and sociological studies have looked into the human behavior of recycling; what drives an individual to recycle and what are the key components to a successful recycling program. Results have shown that people with access to a structured recycling program have much higher levels of recycling than do people lacking such access. Furthermore, individual attitudes toward the environment affect recycling behavior only in the community with easy access to a structured recycling program.


Individual concern about the environment enhances the effect of the recycling program, but does not overcome the barriers presented by lack of access (Derksen and Gartrell 1993). Using past sociologic studies and retrospective data derived from recycling participation studies and polling figures of cities across the world; the results show that recycling participation is dependent on geographic location. Though, there are many factors within the geographic location that enable the success of a recycling program or inhibit a recycling program such as land fill ability, education in public schools, personal environmental feelings of the citizens and legislation by the geographic location government.

EFFECTS OF GEOGRAPHICS AND RECYCLING Effects of geographic location and recycling participation Introduction Recycling has become a frequently discussed topic as states, cities and towns are faced with rising landfill costs. There is now more public awareness of environmental issues through Earth Day and other environmental organizations. Also, there is increased importing of 'green'


traditions like recycling and environmental concern through the influx of citizens from states that have established positive working recycling programs, to states that are just experimenting with recycling, or have no programs at all. Though, some environmentalists wonder why recycling has not been so successful in recent years or even has been dropped as public utility option for citizens of some areas. All the while, statistical data shows the average amount of refuse an individual produces per day to be on the rise while the percentage of recycling has remained nearly the same or decreased (Figures 1 and 2). From around 1990 to 2008, the average amount of waste generated by each person in America per day was four and a half pounds and in some states like Texas, up to seven and a half pounds per day (Figure 3) (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2009). An individuals participation in recycling has been shown to be affected by various factors including environmental feelings and the placement of a program that enables the individual to be part of a solution to the problem, education, and state legislation. In general, geographic location should also be influential to recycling participation if the geographic location is out of land fill space, has environmentally concerned citizens and has a rooted recycling program available to all its citizens. Schwartz (1970) notes that in order for a social norm to predict behavior, the individual must believe that noncompliance will produce negative consequences

EFFECTS OF GEOGRAPHICS AND RECYCLING for others, and in addition must assume personal responsibility for those negative consequences. Psychologist J.M. Weyant (1986) points out that the negative consequences of environmentally destructive behaviors are not usually apparent. For example, most town residents do not live by


the landfill which ultimately houses their tossed garbage. Furthermore, personal responsibility is reduced because individuals feel that "nobody else is performing the behavior either" and that they have no choice but to...
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