Why Scientists Say Recycling Has Resulted In More Trash And Masked The Waste Crisis
by Trisha Leigh
If you want to feel like a good person these days, you have to do your part when it comes to saving the earth – like, for example, separating your recycling.
But it turns out that isn’t exactly true, and also, the whole push to entice individuals to recycle might actually be having the opposite effect in that it’s masking the bigger problem of overproduction and allow us to ignore more sustainable strategies.
A group of researchers from the University of Virginia has been studying the psychology of waste and found that the result of the massive “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” slogan has been the public thinking that’s enough.
In addition, they see it as a “get-out-of-jail-free” card and ignore the growing waste production catastrophe.
They came to this conclusion by asking participants to list “reduce,” “reuse,” and “recycle” by order of efficacy, and found that 78% of people got it wrong, placing “reduce” last instead of first.
A second experiment, in which researchers asked participants to sort waste into recycling, compost, and landfill bins, also failed spectacularly.
Many governments are trying to ban single-use plastic goods but it’s having little to no effect, as most large corporations are not on board.
The end result is that the status quo – in which ill-trained consumers are expected to pick up the slack – is doing little to nothing to mitigate the growing crisis.
And in fact, it might be making it worse.