Study: People Don’t Recycle Damaged Goods

The U.S. recycling rate has risen by less than 6 percent in the past decade. This sad but true stat leaves many greenies wondering what’s stopping American consumers from blue-binning it more often. A new study, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Consumer Research, seeks to answer this common question by looking beyond the typical scapegoats, like curbside recycling access and confusing plastic resin codes, and examining the thought process that leads consumers to toss recyclables in the trash. The study’s authors, Jennifer Argo of the University of Alberta School of Business and Remi Trudel of Boston University, theorized that consumers are psychologically hardwired to believe that damaged or incomplete products — such as small or ripped paper and dented cans — are without value. After testing their theory through a field study and four laboratory studies, the researchers found that once a recyclable item ceased to retain its whole form — whether a package that was cut open or a strip of paper torn from a whole piece — users demonstrated an alarming tendency … Continued

How to Avoid Greenwashing

As consciousness has risen when it comes to the health of the environment, businesses have responded en masse by offering more eco-friendly products, services and policies — or at least, they say they have. Greenwashing is a term used for companies that claim to be — but in reality are not — acting in an environmentally responsible way. It was first used in print by environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986 in reference to hotels that encouraged guests to reuse towels to benefit the Earth but that in turn didn’t recycle if it didn’t save money. A whopping 95 percent of products are greenwashed. So how can you tell what’s real and what’s not? Here, TerraChoice Environmental Marketing (now part of UL) offers some tips, along with a handy primer on just what to be on the lookout for: