European VS American views on recycling wrapped up

by ajess1 on April 17, 2015 - 4:00pm

            Overall many things have become apparent when comparing European countries to the United States. Not only does the U.S lack law and regulations to increase recycling which I previously talked about, they also have fewer incentives to do so.  Another less popular method may be to increase repercussions for not recycling both for companies and individuals may be a very good tool. 

A good ideology to point out is the differences in mind sets between these two areas.  Europe as a whole is much better with maintaining a sustainable attitude. They reuse goods, not just buying and disposing like the U.S does.  In addition many European countries that are diligent about recycling are much smaller than the U.S.  Lastly it has become increasingly obvious that many American choose convenience over recycling, and this maybe a socially learned trait. 

            Some countries such as Canada are setting bag limits on the amount of trash they will pick up, which is ultimately increasing recycling (Muller 2013).  This would be a useful tool for areas that already have curbside pickups.  Whereas any type of recycling pick up for areas that previously had none may be incentive enough for initial change.  In a study surveying Americans that did not participate in recycling several reasons were used.  Among them being inconvenience of not having road side pickup, confusion of what may or may not be recyclable, lack of incentive, and losing out on time which ultimately costs money (2010 Schiller).  But it was shown that spending 1 dollar per person to educate about recycling has raised recycling rates by 2% and lowered the perceived costs associated with recycling by simply informing local residents about drop off areas (Muller 2013).  

            These ideologies of convince and lack of education may feed into the ideas of social norms and their effects on recycling.  In one study social norms were observed to see the effects they had on littering.  This study found that although physically watching someone litter didn’t increase the likelihood of littering however.  Being in an area that was highly polluted as opposed to clean did increase the likely hood of littering (Cialdini 1990).

            This is a topic that I feel could greatly be expanded on with proper research but did bring some interesting reasons to my attention.  I found it intriguing and disappointing that U.S citizens as a whole (not all of us) do not have the mind set to do the right thing environmentally if is not to our financial benefit or convince.  I know I will be using this as an eye opening experience to change my daily living to be more sustainable, and to politely educated and remind people to be economic. 


Literature Sited:
Mueller.,William. 2013. The Effectiveness of recycling policy options: Waste diversion or just diversions? Elsevier. Volume 33, pages 508-518.

Schiller., A. 2010. Why People Don’t Recycle. Version [Online.] Earth 911. Available at:

Cialdini., Robert B., Raymond R. Reno., and Carl A. Kallgren. 1990. A Focus Theory of Normative Conduct: Recycling the Concept of Norms to Reduce Littering in Public Places. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 58, No. 6,1015-1026

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