EnvironmentStare Down On Pollution

RECYCLING; A PSYCHOLOGICAL ISSUE?

recycling-binrecycling bin. web. pixabay.com

“Who even sent me to come here?!” Marcus asked.

Banking queue

Queues in a bank (Source: www.naij.com)

Staying on a queue as long as the BVN queue Marcus had stayed on years ago was not part of his plans. He was not about to stand for another three hours just to make a deposit at the bank on his way home from work. So he decided to leave the queue he was on for a seemingly faster one.

“I cannot come and go and die on that infinite line, God forbid!” he said.

On getting to the counter, he was told he was on the wrong line. He was livid.

“What?! Why isn’t there a sign or something to nudge me in the right direction?” Marcus asked.

“Sir but there is a signboard in between both queues that says WITHD-” the cashier said, before being interrupted.

“Please, please I was not in the mood to read any signboard. Maybe you people should have put it in a more strategic place that makes it hard to miss. Maybe you should be more creative, you know, add some interesting pictures to the text on the signboard or use a bold font. Something that will capture the attention of someone not in the mood to read or someone in a hurry – just like I am today,” he said.

He went back to the previous queue (now longer than earlier), angry with himself for not being patient enough to read the signboard before making that rash decision of leaving.  

 Who do we blame though? Marcus? The bank?

I recently carried out a survey at my university on the factors affecting recycling using questionnaires.  I distributed them to students and staff members. In the questionnaire, I asked them if they recycle, how often they recycle, what hinders them from recycling, why they recycle, etc. I also asked for their opinion on the cost of managing recycled materials and general waste. I provided a list of recyclable and non-recyclable materials and asked them which should go into a recycle bin.  Then lastly, I asked for their opinion on how the university could encourage recycling.

You may ask, ‘Why a university?’ Well, higher institutions of education should be held equally accountable (alongside other institutions) for environmental sustainability because they have high rates and a diversity of populations and their engagement in educational, social and scientific activities, are known to have a high consumption of materials which end up as waste.

Also, I used this method because previous studies have shown that the most effective way to encourage people to do something is by understanding their motives and struggles first. Now, to my findings (which I promise not to bore you with).

I found that most people are unaware of what to recycle. Most people think managing recycled materials costs more than managing general waste. Most people think recycling does not save the university money.  There was a clear confusion in the materials people thought were recyclable like coffee cups, coffee cup lids, plastic and glass bottles, tea bags, etc. Most people suggested the use of signs advising what can be recycled ahead of providing more recycle bins and fining those that do not recycle.

recycling bins

Present bins at the University

My conclusions/recommendations are:

  • People at all institutions need to be informed about the materials that can be recycled and how recycling/not recycling them will come back to affect them positively or negatively.
  • This awareness could be done using social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) with relatable pictures of recyclable materials and that can easily grab one’s attention, including that of people like Marcus.
  • The environmental, health and financial benefits of recycling can also be included in such pictures.
  • Special seminars/campaigns can be organized at institutions for this purpose.  As Marcus mentioned, institutions need to be more creative in designing signs on bins to easily aid people at the waste disposal points for higher recycling rates and accuracy.
  • Recycle bins with more than one compartment has also proved to be effective from previous studies.

recycling bins

Recycle bins and a general waste bin ( Source: www.pinterest.co.uk)

I wish to say more on this, but I will stop here for now. At every waste disposal point, let’s not make rash decisions that will negatively affect us and future generations later on. Refuse to be like Marcus. Read signs, recycle appropriately, and #StareDownOnPollution!

Based on this summary of my findings, can we say recycling is more of a psychological issue than we think it is?

 

Ayo Wright
An industrial chemistry graduate from Caleb University. A storyteller and blogger. I love using words to positively impact and inspire generations, hence my interests – writing, poetry, and environmental sustainability.