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Why people don’t recycle

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  1. Introduction
  2. Overview of the problem
  3. Barrier 1: Availability and convenience
    1. Case study: Curbside recycling programs
    2. Analysis of the barrier 1
  4. Our proposal: The camel hump model
    1. Barrier 2: The personal barrier
    2. Differences in education
    3. Differences due to ethnicity
    4. Analysis of personal barriers
  5. Conclusion
    1. Final word: Solutions

You and your fellow U.S. citizens ?produced 4.4 pounds of waste per day during 2000. This is the equivalent of over 1600 pounds of trash per year per person or more than 220 tons of waste being generated each year.?1 Although recycling has been increasingly integrated into many communities, the overall recycling rate in recent years has only been growing a meager 1-2% per year nationwide.1 This slow growth rate indicates that even those people who have the access and ability to recycle are still not making the extra effort to do it. 80% of those who actually do recycle are only doing so occasionally.1 Why do we throw away and not recycle? If resources and technology for the process are increasing, why aren't growth rates following suit?

[...] Several studies have attempted to reason why Blacks are more reluctant to recycle and participle in environmental activities in general. One particular study by Arp and Kenny (1996) suggested that the reluctance of Blacks to participate comes from their belief that each individual has little chance of inducing meaningful change. A greater proportion of Blacks occupy a ?marginal position in American society? when compared to whites, which causes Blacks to focus more on efforts that bring about observable change and a greater sense of personal efficacy and power. [...]

[...] Otherwise, the cost to recycle these goods can vastly exceed the benefit. By 2002, many cities began to realize that the lack of education was causing just that: the costs exceeded the benefits. As seen in the figure, the total number of programs nationwide plummeted from 2002 to 2005 due precisely to these reasons. Fig Interestingly, there has been a slow but significant increase in the number of programs from 2005 to the present day. Starting in 2005, there has been a trend toward a new and more efficient approach- ?single-stream? curbside collection programs. [...]

[...] This increase in 20% can indicate that more people do not know how to recycle or think that their part in recycling would not impact the whole nation. However, it is apparent that the public can not seem to pinpoint exactly why they do not recycling, seeing as is another area that has shown an increase as a barrier for not recycling. Barrier Availability and Convenience As seen in the previous figure, Convenience and availability were the two main factors that were successfully addressed from the year 2001 to 2007. [...]

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