How might we... introduce knowledge about recycling, while driving people to take part in and care about recycling for years to come.
Interpretation of Findings
Everyone should recycle. However, in reality most people don't recycle as much as they should, as shown by the national recycling rate of 35% and the fact that approximately 25% of the 137.7 million tons waste going to landfills could have been recycled.1 Adults in particular have proven that their habits are tougher to change than young adults, students and kids, which is seen by the fact that most successful campaigns are targeted at a younger audience. For example, commercials that aim to get smokers to quit often direct their attention at high school or college age kids.
In order to improve recycling habits in a younger audience, the methods to achieve the desired results need to not only drive people to recycle more, but to create an interest in recycling. We need people to care for recycling informational campaigns to be effective. Without caring about recycling even the best intentions will eventually falter, as seen in current signage and informational campaigns. To create this continued drive to recycle there needs to be an innovative way to combine recycling knowledge with and lasting incentive to take part.
Some recycling mistakes are a result of people being in a hurry, as evidenced by the fact that on average 25% of recycled materials become contaminated.2 With how complicated and fast our lives have become people don’t want to have focus on placing their waste in the correct bin when there is a million other things they need to worry about. Other recycling mistakes are due to several misconceptions, such as the fact that plastic grocery bags need to be separated into a different recycling bin as grocery bags require a different recycling process and that it is important to keep liquids out of recycling bins so they don't contaminate items like paper making them unrecyclable. These mistakes would suggest that the solution needs to either be engaging to the point that people don't mind spending the extra time to recycle or simple enough that few mistakes are made.
Today, the easiest way to garner support for an idea or product seems to be with a simple message, whether that message is delivered through a video campaign or implementing technology or knowledge into the idea/product. According to Dr. Jack Jorgens, public service announcement (PSA) campaigns are effective when they contain simple message, include a variety of arguments and viewpoints, utilize several different methods of communication and make the message powerful and attractive.3 One way to implement the desired knowledge into recycling is to develop an easy interface or app that informs the user on which bin to deposit their item into. Another way to address each of these variables is to gamify recycling. As seen in the discovery tab of this portfolio, research has been conducted on the idea that making tasks fun drives people to do them even if easier tasks or options are available. In addition, gamifying recycling has a simple and attractive message of making recycling fun.
The key in improving recycling is to find a manner to do so that not only stands out from every other informational campaign, but one that will continuously build habits in a young audience that they can take with them for the rest of their life, possibly spreading newly acquired habits or knowledge to their family and friends.
Bins around Denver were observed to span a large range of sizes and shapes. Some bins appear to be designed for convenience (outdoor and single bins), while others focus on providing recycling and composting options, when in reality an ideal bin would combine the two. Either way, it was clear that people don't like to notice bins. Users want to have bins available to them, but no one wants a trash bin or even a recycling bin to be the center of attention in a room. Most of the bins observed in the discovery tab were tucked away—around a corner or off to the side of the room. As a result, it was identified that there is a human centered element where there is a balance between drawing attention to recycling and composting bins to encourage their use and making sure that they 'fit' in the space. Most people only want to notice waste bins when they need them.
Signage informs users of correct recycling habits, but tend to be ignored the longer they remain in a given location as users become oblivious to their presence. Similarly new informational campaigns have the potential to drive people to recycle more, but also have a short life as people forget or become numb to the information presented. New bins on the other hand last longer as they are fixed tools for recycling. However, they do inform the user on the correct items to recycle.
White Board Interpretation/Idea Generation