Recycling is a topic that is typically ignored by the public. Even when people want to recycle they normally make a trend of keeping up with it for awhile but unfortunately the trend will likely end. So what is a common misconception that we heard about recycling? People will complain that there is no local place to recycle. Sometimes people will want to recycle but will not take the time to find a local recycling center to get involved with. Recycling is not something to talk about, this is an important cause to be about.
Other misconceptions that normally tend to pop-up are about what items can be recycled and which cannot. One example, Valerie Androutsopoulos from Vangel recycling corporation, explains some of these items like newspapers, glass bottles, plastic bags, and clam shelled containers. Each are able to be recycled but some like plastic bags are usually rare to find anyone that will take them but if a center does take them their required to be clean and dry (Androutsopoulos,2014).
Misconceptions of why people are not recycling- This is a good read:
Follow this link:
Here is an excellent overview of how the Single Stream process works and what happens with the recyclables once they are dropped off at your local recycling center to get sorted and processed. They explain in this video that in using Single Stream it can increase residential participation by 40%!
This is a guide that individuals can follow when beginning their recycling process. My hopes for this guide is to introduce new ideas that create new approaches to recycling. The image can be displayed in a public setting as a poster, flyer, brochure, etc. The main point is to get the word out and to change the conversation of recycling. When we see encouraging recycling signs they normally just say “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle”, and that’s a good slogan but does it really incline one to follow through?
The guide provides some steps for individuals to take when recycling. By looking at each step they include a message of morale-boosting. The job of this guide is to explain to an individual how they can do their part in recycling.
If we started seeing more informational posters instead of short slogans then maybe people would start to pay more attention to the issue.
In an animals eyes plastic may look like there next meal, but in reality it could be there last. The items that we throw away everyday eventually end up in the ecosystems that are home to these precious creatures.
- Images like the ones above should be posted on recycling and garbage bins so that we rethink what we are throwing away, in hopes of creating a cleaner habitat for these animals.-
Short Video: “What will our future be like if we don’t recycle?”
WATCH THESE TWO VIDEOS BELOW TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PLASTIC DEBRIS IN OCEAN AND THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH. This information should be included in our everyday news. If more people knew and understood how big of an issue this was then we could possibly begin to see some change. Having more people become aware of this problem could encourage law makers to come up with laws to reduce plastic usage, like making it a law to recycle.
START LOCAL THEN GO GLOBAL
Make a difference where you live! (Advocacy Message)
Starting local will make a bigger impact on the community. Then we can shift the conversation into a more globalized setting so that the trends will take place everywhere. Starting local would first mean encouraging the community to practice recycling. Sometimes we find people wanting to advocate for issues in a global setting first, and overlooking the benefits of advocating in their local community. By starting locally you are assuring that the issues are being raised and precautions are taking place to fix them. I am suggesting that individuals begin advocating in their communities. Be a voice! Be the change that you want people to see! Find out if your community has a system like single-stream, or other options of recycling. Encourage your neighbors and peers to recycle. Go to your local government and present to them the challenge of making your community more environmentally friendly.
DO NOT SET ON THE SIDE LINES OF THE PROBLEM! Most importantly, brush up on your homework. Know the facts about recycling so you can provide information to others in your community and people you know. Explain what items can be recyclable.
DO NOT LET OTHERS DISCOURAGE YOU! Use your rhetoric to persuade others that this is not just an issue, its a crisis! By starting locally you will have a better chance to convince people you know to recycle than if you started globally. Inspire your community to take action! Produce creative ideas and plans that will lead your community to recycle 100%. Once you have met the goals for your community, share your system to surrounding areas. Then hopefully the process will continue to be noticed from one community to the next and create a chain reaction.
Message to the Harrisonburg Community
The Harrisonburg community has contributed many efforts to helping the area become more environmentally sound, like implementing the Single-Stream System.
Dear Harrisonburg Community,
My name is Mahaley Reyns and I’m currently a student at James Madison University, and I would like to discuss how the Harrisonburg Community can change the way recycling is processed and addressed in the area. First, I would like to say that I am pleased to see that the City government has a page on their website dedicated to environmental resources and an informational place that includes their most recent contract with a recycling company. Recently I have noticed where the company that was doing the recycling pick-up for residents cut their contract with the City and now there is no process being put into place to replace this problem. I talked to a local City resident who stated they had received a letter from the government to continue recycling, but that the residents would have to take their recyclable items to the recycling center instead of getting the company to come pick up the items. I understand that the government probably does not have an alternate solution to this issue at the moment. However, I hope they are currently finding other companies that could come in and pick up with the process again. As much as we want to believe that people are just going to take their recyclables to the recycling center every day, they’re less likely to do it when it is reliant on them. I have faith that some residents will continue to recycle even if it means they must put more of their time into it. These are not the citizens that I am worried about, it’s others who either cannot or do not feel like putting any effort into recycling that I am concerned for. Life can get in the way and people will slowly forget, become lazy about trying, or just find it more convenient to throw everything away in the garbage bins. Recycling needs to be easy and accessible for everyone to ensure maximum recycling efforts. Recycling is a major issue that needs to be addressed more, especially in college areas like Harrisonburg.
When I came to Harrisonburg to begin my journey at James Madison University, I moved into an apartment complex that wasn’t too far from the school. What I had noticed was that there were no recycling bins in the apartment complex anywhere. So, I decided to look and see if any of the other apartment complexes in the area had the same issue and what I had found was that none of them had recycling options. Because I did not know the area very well, I never knew if there was a recycling center nearby where I could take my items to. Instead I would keep my recyclables in a trash bag and take them to my hometown when I went to visit because they have a recycling center. By talking to some of my peers at school, I have learned that I’m not the only person that is concerned about the recycling issue. There are many students that want to be good citizens and recycle but we need more information on how and where to discard our recyclables.
What I propose for the Harrisonburg Community is to take an initiative on recycling. Create goals in a step-by-step process for the area to take part in. What I mean by this is to find a single-stream recycling company that is willing to pick-up recycling from local resident neighborhoods, apartment complexes, businesses around the area, and even on the university campus; James Madison University, Eastern Mennonite University, and American National University. I also believe where there is a garbage bin on the side of the street there also needs to be a recycling bin next to it. Every time someone needs to throw away something, there always needs to be two options presented; either to recycle or the garbage. A few was to get the word out about this process could be to, spread flyers throughout the area (put posters in windows of local businesses where people would see them every day), send them through the mail explaining Harrisonburg’s new effort to push the Friendly City to become a better eco-friendly community. Most importantly these flyers need to hold information that will help the community members learn how to recycle at there homes and workplace. They should also include the location of recycling centers with information about its history, include images of the center, as well as details of how the company goes through recycling the materials. When people move into an apartment complex, each new resident should be given information about how they can recycle whether it is by taking your items to one bin on the complex grounds or provide the location of the local center where they can take their items. Once the process begins to work, I think that the single-stream company should send out a report that comes out every four months explaining whether the community is improving or decreasing in its recycling efforts. If the recycling participation seems to decline their needs to be a way where we can convince the public to recycle more. It should show in the reports the aftermath of what comes from not recycling. An example is to give some statistics of the amount of plastic not being recycled and images of animals that are being affected by plastic working its way into their ecosystems. By proceeding with this proposal, I have no doubt that the Harrisonburg community could eventually become an environmentally friendly place that other communities would want to be apart of. Every little bit of recycling that each person can contribute to can make a huge difference. Let’s make a change!
At the Harrisonburg Valley Mall, they only have trash bins located throughout the building like the one seen above. The trash bins are given a more modern/sleek look, and don’t give off the appearance of a typical trash bin. I propose that recycling bins should be placed beside these trash bins. The Valley Mall can keep the modern/sleek look on the recycling bins, but it may be helpful to include the recycling symbol as well as visuals of animals as what I had previously discussed before.
The main objective of this project was to come up with a different conversation on recycling. By creating this advocacy portfolio, I wanted it to be a space where future advocates could learn more about what they can do to recycle. Also, to better their understanding of the importance of recycling. I wanted this to be influential to future readers in hopes that once someone sees this portfolio then they will go and recycle. I began this conversation by giving a basic definition of recycling from the Environmental Protection Agency. This way the viewer can fully understand what the topic is and know how it is supposed to be interpreted. Then I brought up some misconceptions that people tend to struggle with on this issue. The public seems to argue that there is no where to take the recycling items to in order to drop off. Another misconception according to Valerie Androutsopoulos is that the items like newspapers, glass bottles, and strictly plastic bags are items that people are unsure about when recycling. All of which are recyclable, except for the plastic bags, these can be recycled but it can be hard to find a recycling center that takes these because it is hard item to process (Androutsopoulos, 2014).
Theses kinds of misconceptions on recycling are not difficult to answer, but they do require an individual to do some research. Within this portfolio these concerns are in some way or another answered. I even provide a link for viewers to visit that talks about the psychology why people do not recycle. This link takes you to an article from the Huffington Post, which is where I had found the two surveys of “Why People Don’t Recycle”. The results of this survey showed that most people answered that “It’s not accessible or convenient to where I live”, “It takes up too much time”, and “I always forget” (Shumaker, 2016). I found this so interesting when reading this article of how so many people may attempt to recycle but because it is not convenient in their everyday lives people are just going to spit out excuses.
Another article that I came across was from the Pew Research Center. This article included many statistics and survey results of how the country feels about helping the environment. When reading through I choose to include in this portfolio a graph that’s titled “Should the country do whatever it takes to protect the environment? Most say yes, but party divisions grow wider” (Anderson, 2017). I think it is interesting that most people want the country to do what they can to keep it environmentally sound but when it comes to party ties opinions can change. What we learn from this graph is that Democrats or people who lean toward democratic views all agree that the country’s environment needs some attention. The republicans unfortunately decline and do not really see the environment’s needs as much of an issue (Anderson, 2017). I think when it comes to political sides individuals need to step out of their political opinions to see the bigger picture and look at the facts about Earth’s health. Recycling may just be one step that people can do, but if we got everyone to recycle all the time then they opportunities to help the planet would expand greatly.
The next section of this portfolio is on the topic of Single Stream recycling. If you do not know what single stream recycling is, well it is a convenient way for citizens in residential areas to recycle their items without every leaving your home. Individuals do not have to worry about separating their recyclable products into different labeled bins. There is just one bin outside your house with your garbage bin and all you have to do is put the correct recyclables into the single stream bin. Then the single stream company will come pick up those items and take them to a local recycling center to be sorted and processed. I believe that this is a very good alternative solution for cities and towns to adopt in order to get a higher rate in recycling participation. In this section I provided an image of myself looking confused by standing in front of three different types of garbage bins. Each had a different picture of what items could be thrown away in that certain bin. Then I showed an image of a single stream recycling bin to say that this is the better option to use. I think people are most drawn to understanding concepts buy visually learning and therefore I also included a video that explains how the single stream recycling works. I found this video to be extremely informational because it step by step shows what happens to the recyclable items once they are picked up and taken to a center.
Do people really talk about recycling? Do people really know how to recycle? What information do people know about recycling? These are questions that we do not normally ever hear. In this next section change some of the conversation on information that is not discussed when recycling. First and foremost, I created a poster that includes steps that individuals can learn and do to recycle. These steps can help individuals begin their recycling efforts to become an active more knowledgeable recycler. This image could be used as a poster, flyer, brochure, etc. When we see signs about recycling they normally just say “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle”, this is a catchy phrase, but it never seems to really inform the people about the issue. This guide I created can explain to an individual on how can recycle without having any bumps in the road. According to Steven Schwarze, he talks in his journal Environmental Melodrama about how when applying the comedic frame to give a certain message, that message is given carefully so that people can correctly understand what it is saying and not read it differently. Environmental Melodrama can uncover environmental problems that are unnoticed or ignored to the public. Schwarze (2006), explains, “For environmental advocates, melodrama provides a rhetorical framework that can articulate multiple concerns that are hidden, ignored, or repressed in a culture that operates according to a simplistic calculus of ‘‘progress’’ and ‘‘economic growth” (p. 255). I believe that this is the case with recycling. Recycling is an environmental melodrama because it is a problem that tends to get ignored and not addressed enough to the public. In this section I also include an informational video that is a little like the single stream video, but instead of it being animated it shows how trash is recycled in real time.
The next area that I focused on was the question of “What happens when we don’t recycle?”, results of what could become of the future. With this I wanted to change the conversation on recycling by talking about the things we don’t see from not recycling. My main argument in this section is on the impacts that animals face every day by witnessing trash make its way into their ecosystems. This is a problem because in animals’ eyes plastic can look like food to them, and if they ingest the plastic it could potentially kill them. As advocates I think that a good way to give the animals a voice and also help influence more people to recycle is by using images of animals impacted by plastic to be put on recycling and trash bins. People will come up to throw something away, and they will immediately see an image of a suffering creature on the bin. Once they see this image it will make them step back and rethink about how they were going to throw something away. This will help them decide which bin they should correctly throw the item away or if the item can be repurposed then they could do that. Going back to Schwarze’s (2006), environmental melodrama he talks about how melodrama can have a higher chance of getting a good result when the problem does not have a voice or has been put aside. Steven Schwarze says,
I think this is a good point to make about how the issues that don’t have a voice are the ones that can have a more powerful impact on the outcomes if they can be seen. Another way that I think we can analyze these images of animals is through Joshua Barnett’s article about toxic portraits. Joshua Barnett explains the definition, “Toxic portraits, as I define them, are close-up, in situ photographs of people within toxically assaulted places in which the relationship between pollution and the precariousness of life is illustrated through a range of visible (industrial, environmental, and corporeal) referents, accompanied by verbal captions and descriptions, which goad the spectator to interpret the portrait through the subjunctive voice” (p. 410). Although I am not using people I believe that the images I incorporated in this section of the animals can be qualified as a toxic portrait. In this reading Barnett (2015) discusses how toxic portraits are set outside in order to show the community as a whole getting impacted by the pollution. By taking place outside the disruption becomes more notable visual to see, but if it is inside your not getting the whole picture. Barnett says,
By seeing these animals’ images on trash and recycling bins, I hope that individuals that are about to throw something away learn from these images and make the right choice. Then people can feel empathy and be persuaded enough to become a subjunctive voice for these creatures in explaining the issue of recycling and how we can prevent trash from getting into the environment.
When I decide to create this portfolio, I wanted to include a short advocacy message for future viewers and advocates to be able to learn from and be inspired. That’s why I came up with the advocacy message called “Start Local Then Go Global”. This message gives an important overview of how it is better to begin your activism in your local community than starting out in bigger areas. I think that it is more beneficial if you start at the local level because you know your community. In executive summary of the book Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, they talk about the framework to communication success. The authors explain how one of those key parts is emotion, “To get people to care about your ideas, make them feel something” (p.1). Who better to convince than people you know? Another thing is that you have a better chance of convincing your family and friends to recycle than convincing people you don’t know. Heath and Heath (2007) say,
If you can use the emotional appeal to convince the people that care about you to do something that they may not like or want to do like recycle then you can be successful. Once this option works then you can continue your activism to the local government. By doing this you can push regulations and get them to supply recycling companies to encourage and expand the communities recycling participation. After this process is working well in your community then you can take this process to other communities. This message I think can help individuals learn how to take the conversation of recycling to their local communities and be able to implant that idea and hopefully further this activism to other areas.
In my last section I chose to write a potential letter to the Harrisonburg community. The purpose of this letter was to give some options on how the community could improve the area’s participation on recycling.
Anderson, M. (2017, April 20). For Earth Day, here’s how Americans view environmental issues. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/20/for-earth-day-heres-how-americans-view-environmental-issues/
Androutsopoulos, V. (2014, March 27). Common recycling misconceptions and facts. Vangel. Retrieved from https://www.vangelinc.com/common-recycling-misconceptions-and-facts/
Barnett, J. T. (2015). Toxic portraits: Resisting multiple invisibilities in the Environmental Justice Movement. Quarterly Journal of Speech. 101(2), 405-425. doi: 10.1080/00335630.2015.1005121
Heath, C. & Heath, D. (2007). Made to stick: Why some ideas survive, and others die.
How do I recycle? Common recyclables. Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/recycle/how-do-i-recycle-common-recyclables
Lofton, K. (2015, October 8). Harrisonburg’s new “Single Stream” recycling. WMRA. Retrieved from http://wmra.org/post/harrisonburgs-new-single-stream-recycling#stream/0
Loureiro, S. C. & Kaufmann, H.R. (2016). Committing millennials toward recycling and environmental preservation. Journal Of Promotion Management. 22(2), 224-237. doi: 10.1080/10496491.2016.1121736
May, A. (2017, June 22). What would happen if everyone recycled? USA Today Network. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/06/22/what-would-happen-if-everyone-recycled/374773001/
Parker, L. (2017, July 19). A whopping 91% of plastic Isn’t recycled. National Geographic. Retrieved from https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/plastic-produced-recycling-waste-ocean-trash-debris-environment/#close
Schumaker, E. (2016, August 3). The psychology behind why people don’t recycle. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/psychology-of-why-people-dont-recycle_us_57697a7be4b087b70be605b3
Schwarze, S. (2006). Environmental melodrama. Quarterly Journal of Speech. 92(3), 239-261.