Using fun to encourage recycling

by Dianne Saxe on January 22, 2013

Recycling and other forms of waste diversion are not usually considered “fun”.  Sorting bottles and cans, lugging out the sometimes smelly compost, and taking empties to the Beer Store are the things we do because we should, not necessarily because we enjoy them.

Volkswagen’s initiative The Fun Theory “is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better.” To that end, they developed the “Bottle Bank Arcade Machine”. When people deposit glass bottles in the correct slot, they gain points in a simple arcade style game. According to the video, in one evening the bottle bank arcade was used by nearly 100 people. In the same period, the nearby conventional bottle depot was used only twice.

Littering was the focus of another Fun Theory Project – “The World’s Deepest Bin”. The project was designed to encourage people to throw their rubbish in the bin rather than on the ground, using a touch of humour. In one day, 72 kg of rubbish were deposited in the bin – 41 kg more than a normal bin just a short distance away.

On this blog, we often discuss the penalties imposed on companies and individuals that do not meet their environmental obligations. This is a humorous reminder that sometimes a carrot can be more effective than a stick. Environmental regulation should encourage leaders as well as penalize laggards.

What do you think? Would you be more likely to recycle if it made you laugh?

by Meredith James

Previous post:

Next post: