[GRRN] Your "Why" Query

RecycleWorlds (anderson@msn.fullfeed.com)
Tue, 21 Sep 1999 16:01:48 -0500


I have a theory not studies by any sociological research of which I am
aware in response to your question as to why people recycle, and, more
particularly in such a big way (i.e. participation rates that on average
top 85% and, in some cities, such as Madison, WI which I have measured, are
99% when measured over 16 weeks.

It wasn't, as is sometimes said, Mobro the Garbage Barge. Rather I
believe it was the summer of 1988 when there was a terrible heat wave that,
with people's attention focused mavelously by the sweat on their brow, the
Greenhouse Effect theory suddenly got swept onto the front pages and into
people's consciousness.

The most profound question for ourselves as a senitent species is how
to confront the knowledge of our own mortality. For most, that fear and
disquiet is surmounted only through their children who live on with our
memory after we are gone.

What the Greenhouse Effect said to people was that, for the first time,
we were creating environmental problems that we could not flee from.
Turning on air conditioners will not stop the oceans from rising five feet,
indeed quite the contrary. What it said, then, was that we were soiling
the nest for our kids.

Recycling is a direct and physical act, and it is one that can and is
taken every week in everyone's kitchen to assuage our guilt, even for those
who then trot past their recycling bins in their garage to get into their
SUV's to drive five miles just to get a gallon of milk.


Peter Anderson
RecycleWorlds Consulting
4513 Vernon Blvd. Ste. 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Phone:(608) 231-1100/Fax: (608) 233-0011