Monday, January 28, 2008

Please Cast Your Vote!

There's still a week to vote on whether recycling lids really affect behavior. And I only have 11 votes so far! So if you've already voted, then get your friends to vote (no double voting, please!).

Right now, there seems to be a split between "I have no idea" and "having these lids on reduces recycling behavior," so let's see if there's going to be a tie-breaker this week.

Just to recap, I'm curious to know what you think about using recycling lids on top of recycling containers. Are they effective? Or do they somehow encourage folks to throw their items in the trashcan?

On one hand, maybe having the lids on increases the recycling rate because those lids prompt folks to toss their items into the appropriate container. On the other hand, however, maybe having the lids on decreases the recycling rate because a person has to consider where they should toss their discarded item; and maybe it's just easier to throw it away in the trash. (It's as though tossing something in the trash is the default option.) Of course, a third possibility is that having these lids on really doesn't matter, and is therefore a waste of money to purchase these lids. So what do you think?

I'm really eager to reveal this result to you, so get those votes turned in!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Michiana Call to Action!

Tomorrow I will be co-hosting a booth that promotes environmentally-friendly action at the Michiana Social Forum. This event will be held at the St. Joseph Public Library. If you have a chance to attend this event, please stop by my booth to say hello! :0)

(The event will be held from 12pm to 4:30pm.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Do Recycling Lids Really Matter?

Have you ever wondered whether recycling lids are really effective at reducing the amount of recyclables thrown in the trash and increasing the recycling rate? Or does having these lids on somehow encourage folks to toss items into the trash?

I recently had this conversation with a friend....but he's no ordinary person; this guy likes to conduct experiments! So Experimentaholic wanted to determine the effectiveness of using these recycling lids - and "naturally," he rigged an experiment at his school just to find out.

Here's the general set-up: At both ends of a long hallway were several containers. Some of the containers were for recycling cans, paper, and plastic; another was for trash.

To examine whether the presence or absence of these recycling lids affect the recycling rate, Experimentaholic took the lids off one set of bins (i.e., experimental group) and kept the lids on the other set of bins (i.e., control group). At midpoint of the week, he switched the lids in order to rule out hallway location as a potential confound. For one week, Experimentaholic counted the number of items in each container. (Ewww....gross!!)

So what do you think happened? We have three options to consider:

A. Recycling lids don't influence whether someone recycles their materials or not

B. Recycling lids increase the recycling rate (i.e., people are more likely to recycle)

C. Recycling lids decrease the recycling rate (i.e., people are more likely to use the trash bin)

I'm really curious to know what you think happened- check out the poll on the blog and cast your vote regarding Experimentaholic's latest discovery! (I'll post his results after the poll ends.)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Let Me See What You Eat

I just received an interesting email from a colleague. This email contained nine photos of families around the world who were photographed with the food they eat each week and the cost of what they eat each week. Check this out for yourself:

Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily; Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11

Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide; Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

United States: The Revis family of North Carolina; Food expenditure for one week $341.98

Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca; Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09

Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna; Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27

Egypt: The Ahmed family of Cairo; Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53

Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo; Food expenditure for one week: $31.55

Bhutan: The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village; Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03

Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp; Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23

Of course, viewing these nine photos is hardly representative of any general population; nonetheless, the voyer in me is fascinated to wonder what people eat and to consider how our diets are related not only to health outcomes, but also to economic and environmental outcomes.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

It's All in the Movies

Oh, dear...I've not been a good blogger these days. So to help cover-up my slack, my friend Len has kindly offered to write a guest post on the blog. I think you'll enjoy his post and his good humor. Thanks for the guest post, Len!! :0)

In 2005 the American Film Institute published its list of the top 100 quotes from U.S. movies. Number one on the list was Rhett Butler’s final comment to Scarlet O’Hara in the 1939 classic, “Gone With the Wind” – “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” GWTW actually had 3 of the top 59 quotes on the list. “The Wizard of Oz” contained 3 of the top 100 lines, with “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” coming in at #4. But neither of these quote-machine movies could compare with “Casablanca.” Starting with Bogie’s “Here’s looking at you, kid” at #5, the war-time tale produced 6 of the top 67 quotes in U.S. film history.

Interesting, you say, but what has this to do with plastic bags? Bear with me.

Two lines tied for the shortest quote – a single word. The first of these is listed at #17. Even if you have never seen the movie – and I have not – everyone is aware of a single word uttered in “Citizen Kane” – “Rosebud.” The other one-word winner came from the 1967 hit, “The Graduate.” At #42 on the list we have this bit of sage advice – “Plastics.” Ahhh … and now I have your attention.

Wikipedia explains that “A family friend, Mr. McGuire, gives Benjamin Braddock one-word career advice: ‘Plastics.’” Stephen Holden, writing for the New York Times said, “’The Graduate’ didn’t invent the use of the word plastic to signify everything phony and superficial in American life. It merely sealed it in, well, celluloid. To sneer at all things plastic was to offer an instant definition of oneself as among the young, hip, truth-seeking cognoscenti (now THERE is a word for Michelle!) locked in a moral power struggle with an older generation of square, corrupt, greedy, warmongering materialists.”

Wikipedia does not disagree, writing, “Some see this as advice on the key to corporate success – becoming shallow and fake or ‘plastic,’ which Ben struggles with, as a recurring theme in the film.” However, Wikipedia astutely takes it a step further adding, “it was also an amazing foresight: while plastics were in use in 1967, since then they have come to be the predominant type of material used in consumer products, medical equipment, packaging, and even automobiles.” And, something even Mr. McGuire probably could not have foreseen, grocery bags!

But, 41 years after “The Graduate,” it may be that things finally are beginning to change. As you probably know, effective June 1, 2008, China has banned the use of free plastic bags.

So, let me leave you with two more lines. For those of you not familiar with collegiate life, I offer Rocky, at #80 – “Yo, Adrian.” But for those of you who have graced the halls of our nation’s institutions of higher learning, nothing on the list seems more appropriate than the 82nd entry from “Animal House” – Toga! Toga!” Fortunately, regardless of your background, I feel confident that the #1 quote does not apply to you, because if you are reading this blog, I suspect that frankly, you do “give a damn.”