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Recycling and Sustainability: Articles from Scholarly Journals

Selected Articles - Students and Recycling and/or Sustainability

Some articles listed below are available full-text pdf in the ProQuest Central database, which can be accessed from the Library database page.  Exceptions are identified with an *.  These articles must be ordered through interlibrary loan services.

*Barker, K., Fong, L., Grossman, S,  Quin, C., & Reid, R. (1994). Comparison of self-reported recycling attitudes and behaviors with actual behavior,. Psychological Reports 75(1), 571-577.
Barker et al investigate the congruence of 102 college students' self-reported paper-recycling behaviors and attitudes with actual behavior. The implications of the study's results for research on college students' recycling and conservation behavior are discussed.

*Berger, M., & Goldfarb, J.L. (2017). Understanding our energy footprint: Undergraduate chemistry laboratory investigation of environmental impacts of solid fossil fuel wastes. Journal of Chemical Education 94(8), 1124-1128
Engaging undergraduates in the environmental consequences of fossil fuel usage primes them to consider their own anthropogenic impact, and the benefits and trade-offs of converting to renewable fuel strategies. This laboratory activity explores the potential contaminants (both inorganic and organic) present in the raw fuel and solid waste remaining after thermal conversion. Using portable X-ray fluorescence, students analyze the heavy metals present in these solid samples following Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) method 6200. Sample extracts were analyzed via gas chromatography--mass spectrometry to measure polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, byproducts of incomplete combustion, in the samples using a semiquantitative internal standard approach. Across a series of raw, semicarbonaceous char and ash samples from oil shale and coal, students found levels of arsenic and naphthalene exceeding EPA regional screening levels for industrial soils. This exercise teaches students about X-ray safety, EPA measurement protocol, solid-liquid extraction techniques, gas chromatograph--mass spectrometry, and semiquantitative analysis techniques, and more broadly about the environmental externalities of solid fuel use. The experimental results provide a basis for a discussion about the risks posed by disposal of energy processing waste on the environment, impediments to potential byproduct utilization, and the sustainability of alternative energy sources.

Fisher, P.B., & McAdams, E. (2015). Gaps in sustainability education. Iinternational Journal of Sustainability Education, 16(4), 407-423. DOI:10.1108/IJSHE-08-2013-0106

– This paper aims to examine how both the amount and type of coursework impact students’ conceptualizations of sustainability. Previous research demonstrates that academic coursework influences students’ environmental attitudes, yet few studies have examined the impact of coursework on how students conceptualize “sustainability”.

– Data are examined from the 2011 Sustainability Survey, which yielded a sample of 552 students at a medium-sized university in the southeastern USA. A series of four linear regression models estimate the impact of academic coursework on students’ conceptualizations of sustainability (ecosystems/nature, eco-efficiency, community/well-being and systemic change/innovation).
– The results indicate that the type of course that students take significantly impacts the way in which students conceptualize this term; the number of courses taken has no statistically significant impact. This suggests that mere exposure to a particular theme in a class, rather than continued exposure to courses related to sustainability, is more important in shaping students’ perceptions.
– This study expands on previous research by examining the influence of the number and type of academic coursework on students’ conceptions of sustainability and provides a framework for understanding the varied ways in which sustainability is defined. This has important implications for how students approach ways to achieve a sustainable future. The results suggest that students may be exposed to particular messages within an academic division that encourage students to emphasize particular elements of sustainability. While not problematic on its face, the data demonstrate that students lack an integrated or holistic understanding of sustainability. They usually view sustainability through the same prism as the academic division where their coursework was located, and this has implications for students’ continued perceptions of sustainability, academic programming of sustainability and the practice of it.

*Fritz, J.N., Dupuis, D.L., Wu, W-L, Neal, A.E.,Rettig,L.A., & Lastrapes, R.E. (2017). Evaluating increased effort for item disposal to improve recycling at a university. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 50(4), 825-829.
An evaluation of increased response effort to dispose of items was conducted to improve recycling at a university. Signs prompting individuals to recycle and notifying them of the location of trash and recycling receptacles were posted in each phase. During the intervention, trashcans were removed from the classrooms, and one large trashcan was available in the hallway next to the recycling receptacles. Results showed that correct recycling increased, and trash left in classrooms increased initially during the second intervention phase before returning to baseline levels.

*Larsen, K.S. (1995). Environmental waste: Recycling attitudes and correlates. Journal of Social Psychology, 135(1), 83-88.
A Likert-type scale was developed and used to measure attitudes toward recycling among a group of male and female undergraduates. There was a predictable relationship between recycling attitudes and attitudes toward environmental issues and political participation.

Patki, S.M. (2018). Who will leave greener footprints? Materialistic values and pro-environmental behaviors among college students. Psychosocial Research, 13(1), 121-129.
According to the Trends in Global CO2 Emissions 2015 Report, India contributed 6.5% to global emissions. Moreover, unlike the trend of reducing emissions since the 1990s seen in most Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, a 7.4% increase was recorded in India. Conservation activities and more specifically pro-environmental behaviors to counter this phenomenon however haven't shown a promising increase. The youth of the country has the potential to change this scenario for the better. The study investigated the relationship between materialistic values, motivation and actual pro-environmental behaviors of college students. Identified regulation was found to be positively correlated with general ecological behaviors among those low on materialistic values, while external regulation and amotivation were found to be positively correlated with general ecological behaviors among those high on materialistic values. The findings may have important implications for future pro-environment interventions, conservation training programs and even policy-making in the long run.

Schultz, P.W., & Oskamp, S. (1996). Effort as a moderator of the attitude-behavior relationship: General environmental concern and recycling. Social Psychology Quarterly, 59(4), 375-383.
It is proposed that attitudes are stronger predictors of behavior when the amount of effort required for the behavior is high than when little effort is required. The first study found support for the effort hypothesis among undergraduates who participated in a high-effort recycling program. A second study of undergraduates found a strong positive relationship between attitudes of environmental concern and the amount of effort they were willing to exert to recycle. The third study, a meta-analysis of studies on the relationship between environmental concern and recycling, showed that studies conducted in (high-effort) dropoff recycling programs typically found a stronger relationship than studies conducted in (low-effort) curbside recycling programs. Across all three studies the results consistently support recent theoretical findings: Effort is a strong moderator of the attitude-behavior relationship. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

*Wang, T.H., & Katzev, R.D. (1990). Group commitment and resource conservation: Two field experiments on promoting recycling. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 20(4), 265-275.
Two experiments evaluated the effect of commitment on paper recycling. Individuals in a retirement home were asked to participate in a group commitment pledge to recycle pledge. The relative effectiveness of group commitment, individual commitment and token reinforcers on paper recycling in a college dormitory was examined.

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