When the Mindset Matters: A Quantitative Study on Hope College Students’ Recycling Behaviors

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Dr. J. Roselyn Lee, Hope College

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In the past 20 years, great attention has been given to the issue of recycling, particularly with respect to economic benefits and corporate responsibility. Recently here at Hope College, there has been increased interest in students’ recycling efforts and economic sustainability. Evidence of these efforts are apparent across campus: from reducing the amount of paper usage, new measures of eco-consumption in dining areas, and buildings with several bins for recycling items such as batteries, newspapers and various plastics. Based on existing literature, we examined how various individual and structural factors affect college students’ recycling behaviors: altruism, spirituality, perceived importance of recycling in the day-to-day mindset, and accessibility to recycling systems. We hypothesized that these four factors would have positive associations with actual recycling behavior. Using an online survey tool, we collected data from Hope College students to test our hypotheses. Our data revealed that the only factor found to have a significant association with actual recycling behaviors was perceived importance of recycling. No other individual or structural factors showed a significant relationship with recycling behaviors.

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