The following clips are from Fostering Sustainable Behavior: Community-Based Social Marketing byt Doug McKenzie-Mohr, PhD. It's a free book you can easily download and I highly recommend it... full of incredibly powerful anecdotes on how to leverage human behavior to be environmentally friendly. Mohr has a section in the document where he looks at specific tools and prompts to leverage behavior around recycling. Facinating stuff. I can't help but think that designers and messaging experts could do a better job about encouraging all of us to recycle more and properly:
Litter receptacles serve as a visual prompt for the proper disposal of garbage. Simply making a litter receptacle more visually interesting was found to double the amount of litter deposited in one study and increase it by 61% in another.
Compared to baseline, the introduction of more conveniently located recycling containers and the use of prompts increased the amount of newspaper recycled in three apartment complexes from 50 to 100%.
Following the introduction of verbal and visual prompts in a high school cafeteria, littering was reduced by over 350%.
Prompts have also been shown to have a substantial impact upon paper recycling. In one department at Florida State University, a prompt that read "Recyclable Materials" was placed directly above a recycling container. The prompt indicated the types of paper to be recycled, while another prompt over the trash receptacle read "No Paper Products." The addition of these two simple prompts increased the percentage of fine paper captured by 54%, while in another department the same procedure increased the capture rate by 29%.