Friday, October 21, 2011

Does Recycling Deserve Applause?

You tell me. Watch this video and let's talk about it.



I absolutely loved this video when I first saw it (thanks to Laura from The Mindful Merchant for posting it back in March). While I'd hate to be in the spotlight like that and would probably freak out a little receiving a standing ovation in such a public area, it is nevertheless awesome that the folks who make the Testé sur des humains TV show came up with this flash mob idea. Briefly, the show features staged situations (with show hosts and guests as actors) that are meant to elicit a reaction from the public to test out whether everyday people are willing to step outside of their comfort zone. In essence, the show explores the human condition, and it's definitely a thought-provoking version of reality TV.

So, does recycling deserve applause? Did the woman in the video feel motivated to keep up the good work in her personal life, perhaps to take on a more challenging green lifestyle change? It's hard to say. I'm not sure exactly what matters here: recycling, or understanding that we share the responsibility for keeping public spaces clean? Maybe some of the people who came before the woman are avid recyclers but feel no need to tidy up after someone else. I'm sure at least one of those people believes it's the cleaning staff's duty, so why bother? From a scientific perspective, there are too many variables that can't be accounted for, making it difficult to pinpoint why one woman did what tens or dare I say hundreds of others did not do. However, I'd like to believe that if green behaviour was more appreciated in the same way that acts by good Samaritans are praised, we'd live in a cleaner world.

8 comments:

  1. Hah, cool. I don't necessarily think we should be applauded for recycling, but recycling litter that we didn't drop goes a step above. At this point, I'm in favor of whatever will make a difference. If that means offering praise for what people should already be doing, that's fine.

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  2. That's a great Flash Mob video, but I'm disappointed by all of the red hats. Were the hats reused? I'm thinking that they were a one time occasion and were forgotten or thrown away. I can understand why nobody bothered to pick up the bottle in the mall- usually there are hired cleaners to tidy up the mall. Outdoors, however, there are no stewards other than ourselves. Walking by garbage thinking that someone else will take care of it is not acceptable. I've certainly been guilty of this at times.

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  3. That was great Andrea-thanks for sharing! The woman who recycled handled the attention well-I would have been very embarrassed. I agree with Jennifer-whatever it takes to motivate people to lend a hand. People enjoy/need praise to do good things-remember behavior modification?

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  4. Jennifer - You're right, recycling is what people should already be doing, and we ought to applaud much greater efforts. Sometimes I worry, though, that people stop doing even the little things because they're so invisible. The woman is now positively reinforced for her action, but the rest of the shoppers probably had no idea what was going on. Is there a better way?

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  5. Emily - I wonder if the flash mob participants were allowed to keep the hats if they expressed an interest in wearing them again for personal use. It's also possible that the makers of the show will plan future flash mobs for which the hats will be reused. Let's hope so!

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  6. Lori - Yeah, me too, I would have died of embarrassment! While it's idealistic of me to hope that people would do good deeds for the internal praise, it's true that many need external praise to keep up the good work. If we could make it easier to reinforce the small things, perhaps more of us would be motivated to take on bigger challenges!

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  7. Thanks for this informative post. In case you haven't heard, Recyclebank has just teamed up with Greenopolis! Now you can earn both Recyclebank and Greenopolis points everytime you recycle. Check out this video-- I learned about the news here. http://youtu.be/TGSDH4L_qHA

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  8. Recyclebank sounds interesting. It rewards people with points for taking everyday actions at home, including recycling. But how green can this be if the points can be redeemed for a Wal-Mart gift card?! I strongly discourage anyone from participating.

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