Increasing Participation in Curbside Paper Recycling Using Verbal Prompts in Chicago

Spaccarelli, S., Zolik, E. & Jason, L. A. (1989-1990). Effects of verbal prompting and block characteristics on participation in curbside newspaper recycling. Journal of Environmental Systems, 19, 1, 45-57.
After conducting a literature review, prompts were incorporated into an intervention to increase newspaper recycling in a downtown Chicago neighborhood. To be optimally effective, the prompt should involve personal contact and the prompter should be perceived as enthusiastic and experienced. Since participation in the recycling program was quite low, a pilot program was designed to target 350 households. While half the participants obtained only a pamphlet outlining instructions and details of the program, the other group received both a verbal prompt and the pamphlet. The verbal interaction lasted between one and five minutes where the experimenter encouraged recycling and answered any questions from participants. On the other hand, participants in the information only group were simply told to read the pamphlet if they had questions. Both groups were approached during door-to door visits. In order to obtain accurate measurements, the presence of newspaper was recorded at curbside on recycling day.

The information only group had only 2.4% of participants recycle at least once during the 21 weeks following the intervention. In contrast, 30% of the information and verbal prompt condition recycled at least once.
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