The Durham region near Toronto, Canada is weighing a couple of options for disposing of municipal waste. One possibility: a landfill, which some are calling a bowl for garbage. Government officials are also considering the possibility of funding what is called a waste-to-energy plant, more simply put a facility that burns garbage in order to generate electricity. While the city was considering its disposal options, the Star newspaper in Toronto went to Detroit, Michigan, to look at that city’s waste-to-energy plant where it discovered that since the city committed to the incinerator nearly two decades ago recycling is virtually unheard of. In fact, Detroit did not begin a curbside recycling program until this summer. Other American cities have had so-called curbside recycling for more than a decade. Detroit, as a municipality, has not shown an interest in recycling because recyclable materials are good fuel for the energy plant.
In his article, “Strategies for Sustainability,” Stewart Barr argues that the energy consciousness of the public is influenced by a number of outside factors. And the likely hood of someone recycling or saving energy can be tied not only to their feelings about the practice but also to situational variables. He argues that those who are trying to influence environmental behaviors need to keep the multiple influences in mind when crafting their message.