Many a times when we think of changing one’s behaviour, we think about going big and going out of our comfort zones. Sometimes, all it takes is to implement small nudges to create a wave of behaviour change. On the topic of waste diversion, there are several behavioural factors that determine waste diversion – these include infrastructure, environmental attitudes, social norms and sorting knowledge.
As seen in the picture below, these are some of the nudges we implemented on site at one of our events. The volunteers and the visual aids (i.e. large 2D recycling signage) were employed to encourage participants to engage in proper recycling etiquette. So, the two behavioural cues used here are (1) Volunteers’ presence and (2) 2D signage.
Research evidence has shown that volunteer assistance was found to be a significantly effective method in reducing contamination in waste streams at public events (Zelenika et al., 2018). It was argued that with volunteer staff guarding the recycling and composting bins and simultaneously verbally instructing participants on which items to locate in each bin, they acted as a strong prompt to throw items correctly.
A physical presence at bins increases the visibility of one’s actions – so your every move will be watched! This particular nudge inadvertently evokes small behaviour changes among the participants through the act of walking towards the bins and disposing their items accordingly. This can be seen as changing behaviour through social norms, environmental awareness and motivating one’s intentions to divert waste responsibly.
The second behavioural cue is the use of large 2D signage. This subtle nudge does a lot more than it may seem! The large visual aid appeals to participants visually and provokes thoughts within an individual. The resulting actions of pausing, looking and understanding the written words are exactly what triggers behaviour change! Additionally, it also acts as a directional prompt to lure people to the bin area.
These are just a few examples of how changing behaviour can be simple and feasible! Looking for ways to incorporate behavioural elements in your activities? Fret not, take a step back and consider the small nudges you might have otherwise not considered!