The warm glow of recycling can make us more wasteful

Jenny van Doorn*, Tim Kurz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Laudable initiatives designed to limit the environmental damage associated with consumption, such as the recycling of plastic packaging into clothing or unused bread into beer, have become increasingly popular. In three experiments, we show how such initiatives can potentially increase waste rather than preventing it. Specifically, we show that when presented with such options people may come to psychologically frame their waste creation as a contribution to the collective good that makes them feel good about themselves (i.e. eliciting a warm-glow effect). We argue that such potential ‘wasteful contribution’ effects need to be considered in assessing the true sustainability benefits of certain recycling initiatives.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101672
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Early online date19-Aug-2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2021


  • Recycling Warm glow Waste Waste hierarchy Food Plastic

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