On Saturday, April 17th, the First Presbyterian Church hosted an earth month citywide styrofoam collection event. Because styrofoam cannot be recycled along with other recyclables in Norman, this event allowed individuals to bring their styrofoam to be properly recycled. This styrofoam waste has to be marked with the #6 in the recycling symbol, could be any color food or beverage containers as well as packaging styrofoam, and most importantly, had to be clean. At the end of the day, there was a U-haul truck full of styrofoam ready to be recycled.
Members of the ethical choice education lab, more specifically faculty member Dr. Adam Feltz and graduate student Jenna Holt, are working on a three-year NSF grant collaboration with the chemical engineers at OU to find a cost-efficient way to recycle multilayer plastics, which are currently not recyclable. The role of the ethical choice education lab in this project is to help the public make the most informed decision that is in line with their values and beliefs when it comes to plastic recycling. Member of the lab set out to capture knowledge and attitudes towards plastic recycling within this motivated sample.
Although the end goal of this grant is multilayered plastics, the lab is first determining how much people know about plastic recycling and their attitudes towards plastic recycling. Individuals dropping off styrofoam had the opportunity to engage in this knowledge and attitudes survey in exchange for a chocolate candy bar. Because these individuals had saved their styrofoam for an entire year to recycle at this event, the data gathered from these individuals was of great value. Many individuals were happy to help out with this research and took the time to complete the survey. A great amount of these individuals commented on how shocked they were at how little they knew about plastic recycling and asked if they would be able to know the answers to the questions on our survey because they wanted to become more educated. This is extremely promising, as a key goal of the lab is to educate individuals on the decisions they make, in this case, whether or not to recycle plastic.
The ethical choice education lab would like to thank the First Presbyterian Church for this opportunity to collect data at their event.