Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version



Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2020.


Copyright 2020 Christopher A. Sukstorf


Recycling is a core way that college students can act altruistically. Many studies have been conducted to study how to increase the participation of recycling on college campuses, office buildings, and the like. This study focuses on the University Lutheran Chapel, a Christian church adjacent to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. While the University of Nebraska – Lincoln has drastically improved recycling participation in recent years, the University Lutheran Chapel lags behind. Pictorial signs were used in an experiment to determine whether they improved recycling rates at The Chapel. Recycling rates at the University Lutheran Chapel were measured by counting cups distributed and cups recycled during weekly Sunday lunches. After a baseline collection of six weeks, pictorial signs depicting recyclable materials were posted above recycling bins and three weeks of intervention data were collected. Data collected showed a higher overall percentage of cups recycled during the intervention period over the baseline period. The percentage of the intervention data was not significantly different than the overall percentage of the baseline data. It could not be confidently concluded that the pictorial signs were the reason for the increase in percentage of cups recycled. Injunctive norms may have been observed causing an impact on the rates, as the recycling percentage rose steadily throughout the baseline period. More research needs to be conducted on how injunctive norms can be used to impact recycling, especially in a church setting. A higher sample size and longer periods for both baseline and intervention would have led to a more confident conclusion.