Rewarding Good Behavior

May 12, 2011 at 4:34 pm Leave a comment

When I’m not crafting I work as a teacher, so I understand the need to reward good behavior. Even my high schoolers love getting gold stars on A papers, respond well to bribery (if you finish your work we can watch that hilarious video about the lizard walking on water) and nearly always do work because I’m grading it and they want to pass (no matter how interesting the lesson it’s still more work/thinking than napping!). This isn’t isolated to high schoolers: I let myself watch ridiculous television as long as I’m crocheting while I watch, I don’t get to go home until my classroom is organized and I can’t check twitter/facebook until I’ve finished grading this stack of papers. Rewards motivate us to do the things we know we should do anyway. However, I’m concerned about some of the reward systems cropping up for environmentalists.

Today I received an email recommending www.recyclebank.com. They start off well enough giving you points for recycling at home and for learning about the real meaning behind different labels. But then you look further and find that you can earn points for recycling ziploc bags, sponsored by ziploc. Don’t we want to re-use the ziplocs we have, followed by not buying more? You get points for every 50 recycled, which seems to encourage you to use them up faster. That’s good for ziploc, but not for the environment.

Last year I joined a facebook group with the tagline: ‘serving up the hottest climate news’ so ever so boldly I assumed they would be a ‘green’ organization. In 4 months I won: a t-shirt, a license plate frame and a bookmark. Why is a group whose sole purpose is reporting on the environment distributing stuff all over the country? (or maybe even world?) I tried to explain this concern to customer service and suggested that instead of sending me more ‘stuff’ they could just donate the money they would have spent to an organization dedicated to combatting climate change.

The response:
“Thanks for your thoughtful question. Unfortunately, the t-shirts, license frames, and bookmarks were preordered in bulk, so we can’t recoup the cost. However, I will try to find another user who’s interested in them! Thanks for being committed to reducing your stuff.”

At least she appreciated my efforts, but that wasn’t really the point.

Have you found a good site for environmentalists to track their efforts and get encouragement without the result being more waste? I’m sure they exist but I haven’t found any yet since they’re buried under all the greenwashing!

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