Get the Goods, Not the Garbage

By Henderson, Zorika Petic | Human Ecology Forum, Summer 1995 | Go to article overview

Get the Goods, Not the Garbage


Henderson, Zorika Petic, Human Ecology Forum


Low-income households tend to make less use of waste reduction and recycling programs in their communities than higher-income households do. A commonly held belief is that limited-resource households have a more urgent priority - making do with too few resources - and that the environment necessarily is of little concern.

That isn't the case, says Jeanne M. Hogarth, co-developer with Ellen Z. Harrison of a Cornell Cooperative Extension project that successfully teaches families with limited resources the principles of waste reduction.

Hogarth, professor of consumer economics and housing, says, "We suspected that low-income families do care about the environment but that a lack of knowledge has prevented them from participating in environmentally conscious activities."

To test that belief, Hogarth and Harrison, director of the Cornell Waste Management Institute, created the pilot program Get the Goods, Not the Garbage.

Get the Goods was designed to be incorporated into the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), a program of the national Cooperative Extension system. In EFNEP, limited-resource families learn about nutrition and food budgeting in one-on-one and small group settings.

The waste-reduction project was piloted with EFNEP families in Steuben County, a rural community in the south-central part of New York State; in the Jamaica section of Queens in New York City; and the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, also in New York City.

Families were surveyed to assess the education they needed to change their waste reduction practices and what would motivate them to reduce waste.

All the respondents lacked information about waste prevention, the reuse of containers, and the environmental benefits of buying recycled products. …

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