Men may be put off recycling because they think it makes them seem gay

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor
Men might be put off recycling because of gendered perceptions. [Photo: Getty]

It takes too long, it’s inconvenient, you can’t see an immediate benefit – these are just some of the reasons people give for not recycling.

But there’s yet another one to add to the roster of reasons not to look after the planet: because it might make you look gay.

Yup, you read that right.

According to new research, men wanting to seem heterosexual may be less likely to do pro-environmental behaviours (PEBs) which make them seem “feminine” – because it might mean their sexuality is perceived as homosexual.

Recycling falls into this category, apparently, as does using reusable cotton bags instead of plastic bags.

The research involved 960 participants, and looked at the differing perceptions of men and women doing “feminine” and “masculine” activities.

READ MORE: We're unintentionally consuming huge amounts of plastic

PEBs such as buying a keep cup or turning off the air conditioning were also perceived as “feminine”, because it fits with a perception of women as nurturing care-givers.

Participants rated on a 10 point scale whether someone conformed to typically masculine or feminine tendencies.

Based on this, they were then asked to guess that person’s sexual identity.

Those whose behaviours conformed to their gender were considered more likely to be heterosexual, whereas those who performed what were perceived as non-gender-conforming behaviours (such as men caring about the environment) were more likely to be considered gay.

“Reflecting the tendency to see environmentalism as feminine, all the people were rated as more feminine than masculine regardless of the behaviours they did,” said Professor Janet K. Swim, who authored the study.

“If being seen as heterosexual is important to a person, that person may prioritise gender-conforming over gender-nonconforming pro-environmental behaviours in anticipation of how others might see them.”

READ MORE: Here’s what you can and can’t recycle

The study concluded that some men who wanted to be seen as heterosexual would likely avoid PEBs in order to avoid their sexuality being interpreted otherwise.

“People may avoid certain behaviours because they are managing the gendered impression they anticipate others will have of them. Or they may be avoided if the behaviours they choose do not match their gender.”

While the research sheds light on yet another popular barrier to recycling, there’s no getting away from the importance of everyone doing their bit.

From shops with recycling incentives to zero waste flights, efforts to look after the environment have stepped up globally in recent years.