Means-end chain theory and the laddering methodology were used to derive the goals relevant to consumers for recycling, as well as the interrelations among goals. The importance of the goals and their hierarchical structure were also tested, and their effects on attitudes, subjective norms, and past behavior determined. Data were collected on 133 consumers in a moderate-size metropolitan community by use of a random digit dialing procedure. The overall framework emerging from the analyses is one where concrete goals lead to more abstract goals, and attitudes and past behavior intervene between goals and intentions in decision making. Nineteen total goals were uncovered, with 15 ultimately found to be salient. The topmost goals in the hierarchy were “promote health/avoid sickness,” “achieve life-sustaining ends,” and “provide for future generations.” The key lower-order goals—“avoid filling up landfills,” “reduce waste,” “reuse materials,” and “save the environment”—work through such intermediary goals as “reduce messy trash,” “curtail pollution,” “save resources,” and “save the planet.” Two important terminal goals that were also at intermediate levels in the hierarchy were “save/earn money” and “it's the right thing to do.” © 1994 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.