Seven reasons people don't recycle - Our Daily Green

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Seven reasons people don't recycle

waste balers
photo from: Easi recycling

From time to time, the topic of recycling will come up in a casual conversation with friends. Recently, someone had saved some cardboard tubes for a project for me, and when I had a surplus, I said, well I can always recycle the rest. The person commented, "I know it's bad, but I just don't recycle."

It got me to wondering "why not?", and how to overcome those "why nots". While the reasons differ from person to person, there are some common themes among those who do not recycle. 
  • They cannot be bothered. For some folks, they just don't want to think about what to do with each piece of garbage they generate. 
  • It is easier to clean up if everything just goes into one garbage bag and is tossed. 
  • They have no financial incentive. In the days when there were can and bottle deposits, it was a common sight to see folks walking back into the store with empty bottles and cans and getting their deposit back. 
  • Out of sight, out of mind. Unless someone lives next to a landfill or remembers the days of floating garbage barges because there was no landfill space available, there is nothing unsightly about throwing out garbage.
  • Time consuming to wash out empty containers and separate them. 
  • No recycling offered at work or school, without a large scale buy-in, it seems futile to try at home. 
  • Inconvenient recycling locations. Confusion about what can or cannot be recycled. 
It is estimated that nearly 75% of the material in landfills could be either composted or recycled. Landfill fees increase annually, so the financial incentive could be about cost savings from generating less trash. Another consideration is to rethink any single serve or disposable packaging, which reduces the number of times/daily that a consumer even has to think about where and how to throw something out. 

In whole, it seems that for many people recycling just is too much work. So we'd like instead to propose a proactive approach where instead of having to think about how to recycle items, creating a climate where fewer items even need to be recycled. 

Our Daily Green wants to reset the way our readers think, so we move away from the idea of having to recycle and instead think how to reduce or reuse. If reduction and reusing are taken more seriously, there is less to recycle and therefore less barrier, but also less waste. 

What are some ideas you have for reducing or reusing? 

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