Hello everyone! I wanted to share with you all the results I have so far and if you haven’t taken the survey yet, I have linked it here. It’s 10 super quick questions, half are about demographics and the other half about your beliefs and thoughts on being environmentally friendly. If you have taken it, please share the link with your friends and family. Now for the breakdown.
Top 3 Reasons
I have listed the top three reasons why people don’t recycle according to my survey. 1) I don’t know what can/cannot be recycled 2) I have no time 3) There are no recycling services where I live. There are a few other notable responses I would like to share: “my roommates don’t recycle”, “restaurants don’t participate”, and “it’s inconvenient”.
Don’t know what to recycle
In response to the first and most common reason for not recycling, I created my first blog which gives a general list of what can, cannot, and might be recyclable, (again it depends on the materials that your local recycling center can process). I really hope it serves as a general guide. There may be items that may not be listed and as I have mentioned in that blog the best person to ask is your local recycling center.
Don’t have enough time
In regard to the second most common survey response, not having enough time, there are several habits that don’t really require a lot of time. For example, having at least 2 trash cans, one for recyclable and one for non-recyclables. Using reusable bags isn’t time consuming either, the problem is you might forget taking them with you, so I just leave mine in my car. Another bonus to having your own bags is you can arrange your groceries appropriately in them. I think that by saying that there isn’t enough time to recycle is just an excuse.
At its worst I associate it with laziness and at its best I associate it with not prioritizing or poor time management. Now don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of those moments especially in the morning and before planning on going to sleep. All I’m trying to say is that we use this reason to not do many other things e.g. exercising, eating healthier, spending more time with the family. I feel like important habits take time and discipline.
Nowhere to recycle
Now for reason #3: There are no recycling services where I live. I’ll admit this survey response is a tougher obstacle to overcome; it requires a lot more time and effort from not only the citizen but the local government body as well. Having said that, I still believe it is important to persuade law makers to create and enforce recycling. Promoting plastic bans, encouraging more incentives like discounts or rewards for those who recycle.
I think it’s neat that Sprouts offers a discount if you take your own shopping bags. This is somewhat related to the idea of holding other companies and organizations accountable as well. This is a topic that I have mentioned before as well. For example, restaurants have a unique challenging view on how to maintain their standards, maintain a level of hygiene, all while being more environmentally friendly.
Some suggestions I can think of are those that I have already seen in place like the napkins partially made of recyclable material, or not using single serve plastics, change the Styrofoam carryout containers to something more biodegradable like thick carton carry-outs? I would love to hear recommendations from people who work in the food industry. In general I would love to hear your ideas on limiting waste in different industries.
Other memorable comments
A few more survey comments that particularly caught my attention; one was “my roommates don’t recycle.” I have totally been there. Honestly, I just keep adapting my tactics to appeal to their ethos, logos, and pathos depending on which person I am dealing with. For instance, for my boyfriend I usually have to be logical about why and how we should change our habits (switching to homemade laundry detergents was a struggle for him). With my mom I have to appeal to the ethical aspect of it all, and for my sister she’s like me so I appeal to her through emotions and pictures of sick animals. All these tactics plus me just nagging and nagging and nagging and nagging, and nagging till they give in.
My proposed solution
Lastly as far as recycling being an inconvenience, it will continue to be seen this way unless we push for changes. We need to let our local governments know that this is an important issue, and that we are serious about seeing improvements with our waste management. Alternatives to waste management or other zero waste strategies need to be made accessible. The more we put into practice these techniques we can make it seem normal, even necessary to have alternative waste management in our cities.