Recycling Practices Just Aren't Cutting It (Why People Don't Recycle)
Recycling sounds great in theory. Unfortunately, many individuals simply choose not to participate in recycling practices. Changes to current recycling programs are needed sooner rather than later if recycling is going to become a common practice instead of something that many individuals and companies avoid for as long as possible.
As an industry leader in the recycling trash bag e-tail industry that sources materials from manufacturers that have taken concrete steps to reduce their environmental footprint, Plastic Place would like share some of their finding on why people do not recycle and the steps needed to rectify this unsustainable dilemma.
Why people don’t recycle
There are a variety of reasons why people choose not to recycle, including:
• Laziness. Many people don't want to bother with it. It's far easier to drop glass, cans, and plastic into one big trash can than it is to sort out each individual item.
• It takes too long to recycle. Items that are marked for recycling have to be sorted. Many recycling facilities require people to remove labels and rinse out the items in preparation for recycling.
• It's too confusing to recycle. What, exactly, can be recycled, anyway? How are things supposed to be sorted? Are juice bottles really that different from milk cartons? Many consumers have no idea how to make recycling easy for themselves and their families.
• They have no space for recycling. Who has room for two, three, or more garbage cans taking up valuable space? Many people simply don't have room to sort their recyclable products in their homes.
• There's no personal incentive. Many people choose to simply look the other way, insisting that they don't have a personal interest in recycling. After all, their single contribution isn't going to make that big a difference, right?
• Recycling is inconvenient. It requires more time, effort, and often, money. Many employers don't recycle, making it inconvenient to recycle at work. It's a difficult process that requires sustained effort from people who choose to do it, and many people prefer not to bother.
• Some people have no desire to go green. There are many individuals who believe that the earth is here to serve them. They see no reason to engage in the "current trend" of going green, whether it's through investing in reusable materials or taking time to recycle.
The importance of practicing the four R's of sustainability is only becoming more important. The earth--and future generations--benefit immeasurably from recycling practices that are utilized by people today. In order to improve the odds of people recycling, several practices should be put into effect.
Positive reinforcement works with kids and there’s no reason it should not work with adults, as well! Here are some tried and tested methods:
• Offer further education. In order to encourage people to recycle, they need to know how to do it properly: how to sort items, how to clean them, and what benefits their choice to recycle can have. People who don't have all the information are more likely to give up altogether, whereas those who are fully educated are more likely to work through problems and understand the importance of recycling.
• Create a program like RecycleBank rewards. The RecycleBank rewards program offers points for recycling that can later be redeemed on other items. People are more likely to recycle if they have personal incentive to do so.
• Get caught "green handed" for rewards. Periodic rewards for those caught recycling are less costly than incentives for each time a person chooses to engage in recycling.
• Use the Terracycle model. The Terracycle model sends in rewards to an individual's favorite charity each time they recycle.
• Offer tax credits. For many people, tax incentive is more than enough reason to increase their recycling practices. This also puts the burden on the government, rather than on private organizations.
Well… sometimes there’s just no other alternative than using punitive measures to enforce a necessary practice. Here are some ideas:
• Equip recycling bins with RFID tags. RFID tags allows cities to track which homes are recycling and even impose fines on those who choose not to do so.
• Enforce a carbon tax on carbon emissions. Individuals who find it more expensive to choose not to "go green" will be more likely to make eco-friendly decisions.
• Hold manufacturers accountable. They need to know the life cycle of their product, use recyclable material when possible, and take the steps to implement recycling practices within their companies. Many companies have already jumped on the green bandwagon and have instituted sustainable measures in the various steps of production and distribution.
Recycling isn't always convenient. Making it more convenient for people to recycle, however--along with providing them compensation to do so--encourages recycling and helps people to make the right decision. If the earth is going to continue to support the people currently on it, someone has to do something. It starts here.