Friday, November 4, 2011

Why is it so hard to recycle?

The post title is a bit deceiving, but that is because I am a compulsive recycler! If it can be recycled, I recycle it. If it can't be recycled, I try to figure out why and how it can be alternately used. I guess that would lead one way to my question: why are there things that can't be recycled? Many things can be repurposed, but what about those that are just not accepted in any recycling program. What do you do with those things (like non-CFL lightbulbs that have burned out...I don't replace them with CFLs until they do burn out, but what do you do with those?). Again, not the topic at hand.

What I actually want to address here is why other people find it so hard to recycle. I guess it may just be because I am organized (I have bins in my kitchen labeled "paper" and "plastic, glass, can"). It's just not that hard to dump everything into a bin outside and set it out by the curb. It becomes harder for people who do not have curbside recycling, but it can be done with just a little effort. That's the problem. It does take a bit of effort to recycle and some people are just lazy.

I work at an urban high school and see first hand how thoughtless students, faculty and staff alike can be. A recycling container can be two feet from them, yet they will wad up paper and toss it in the trash. They don't even think about it. I'm pretty sure it is just because they are not in the habit of doing it, but why is that? It's second nature for me to recycle and I've been doing it for over 20 years. How does the current generation not have this habit?

This is just something that has been bothering me because if 16 and 17 year-olds don't see the benefit of recycling, where are we going to be in 20 years when they are my age?