Recycling Attitudes: How do you deal with “I just don’t wanna!” ?

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 Think About This Thursday

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine about recycling. We were at a school event that was selling cans of soda and bottles of water and Gatorade and were frustrated at the lack of recycling bins available. Several HUGE bags of trash were collected and not a single one of those disposable bottles and cans were recycled.

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We started discussing mandatory recycling programs and didn’t really understand WHY people were so adamantly opposed to recycling. We have both known a number of people over the years who vehemently oppose recycling and throw a fit any time the words ‘mandatory recycling’ start popping up. And we just don’t get it….


WHY do people oppose recycling? The people we were discussing were offered FREE recycling bins and FREE curbside pickup yet still refused to recycle. How do you reach people like this? I really want to know how you convince someone to to do something that is logical and easy who just doesn’t want to.

So, I asked the all knowing Google search engine how to do it. When in doubt ask Google, right? Well, Google told me the 5 Reasons Why People Don’t Recycle:

  1. Inconvenience People without curbside pickup are not willing to drive to recycle
  2. Lack of Space No one wants ‘garbage’ hanging out in their kitchen or garage
  3. No Deposit, No Return  Most places do not offer a bottle deposit refund so there is no incentive to recycle
  4. Misinformation  They do not see how it effects their daily lives
  5. Too Confusing  Too hard to figure out what is recyclable and what isn’t.

However, Google could not really tell me how to TEACH people about the importance of recycling. What we need are Facebook adds, commercials, billboards, and radio advertisements promoting the benefits of green living. But, since there is no MONEY to be made by promoting recycling it will never happen.

Have you ever convinced someone to make a conscious choice to live greener?

Will some people always just stomp their foot and say “I Won’t Recycle” just because they can?



  1. I have convinced my inlaws to recycle cans and my dad to recycle paper and plastics but that's it. I recycle everything I can and I don't have curbside pickup. I have to take mine to the recycling center! I don't understand people refusing to recycle when they have free curbside pickup at all.
  2. *Earthly*Ashley* says
    Great post! I care about this topic deeply. On some level, I always remind myself that I have absolutely NO CONTROL over anyone else's actions. None. Nada. Zip. Takes the pressure off so I don't get TOO frustrated =)

    And, there are definitely jerks out in the world. It's like their problem is simply that they don't like to change. They don't like new information either--especially if this information will make them feel bad for NOT changing. I don't get it!

    Still, I believe that if people are given the proper supports and the right information, they will typically do the "right" thing. I think that cities/states need to make recycling convenient and easy (and, businesses/schools need a $reason$ to recycle). There might be a few stragglers, but the majority will recycle.

    If you're interested, check out my recent blogpost about a similar frustration (even with myself):

    ~* Ashley
  3. I can't imagine anyone having a problem with recycling. It was a little less convenient back before we had curbside service. It makes life easier now since we have more space in the trash can.
  4. Patricia N says
    I don't get it either. We have curbside recycling and some of my neighbors are too lazy (or whatever) to even break down a cardboard box - they just put it in the trash.
  5. Daisy TrendyMomReviews says
    I ALWAYS recycle. Our town doesn't take glass, but I recycle it by taking it to Walmart where they have a collection dropoff.
  6. I don't know why people are so opposed to recycling. It is vital.
  7. You make some good points. I love recycling for "Selfish" reasons above and beyond the obvious environmental benefits, because it saves me money on my trash bill!
  8. I have to admit I am horrible at recycling my cardboard because I don't drive and my bins are super tiny. My boxes blow into the neighbors yard before they are picked up - never fails. I do try though, and always get out my plastic etc
  9. Heather Smith says
    I moved from an area with excellent recycling programs to one with a poor one... I think that recycling would be more effective if cities tried harder to recycle more - if they only recycle one or two types of plastic and discourage people from recycling by calling them out for trying to recycle 'the wrong thing' they'd have more buy in... I've found ways to recycle almost everything I used to be able to put at the curb, by finding businesses and organizations that do private recycling but it's taken a lot of work on my part... the easier counties make recycling, the more buy in they'll get...

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