Austin Recycling: Why Don’t We Recycle?

Posted: July 8, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Did you know that while 80% of our trash is recyclable only 28% gets recycled? Why are recycling rates so low?

It’s not a matter of lack of access to recycling centers. Over 87% of Americans have access to drop-off or curbside recycling programs. It’s also not a matter of cost: most of these programs cost very little, if anything.

So what is it?

Well first of all, there is a lack of awareness among the general population about the importance of recycling. Most people simply don’t realize how much trash they produce.

Think about the fact that one person produces roughly 4.5 pounds of trash each day. This adds up to roughly 10 times their body weight each year! This is a lot of trash!

It’s simply too easy to look at large corporations and point fingers. We say that these companies are the ones harming the environment and thus, they should be the ones recycling, but we’re failing to realize that we, the individuals, also contribute greatly to the problem.

Of course these companies should be recycling, but to truly save the environment, it’ll have to be a joint effort between them and us.

But even people who realize how much trash they produce don’t always recycle. Why is that?

The main reason people cite for failure to recycle is inconvenience. Many people don’t want to sort through their trash or even have several recycling bins lying around the house.

It’s a problem of motivation. Most people don’t see the consequences of our low recycling rates on a day to day basis. Because of this, it’s easy to play by the old “out of sight, out of mind” rules. It would be almost impossible to deny the importance of recycling if you were staring at one of the world’s five “garbage patches.” These five areas in the ocean contain 3.5 million tons of trash. That’s twice the size of the United States.

So it seems fair to sum up the low recycling rates like this – the lack of awareness about how important recycling is leads to people not having the motivation to put up with the inconvenience of recycling.

So to fix the low recycling rates, we’ll have to raise awareness of how much one person can help to increase their motivation to recycle. We’ll have to give them a reason to deal with the slight inconvenience of recycling. The question now remains: how do we do that?

For more information on Austin recycling, find Dirty Work on Facebook, Twitter or Google+

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