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How to Cope with Family Who Won’t Recycle

Keeping the recyclables out of the trash in some homes can be as difficult as keeping the trash out of the recyclables. Some people really just don’t care, even when it’s as easy as picking which of two bins, trash or recycling, their discards go in.

When you have things set up, that can be quite frustrating.

My family in general is pretty good, although my oldest of late has taken to accidentally throwing food into the recycle bin rather than the trash. So much of what she throws out can be recycled that I think it’s almost a reflex to pick that bin. I don’t think it’s a rebellion.

But it did get me thinking about how to cope with people who don’t want to recycle even when it’s easy.

Talk About It

The first step is the simplest and sometimes it even works. Just talk about the issue. Talk about what gets recycled in your area. Talk about why it matters to you.

Ask why they don’t recycle. Ask if there’s anything you can do to encourage them to recycle.

Make Sure It’s Convenient

You can cut down on excuses if recycling is as convenient as throwing out trash. It won’t stop everything, but it can help.

The kitchen is the most obvious place to have a trash can and recycle bin side by side. But any other room where you find there to be a problem, consider adding in a recycle bin.

If people print at the computer a lot, for example, you need a recycle bin there for any wasted paper. It happens. If you only have a trash can there, that’s what will be used. A convenient recycle bin can be a huge help.

Put In Some Extra Effort

If just talking about it doesn’t make any changes, put in a little extra effort yourself and make sure they know that you’re doing it. Pull their recyclables from the trash and put them in the recycle bin. Be upfront that you don’t like the inconvenience of having to do so. Keep your comments appropriate to whoever you’re having the issue with, of course.

Try “An Inconvenient Truth”

Watching “An Inconvenient Truth” isn’t going to convince everyone, but it’s one place to take things. Even if they disagree it’s another conversation starter. Or argument starter, depending on the beliefs of the family member. I do have some relatives who would blow up over even the suggestion to watch this movie.

It’s either get them thinking or arguing. If you want to change someone’s mind sometimes that’s what you need.

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