In the Headlines: The Top Recycling Stories Making the News
Young People Aged 18-24 are ‘The Least Likely to Recycle.’
While Millennials and the so-called ‘Generation Z’ are the generations that are the most vocal about environmental issues like climate change, a recent survey has found that they are also the least likely to recycle.
Despite buying from eco-conscious brands and wanting to work for companies with a strong sustainability ethos, they are the worst when it comes to recycling household waste.
The White Lies Report commissioned by the electrical retailer AO.com found that 18-24- year- olds were the least likely to recycle in 13 out of 15 categories of household waste, and people aged over 55 recycled the most in 11 of those categories.
The survey’s findings
The survey of over 4000 people in the UK found that:
- Less than 50% of Millennials said they recycled plastic bags and a worrying 88% said they put old electrical devices in the bin rather than recycling them.
- 18- to 24-year-olds are the least likely to recycle easily recyclable items like cans, bottles, plastics, and paper.
- 66% of Millennials recycle plastic compared to 87% of people aged 55 and over.
- Only 26% of 18-24-year-olds said they recycle mobile phones compared to 38% of over-55s.
The recycling gap
The report goes on to highlight the astonishing differences between the age groups in what they recycle.
- Plastic bags: Millennials: 49%, Over-55s: 65%
- Cans: Millennials: 73%, Over-55s: 93%
- Bottles: Millennials: 76%, Over-55s: 94%
- Cardboard: Millennials: 78%, Over-55s: 95%
- Hair driers and straighteners: Millennials: 12%, Over-55s: 35%
- Kettles and toasters: Millennials: 8%, Over-55s: 53%
- White goods like washing machines and fridges*: Millennials: 11%, Over-55s: 46%
* The report did highlight that when it comes to appliances, the differences in recycling might be down to the fact that younger people are less likely to own them than older people.
AO says that recycling education is the key
The Managing Director of AO said that recycling levels are ‘generally poor’ across the board because of how confusing it can be. He said that the company’s survey found that a lot of people either aren’t motivated to recycle, or they don’t understand how to recycle everyday household waste. He added that it was up to manufacturers and retailers to make recycling as easy as possible for people, but that recycling education is the key to raising awareness.
Encouraging young people to recycle more and live a greener life
So how do we encourage younger people to realise that recycling matters and it’s worth the effort? The answer is we start educating children about it when they are young. The next generation is going to inherit the planet from us so we need to encourage them to have good habits from an early age.
Encouraging kids to recycle
Teach them about it in a way they can understand
Making recycling seem fun and explaining it to them in an age-appropriate way is the best way to engage kids. Buy them a book about recycling or download a fun recycling game for them to play on their phone or tablet.
Put recycling bags, bins, and boxes around the house
Get kids into the habit of recycling by making it easy for them. They can make one for their bedroom out of an old box and they can decorate it however they want. Invest in a bathroom bin with a separate compartment for recycling, and talk to them about what goes in the kitchen recycling bin.
Set a good example
Kids learn by example, so make sure that you take every opportunity to recycle and be eco-conscious, whether you’re at home, out and about, or in the supermarket. Take the opportunity to explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and hopefully, they’ll follow suit.
Encouraging college and university students to be green
Being a student often means living on a budget and making do, so it’s the perfect chance to get into some eco-friendly, money-saving, and waste-reducing habits.
Eat more consciously
- Encouraging students to cut down on meat will save them money, improve their health, and protect the planet. Almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions come from meat production, so going meat-free for even a few days every week will make a difference. Eating more plant-based foods like vegetables, nuts, pulses, and fruit will also save them money and make them feel a lot healthier.
- Students can also grow their own produce, even if they live in a flat with no garden. It’s completely possible to grow herbs and vegetables in a window box.
- They should also be encouraged to spruce up on their recipe knowledge and learn about cooking on a budget and how to use leftovers. Love Food Hate Waste has some excellent tips.
Dress more consciously
Fast fashion is a huge problem for the environment, and on average, we throw away over half of the cheaper items we buy in less than a year, which creates a whole lot of waste.
- Students should be encouraged to recycle clothing, or get creative and make a completely new item out of something they were going to throw away. There’s no end to the possibilities, from adding embellishments to using dye. Not everything needs to end up in the bin.
- They can also have a fun night in and have a clothes-swapping party with friends or make use of local charity shops (where you can find a designer label or two if you go to university in a wealthy area.)
- If they have to have new clothes, encourage them to buy sustainable items that are made from organic materials. Some high street stores are even creating their own sustainable clothing lines now.
When students are living on a budget, it makes sense to keep the bills down, and if they can do this and have a positive effect on the environment too, it’s even better. Students can live more sustainably by:
- Washing clothes at lower temperatures.
- Buying eco-friendly products.
- Drying clothes on a washing line or clothes horse so they don’t have to use an energy-guzzling tumble dryer.
- Try to buy items with as little packaging as possible when you go to the supermarket. Stores like Waitrose now have packaging-free aisles where you can take your own containers and fill them up. You can also take your own reusable containers to the meat and fish counters.
Students can get involved with environmental campaigns at their university, and even if they think individual actions don’t matter, they do. Around 76 universities around the UK have committed to stop using fossil fuels as a result of pressure from student campaign groups.
Young people do care about the environment, we just need to encourage them to extend that concern to recycling.