Learning From My Neighbor Who Refuses To Recycle.


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Sometimes, I just want to bang my head against a wall until I don’t care anymore. Last week I ran into my neighbor down by the trash and recycling bins out behind our apartment building. Picture the scene: On one side of the enclosure is a giant trash container and on the other side are 8 recycling bins. I was in the middle of sorting my recyclables when my neighbor walked into the enclosure, threw his “trash” into the trash bin, and then turned to me and said “I don’t bother recycling – it’s too much work. I have better things to do.” Head, meet brick wall.

Most people I know have been recycling for many, many years. At minimum, almost everyone has had recycling programs in place in their town for aluminum cans for what seems like forever now. Recycling is not some new fad that just started in 2008 and is only catching on now. (Although, Americans still throw away 1,500 aluminum cans per second) Everyone knows about it so there really aren’t any excuses not to do it… especially the “it’s too much work” one. Municipalities recycle most everything now – paper, plastic, aluminum, steel, tin, fabric, electronics, even styrofoam in some places – so that not much even needs to be thrown away to the landfill anymore. The more we can recycle, the less “stuff” we drop into a hole in the ground where it sits for a few hundred (thousand?) years trying to degrade. But I digress…

My new friendly neighbor here thinks it takes too much effort to recycle his 500 soda cans and plastic bottles of laundry detergent, insisting on throwing them all in the trash even though the recycling bin is less than 8 feet away. I tried, in a gentle manner, explaining to him why we need to recycle and why it’s worth doing. I even tried to explain to him how I have 2 bins in my house – one for trash and one for recycling, which makes it all even easier come disposal time. He was having none of it. “The earth is way more powerful than we are, there is no way we can damage it with some trash”, he replied. I tried to do my best to educate him, but he basically walked away before I could even finish. Now, I have only lived here for a few months so I don’t really know anyone (it’s not an overly friendly building), and because of that fact I can’t really say too much other than what I tried to say. After all, these are the same people who put their trash out in the hall overnight so the rest of us have to smell it and they don’t, so I do understand that they just don’t give a crap. But I was hopeful I could get him to start recycling – guess I was wrong. Sometimes you can’t change the arrogant amongst us, even if you try in earnest.

What did I learn from this experience? That not everyone gets it yet. And this just encourages me to try to do even more – hold myself more accountable, do more outreach, more education, more encouragement, more writing. Because if we cannot get people to even do the simple things like recycle, we have already lost them on the bigger picture items we need to encourage each other to do as well. You can’t win them all…but you sure can try.

Do you know people like my neighbor? If so, how do you handle their attitude towards the environment?

Photo by anne.oeldorfhirsch

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  1. I do sympathise with both of your points of view. I think that sometimes, if you’re quite stressed and preoccupied with other things, the last thing you want to do is sort your rubbish. However, it does make a difference in the long term, and that is undeniable. Maybe ask your neighbor if he can get an extra rubbish bin and then he doesn’t have to sort it — it’s just a matter of putting things into a different bin.

    Slim Girl Diary

  2. People like your neighbour used to make me sick, but I learned (the hard way) that we can’t teach who doesn’t want to be teached, we can’t educate those who don’t want to be educated, we can’t help thos who don’t want to be helped.
    In my old apartment I had a couple of neighbours that were even worse than yours. In the apartment above mine, lived an old lady and her son. Every day, both of them threw their left overs out of the window into a small patch of (sort of) garden in the back of our building. I’ve tried everything humanly possible, including calling the police, nothing worked.
    She went on throwing out the food left-overs, the garbage, and one time even a broken glass.
    That’s how I learned that she and her son just aren’t worth my effort

  3. I should begin by saying that about 6 years ago, I recycled but not everything. Tuna cans for example, disgusted me and so I just threw them out. then one day when I was with my cousin, she asked me why I wouldn’t also recycle tuna cans? She said it is so simple, just rinse it out right away. Since then I have recycled everything that my area allows(basically everything except styrofoam). My point is that as frustrating as preaching to the ignorant may be, sometimes it hits home for them. So I am glad this has made you even more inspired to teach and spread the word!
    I love your blog and will glady vote for you everyday, if I remember! I personally would not be annoyed by a daily reminder to do so. Not sure about the rest of your list though 🙂
    Good Luck!

  4. I find that with people who just can’t see the environmental benefit sometimes it works to talk about how it might directly affect them. For example, even if the earth is too powerful for us to damage with trash, do you want to live near one? The more trash we create the more landfills are needed and therefore the likelihood of one turning up near somewhere they enjoy grows.

    They might not care…but hopefully it gets them thinking.

  5. Sad that you care more about $.05 in your pocket than you do the entire planet. Physical work? I didn’t know turning around and walking 8 feet to a different bin was “physical work”. You must be in terrible shape if so.

  6. I think you’re deluding yourself when you say “not everyone gets it…yet”, as if eventually we’ll all come to our senses and start recycling. I don’t recycle, and I don’t plan to start until there is actually a financial incentive to do so. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the environment, but what’s the difference between today and when our grandparents were growing up? Every single one of them reused their glass milk bottles, reduced their consumption as much as possible, and composted 100X better than we do today. What’s the difference? They had financial incentives to do it. They got discounts for bringing in the glass bottles. If you want me to do physical work to save Pepsi and Coke money on their resources–you’ve got another thing coming. Pass the discounts on to the consumers and I’ll be the first in line with a bag of cans.

    Until then, it apparently isn’t THAT important to people. See ya at the dumpster–I’ll be the guy with the big ol’ bag.

    1. Recycling is making me ill . Took time off work as so stressed about what recycles and what doesn’t . I now have to ask myself , which is more important -save the planet , or save myself ?
      From now on , all those plastic meat trays , plastic food wrappers , crisp packets and more , are going in the bin .

    2. I couldn’t agree with you more!
      The government preaches this as they make money from it !
      I am visually disabled and live in a high rise and they expect me to bring my recycling down 28 floors – NOT HAPPENING !!!
      Install separate chutes in the garbage room on my floor and I will GLADLY recycle. If it is so important, then the government can make it easier for apartment dwellers !

  7. It’s a bummer that some folks are waiting for a monetary incentive to recycle. There are so many super-attractive bins out there that make it really easy to sort your trash. If you sort at the outset, it’s way less work on recycling pickup day.

    I used to have to take my recycling across town when my apartment complex didn’t do it, so I started a little group with some other folks who were doing the same thing. We’d meet up on the weekend and pile our recycling into one person’s car. The drop-off person rotated, and it was a really fun way to meet some like-minded folks!

    I guess I’m saying…it doesn’t have to be a burden! Recycling can be totally fun!

  8. David, you don’t think you’re overexaggerating? Your argument is that I have to choose between a nickel’s worth of aluminum and the fate of the globe. I think the “entire planet” will survive no matter if I put it in the garbage, a pretty blue recycle container, or if I choose to personally melt it down and turn it into a shiny chess piece.

    While I’ll grant that it is “easy” to recycle, I won’t do it on principle. Someone else will profit from my actions, and therefore all they have to do is give me a cut.

    By the way, I’ll have you know that I haven’t owned a car in over 3 years–I bicycle everywhere. So think about that while you drive to work tomorrow…

    And Becky, while I’m sure it’s a fun hobby–you must admit that these amazingly attractive bins are not free. No matter how cool they look, you are actually PAYING to have companies like Anheuser Busch profit from your actions. Granted, it’s apparently a great way to get to know your neighbors (both from your story and David’s although he seemed to have made an enemy where you made friends), but just not for me. I’ll save the earth by not having kids–no amount of soda cans can top that!


    1. A few things..

      1. I havent commuted to work in almost 4 years. I work for myself, from home.

      2. You already pay a little extra for that aluminum, so you are in fact losing money every time you just toss it in the trash.

      It’s just really sad that money is your only motivator to not take a few seconds out of your life each week for the benefit of everyone else. Oh, and Anheuser Busch doesnt make a dime off you recycling or not recycling; that’s a very strange argument to make.

  9. Daniel, wow u r a selfish one aren’t ya!? Your statement that there are no incentives for recycling is wrong. If u goto a recycle center they will give you some loot for your cans. Years ago people were not consuming nearly as much crap as we are now, everything that our grandparents purchased did not come in a plastic container/wrapper like it does now, so we have a need to recycle/reuse all that trash. If we still had the local milk delivery man and our milk came in glass bottles your arguement might have a tiny bit of worth. Who paid your grandparents to compost btw? I don’t think they got paid I think they didn’t want to waste anything b/c the resources we have today were not as readly available. And how do coke and pepsi benefit from you recycling? Id like to know how they make money off that since u suggested that we are supporting them by recycling. Anyway why would u need financial insentive to sort your trash, into 2 bins instead of 1? You really that lazy? Theres no reason not to take an extra min out of your day to drop your trash into a different can. Why should someone pay YOU to help take care of YOUR planet? Try not to be so ignorant… Looks like u mtn bike like I do. Were u gunna ride when everything is covered in trash?

  10. You are right the “entire planet” will survive no matter what we do. What we are trying to save is the planet as we like it.

  11. I can’t believe some people here actually do not care about recycling and care about money. My mom, not giving a crap about the environment even recycles. My grandparents recycles their cardboard, newspapers, plastic and aluminum everyday. They even used to tell me it’s a waste to throw looseleaf paper out that only had a few lines written on. Ignorant, I didn’t care.. but now I do care.. I use the entire front and back of a piece of loseleaf..

    I can’t believe people actually say the world will be fine with trash. Things die when there is too much trash! I’m not saying this because I’m a nut job, but I’m 20 years old, and I care about the environment where I recycle every little piece of paper I could find in the house.

    I rather not have my children deal with my mess and yes, one out of a billion people does make a difference.

    1. I am right with you – I would prefer to at least do my part where I can so that others and other generations don’t have to deal with my carelessness.

  12. They absolutely do. It takes 95% less energy to produce a can from recycled aluminum than from virgin aluminum. Also, the value of aluminum/PET thrown away in the US is valued at $1.5 billion. You don’t think that soda companies profit from my recyclables?

    BTW, all that data is found on the Coca-Cola website.

    1. So instead of complaining about the fraction that a company might be making back, why not take your aluminum to a recycling facility that pays you back and make your money off of it? I choose to just put mine out for my city to use the money it gets for it – but most everyone can take it themselves to a facility and make some money back, as Chris stated.

  13. David, as usual, enrollment is not your strength. Looking down on others with smug environmental superiority isn’t helping the cause at all.
    How is your self righteousness working for you? Obviously not so well.
    Everyone is entitled to their beliefs. Your neighbor thinks the earth is not at risk and you choose to lecture him. When was the last time someone changed your stubborn mind?
    You could have offered to get your neighbor an at home recycling bin, you could have offered to pick up his trash and recycling and take it to the proper place along with your own regularly. You could have become friendly with him and maybe taken him to see a landfill, or a documentary about sanitation and it’s effect on our water supply. You could still start a program enrolling your neighbors in not leaving the trash outside overnight and extending the recycling program within your building.
    You could have done a lot of things. You CHOSE to call him arrogant (Pot, meet kettle.) behind his back and make him wrong.

    1. Ah yes, as usual. Strange phrasing, but alright, I will bite. Guess you didn’t bother to read the entire post where I tried to explain to him many different things about recycling and the environment, but he was having none of it. The guy is a complete and utter jerk in so many different ways, so no amount of “bought and paid for” trash cans can change a mind that ingrained in not caring about anyone other than himself. I also guess you didn’t read any of the last 4 years of posts where I pointed out where I have done things wrong – in fact, I just wrote about it 2 weeks ago.

      The point of the article is that if we cannot even convince people to recycle, even after explaining why they should, that we have a LONG way to go towards education. Which I mentioned at the end of the article as well. As usual.

  14. Sorry Daniel but I’m going to have to take a cue from Tigerlily. So you’re a cyclist. Do you ride steel? After all, steel is real. Aluminum? Light, stiff, recycled. Maybe you’re a titanium guy for life. Or perhaps you’re a weight weenie on Carbon Fiber. Every one of those frame materials, with the exception of carbon fiber, is actively recycled. Oh, and who’s rubber are your running?

    It’s interesting that you view birth control as the savior of mother nature. While there are certainly flaws to each of the arguments presented in these comments (including my own) the one that stands out in your “what”™s the difference between today and when our grandparents were growing up” is the fact that before long there will be about twice as many people on the planet as when our grandparents were making the efforts that you describe. Landfills also grow exponentially.

    So, although I don’t know what you have against companies making a profit, I’m sure that you hope your employer is profitable and I guarantee that the trash company that services your dumpster is making a profit off of your lack of effort, I commend anyone that operates simply on principle.

    I will issue a challenge though. Build-up a sweet ride from a frame and component set that has no recycled content … anywhere. Then, spend a month riding laps on the roads surrounding your local landfill or, if you’re a mtb’er, ride a local trail system along the banks of a polluted river or stream system. Maybe at the end of the month you’ll see things a little differently.

    Until then, keep the rubber side down and I’ll see you on two wheels.

    1. Awesome comment Jeff – we often forget that basically everything is, in fact, recycled materials, After all, the virgin stuff is running out quickly. 🙂

  15. In my apt. complex all we have is a huge dumpster. I take all my recyclable stuff to my daughter’s dad’s house since they pick up there! people in my building think I’m crazy carrying boxes, cans, jugs, etc. down 3 flights of stairs and drive off with it…do I care what they think?? nope….
    and it is sad that people are too ‘lazy’ to do something that doesn’t require much effort at all 🙁

  16. I don’t know how many times I have to say this, write about this, talk about this. Environmentalism isn’t about saving the environment, it’s about saving ourselves.

    Yes, the polluter stance is “The Earth Is Going To Go On Spinning…” and they are right. What won’t go on spinning, is us.

    There is an old saying… You don’t shit where you sleep. But apparently, some people do, and by not recycling, you are doing exactly that.

  17. I’ve learned the most effective way of teaching is through example. Keep on recycling, and doing the things you believe in. Share your beliefs with others. It is their choice to accept it or not. It is not your responsiblity to force them to respond and agree with you. You can only guide through what you do and what you share, and always remember that each one of us is flawed and should always be looking for ways to improve OURSELVES.

  18. I started reading comments and stopped at mid point, to much “you’re this”, and “no i’m not”. I agree with Daniel, why should recycling give profit to some companies alone and nothing to the commons people that does the recycling? I recycle, but not because I think I’m saving the planet; I do it because the less trash I make, the less will go to the land-fill that sits close to my home. Most of the year we don’t even know it’s there, but when the humidity and wind are high and there comes that lovely trashy smell.

    Now, about the planet, I can assure you that the planet will live on, and life on this planet will survive, even if it means for the planet to get rid of some of the animals, mainly ourselves.
    Do you people really think that we are destroying our planet? Of course that we are doing some damage, we may be doing that to a certain extent, but the rest? Global warming, storms, hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanoes, earthquakes and all that has been going on lately, those, have nothing to do with us. The planet exists for far longer than any of us can imagine, and the planet will be existing long before we’re all gone.
    Recycling these days is mainly a means for someone to make a profit. Unfortunately we live in a society where everything has a price, even recycling.

  19. Daniel:

    You can spend all the time you want writing here and anywhere else trying to convince people that your individual actions only have a minor impact on the Earth.

    The problem is that there are billions more dumbasses like yourself thinking the exact same thing.

    Need some humor and visuals to get you to see this? Read this Onion article that illustrates how ignorant a mentality like yours is:

    ‘How Bad For The Environment Can Throwing Away One Plastic Bottle Be?’ 30 Million People Wonder


  20. @Kim – That’s exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about! Any sort of incentive is precisely what is needed if we expect to make any sort of global change. While it’s great to think that the average person is going to start sorting their trash out of guilt for the fate of their grandchildren, in reality that isn’t enough urgency.

    If anyone wants to know the background on why I don’t recycle, it’s because the last place I lived (Hampton, VA) not only collected recycling every other week, but also CHARGED me for it, in addition to my weekly trash pickup. This fee was mandatory, and if you stopped paying it, they cut off your water! Imagine my surprise to see that first trash bill and find out I’m paying around $5 a week for them to get my aluminum cans and recycle them for cash (regardless of if I had a full can or a completely empty one)! Not only is someone else profiting from my waste, but they’re charging me to do it! That was what originally turned me off to it, and now that I moved to an apartment complex I haven’t been able to find a place to recycle within a couple of miles of my house (in Texas). So, sure, I could collect bagfuls of glass, paper, etc… haul it down to my wife’s car, drive it a few miles to a sorting center… but in reality it’s too much hassle for too little trash. Maybe an idea like Becky’s would be a good idea, but if you really wanted maximum participation you’d have something like Kim’s Philly rewards program (basically along the lines of everyone in the complex pooling their recyclables in order to “win” enough cash to get a bar-b-que pit or something).

    Good discussion everybody! I don’t want y’all to think I’m just out to get a quarter back every time I sort a milk carton, but rather that from a regional and national perspective, a financial incentive must be present in order to gain maximum participation.

  21. The ultimate tragedy is that he’s right. The Earth is indeed more powerful than we are, and throwing trash on it won’t hurt it very much…but it’ll hurt US a whole heck of a lot. We don’t recycle to save the Earth, we’re doing it to save ourselves.

  22. I used to harangue my dad about recycling and he refused to do it. He was a very stubborn man and didn’t take kindly to suggestions. When I was clearing his house out after he passed away I discovered, much to my amusement, that he was recycling on the sly. So who knows, maybe they will come around

  23. My boss is like that. At work I begged and begged for recycling containers. I am in charge of sorting mail and hated throwing catalogs out. He sometime recycles, but I replaced some trash cans with recycling bins to make throwing things away harder. If I do see someone throw cans or bottles into the trash instead of recycling, I usually move them to the recycling bin.

  24. I’m no expert, I just know that this is all very complicated. Forget for a minute all the ‘right’ reasons to recycle and consider that the need for a financial incentive might be part of human nature. If it really does come down to financial incentive, that’s fine. I guess it just depends on the waste management model where you live and what motivates you. You either pay taxes/fees where you live for some form of waste management (or lack thereof) or it’s built into the rent, or you are penalized (incentivized) into doing the right thing, or your taxes go to pay later for the clean up of soil & water contamination from leachate or overflowing landfills or the purchase of new ones. There are other examples of how you might be paying, but rest assured you are paying for it one way or another.

    It’s tough and confusing–every city, county, state is different in terms of how they manage their waste. Recycling programs can be a form of revenue generation for a city, which can lead to lower taxes (or not having taxes raised), or it could end up being a service that pays for itself with enough recyclable material. Landfills can also be a form of revenue and sometimes cities narrow-mindedly want to hold on tight to that revenue because they aren’t creative enough to see other ways of generating revenue that would be more beneficial to the environment. Depending on who owns the landfills and who owns the hauling or recycling centers, a city/county will save money for their residents (taxes) and the stuff ending up in landfill can actually cost the city more (i.e. your tax dollars go to pay tipping fees at a privately-owned landfill). There are plenty of good examples of cost-effective and planet-friendly solutions/programs that have been implemented and promoted in various areas. It can be frustrating if you aren’t living in a progressive/creative location.

    In my apartment complex, part of my rent is allocated to the private trash/recycling service whether I like it or not. I’d like to like it, but the unfortunate part about where I live is that the building management doesn’t educate/enforce what should & shouldn’t be recycled and doesn’t have the incentive to. I’ve tried multiple times speaking to management and the hauling company directly to get a list of what’s truly accepted and ask to share it with all residents because, in addition to recyclables ending up in the trash compactor, I know that half of what is ending up in the recycle bins is not going to be/can’t be recycled, thereby contaminating whole loads, which end up in landfill anyway. (What is accepted varies by area based on whether or not there is a market for that material). Neither seem to care – they obviously don’t see a financial incentive (or penalty) apparently to change. The same private hauler gets paid to take both trash & recycling. Management appears like they are offering a good service to their residents. And I continue to waste my time sorting recycling knowing that it’s most likely going to landfill. I know that if a list was provided and a request was made for everyone to abide by the list, with a connection made to their rent, that everyone would probably sort properly. And something would probably change if the hauler realized they could make more money by helping to enforce recycling because there’s value in that kind of trash, or if they started fining the apartment management company for contaminated loads… I don’t know if that would have an impact where you live David – could you ask management how or if they are affected financially by people not recycling? Could they tell you how much of your rent is going towards that service – that might incentivize some residents…I don’t know.

    On a side note, a great resource/discussion for anyone who wants to witness environmental experts hash out the best solutions for waste management in the name of ultimately achieving zero waste is the GreenYES listserv – http://greenyes.grrn.org/

    Being part of this group has been a humbling experience and crazy education on the complexities of environmental issues. These folks have been at it for decades – activists, solid waste managers, gov’t staff, businesses, sustainability managers, scientists…real diverse and intelligent group of people.

  25. My comment was long and rambling, but I guess my biggest point is, there is usually a financial incentive buried in there somewhere (for those who need one) and sometimes you just need to help people make the connection to their wallet.

  26. Thank-you for this post David! It couldn’t better express the extreme frustration and bafflement I am feeling on a related incident I just experienced. I completely “get” how infuriated you must feel about your neighbour. But do you want to hear something that really takes the cake? Read on.

    I am an adult who has been on my own for many years, but recently moved in to the home of my mother and my stepfather as a transitional, temporary living arrangement. I was horrified and dumbfounded when I realized that they do not bother recycling (with the exception of newspaper) – full recycling services have been available in this community for almost 20 years! I went out and bought a small blue recycling bin and placed it next to the garbage can in the kitchen. I naively figured that if it was right next to the trash that it would serve as a reminder and they would slowly begin to get into the habit over time. Plus, how hard is it to flick your wrist in one direction for trash and flick it one inch in the other direction for recycling? After a while, I noticed that I was the only one putting recyclables in it and I was continuously finding TONS of plastic, paper, tin cans, etc. still being thrown away in the garbage. I very gently and with a nice tone mentioned to my stepfather that I had purchased them a blue bin. He immediately snarled back at me, “Don’t bug us. We’re not in the mood.” He completely shut me down before we could even come close to having a civilized, respectful conversation about it. He is an aggressive, difficult man generally in life, so I didn’t press it. I simply decided that any time I came across a recyclable in the trash I would quietly remove it, rinse it and place it in the blue bin. I have been doing this sporadically over the last couple of months, but I obviously don’t catch everything that they throw away.

    Well, today, as most days, I found a number of plastic items sitting at the top of the garbage and I rinsed and transferred them to the blue bin. About half an hour later, my stepfather came into the kitchen, pulled out a large plastic lid from the bin, and angrily asked me, “Did you remove this from the garbage and put it in the blue bin?” I replied that yes, since it was sitting at the top of the trash I had simply transferred it to the blue bin. He aggressively responded with, “Don’t you do this again! You live your life the way you want and we will live ours the way we want!” Truly baffled as to how ANYONE could possibly object to someone else recycling if it doesn’t affect them in any tangible way, I asked him what was wrong with putting something in the blue bin instead of the trash. He simply retorted with the same angry, non-sensical reply. He then proceeded to transfer the plastic lid BACK to the trash.

    Can you believe that one? Bad enough that a perfectly able-bodied human being is too lazy to divide trash from recyclables, despite ALL the evidence that it is crucial to do so. But to actually want to “forbid” someone else from doing it?!? To actually be angry that someone else is willing to do your work for you? Truly unbelievable. Sadly, I guess some people are not simply content to passively destroy the planet – they also wish to exert their control over others to actively, intentionally make this world a worse place. How very twisted. And this is someone who actually had a career in science and has a young grandchild and should and does know better. Just goes to show that intelligence and education are not enough. A person must also have a conscience and give a rat’s ass about other people and living things beyond their selfish little bubble.

    I am so upset about this and it is incidents like this that make me realize that some people are so selfish they are beyond hope. Laziness, ignorance, indifference, sloth, arrogance, and closed-mindedness all come to mind. It may sound harsh, but I think in some cases, it is very true and it is very discouraging. Ultimately, it is because of people like this, that laws will need to be enacted that give people stiff fines for not recycling. For some, the only motive will come from the impact on their wallet – not from the negative impact they know they are having on our collective future and communal home called Earth.

    Sorry my story was so long, and thanks for listening! I felt a need to “vent” with people who get “it” and can sympathize with my frustration. Now that I have found your blog, I will have to come back to check it out – looks terrific!

    Cheers! 🙂

  27. Having a second container that makes it easy to recycle can incentivize even the laziest person to participate. Either the reward for recycling (prizes, monetary benefit, personal satisfaction, conscience) or the pain for not (smelly landfill, fines, fear of negatively impacting the planet, etc.) will motivate in most cases. Societal pressures can get others to mend their ways where any one single individual is ineffective, that’s why the recycling and composting programs in many colleges are going to have far more impact on the next generation than trying to teach an old dog new tricks.

    There will always be those who don’t see things the way we do and no amount of explaining, educating, or incentives will change their mind. The post two entries above mine clearly attests to this.

    It becomes a battle of wills. At that point, I think our efforts to convert that one person become “waste” in and of itself. Likely to never yield the change we hope for, as good intentioned as that may be, it actually works against the cause and becomes a rallying cry to go to war against environmental “tree huggers.” We can only hope we’ve planted a seed and move on. Like the parent who was recycling and hiding it, you never know exactly the positive impact we make on others, despite outward appearances. Maybe that guy will go home and actually think about what you said. Maybe five years from now he will make one small change. Or not.

    Where we don’t seem to make much headway, our efforts will go twice as far in the areas and venues that do make a difference, so we can choose to concentrate our time and energy there.

    For every reader that adamantly opposes something you suggest David, there will be tons of others who make little small changes that add up.

    We have to remember the good we each do, and not let the one or two “failures” get us down. Move on, and keep doing what we can.

    Is there tons more I’d like to do to make a difference? You bet. Do my family totally understand my stack of to-go containers that I don’t want to recycle so I can actually “reuse” instead? Not entirely. Do they use the water bucket to catch water while it’s warming? Not yet.

    I try to focus on what I can do differently. If someone else throws something in the trash, there’s not much I can do about that, that choice and its consequences are on them.

    Can we all do more? Absolutely.

    I’m excited that this Earth day seems to be gaining a lot more momentum than prior years. I even got my husband and sister to join an invitation to use no lights between 2pm and 3pm all week!

    Small victories? Yes, but they are still sweet.

  28. That sucks. D: There were a lot of people like that in my old building. Uuuurgh, so frustrating. I just moved to a house though, with personal bins.. that’s actually why I’m here. I did a search for neighbors and trash and recycling because for some reason the bins didn’t get picked up last night (my FRIENDLY neighbor says they changed the pickup day..) so I left them on the curb, and the next day someone threw their nasty trash bag in my recycling bin!! How am I supposed to deal with THAT? ;_; That’s sabotage! I just chucked it on the ground cuz I was mad and my trash bin was already full, but I should have found a better place for it, because I think my OTHER other neighbor had to clean it up….

  29. It really must be carefully taught very early for some people – like in the schools, where there is peer pressure. When I had a job cleaning up after tenants in a college town, I noticed the rich kids and the mama’s boys were the trashiest, and talking to them, demanding, asking, etc was useless. They and their buds laughed at me, because to them, it was a class issue. They had never cleaned up after themselves. The same people want a life of convenience, so at least the plastic wrapped, microwaved food will probably do them in before too long.

  30. I’d like to see the evidence that our councils aren’t just sending it to another country/putting it in a big hole in the ground and sentences for those that don’t recycle including my nieghbours and edinburgh council.

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