Why is it so Damn Hard to Recycle?

I mean, really though.

I feel as though I have consistently been an avid recycler. (I try my best anyway) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, am I right? The 3 R’s that were instilled in us as children and carried on by most of us into our adulthood. However, I’m coming to realize that a lot of people still are not recycling and I don’t understand why.

We recently attended an event in town that occurs every year, the Italian Feast Days. With thousands of people coming through, festivals like this are a great opportunity to people watch once find a place to sit. From my picnic table on this particular day of the festival I noticed the lack of available receptacles for recycling. There were trash cans galore, as well as a bin or two for returnables but not a single recycling bin. As I sat with my family enjoying our bounty of festival food, I decided to pay close attention to what other festival go-ers were throwing away. Soda bottles, paper plates, plastic cutlery, plastic straws and the list continues on. The more I watched, the angrier I got and I eventually had to look away.

Do we forget that all of these things are able to be recycled? Are we that inconvenienced by carrying a plastic bottle for 2 extra minutes? 10 extra minutes? Perhaps in some ways I’m being dramatic, but at the same time I am so annoyed at the lazy tendencies that have become part of our normal culture. We cannot be bothered to go out of our way to make a difference for our planet. We are wasteful. We are unappreciative. We are lazy.

I take the girls on an evening walk almost every night. We walk in different parts of the neighborhood, the “richer” parts and the not as rich parts. I’ve noticed across the board that there are more than a few houses who literally don’t recycle ANYTHING. I’ve seen plastic jugs, cardboard, newspapers, cans and so much more hanging out of garbage cans. Why is it so damn hard to recycle? You’re telling me none of these people have a recycling bin? A cardboard box? We can’t be inconvenienced enough to put things in the recycling which is just as easy as throwing something in the garbage can, but we can spend hours at a time staring at a cell phone or TV screen.

Notice that I say we, because I am also guilty of this. I have purchased paper products and plastic cutlery. I have forgotten my reusable bags and used plastic bags. I use disposable diapers for my daughter. We are all guilty of things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all make small changes. We have to push past the mindset that the world is “too far gone”, that we can’t make a difference. It isn’t as hard as you think to make at least one green choice a day. Eat meatless for a day, visit your local farmer’s market, compost your food scraps, make a donation to your community garden, recycle, etc. There are so many ways to be eco-friendly. Why not at least try?

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