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There’s something to be said for continuously communicating the importance of recycling and exemplifying the kind of actions necessary to recycle effectively. However, the priority placed on improving our planet’s state was severely overcome by the pandemic. According to GreenBiz writer Suzanne Shelton, “…we just can’t take action on higher-level things when we’re worried about meeting our basic needs. And we’re really worried about getting our basic needs met. Worries about the health of the economy and human health far outweigh concerns about the environment right now.” And there’s been a substantial change in dialect when it comes to the Earth’s wellbeing: “With all the noise about the economy, coronavirus, politics and so forth, we’re all hearing less about every single environmental issue we track,” states Shelton. 

Most Americans say they recycle via a curbside pickup service, just like the trash disposal system we use on a weekly basis. But these systems are starting to fail; many are being discontinued or being provided only at a higher fee. However, Shelton shares, “In this case, knowledge or awareness is not correlated to behaviors: 39 percent of us have heard about other countries no longer accepting our recycling and, of those folks, 97 percent say it hasn’t changed their recycling habits. Overall, 77 percent of us believe that what we put in the bin actually gets recycled.”

Steps Recommended to Engage Americans in Recycling: 

  1. We need to keep the steady drumbeat of communications and action going if we want people to go along with recycling initiatives. 
  2. Continue curbside programs, make them affordable and accessible, and teach people what’s actually recyclable. 

For example, when shown pictures of various types of used packaging and asked what should be done with them — put them in the recycling bin, the trash bin, or some combination — Americans don’t pick the right answer as often as you’d hope. 

It needs to be noted that “Americans have a mixed level of understanding about what’s recyclable and what’s not,” Shelton explains, “And despite the progress made by getting the How To Recycle label onto so many products, it’s just not enough.”

Source Name: GreenBiz

Source URL: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/engaging-middle-america-recycling-solutions

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