Are you keeping up with the Joneses?

Filed in Blog by on November 5, 2014 10 Comments
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keeping up with the joneses with recyclingHave you ever given into peer pressure?

What about exaggerating the truth to make yourself seem better than you are?

Or how about blatant lying just to make yourself feel good?

Come on, you know me by now, you can admit it.

I promise not to laugh or gasp in horror…

It appears we’re a mischievous nation with 57% of us admitting to doing things to make ourselves look more environmentally friendly.

And I’m not talking about using a reusable shopping bag or setting up a compost heap.

No, I’m talking about hilarious antics like putting the recycling bin out EMPTY purely for show, telling others to use recycling bags when we don’t ourselves and even telling people we recycle when we don’t!

bragging about recycling

We’re a nosey lot too, with 84% of us taking note of our neighbours recycling habits.

I always felt recycling was an emotive issue, but it really is with 45% of Britons believing those who recycle are ‘better people’.

But perhaps it’s not our fault and we’re not malicious planet trashers after all.

You see, over half the nation are confused when it comes to recycling. One in five don’t recycle regularly because they aren’t sure about how and where to recycle their packaging. Another third are chucking all their waste into the recycling bin without really knowing what can and can’t be recycled. One of my precious friends dumps all her stuff in the recycling bins because she reckons it’s passing on a message for demand. I gently tell her she’s contaminating the load and might be contributing to that valuable material being landfilled, but there we are.

meeting deadlines about recycling

I’m not surprised we’re confused; the other day I learned there are 400 different waste schemes in England alone.

Fortunately one company are on the ball. Tetra Pak are on a mission to help the nation recycle more. They have a fantastic interactive map so you can quickly discover how and where you can recycle Tetra Pak cartons in your area.

Go on, give it a go now. Even if you’ve used the map before without luck, there are more and more facilities springing up all the time, so it’s worth checking back frequently. Click on the image below to discover:

where can I recycle tetra pak cartons

I’m eager to hear what advice YOU would give to Tetra Pak in helping the nation recycle more?

I’m off to put the recycling bin out – it’s full, of course 😉

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth’s fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (10)

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  1. Ania says:

    I’m worried this article sends the wrong message – that a full recycling bin is a good thing. I don’t put out my recycling bin with pride, because it means I’m the only one on the street who managed to AVOID waste. Recycling is a last resort (and landfilling rubbish is just not an option). Of course, we should be recycling as much of what rubbish we end up with, but the real prize goes to those who avoid generating rubbish in the first place. Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Rot and only then Recycle.

    • Mrs Green says:

      You make an excellent point, Ania – thanks for adding value to the conversation. I wholeheartedly agree we need to move up the waste hierarchy but we also need to reach the people who currently do nothing apart from landfill. I feel recycling as a first step is a good foundation from other aspects of waste reduction to grow.

  2. I was astounded at the statistics too. In my area, less than 40% recycle despite us having a very simple arrangement: 3 different bins/bags but all collected on the same day every week; and regular infographic style fridge posters. Our council also tags bins/bags and leaves them if they spot wrong items in the bin. All this suggests, alas, that information and convenience alone may not be enough.

    We need to find a way to make waste socially unacceptable, e.g. as it is in Germany. I’m all for making the ‘landfill waste’ bin smaller, having detailed waste & recycling lessons at primary school (including trips to waste facilities) to make children the enforcers 😉

    Councils could also lead the way by 1/ requiring all new developments to have onsite composting facilities as part of the planning permission (compost can be used by residents or contractors maintaining the landscaping/green roof – also requirements for planning permission) and retrofitting old blocks and 2/ being much more proactive about making municipal compost available to council residents to demonstrate potential of recycling.

    We could go a step further, requiring all workspaces with 6+ employers have clearly labelled recycling system, whether by law or as a prerequisite for third party liability insurances. For small companies renting serviced office space or a lot in a business park, the requirement could be shifted to the landlord to allow for economies of scale in terms of the waste collection.

    There is so much that can be done at various levels but the key thing that is required is a collective will.

  3. Mrs Green says:

    Fascinating to hear about what you’ve witnessed in your own area, Meg. It sounds like you have a pretty straight forward system with a reasonable amount of help from your council but still have a low recycling rate.

    I love all your innovative ideas for making recycling sexy – thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Christine says:

    Trouble is that if you live in a rural area, your options are so limited. Bottle banks and tetra pak bins don’t happen unless you have a large collecting point at home and then drive to the nearest facility. That rather wipes out the environmental impact of recycling. If you don’t drive, you aren’t going to be welcome on the bus rattling and clanking – assuming that the bus goes near a recycling facility. Hmm, yes well one to think over. Apparently it doesn’t pay, in fact it costs, to have full recycling facilities in very small villages.

    • Mrs Green says:

      Hi Christine; good to read your understanding of the issues in a rural area. We live in a rural place and fortunately have the space to store recycling until we’re at full capacity – then it makes travelling a few miles to recycle worthwhile. But yes, without a car or storage space you’re pretty much stuck. Our kerbside collections are paper, tins, glass and garden waste.

  5. lizard100 says:

    As a Jones it’s tricky keeping up with myself I find : ) I think where I fall down is building commitment. Ensuring that we keep on doing things instead of just doing them once. The fire is our Achilles heel. We have wood and a stove but we don’t use it enough.

    • Mrs Green says:

      Ah yes, I hear you on that. I can be very good at doing something once, then never returning to it! We run a woodstove and I do know how much easier it is to flick an electric switch. However you can’t beat the heat and comfort of a real fire 🙂

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