Recycling vs student  


         By Alex Bean

Recycle for Wales released a report stating that people between the age of 18-34 are less likely to recycle compared to the older generation. 

The report went on to say that the reason behind this was due to youngsters not understanding what items are actually recyclable.  

From my experience as someone within the 18-34 range, I never really got taught or got given extensive information about recycling. Instead, I mostly learnt from my parents about what items were acceptable, i.e., plastic, cardboard and paper. Living at home up until university I never really did the recycling bins, my parents did and I think this plays a vital role when examining younger generations impact on recycling rates. It was not until university that I really started to recycle by myself. 

The university I went to actually promoted recycling, this was through the bins labelled recyclable with the words paper, plastics underneath. They were placed all over campus and in university halls and actually made me question myself when I was about to throw away certain things. However, when I moved out of halls and in to a house with my friends for the remainder of university life, recycling actually became a big part of our little house.   

I don’t believe that the younger generation recycle less because of confusion, I think it is down to lack of information at a younger age that impacts us when we live independently.  

There is however, more information available nowadays than there used to be. One example being the recycle logo on bins or on the back of packaging in supermarkets. Another example from a personal experience was when I moved into my university house and received a flyer telling me and my friends about the pick-up days for the bins with what items belong in each coloured bin. What was also quite significant about the flyer was the warning it provided.  

It had three warnings: 

  • If you do not put the bins out on the correct day they will not get collected for two weeks 
  • If you put the wrong items in the wrong bin the waste will not get disposed 
  • If you fail to do either of these two things for longer than 4 weeks, you will be fined £1000. 

As students obviously, that kicked us in the right place and made up aware about the consequences. 

Although I agree in some aspects about the warning, I did think it was extensive, but it did make me more serious about the situation. As students, and the reputation students have when living in their own house, I think whoever wrote the flyer wanted to scare everyone. And they did.  

As time went past, and bin nights came around I found myself looking down the road (mostly made up of students) and every bin was out waiting to be emptied. I guess they were all scared too. But it does show that younger generations care about recycling, know what to recycle and overall not wanting to live in a dump for the next two weeks. 

As I said earlier, recycling became a part of my life as I lived independently and I think that local councils, although extreme, made me care a lot more about what items could be recyclable and what could not. If I learnt more about recycling when I was in primary school for instance, and then it was implemented more as I grew up throughout education, I think myself and the younger generation would feel more confident when moving out of home and beginning the recycle life alone.  

So, to conclude, if the world wants the younger generation to recycle more, implement information at a younger age and get the children involved at home, or just threat to fine them £1000!  

Until next time, 

Alex (Independent recycler since 2014) 

Assistant Curator of Communications and Events at Hanicke Robins Sanderson