9 Things To Say To Someone Who Doesn’t Recycle (Yet)

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If you're a recycling devotee, there are few things more frustrating than going to every effort to make your household as recycling-friendly as possible, only to turn round and see your roommate throwing their plastic bottles and cans in the trash. It's totally acceptable to ask them to up their recycling game, but before you sit down for a chat with them, you should be the one to read up on good reasons to recycle that you can tell someone who doesn't do it, or maybe doesn't even want to.

First, you should consider that hitting them with the straight facts probably isn't going to do much. Today, we're surrounded by so much encouragement to recycle, information about how to do it, and knowledge of just how negative the impact on Earth can be if people continue to pile trash in landfills, especially if the "trash" is recyclable. If you've got a roommate who's managed to ignore all of this, chances are they're probably doing it willfully. Which is harsh, I know, but there's no excuse: In many places in the U.S., it's easier to recycle than ever.

In the event that you do want some backup facts, though, you should that it's estimated 91 percent of plastic isn't recycled, according to a 2017 study. According to National Geographic, "If present trends continue, by 2050, there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills. That amount is 35,000 times as heavy as the Empire State Building." Yikes.

Knowing that, it's more important than ever that we get as many people to recycle as possible. So next time you're thinking about convincing your roommate to recycle, go in knowing what you can say.


You Can Get Money For It

If you've got a seriously stubborn friend who has sworn not to recycle, this is the way to go. Appeal to their basest nature and let them know they can get those sweet dolla dolla bills by turning in their recyclable goods. The old standbys are plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans, and those should totally still be taken to a facility, but nowadays you can also recycle old electronics, including cell phones and tablets, and score useful gift cards from places like Best Buy in return, according to The Balance.


Here's Something You Care About — And Here's Why Recycling Affects That

Again, this is a bit of an appeal to their base nature, but if your mom has a cause they are dedicated to, chances are recycling affects that particular thing. Do they have cats? There's cat litter made from recycled paper. Are they a car geek? "Seat cushions, wheel liners, and splashguards are among the parts that use recycled materials," according to Mental Floss. If all else fails, remind them Earth is the reason they thing they love exists, and if Earth ventures deeper into dire straits, there will be exactly zero of that thing left for them to enjoy.


You Are Not The Only One

If your cousin insists that so many people recycle, so what does it matter if they do, remind them: that's what people thought about voting, and here we are. In all seriousness, that mindset is frustratingly common, and has a snowball effect, where, if anything, it should be further incentive to recycle — if everyone's doing it, why aren't you?


Recycling Does Actually Make A Tangible Difference

I have a confession: I didn't always recycle. And I convinced myself it was OK by figuring because recycling is so important to so many people, little ol' me not recycling wasn't going to make a big difference (see above). But if 50 percent of adults in the U.S. aren't recycling regularly, it's not just "little ol' me" — or your little ol' roommate. Let them know they're not the only one who thinks recycling isn't important, and that together with fellow nonrecyclers, they're causing the environment major issues.


You Can Pay Someone To Pick It Up For You

Your roommate may genuinely be a very busy person. Maybe they're a flight attendant who's rarely home; maybe they have kids. Maybe they have a mental illness that makes cleaning up difficult. In all those cases, there's a high chance a local service in your area will pick up their recyclables for them. You may have to help them out with arranging it, but let them know recycling doesn't mean they have to DIY.


Recycling Reduces Your Carbon Footprint

Now, I know this is one of the more "straight facts" talking points, but with lots of big brands talking about how to reduce carbon emissions and minimize their impact, there's a chance you can tell your dad about how recycling will reduce their carbon footprint. There's also the option to persuade them to purchase carbon offsets if they're really dead-set on not recycling.


There Are Tons Of Guides For How And What To Recycle

Recycling just may seem overwhelming to your college bestie. I get it — when I read my city's recycling rules (and the fines you can incur if you mess up), I was intimidated. But there are tons of helpful recycling guides out there, including info from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to help make recycling as easy as possible.


There's No Reason Not To, TBH

When we're talking about recycling, we do have to slow down and be sure that sustainable living to support the planet is also sustainable living for the people adjusting their lifestyles. There are plenty of places in the world where day-to-day survival is (rightfully) a person's number one focus. But if your sibling is in a fairly solid position financially and has access to the same recycling resources you do, then there's no reason why they can't recycle. If you're failing to get anywhere, just flat-out ask them: Why aren't you recycling? And turn it into a conversation.


I'll Do It

Here we are, at the last-ditch option. If your neighbor gives you a hard no and you're truly concerned about the fact that they aren't recycling, you can volunteer to take care of their recyclables along with your own. Whether that means purchasing an extra recycling bin, hauling their bottles and cans to the recycling center with yours, or full-on going behind them and making sure they're not throwing out recyclables, well... sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Sharing a home with someone who ignores something important to you is never easy. But with recycling, you can leap into a conversation with these talking points, and help make your household as sustainability-oriented as possible.