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25% Of Americans Don’t Recycle

While three-quarters of American adults recycle something in their own home, 23 percent still recycle nothing at all. One may think that the younger generation is the one most likely to recycle, but this is not the case. Three in ten “Echo Boomers” (those aged 18 to 30) recycle nothing, compared to 19 percent of “Matures” (those aged 62 and older).

There is also a regional difference in who recycles and who does not, according to a new Harris Poll. Those in the East and West are more likely to recycle (88 percent and 86 percent respectively). Thirty-two percent of those in the South as well as 30 percent of those in the Midwest, however, say they recycle nothing.

When it comes to recycling, 67 percent of adults say they recycle aluminum or metal cans, while 59 percent recycle paper and 57 percent recycle plastic. Just over half of adults recycle glass. While those in the South are recycling less than the other regions in general, this is especially true with regard to some of these items. Just half of Southerners are recycling paper while under half (46 percent) of Southerners recycle plastic and just 39 percent recycle glass.

Among those who do not recycle, the reasons are very varied. One in six say they do not recycle because it is not available in their area while 12 percent each say it takes too much effort and it costs more to recycle where they live. Just 11 percent say they do not recycle because they don’t believe it makes a difference while six percent say they are too busy and five percent say it is too difficult.

Southerners might be more inclined to recycle if it was cheaper and actually available. One in five of those who live in the South do not recycle because it isn’t available in their area, while an additional 14 percent say it is because it costs more where they live. For those in the East who do not recycle, laziness may be the reason. One-quarter of Easterners say they do not recycle because it takes too much effort.

Companies have a way to market eco-friendly attitudes on recycling by teaming up with RecycleBank, a company that tries to get households to recycle by offering coupons from businesses like Starbucks, Bed, Bath & beyond, and Staples.

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