By Haley Long, Sustainability and the First Year Experience Intern
I went to visit my family this past weekend. My father, stepmother, two half-sisters and six-month year old niece all live in one of those small towns in eastern Indiana where the hottest social functions tend to be religious gatherings of some kind and driving down the main drag is usually done to the tune of friends or acquaintances honking at one another in passing.
Although there are a number of things that we don’t see eye to eye on, I love my family more than anything. But there is one thing that I have never been able to come to terms with… I just cannot get them to recycle! I feel like I hark at them constantly about the virtues of recycling; I explain to them just how simple it is to deposit their empty plastic or glass bottles and empty soda cans into a separate bin than the rest of their rubbish. So far, my reprimanding has had little effect on their behavior.
Because my family lives pretty deep in the country, their house is not a stop on the city’s automatic garbage and recycling pickup route. So, once a week my dad loads up the back of his truck with trash bags full of garbage and then deposits all of it at the Transfer Station and Recycling Center in town, where it remains until it is hauled off by CGS Service, Inc. to a landfill in Mooristown, Indiana.
This past weekend, before going out for a little father-daughter lunch, I joined my dad on one of these weekly trips to the local transfer station. This mundane detour spurred an interesting (and constructive!) discussion about the reasons he, and so many others have for not engaging in recycling and other sustainable behaviors. We discussed lack of education and knowledge, an absence of cultural significance, and just downright laziness as some of the major obstacles that get in the way of people recycling. With an uncharacteristic hint of guilt in voice, he admitted to me that plain-old laziness was the main reason his own household still neglected to recycle.
Later, he even told me about easy it would actually be to start recycling. Apparently, his local transfer station supplies citizens with special bags for collecting mixed recyclables that can be deposited at the local transfer station and recycling center along with any other accumulated household garbage… easy as pie.
Towards the end of our chat, I expressed my distress at being unable to get through to our family; I asked him pointblank, “Dad, how am I supposed get other people to care if I can’t even get my own family to care?”
He responded, “Well, a lot of the time the hardest people to get through to are the people closest to you.”
Well, I am happy to report that as a result of our conversation, my father has finally agreed to start recycling; he even said he would urge the rest of the family to do so as well!
Baby steps? Definitely. Eh- even still, I can’t help but think… score one for team recycling! Hooray!