Children recycling

Children ‘eco-shaming’ parents encourages recycling

School-age children are playing a large part in driving recycling and sustainability attitudes at home, according to a recent survey.

The study, by the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association (MPMA) polled 2000 mums and dads and found that 41 per cent felt that it was the younger members of the family that had the biggest influence on the family’s recycling strategy.

More than a third were happy that their children cared so much about the environment with two thirds of parents saying their children’s eco-education came from school, while another fifth put it down to internet research. Newspapers also accounted for 10 per cent of sustainability knowledge in the younger generation, but the biggest influence cited, by far was Greta Thunberg, who a third of parents credited with giving their kids a passion for being green.

The poll also revealed that 43 per cent of adults are told off by their offspring for not “making more effort” with the recycling on average three times a week, and over half said they had been reprimanded for throwing something recyclable in the bin instead of recycling it.

And the ‘pester power’ of a new ‘green generation’ is matched by their knowledge around recycling, which a third of parents said was greater than their own – with 35 per cent admitting their offspring cared more about recycling than they did themselves.

Other environmental generational clashes included buying items in non-recyclable packaging, not washing out cans or jars properly before putting them out with the recycling and binning cans because the adults “couldn’t be bothered” to wash them out – even though four in 10 are aware that this “isn’t essential to the recycling process” says the MPMA. Almost half of those adults polled also admitted they sometimes throw recyclable items out with the residual waste because it is “easier” than trying to work out whether it can be recycled.

A spokesman for the MPMA, told Circular magazine that although recycling has come on in leaps and bounds in the past decade it is the conscientious influence of the younger generation that may yet have the biggest impact on its implementation.

“Children are now learning about how to be green at school, and figures like Greta Thunberg are proving popular, with the result that many youngsters know more about recycling than their parents.

“It’s great to see that so many parents are being picked up on things they may not be doing correctly when it comes to recycling – even if it is by their children.”

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