“I Don’t Recycle.”

Last week I spent a few fun and hectic days in New York City. With friends and colleagues I shared train rides, had some meetings and attended parties. Along the way, I connected with many wonderful and interesting people – like my Care2 editors – Robyn and Melissa, and fellow contributor, Terri Hall.

Most of the conversations were truly inspirational. A wonderful publisher of a magazine that I am being profiled in introduced me to a woman who I was quite excited to meet. She is the editor of a well-known national magazine. We started chatting about the lovely event that we were experiencing together. Then she asked me the requisite question, “What do you do?” I love answering this question because people generally respond so positively to what I do. Enthusiastically, I said I wrote eco-articles for websites and magazines, and I’m also writing a book about the subject. Then she tilted her head to one side and looked up and down at me hard (kind of like I was a Martian from another planet). At this point, I remembered that I was dressed quite appropriately – even chicly spiffy. It was not my attire she was checking out. I couldn’t figure out what got her so cock-eyed until we continued the conversation:

Editor: Well, who do you write for?

Me: A few environmental websites and my own site, econesting. (I rattled off a quick resume.)

E: “Mmm, I don’t recycle. Do you?” (She said this loudly enough for people to turn around and take notice.)

I took a step back and now I looked at her sideways thinking that this well-coifed, obviously smart woman was so unapologetic about not recycling that she must be living under a rock. Sadly she wasn’t. Naively, I answered the question like I was defending a religious cult:

M: “Of course I do. It’s what I write about and what I believe in. Each individual act makes a difference and we all have a responsibility to make a difference. We need to be respectful and careful how we tread on our planet…”

I ranted for a few minutes about the merits of going green.

E: “Well, good for you.”

End of conversation. She handed me her business card and said to get in touch with her if I was interested in writing for her magazine. Then she dismissed me and walked over to a person in a plastic apron who was handing out bottled water, wine in plastic cups and bacon-covered cheese puffs. I couldn’t help but think that I had already ditched that club. I proceeded to throw the business card in the clearly labeled paper recycling bin and leave.

For those of you who follow my posts on Care2 and econesting, you know I possess respectfully strong feelings about the subject of going green, and I try to be more witty than snarky about it. It’s also not my style to militantly cram my eco-ideas down anyone’s throat. But, the conversation came out of left field, and I found myself totally caught off-balance and searching for a clever retort.

How do you deal with people who don’t recycle or have no use for going green?


Louise R
Past Member 2 months ago

thanks for sharing

Dorre R
Dorre R1 years ago

It's time council's considered charging per bin for landfill rubbish. Our council provides recycling crates and a container and compostable bags for kitchen waste which can then be disposed of in the green waste bin, if you don't want to compost them yourself. It's simple and effective and makes it possible for people who don't take the time and trouble to recycle to be charged extra.

Elisa F.
Elisa F5 years ago

Glad that Recycling is now the Norm. Thanks for sharing.

Joyce Squillante
Joyce S7 years ago

I had a teacher once who refused to keep a recycling bin in his room, while all the other teachers had recycling bins in their rooms, because he adamantly believed that it took more energy and air pollution to have recycling go through all the processing and whatnot than it was worth. I was just speechless.

Robyn K.
Robyn K.7 years ago

With my parents, I used guilt. Told them it would be their grandkids who would end up having to deal with the mess they left this planet it. That's obviously a special case, but...

Sumit jamadar
Sumit jamadar7 years ago


Abbe A.
Azaima A7 years ago

Some people take longer than others to change. There are still more incentives that some places can put in place to make recycling simpler. I live in a town that has a trash pick up service, but not for recyclables. We have to drive to the landfill to sort our garbage. Simple improvements like more drop-off sites might motivate more people to recycle.

John S.
Past Member 7 years ago

While I had recycling service in the UK for years, I notices that in the US I was just provided a recycling bin with every other week collections for free. It will save me driving to the recycling center so I'm happy.

Masha Samoilova
Past Member 7 years ago


Elaina Tess
Elaina Tess7 years ago

Hi all,
I'm trying to implement a recycling program in my local Atlanta Public Schools. Please sign the petition I've started to make this goal a reality! It will only take a minute or two of your time and it's for a good cause- best of all, it's a cost-free way for you to make a positive change :) Just copy and paste the link to your browser. Thank you!