How to “Gently” Convince Others to Recycle

How to “Gently” Convince Others to Recycle


Recycle, re-use, redo -these are the pillars we all know the recycling process stands on. It’s all about learning how to exploit the maximum potential of all goods in order to contribute to reducing waste in our planet. Then, why is it that in the US alone only 35% of the country recycles? For years, dozens upon dozens of websites have been started with the specific goal to create awareness about the importance of recycling by offering poignant information of how Earth’s resources are running out, and how recycling is one of the easiest and healthiest practices we can engage to try to minimize Global warming. However, the question still remains. What are we missing?

Facing the Problem

Before rolling up your sleeves and coming up with an intricate marketing plan to scare our neighbors into following our planet-loving habits, you need to ask yourself: what got you interested in recycling to begin with? It wasn’t the information you received of a not-so-imminent Global warming that would affect every living being. It wasn’t even a grim picture of a bird covered in oil, as touching that can be for maybe two or three really sensitive people. What was it, then?

Spreading the word -what works?

Here’s a curious fact: human beings are not moved by information related to a distant future. In order to feel the need to do something, a person needs to actually find how that certain problem affects them in a personal matter. It’s that bitter taste you felt every time you walked into a dirty neighborhood that got you thinking “Maybe, I should try recycling to reduce my own waste”. You realized you were part of the problem and you decided to make a small change to contribute to reducing pollution.


So, if it’s not bombarding your neighbors with astonishing facts about pollution, or sternly staring at them every time they drop something on the ground, the simplest strategy to kindly convince your neighbor to start recycling may not even require talking to begin with. Maybe it just takes you to start by setting the example. Actually show him or her with your own actions how recycling benefits you by, for example, collecting waste to later exchange it for money.

Connect, compel and commit

Learn to connect with your neighbors in a personal, emotional way so as to show them that recycling is not just a healthy habit; it’s extremely beneficial to them in a personal way. They can not only make money out of it, but also help reduce waste in their houses and then in the neighborhood. Bringing a seemingly distant problem to their attention by connecting it what a conflict they already have in their lives (such as excess of waste or sick family members due to pollution) proves to be more effective than forcing everyone to recycle “just because”. Ultimately, the habit becomes part of the local culture for being rooted in both emotional and rational motivations.