Lack of Recycling is the Top 'Green Guilt,' Study Says

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The guilt from recycling, at least in the U.S., likely comes from the availability of recycling services offered both residentially and commercially. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

Does a sense of guilt ever strike you after tossing that plastic bottle into the trash rather than the recycling bin? How about that box of clothing you meant to donate but just tossed instead?

If you answered yes, you’re “green guilt” is shared among an international audience.

According to a Reader’s Digest poll, the greatest green guilt internationally was not recycling enough. Of the 15 countries polled in the study, nine countries reported a lack in recycling as the No. 1 green guilt of their respondents, followed by wasting water.

Brazil’s respondents appear to feel the most guilt about the subject, with 42 percent of those surveyed citing their trash tossing as their No .1 guilt. Tied for a close second was Russia and Malaysia at 40 percent each, compared to 30 percent of Americans.

Americans’ guilt-o-meter needle bounces around the scale with respondents feeling equally guilty about most subject matters polled. Twenty-nine percent were most guilty about their choice to get in the car and drive rather than walking, and 27.5 cited their No. 1 guilt as leaving the lights on.

Only 14 percent of Americans felt most guilty about wasting water, a drastic difference from other international respondents.

Though 70 percent of households make recycling a priority, according to a recent survey by Plastics Make It Possible, the U.S. EPA estimates that 75 percent of what Americans throw in the trash could actually be recycled, but the current U.S. recycling rate hovering around 30 percent.

The highest percentage of guilt by any country was logged by the Spaniards, with 50 percent of respondents citing wasting water their greatest green guilt.

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