Parents Are Being Recycle-Shamed By Their Kids – And Here's Why That's Great

Half of the parents said their children reminded them to use reusable bags.

Think you know more about recycling than your child? Well, you’re in the minority. One in six parents believe their children know more about recycling than they do – and 40% have been caught red-handed by their kids binning something that could be recycled.

The poll of 2,000 parents of children aged 5-18, by the Midcounties Co-Operative, found that children were more fastidious about recycling and cutting down on non-sustainable products than their parents. Half said their children reminded them to use reusable bags, while a quarter said their kids encouraged them to buy loose fruit and veg from the supermarket rather than bagging them.

This is amazing, isn’t it? It might not feel it when you’re being lectured by someone half your size, but the more that things like recycling and reducing waste are seen as defaults rather than active choices, the better.

You know when you go on holiday somewhere where pubs don’t have the smoking ban, and someone lights up at the table next to you and it just feels really strange? It wasn’t that long ago that you could smoke in a pub in Britain, and now it seems impossibly gross.

That’s what we should be aiming for with recycling and reducing use of things like single-use plastics – getting to the point where it looks and feels weird if people don’t do the right thing. Plastic-shaming seems like one of the few things where it’s completely acceptable to make someone feel bad. Eventually, it’ll be like using leaded petrol.

“Plastic-shaming seems like one of the few things where it’s completely acceptable to make someone feel bad."”

The research also found two-thirds of parents chuck stuff in the wrong bin simply because they can’t be arsed, yet 75% admitted that they were worried about the state of the world they were leaving behind for their children.

Efforts are being made – 63% of respondents said they were trying to cut down on single-use plastics – but 80% believe retailers have a responsibility to teach customers more about single-use plastic and recycling packaging, too.

Mike Pickering, social responsibility manager at The Midcounties Co-operative, said, “Our results show, happily, that the mantle is being passed down, with children showing real engagement in sustainable living. It’s up to all of us to make sure we’re doing our best when it comes to our purchasing habits and recycling.”