The Ultimate Guide to: Forcing Your Housemates to Recycle

If you’ve just moved to Leeds, you may notice that the bins are a different colour to what you’re used to. I certainly didn’t notice, and it wasn’t until two weeks into living in my new student house that my housemate pointed out I’d been throwing the recycling into the normal bin… please, dear Leeds students, don’t make the same mistake as me.

Some people just need an occasional gentle reminder that cling film does not belong in the recycling bin.

If you’re reading this, you probably already have a keen interest in looking after the environment, so you don’t really need a lecture on what goes in the recycling bin and what doesn’t. However, there’s always at least one rogue in every student household who still puts plastic milk bottles in the normal kitchen bin (and you know who I’m talking about).

One of the main issues deterring students away from recycling is the mentality that “nobody else is doing it, so why should I?” This week is National Recycling Week in the UK, so in the true spirit of saving the planet I have compiled a list of ways to subtly guilt-trip your housemates into cleaning up their act.

1. To kick off your endeavour to save the world, I suggest getting (or re-using) a box for the kitchen to put your recycling in. A study by NUS into student attitudes towards recycling found that 23% of students who don’t recycle blamed it on not having enough space to keep recyclables before collection. It therefore goes without saying that you should get a box that fits into whatever space you can spare, and maybe throw that shrine of empty Smirnoff bottles in while you’re at it.

2. It’s always a good idea to print out a list of things that go in each bin. Put it somewhere that unsuspecting housemates will be able to see it, such as on the fridge or above the bin. According to University of Leeds Sustainability, 8 of 10 green bins in Hyde Park are contaminated, meaning their contents have to go through extensive sorting to separate the recyclables, or are just thrown in with the normal trash. Some people just need an occasional gentle reminder that cling film does not belong in the recycling bin.

3. If you’re feeling particularly extra you could find out when bin collection days are and print that out too. Might just give your beloved flatmates a little push to take the bin out once in a while…

4. As I already mentioned, one of the main reasons that students don’t recycle is because nobody else is doing it. If you haven’t already, take up the role of trendsetter and just start recycling your own stuff. I guarantee that once your housemates start noticing the pile of good-willed recyclables accumulating in the kitchen they will follow suit.

Let’s follow in the footsteps of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and make recycling sexy… or maybe we can just try and be a bit more environmentally friendly, whatever’s easiest.