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Surveys Suggests that Britain’s Youths are Most Apathetic towards Recycling

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A YouGov poll of more than 2,500 people has revealed that those aged between 18-24 years old are the most apathetic and least committed generation when it comes to recycling waste.

The study, which was commissioned by Veolia Environmental Services, found that 74% of over 55s in the UK considered it ‘very important’ to recycle as much as possible, whilst only 57% of 18-24 year olds felt the same way.  According to the research, this ‘Facebook Generation’ as they are now often dubbed, was also the least likely generation to feel that responsibilities for recycling lies with individual householders.

Of the people surveyed, only 29% of 18-24 year olds thought they bore the most responsibility to recycle, compared to 42% of over 55s.  Youngsters were also the most likely to say that recycling responsibilities were mainly with local and national governments.

The survey also showed that 26% of 18-24 years think that the EU’s targets to recycle 50% of household waste by 2020 is too low, suggesting that there is little recognition for the importance of recycling within this age group.  This was compared to 40% of over 55s who thought the EU’s targets are too low and should be increased.

The survey also revealed differences between attitudes of men and women.  Some 81% of female respondents said they felt guilty if they did not segregate waste for recycling, compared to only 69% of male respondents.

The survey raises questions over environmental awareness amongst our youngsters, and whether more needs to be done to educate and engage with this age group.  Cloud Sustainability has worked with a large number of Universities and Colleges across the UK, and student engagement has always been very mixed.  In some instances they can be a huge driving force behind positive institutional change, but in others it has been more challenging to engage with them on sustainability issues. 

Perhaps what this YouGov survey really shows is that there is still a perception amongst youngsters that it is ‘uncool’ to be passionate about the environment?  Maybe engagement efforts in this area need to focus on the powers of peer pressure as well as the increase of general sustainability awareness?

Further details about the YouGov survey can be found on their website.  

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Surveys Suggests that Britain’s Youths are Most Apathetic towards Recycling | Cloud Sustainability

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