Recycling: Battle of the sexes?

A survey by the University of Essex has found that, when it comes to recycling, women take the lead – and they’re helping their husbands and boyfriends to be more eco-friendly!

The survey, carried out by the University’s Institute for Social and Economic Research, polled 5,000 participants as part of its ‘Understanding Society’ study, which is a major project looking into the socio-economic circumstances and attitudes of people in 40,000 British households.

It found that two heads are better than one when it comes to recycling: 79% of mixed-sex couples recycle their waste, whereas only 69% of women living alone do so. Even fewer single men recycle their rubbish – the figure for these unattached chaps is just 58%!

While men in relationships with women may contribute to their share of the recycling in some ways, such as taking bottles to the bottle bank and putting out the bins, it is the women in the relationship who are more committed to the household tasks involved in recycling. “Women are the ones to take on the daily tasks such as rinsing out containers and removing labels,” said Hazel Pettifor, who conducted the survey, adding: “Men appear to need the incentive of kerb-side collection whereas women are prepared to go out of their way to recycle more types of materials.”

So, are men really from Mars and women from Venus when it comes to recycling, or is there hope for all British gentlemen to become eco-warriors? The findings of Pettifor’s study will more than likely be a talking point for many, and if some positive action comes out of this, it will benefit everybody. If recycling campaigns target men, then who knows? They might catch up with women – at least where the recycling is concerned.

It’s certainly a good time for men to go green. The Government wants 50% of household waste to be recycled by 2020 (according to Friends of the Earth, up to 80% of it could be recycled). With current figures at 42% in England and Wales, 37% in Scotland and 40% in Northern Ireland, there is still some way to go.

Recycling Lives is doing everything it can to make sure this target can be reached, while supporting homeless people and people at risk of homelessness to improve their lives, through the Recycling Lives social welfare charity. Recycling Lives prides itself on providing plenty of advice for men and women alike on how to reduce and recycle waste – see for more information!