Research has found that nearly half of parents have been shamed by their own children for bad recycling practices.
A poll of 2,000 mums and dads of school-aged children found 41 per cent believe it’s really their offspring who drive recycling and sustainability attitudes at home, thanks to the popularity of teenage environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg.
And 43 per cent have faced a telling off from their son or daughter for not making more effort with the recycling – an average of three times a week.
Of those told off, 56 per cent have been reprimanded for throwing something like a can in the bin instead of recycling it, while four in 10 have had words for buying items in non-recyclable packaging.
Another 35 per cent have been reprimanded by youngsters for not washing out cans or jars properly before putting them out with the recycling.
But the study, by the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association, found more than a third of parents admitted their children know more about the environment and recycling than they do.
And seven in 10 blame their own confusion about what can and can’t be recycled for their fall outs with their children.
“Recycling has come on in leaps and bounds even in the last few years – things that weren’t able to be recycled by councils are now much more widely re-usable,” said a spokesman for the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association.
“Because of this, children are now learning about how to be green at school, and people like Greta Thunberg proving popular, many youngsters know more about recycling than their parents.
“It’s great to see that so many parents are being picked up on things they may not be doing correctly when it comes to recycling – even if it is by their children.
“Children are very enthusiastic about the environment and it could be an opportunity for people to learn about what they can be doing more of to improve their recycling – even if it’s as simple as remembering to recycle a can instead of just throwing it away.”
The study also found 35 per cent of parents are happy to admit their offspring care more about recycling than they do.
And while 28 per cent of those who have been ‘eco-shamed’ by their children felt ashamed and 33 per cent felt guilty, four in 10 were proud of them for picking them up on it.
More than a third were also happy that their children cared so much about the environment.
Two thirds of parents think their children’s eco-education comes from school, while another fifth put it down to simple internet research.
Newspapers account for 10 per cent of sustainability knowledge in kids, while a quarter get it from green-leaning TV shows.
But a third say their children ‘look up to’ Greta Thunberg, leading to a passion for being green.
Almost half (45 per cent) of parents are even influenced by their kids to ‘think green’ when food shopping, with more than half encouraged by their offspring to buy items in packaging like cans or cardboard which can be recycled.
However, despite the prompting from their children, one in five parents often throw things out that could be recycled because they’re confused about what can and can’t go in the green bin.
The MPMA’s spokesman added, “Even now, there’s a lot of confusion among consumers about what counts as recyclable waste.
“Things like cans of paint, old technology like phones and keyboards, and even trays from fruit punnets leave millions in a flap.
“This is why it’s so important that the younger generation keeps up their interest in helping save the planet – beginning with their own homes.”
Not sure what goes in your recycling? Here are the items that confuse parents the most…
The top 10 things parents don’t know whether to recycle or not
- Wine corks
- Metal paint cans
- Fruit punnets
- Old technology like phones or keyboards
- Butter pots
- Glass jars
- Milk containers