Ways to Inculcate Recycling Habits Among Students

Introduction

 The United Kingdom’s former Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli (1867), once said that “change is inevitable, change is constant.” Although it is true for most of the time, we must agree that there are certain things that have not changed, even after many years. One of them is of course, pollution; a topic that has always been the talk of the town. Just recently, Star News (2018, November 15: 1) published an article regarding how crucial pollution is in Malaysia as we continue to process plastic waste rejected by China.

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It is undeniable that medias worldwide have always portrayed plastic waste as harmful towards the Earth. For instance, an article was once published by the United Kingdom newspaper, Independent (2017, September 28: 3), mentioning that among the dangerous implications of plastic wastes is that disposing plastics to the oceans simply means that it will kill the marine creatures, and we, as seafood eaters, will also be at risk of the negative effects of it.

In Independent (2017, September 28: 3) too, had included a research, that according to United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (2015), 92.6 million tonnes were caught from all around the world. Nevertheless, afraid not, when there is a will, there is a way. Therefore, in the mission to combat this worrying issue, the slogan, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” was invented. What is the slogan all about, to be exact? Based on Oxford’s Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, reduce is defined as to make something less, reuse is to use something again, and recycle is to treat things that are already used so that they can be used again. All these steps are very crucial to follow to lessen pollution. However, no matter how much effort the Malaysian authorities put in hopes to help save the Earth, our people still fail to apply them in their lives. Let us face it: Why does Malaysia continues to process plastic wastes despite being provided with factual evidence of these wastes and their bad implications? Clearly, we do it for money. We never fail to satisfy our greed until we reach the point where we dare to sacrifice the Earth’s wellbeing, just to incorporate more money. So, before things get worse, we must find the solution to this problem. Students are no doubt the future generation. The way we shape them now determines how they would act in the future regarding sustaining the Earth.

The question here is, what are the ways to inculcate recycling habits among students?

First and foremost, parents play an important role in teaching recycling habits in their children. In fact, not only are parents their children’s’ guardian, but they are also their first teacher. Almost often we hear from our ancestors that a child’s behaviour reflects their parents. With that being said, the perceptions society have towards parents with children with bad behaviour will undoubtedly turn bad as well. To support this statement, the results of a survey done by The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (2011) indicate that more than two in three teachers acknowledged that one of the most common contributing factors for students misbehaving is a lack of support from parents. Therefore, since this is an obvious issue, parents must be able to discover a way to instill good moral values in their children, and this includes teaching them to recycle.

Children, when is taught good habits since little, are most likely to still apply them in their lives, even when they grow older. Pressman, Owens, Evans, Nemon (2014) mentioned that it is found out in a study that for almost 50,000 families in America, the children’s responsibilities at home, like doing house chores, for instance, remained constant from the age of nine until the end of high school. Thus, if they start recycling since they are little, there is a high probability that they will continue recycling in the future. Besides that, most children look up to their parents. We often hear that when asked, these kindergarten scholars would answer that they would want to be exactly like their parents when they grow up. With this mindset, there is no uncertainty that they would follow their parents’ behaviour. Hence, when their parents recycle, their children will unconsciously develop that habit too. Obviously, it is undeniable that parents play a crucial role in helping to instil recycling habits among students.

After we are done with the first step, we shall proceed to the next step to get students to start recycling, which is through their learning institutions. As children grow older, it is a necessity for parents to provide their children with proper education by enrolling them to school. According to our former Education Minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid in News Straits Times (2017: 1-2), even children who are stateless, too, deserve to be educated. Hence, there is no excuse for the children who are more privileged than them to not have education. Once a child goes to school, we cannot deny the fact that most of their hours will be spent there, and not at home like they used to.

They see their teachers more frequent than they see their parents on weekdays. Take for example, the results of a survey conducted by the Assocham Social Development Foundation (2012) shows that most pupils spend at least eight to ten hours in school. When they reach home, they are ought to complete their homework, and then they will feel tired and decide to go to bed early. Students’ long hours in school is exactly why the school authorities play a massive role in instilling recycling habits in the students. Among the ways that can be done by schools are organising recycling campaigns, and to get students to attend talks regarding the benefits of recycling. However, we must agree that encouraging students to enjoy or join this type of activities is a burden, because not everyone is interested in doing so. Therefore, it is vital that schools offer students with exciting prizes and certificates, because adolescents’ determination to learn can be reinstall by giving them rewards. (Theodotou, 2014.)

This act, in my honest opinion, may seem similar to bribery, but it is actually merely a token of appreciation to the students involved. When given some form of gratitude, they would definitely be more encouraged to join similar events in the future. Besides, who would not want to feel valued, right? Other than that, students who initially join for the prizes will eventually find out that recycling is indeed a noble act, thus they would further be doing it in their daily lives. Clearly, it is true that through learning institutions, students could start instilling recycling habits in them.

Last but certainly not the least, after schools have played their part, the next step to follow in order to nurture recycling habits among students is with the help of social medias. As students living in the twentieth century, it is very much common that most of their lives revolve around social medias. In actual fact, based on a research done by the Pew Research Centre (2015), seventy-one percent of teenagers say they use more than one social media site, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, for instance.

There are a lot of things we can do on social medias, so what are among the benefits of them?

On the words of Star Online (2018, March 21: 1), the boons of social medias include enabling people to connect, share, and learn online. Due to do this, it is vital that environmental activists take full advantage of this and create multiple social media accounts or create advertisements that could encourage students to start recycling. Students who always have their smartphones under their fingertips will definitely come across them whenever they are scrolling through their account. Moreover, in social media, celebrities should act as a good influencer in a student’s life. Martin and Bush (2000) mentioned that teenagers choose media figures as their role models according to the characteristics that they can relate themselves with. “They are attached to brands endorsed by their icon celebrity and aspire to adopt their image and lifestyle” (Martin and Bush, 2000; Thomson and Woodham, 1997). This suggests that aside from parents, celebrities, too, play a major role in shaping youth nowadays. Teenagers love to copy everything their favourite idols do; from their fashion sense to their personality, and eventually their habits. Celebrities should make the most out of this perhaps by endorsing recycling campaign and promote them in their social network account. With these being said, it is a fact that among the ways recycling habits could be instilled among students is through mass media.

To sum it all up, among the steps to take in order to inculcate recycling habits among students is through the roles of parents, learning institutions, and social medias. Nevertheless, we cannot argue the fact that there could be millions of ways in this world to get students to start recycling, but all of them would not work if the individual themselves are not motivated to do so. Sometimes we wonder why it is so hard for some students to develop habits that not only could benefit them, but the Earth as well. Instead, they are more prone to make poor decisions in their life by instilling unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages and skipping classes, for example.

Well, according to Bedwell (2017), the reason why students are bad decision makers is because the prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain where the most complex functions are located) will keep on evolving until we reach our early twenties, and our decision-making capabilities are not completely mature until we finally reach adulthood. As for now, the Earth is unquestionably in dire need of more people to start recycling. Why? Because based on Independent (2018, October 1: 1), experts have discovered that as the global temperature has a rise of 1.5C, the world is now slowly dying. Therefore, I would like to plead the adults to wake up from your dreams and realize that this is indeed an issue. Not only should we do something about it, but we must also help guide the students for the good sake of our Mother Earth. 

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