Do your kids run the recycling show in your house? Our kids are constantly reminding or questioning my wife and me about whether something should be recycled. I actually find it encouraging!
But even the most avid recyclers can overlook things. In fact, we recently learned that there is one room in the house where many of us forget to recycle. It’s probably the smallest room in your house and it’s the room where most of our personal care products are used…the bathroom.
Members of the Sustainability team here at Johnson & Johnson were brainstorming ways to encourage home recycling, and we had an “aha” moment. We realized that most of the consumer products we sell are found or used in the bathroom, and we wondered if those products were getting recycled as much as products in other parts of the house.
When we did some research, we learned that most people in the US recycle products from the bathroom far less than they recycle products from other places like the kitchen and the laundry room. In fact, while 69% of Americans claim to always or almost always recycle, only 20% say they consistently recycle products from the bathroom.* The fact that the bathroom recycling percentage was so low was surprising, but when I thought about recycling in my own home, it made sense.
Bathrooms are usually tight on space, so it’s not likely that you have a recycling bin in your bathroom. Also, your main bathroom may be upstairs – away from your regular recycling bins. In our house we have the “walk it down” routine where we try our best to bring empty bottles and cartons down to the kitchen recycling area. But, if I’m honest, this “walk it down” technique isn’t always a gentle walk. A lot of times, it’s more like “throw it down” (…or, throw it down aggressively with shouts of laughter if my five year old son is involved). Then, as the pile increases at the foot of the stairs, “bystander recycling apathy” is eventually overcome when someone, usually my saintly wife, decides to finish the job and move the bathroom recyclables over to the main recycling bin in the kitchen!
This knowledge inspired us to create the CARE TO RECYCLE™ program. It’s designed to help keep the products in your bathroom top of mind when it comes time to recycle. In addition to inconvenience, our research revealed that there are two main reasons why people don’t recycle more products from the bathroom. They either never thought about it, or they didn’t know that their bathroom products were recyclable.
The good news is we can fix both. We just have to get more people to be aware and to start recycling products from the bathroom. If we can achieve that, together we can have a big impact on increasing recycling rates in our country. Our Care to Recycle™ video and website will help people learn about and share the importance of recycling products from the bathroom.
We like to think of this collective effort as a way that the “smallest room in the house can make a big difference to the planet. After all, as our JOHNSON’S® Baby brand says, OUR BABIES WILL INHERIT OUR PLANET®. As a father, this statement really resonates with me. I think all the time about what kind of world I am leaving for my kids, and I want them to grow up with a healthy respect and appreciation for the environment that we are all privileged to enjoy.
I’m inspired to take every step I can to make sure it’s a vibrant planet we leave behind. I know that our CARE TO RECYCLE™ program is a small step from a small room, but I’m a big believer that every action taken with a positive intention can add up to a meaningful impact. Just think: if every U.S. household recycled one more shampoo bottle a year that would be almost 115 million bottles prevented from unnecessarily going to our landfills.
I hope you enjoy our video and find some helpful recycling resources on our website, and if you do, I hope you’ll share these items with your friends and family. Because chances are, someone you love will be happy you did.
*From the American Recycling Behaviors survey conducted by Shelton Group on behalf of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Group
Coleman Bigelow began his career with Johnson & Johnson in 2006. He has worked in brand management and sustainability and his current role is Global Sustainability Marketing Director for the Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies. He is constantly inspired and energized by his fellow employees and by Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to making a difference in the world. Among many exciting projects, he is proud to have helped create Johnson & Johnson’s greener product development process called Earthwards® www.earthwards.com and to have supported the launch of Neutrogena® Naturals www.neutrogenanaturals.com. At home, in Maplewood, NJ, he shares recycling duties with his wife and two children.