Recycling rates vary widely across country

Though it’s one of the easiest ways to help protect the environment, some cities are still struggling to get residents to recycle.

Long before global warming was a topic of national conversation, children across the country were being taught about the all important three R's – reduce, reuse, recycle.

However, the actual practice of recycling isn't as widespread as you may think. Though it's one of the easiest ways for people to help protect the environment, some of the most educated and affluent cities in the country are still struggling to get residents on board.

The Boston Globe reports that, despite a huge spike in recycling rates in the last few years, Boston's figures are still pretty dismal compared to other U.S. Cities. Currently, 19 percent of the city's household waste is recycled, or one out of every five pieces of trash.

Those numbers may seem promising on their own, but city officials were undoubtedly disappointed by their standing when Waste & Recycling News released a survey on the recycling habits of the thirty most populated cities in the country earlier this year.

The results showed that West Coast cities like Seattle, Washington, and San Jose, California, were recycling 60 percent of their household waste. A few southern states also made a strong showing in the study, with Austin, Texas, Memphis, Tennessee, and Jacksonville, Florida, all reporting 30 percent household waste recycling rates.

Boston's disappointing numbers are especially surprising since it was ranked as one of the top five in the U.S. and Canada Green City index, which was released by the Economist Intelligence Unit last year.

Jim Hunt, chief of the mayor’s office of energy and environment services, told the Globe that Boston still struggles with recycling and waste management, despite spending $5 million on recycling programs annually.

But, no matter how much cities invest in these programs, it comes down to individuals to actually take the time to sort through their waste products and make sure that everything that can be recycled actually is.

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