Unfortunately, the difficulty with recycling is that there have been no to few safe and equally recyclable end-products of recycling. This psychologically deters many from recycling. [End-product viability has begun to improve in the last decade but there is still far to go.] Recycling is a full circle, closed circle process. If there is no viable end-product that is safe during production, safe for consumers and itself safely recyclable, then recycling is a conceptual failure [don't everybody jump on me at once].
Here are a couple of examples: green, non-toxic builders have routinely rejected alternative building products made from recycled paper because of the high, disqualifying, toxin levels; grocery stores ultimately rejected some offerings of recycled-plastic shopping bags because of the extreme gassing off of unstable toxins (customers complained and would not accept the "stinky" bags); recycled-paper cat litter gasses off toxins to such an extent cats are made ill, sometimes fatally so; plastic-resin molded chairs cannot be broken down or degraded nor recycled into another material, thus are a permanent fixture.
There has been progress in creating safe-to-produce and safe-to-use and safe-to-dispose of or re-recycle end-products. For example oxygen is used in the final stages in recycling some papers instead of chlorine bleach to avoid the creation of VOC dioxins that add to chemical body burden and add to indoor air toxicity. But there is still far to go.
My point is that when end products are safe at all recycling levels, then more people will have more impetus to recycle more. As to consuming less, one great and industry cost-cutting step is to reduce packaging of purchasable items (of course, the plastics companies will notlike this), from foods to paperclips: (Oh, and did I mention that foods packaged in recycled paper packaging absorb the gassed-off toxins from the recycled paper? Well they do. This is the source of part of the now ubiquitous chemical body burden you will hear more and more about.)
- Increase recycling: Provide end products that are safe at all levels of the closed recycling circle.
- Consume less: Begin by reducing and simplifying packaging on goods.