Household Management

Most people feel that their lives are too busy and that they never have enough time to get everything done. People save time by sleeping less and compressing household chores, especially by shopping in supermarkets and cooking convenience foods. Even though many of them work outside the home, women generally set the rules for domestic management, including whether and how recycling is done. Because women continue to do most of the household chores they are, by default, the ones who throw most away. The exception to this pattern is household maintenance 'jobs', such as DIY and car servicing, which are still done largely by men (even in many single-female households). Some DIY products - paint especially - are thrown away intermittently, when garden sheds or cupboards are 'spring cleaned'. Gardening is done by both men and women.

Households are generally more concerned with untidiness ('mess') than waste ('rubbish'). Items are typically thrown away unconsciously as part of an overall effort to keep clutter at bay. Some materials are disposed of as they arise -typically food-related items including (storable) packaging - while others may accumulate to be disposed of once a week - newspapers and bathroom items, for instance.

Recycling does not fit easily into domestic routines, except where there is an easy to use kerbside collection scheme. People typically make a special effort -develop a new habit - if they want to recycle. Against a background of busy lives it is much easier for people to 'opt out' of recycling than 'opt in' - except where there is a very easy to use kerbside scheme, or unless they have a particularly strong pro-environmental commitment. Recycling is often initiated and sustained by women, as part of their overall control of household routines. Some keen

27 RRF, Household waste behaviour, Resource Recovery Forum, 1st Floor, The British School, Otley

Street, Skipton, North Yorkshire BD23 1EP, UK, 2004.

recyclers (including men) continuously have to remind other family members to separate items for recycling.

Given the ways in which households are managed - and work and domestic life are precariously balanced - people are likely to resist the call to do more recycling if they perceive it as 'extra work'.

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