Despite we have adopted some European legislation here in Estonia regarding the recycling in 2004 and we have got some containers for sorted wasted on the streets for those environmental enthusiats, I am seem the only person who cares about sorting my garbage. My family hates when I collect packages separately in the appartments and at work.

I have forced them to collect the biowaste because Tallinn prescribes that bio and paper containers are installed in front of every block of flats (with more 10 rooms, like those wealthy people who live separately in low-density areas, and, being wealthy, produce more garbage, should not bother with sorting). The city guidelines also say that people should sort the plastic/metal packages and glass and provides the map with corresponding containers. But, my parents say that this just proves that there are slaves at garbage processing plant to sort your waste for you and you do not need to sort anything. If that would be necessary, city would demand to have all the containers in front of the house.

The situation is even worse if we look at the professional cleaners. We do not have separate garbage bins at the working place and cleaners dump everything into one big bag. We don't even collect the bio and paper (produced in volumes) at work. What is the point of the garbage sorting programm in this light?

No, there are 3 problems in our culture. It creates an impression that sorting is for poor people who do not produce much garbage anyway and there are very poor to process your garbage, if people would see that separate garbage collection is intended to prevent the entropy growth, which occurs when you mix the waste into one pile, and forced to sort at their work places, the culture would change. They would also sort if they primarily would have the special containers for sorted garbage and only rare containers for the rest unsorted materials. Currently, they are not listening anything when I explain them and laugh instead. But I cannot care about the environment alone. Others must be enforced legally. What can I do about it?

  • 1
    I think the underlying question is not so much about enforcement, but how to convince others to want to recycle Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 21:31
  • @HighlyIrregular Bad guys need a whip. Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 23:05
  • How can you enforce recycling? You can't, unless you are working in law enforcement but if that were the case you probably wouldn't be asking this question. You could report people who don't follow the rules to the authorities, but you are not going to make friends that way. Proper waste separation and collection can reduce processing costs dramatically which could lead to lower taxes and it will have a positive (or less negative) effect on the environment. Aren't your parents and colleagues sensitive to those arguments?
    – THelper
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 11:37
  • @THelper Obviously, if people would be sensitive to that, I would not ask either. Estonians are wealthy enough not to care about garbage. This seems to contrast them with Norway and Germany population, where people are much poorer. Probably I can ring some bells on the officials and reach my surroundings with the officials, like my hero did. Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 12:55
  • I'm not sure your argument is valid. According to Wikipedia the average income of people in Norway and Germany is higher than in Estonia. I suspect the difference in recycling attitude has more to do with the general concern about the environment in those countries, both by common people and politicians. For example, both Norway and Germany produce much more electricity from renewable sources than Estonia.
    – THelper
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 13:27

1 Answer 1


You have to persuade people to do it and ensure the infrastructure is there.

For the first, start an organisation of volunteers. Put up posters, organise lectures in schools, factories, social centres, do radio interviews... it takes time. Don't lose heart.

For the second lobby your local and national politicians, make sure everybody has access to recycling facilities, and that they are used (and seen to be used) in a proper manner. Chase up when the bins don't get emptied. Get local clubs to tidy the recycling areas.

Your country is beautiful, it is excellent that you want to keep it that way.

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