Okay, so every day should be America Recycles Day, but next Monday, November 15 is "the only nationally recognized day dedicated to the promotion of recycling programs in the United States." How to celebrate, you ask? You can join in by organizing and hosting recycling-based events or attending events that other hosts have organized to help spread the good word about how important recycling is.
According to a 2007 Harris poll, a whopping 23 percent of American adults don't recycle. Some of you not recycling just don't have recycling services available to you, and that's really a bummer, especially if you are a recycling-minded person. Many of you who don't recycle (and you know who you are) say you don't recycle because it's too difficult or you think it doesn't make a difference.
Guess what folks? Recycling does make a difference and it's probably a lot easier than you think. The EPA lists these benefits of recycling:
Recycling protects and expands US manufacturing jobs and increases US competitiveness;
Recycling reduces the need for landfilling and incineration;
Recycling prevents pollution caused by the manufacturing of products from virgin materials;
Recycling saves energy. In fact, It takes 88% less energy to produce plastics from recycled materials than it does to produce new plastics;
Recycling decreases emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change;
Recycling conserves natural resources such as timber, water and minerals;
Recycling helps sustain the environment for future generations.
Here's a crazy fact: In 1865, an estimated 10,000 hogs roamed New York City, eating garbage - a unique form of waste management that, until the Swine Flu outbreak, was still in use in Egypt. Now, one of every six US trucks is a garbage truck. We're sending a lot of stuff to landfills that could and should be recycled.
There are a lot of resources to help you figure out what, how and where to recycle in your area. You can:
- Download a widget to your website or blog;
- Download an app to your phone;
- Go to one of numerous websites (such as this one);
- Go to your city or town's website and look for their recycling program;
- Of course there is always the option of buying less stuff to begin with, but that's a whole big topic that I'll get into in a future post.
New York City's recycling program takes a lot of stuff, and was recently expanded to take such items as hard plastics, but even they don't take everything so I have to look around to find places to recycle everything I have that needs to be recycled. It's very hard for me to throw things in the trash that I know could be recycled and I think it's worth the effort to look around for places to take odd items.
You can use America Recycles Day as a starting point for recycling if you don't already, or as a chance to improve your recycling habits by finding new opportunities to recycle even more. Recycling is good for our communities, our environment and our country. These kids have figured out that recycling is patriotic. Hopefully you will too.