Guest post by Lacie Wever
We’ve all heard the famous phrase reduce, reuse, recycle, but did you know recycling actually has its own holiday? On November 15, celebrate America Recycles Day! America Recycles Day is an annual holiday reserved to teach others about recycling and promote the importance of recycling right.
According to Keep America Beautiful, the average recycling rate in the United States is 34%. This is a dramatic increase from the 6% recycling rate in the 1960s (EPA). Recently, the EPA has set a goal to increase recycling to 50% by 2030! To do this, increasing recycling education and accessibility to recycling facilities will be incredibly important. One step to help us move towards this goal is to celebrate America Recycles Day.
Here are 9 uncomplicated ways to celebrate America Recycles Day right now.
1.) Attend a recycles day event or host your own
A nationwide day of recognition means there are ample opportunities to celebrate America Recycles Day at events near you. Check out your local cities and organizations to find America Recycles Day events. Keep America Beautiful has affiliates all across the country including states and cities. As an affiliate, these localities create volunteer opportunities and raise awareness about the holiday.
My favorite America Recycles Day event in my hometown is the annual recycles day drive. At this drive, we have the opportunity to bring all of our household goods to be recycled! This includes furniture, hazardous waste, confidential documents that need to be shredded, and electronics.
If you want to find an event near you, visit the Keep America Beautiful website!
Another option is to host your own America Recycles Day event. Keep America Beautiful has resources and toolkits to help you spread the word and do your part this November.
2.) Research what you can actually recycle
Have you ever heard of the term “wish-cycling”? The term is used to identify people who place items in the recycling bin wishing they will be recycled, but not actually knowing for sure. As you celebrate America Recycles Day, combat wish-cycling by researching what you can actually recycle!
If your region is anything like mine, what can be recycled varies from city to city. In our region, each city has a different recycling hauler. For example, my city has recently switched recycling haulers. This means some of the items we could recycle just a few weeks ago, we can no longer recycle. Alternatively, we can now recycle some items we couldn’t recycle before.
In order to make sure we are keeping up with the rules of recycling where we live, we have to make sure to educate ourselves on what is recyclable with our current hauler.
This same principle applies to public recycling. When you’re out and about, carefully pay attention to signage around the bin to make sure you are only putting the correct items into the bin. Often these public recycling bins are even more restrictive than your home recycling bins.
When in doubt, throw it out.
3.) Go behind the scenes
Go behind the scenes to learn more about recycling. What really happens once you throw your item in the bin? You may be surprised to find out! Once your items are recycled they have to be sorted. While some parts of the process are automated, there are still some parts of the process that are hand-sorted! This is one reason why it is incredibly important to make sure you are placing the right items in the bin.
After sorting, the items are baled and prepared for shipping. These items are shipped to manufacturers who have purchased the recyclables. Many recyclables are then used to make new items. This is why it is important to opt for items made from recycled materials. This promotes a circular economy and encourages further recycling.
To get a better idea of what’s going on behind the scenes with recycling, check out this video:
4.) Have a clothing swap with a friend
Give your clothes a new life with a clothing swap! A great way to recycle your clothing is through a clothing swap. You can host a clothing swap with multiple people or simply swap clothes with a friend.
I’ve attended several clothing swaps with friends and they’re so much fun!
I collected clothing that was good quality, but no longer served me. Once I got to my friend’s home, the other guests and I hung up our clothes around her living room. After some dinner and wine, we walked around the living room like it was a store and shopped for “new to us” clothing. We all walked out with “new” outfits, new friends, and great memories.
If you’d like to do something like this on a smaller scale, simply exchange clothes with a close friend who is a similar size.
5.) Sign the pledge
Celebrate America Recycles Day by signing the official pledge! By signing the America Recycles Day pledge, you are committing to learn, act, and share. Over 87,000 people around the country have taken the pledge! This pledge helps to build accountability to learn more about recycling, commit to recycling more items, and share the pledge with others.
Are you ready to take the pledge? Take a few seconds to sign up here!
6.) Do a litter cleanup
On November 15, host a litter cleanup! A litter cleanup is an uncomplicated way to celebrate America Recycles Day because it can be as simple as cleaning up around your yard and neighborhood. When collecting litter, be sure to separate items that are recyclable. Aluminum cans and plastic bottles are generally the items that are most easily recyclable when cleaning up litter. In my experience, most other items are too dirty to be recycled. Remember, recycling dirty items is considered contamination. Those items should either be cleaned before they’re put in the bin or placed in the trash.
Celebrating America Recycles Day doesn’t have to be complicated! Choose one of these six tips to help increase your awareness and beautify your community! How will you celebrate America Recycles Day on November 15?