- History of American Recycle Day
- Benefits of Recycling
- What You Can Do To Reduce Waste
- Recycle More, Recycle Right
- Save Energy By Recycling
- Recycling Creates More Jobs
- Final Thought
If you have ever looked at the landfills, you’ll see countless amounts of waste that pollute the surrounding neighborhoods and the Earth overall. If that makes you want to cry, then you are certainly not alone! There is one option of many that can give you the opportunity to initiate change in your life and the lives of others. American Recycle Day is just the day to take a pledge to recycle those used products and waste that would otherwise be piling up. If you care about the Earth and hope to eventually stop the destruction of it, then now is the time to learn about American Recycle Day.
HISTORY OF AMERICAN RECYCLE DAY
Recycling is a much older concept than we give it credit for. Archaeological studies have found that during periods when natural resources were sparse, waste dumps show less households waste, giving many reasons to believe that they were recycling and reusing products in the absence of raw materials. In fact, finding recycled or reusable resources has always held a premium in human history. Therefore, recycling has always played a key part in our relationship with natural resources. In our modern times, nationalism has been replaced with environmentalism and the urge to help preserve our sparse resources by reusing goods and reducing waste. So, if pre-historic humans can figure out how to recycle, your annoying roommate or neighbor who doesn’t properly recycle can figure it out as well.
National Recycling Day was originally started back in 1997 by the National Recycling Coalition. This day is declared each year in the United States by presidential proclamation, which encourages Americans to recycle and is nationally-recognized. Weeks beforehand and up until this day, many communities around the country promote this holiday by advocating environmental citizenship and taking action to convince people to make recycling a part of their daily lives. The day is also used to educate people about the importance of recycling for our economies and environmental health, hoping that eventually people will become “every day” recyclers. While in 1960 the rate of recycling was less than 7%, today it is more than 32% and the idea is that it will continue to grow and improve. To continue contributing to progress in recycling, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages every person in America to recycle right – not only on American Recycle Day, but on every day of the year!
BENEFITS OF RECYCLING
- Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators
- Conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals
- Increases economic security by tapping a domestic source of materials
- Prevents pollution by reducing the need to mine raw materials
- Saves energy
- Supports American manufacturing and conserves valuable resources
- Creates new jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries in the United States
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO REDUCE WASTE
So many decisions we make in our everyday lives have a major impact on the planet. The average American produces about 4.4 pounds of trash per day. Here are some small changes that are eco-friendly and will have a lasting effect on the environment.
- Use a reusable bottle/cup for beverages on the go. You might already have a reusable water bottle, but do you use it all the time? You can put that reusable bottle to use, save money and reduce waste.
- Use reusable grocery bags, and not just for groceries. Just like a reusable water bottle, you may already have a reusable grocery bag, though it’s often forgotten at home.
- Purchase wisely and recycle. You can reduce the amount of waste you produce by purchasing products that come with less packaging and/or come in packing that can be recycled. Not all plastics are recyclable, so check labels before your buy.
- Compost it! Did you know as much as 25% of the items in your trash could potentially be removed from the waste stream and composted in your back yard? Your fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, grass clippings and leaves can all be composted. While composting requires more effort than the previously mentioned lifestyle changes, it will provide you with a beneficial return on your investment of time and effort.
- Avoid single-use food and drink containers and utensils. Whenever possible, try to avoid single-use coffee cups, disposable utensils, straws and napkins. Skip the plastic straw altogether or buy reusable metal ones instead. Remember, a lot of these items are made from plastic, had to be delivered by a truck and will end up in the landfill once we have used them one time.
- Buy secondhand items and donate used goods. Before you go buy something new, consider buying it used which can also save you lots of money. That can mean buying secondhand clothes at Goodwill, used furniture and repurposed construction materials at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, Facebook Markets, and even Craigslist. By purchasing secondhand items, you’ll be supporting local charities in addition to saving items from ending up in the dump.
- Shop local farmers markets and buy in bulk to reduce packaging. Shopping at your local farmers market is a win-win. First, you’ll be supporting local farmers while also getting fresher ingredients than you might find in the big-box grocery store. Food produced locally doesn’t have to be shipped as far or refrigerated in transit.
- Curb your use of paper: mail, receipts, magazines. In today’s digital world, most companies offer incentives to do so. More stores are offering e-receipts, too, which are great because they’re harder to lose if you need to make a return. Consider digital subscriptions for your favorite magazines that you can read on your tablet or computer. Digital subscriptions are often a little cheaper than the hard-copy versions, as well.
RECYCLE MORE, RECYCLE RIGHT
How often do you ask yourself what’s right to put in your recycling bin? Next time you go throw something away, get creative and think of ways to reduce waste in the first place! Here are a few tips:
- Check with your local recycling programs to know what goes in your recycling bin.
- Keep recyclables clean and dry.
- Keep food and liquids out of the recycling bins.
- Place your recycling bin and trash bin together so it’s easy to recycle.
- Consider composting your food waste.
- Keep plastic bags and wraps out of your recycling bin.
- Empty and flatten cardboard boxes before you recycle them.
- Pizza boxes are recyclable: pizza is not!
- Spread the word about the benefits of recycling and recycling rights
- When in doubt, throw it out.
For more general tips on recycling, click here.
SAVE ENERGY BY RECYCLING
Extracting and processing raw resources (wood, oil, ore) to make usable materials (paper, plastic, metal) requires a lot of energy. Recycling often saves energy because the product being recycled usually require much less processing to turn them into usable materials. For example, glass is made by melting sand and other minerals at very high temperatures. The molten mixture is then cooled to form glass. The most energy-intensive part of the glass-making process is the heat necessary to melt the mineral mixtures.
The largest energy savings achieved by recycling are generally for metals, which are often easy to recycle and otherwise typically need to be produced by energy-intensive mining and processing of ore. Although the amount of energy saved depends on the material being recycled, almost all recycling operations result in energy savings. In 2014, over 89 million tons of municipal solid waste (food, plants, glass, boxes, cans, batteries, electronics, plastics, etc.) were recycled or composted in the United States, saving over 322,000 GWh of energy – enough to provide electricity to 30 million homes.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s iWARM tool allows individuals to estimate the amount of energy saved by recycling common household items (e.g., cans, bottles, plastic bags, paper, cardboard). For many commonly recycled products, the energy savings also help to make recycling cheaper than extracting and processing raw resources.
RECYCLING CREATES MORE JOBS
Not only does recycling reduce landfill waste and greenhouse gases, but it also creates the opportunity for additional job industries and overall strengthens our economy. Some of the new job opportunities that come with recycling include:
- Manufacturing Companies: There’s a wide array of products that can be manufactured from recycled materials, including: recycling bins, shoes, grocery bags, picnic tables, lawn furniture, playground equipment, counterparts, kitty litter, and baseball bats. Each of these products opens up a wide array of new job opportunities, including production, marketing, accounting, human resources, sales, engineering, etc.
- Recycling Facilities: Recycling facilities collect, sort, and process recycled materials. A few jobs include sorters, tractor drivers, and managers to oversee the process.
- Collection Jobs: Every week, a truck is sent around to collect recycling from each household in their community. This also generates thousands of jobs, as these are truck drivers and collectors designated for each township across the country. It’s estimated that roughly 15-20 million people worldwide are waste collectors.
- Store Reusing Materials: There are plenty of stores that re-sell recycled items for purchase, including Goodwill, Value Village, and the Salvation Army. These stores employ cashiers, cleaners, and managers.
On America Recycles Day, SOMA Tech Intl recognizes the importance and impact of recycling and its contribution to prosperity and the protection of our environment. The recycling efforts of communities and business throughout the United States have helped with this success and growth. To build on our progress, we encourage every American to contribute by recycling right, not only on America Recycles Day, but all year long. What are your thoughts on recycling? How do you implement recycling in your day-to-day life? Has there been any contributions to keeping your expenses down when recycling? Leave us a comment down below!