“America Recycles Day” was Sunday the 15th. With major news programs focusing on COVID-19 and post-election coverage, recognition of the day was noticeably missing.
“The Keep America Beautiful, America Recycles Day,” is the only nationally-recognized day, dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States,” the Keep America Beautiful (KAB) website said. “It is held to educate and encourage individuals on how to be more mindful of what they consume, where and how to properly recycle, and to pledge (via #BeRecycled) to recycle more and recycle right in their everyday lives.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American will produce about 5.91 pounds of trash per day, with about 1.51 pounds of that being recycled and about 4.40 pounds being non-recycled waste.
EPA data from 2018 shows that 3.04 million tons of plastic bags, sacks and wraps were sent to landfills and the recycling rate for plastic bags, sacks and wraps was only 10 percent.
One might wonder how we came to celebrate America Recycles Day. It might come as a surprise, but we have our very own great State of Texas to thank.
The idea was developed in 1994, by Kevin Tuerff and Valeria Davis, at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), who started a six-week campaign to boost recycling in our state. They decided the “Texas Recycles Day” needed to be far enough away from Earth Day (April 22) to not draw focus away from that event and be on a day that didn’t compete with election day or any holiday so they chose Nov. 15. When Tuerff and Davis left TCEQ they started an environmental-focused public relations and advertising agency which proposed transforming “Texas Recycles Day” into “America Recycles Day.” They presented the concept at the National Recycling Coalition’s (NRC’s) Congress, and it was embraced immediately.
The first national “America Recycles Day” was on Nov. 15, 1997. At least 40 states participated that day with various activities including recycling fairs, compost demonstrations, art from trash, games, and prizes according to recycle.com. By the tenth anniversary of “America Recycles Day” in 2007 more than 3,000 local events in all 50 states were posted on the National Recycling Coalition website.
In 2009, the America Recycles Day organization joined forces with the Keep America Beautiful (KAB) organization. KAB urges people to pledge to reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle in every aspect of their life. The organization has three major goals: to end littering, improve recycling and beautify communities. Litter cleanup costs our country more than $11.5 billion each year per a 2018 study by KAB. The indirect costs of litter are also considerable and the presence of litter in a community was estimated to decrease property values by 7 percent. The organization also reports there are currently 50 billion pieces of litter on our nation’s roadways.
The #BeRecycled pledge, sponsored by KAB, is a promise citizens can make to actively choose to live a recycled lifestyle by: recycling at home, work, school and on the go, buying products made with recycled content, and educating and encouraging friends, family, and neighbors to take the #BeRecycled pledge. As of Nov. 11, 2020, 84,926 people had signed the #BeRecycled pledge.
Although America Recycles Day is on Nov. 15, many organizations have events throughout the fall encouraging their communities to recycle.
Tarleton has its own recycling center that accepts various items and a detailed list of items they accept can be found on the website, www.tarleton.edu/livegreen/recycling. Recycling products can be dropped off at the Recycle Center, located at the University Farm, passed the horse pens.
According to Tarleton’s website, Tarleton Recycling Center kept 566,078 pounds of recycling out of local landfills between Jan. 1, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2018.
The EPA’s recycling campaign seeks to inspire the nearly two in three Americans who do not recycle regularly to make recycling a daily habit by providing tools and educational resources that will help make the occasional recycler become an “everyday” recycler.
There are many benefits to recycling. It 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 collect new raw materials, saves energy, supports American manufacturing, conserves valuable resources and helps create jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries in the United States.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to recycling, is that it is not about changing habits immediately, rather it is about making small changes to your lifestyle and by thinking about the recyclability of the items you use. You can go to kab.org/take-action/kab.org for information on how to get started making a difference.
So even if you missed America Recycles Day you can still celebrate by taking small or big steps to make recycling your habit.
Easy tips to make recycling part of your daily habit:
Decline straws when at a restaurant or when getting to-go food.
Use reusable beverage containers.
Avoid single use items such as plastic utensils and zip-loc bags
Decline plastic bags at stores, use reusable bags or skip a bag for single items
Use reusable containers to take your lunch
Have a bin for recyclables, rinse items first