The U.S. national recycling rate has increased by 30% over the last 30 years — to just 34% of all materials that can be recycled. More people will be encouraged to recycle this week on November 15, which is America Recycles Day. A program of Keep America Beautiful, America Recycles Day is a nationally recognized event dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the U.S. Every year organizers educate neighbors, friends, and colleagues through thousands of events.
The folks at the Keep America Beautiful program try to inspire and educate people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment. They have created guides, tools, templates, and tips to make it easy to organize local events. Included in these turnkey materials are customizable templates including posters, media materials, proclamations, and activities to use to promote recycling awareness, commitment and action in the community.
For more than six decades, Keep America Beautiful has served as our country’s nonprofit steward of litter prevention. Litter is costly to remove. It impacts the quality of life and the ecological landscape. Their Litter Index and Community Appearance Index are step-by-step methods of assessing current litter conditions and other indicators which is used in thousands of communities and by municipalities nationwide.
Ideas to Recycle More
How will you increase the amount that you recycle everyday? Looking for a fun and interactive activity for America Recycles Day? Here are some ideas.
- Adopt-A-Road in your area. Encourage your friends, neighbors, clubs, co-workers or families to join you in an area cleanup. Your time on task will have a positive impact, as it turns out that people litter less in areas that are maintained.
- Make recycling bins readily available. If your home and office are outfitted with recycling bins for paper, plastic, and metal, it’s more likely that people will use them. Convenience is all.
- If you receive too much unwanted mail, you can reduce the amount delivered to you by contacting companies directly and letting them know you want to opt out. You can also choose to receive bills online instead of mailed paper statements. You can recycle envelopes, catalogs, and staple brochures and pamphlets.
- Keep a hefty amount of reusable bags in your car or near your door so that you’ll remember to grab them for shopping. Explicitly ask clerks to package your deli or cooked items in the least plastic possible.
- Look for the recycled option in all the products you buy. There is so much more than just paper that is recycled.
- Donate items you don’t use anymore to organizations that will put them to good use. Sort through clothes that don’t fit, books that you’ll never read again, or knickknacks that have lost their appeal. Share your stuff so that others might benefit, and, while doing so, you’ll keep excess items out of the landfill.
- Composting is one of the simplest and most important types of recycling, as it coverts waste to energy. Keep a small compost container outside your kitchen door and use it for every meal.
- Reach out to areas in your neighborhood and community and help to beautify them, including landscaping and repairing fences. Attractive, maintained neighborhoods are littered less and are generally safer, friendlier places to be.
- Get local businesses involved in litter reduction and recycling. Cincinnati hopes to achieve a Top 10 ranking of the most sustainable cities in the U.S. by getting more companies to sign the Green Umbrella’s recycling pledge. Green Umbrella is a regional sustainability alliance across 10 counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. It has a goal of reducing landfill waste by 33 percent by 2020 through rotating recycling initiatives. Cintas, which has a product line that ranges from corporate identity uniform programs to fire protection products and tile cleaning and is headquartered in Cincinnati, is just one of many organizations that has embraced the effort to increase commercial and residential recycling rates. Green Umbrella has created a corporate toolkit to help cut back on unnecessary landfill waste.
- Check out the Keep America Beautiful “Ready, Set, Sort” game to engage and educate participants on what can and cannot be recycled in their community. This game can be adapted for schools, local businesses, community events, and office settings.
Reduce, reuse, recycle. It’s a saying that worth a lot to our environment.
Photo Credit: America Recycles Day