Last week I was number 46,730 when I took the America Recycles Day pledge to:
• Learn. I will find out what materials are collected for recycling in my community at americarecyclesday.org.
• Act. Reduce my personal waste by recycling. Within the next month, I will recycle more.
• Share. In the next month, I will encourage one family member or one friend to take the pledge.
Since its inception in 1997, communities across the country have organized events for America Recycles Day on or around November 15th to promote recycling awareness, commitment and action.
I can do the math on this one pretty quickly since my youngest daughter was born in 1997, and I can’t say that I’ve heard about any local America Recycles Day events over the last 16 years.
As it turns out, the only “official” America Recycles Day event in our area this year was actually a series of four “plastic bag swaps” on different days from Nov. 5 to Nov. 14 at each of the four Al’s Supermarket locations in LaPorte County.
I spoke with Alicia Ebaugh, Education and Public Outreach Coordinator for the LaPorte County Solid Waste District, last week. With one swap event left to go, she had already collected a whopping 1,535 plastic bags for recycling. Last Thursday's event brought in 1,000 bags alone.
“We ask people to bring in their plastic bags for recycling and give them a reusable bag for free,” she said. “It also gives me an opportunity to provide information on all our programs and recycling in the community. We have a few giveaways – stickers and pencils and our pens, which are made out of recycled water bottles. They’re a great example of where recycling goes.”
According to Keep America Beautiful, the coordinator of America Recycles Day with the generous support of corporate sponsors, the national recycling rate has increased every year for the past 30 years. With the current recycling rate at 34.7 percent, it’s not surprising that they invite you to “JOIN US IN RECYCLING MORE.”
“We’ve had a countywide curbside recycling program since the 1990s, and events like this give people a fun way to talk about recycling,” Ebaugh added. “We participate in other Keep America Beautiful events, like our countywide spring clean up, and we didn’t have any big events in November so we started doing this one three years ago. It’s a great way to demonstrate reuse and recycling at the same time. I always advocate picking your battles with recycling – be good at this one thing and maybe work on something else later. It might be plastic bags today and then maybe metals and glass tomorrow. They definitely need to be recycled all the time.”
When it comes to preserving valuable landfill space and saving precious natural resources like trees and energy, Waste Management’s single stream recycling is one example of advances that are making it easier for both residential and commercial customers to recycle. With all recyclables going into one convenient cart or bin, there’s no separating necessary.
To encourage people to recycle often and recycle right, Waste Management offers the following guidelines for efficient single stream recycling (check with your local provider for guidelines specific to your community):
You can always recycle the following:
• Paper (including newspapers, junk mail, magazines, office paper and phone books)
• Paperboard (including cereal, pasta and tissue boxes)
• Cardboard that fits into your container
• Plastic bottles and containers (including water and drink bottles, milk jugs, detergent and shampoo bottles – please empty and rinse)
• Aluminum cans and steel and tin cans
• Glass bottles and jars
DO NOT include:
• Plastic bags of any kind (including grocery and dry cleaning bags)
• Polystyrene and foam containers
• Food or yard waste
• Hoses, extension cords and hangers
• Electronic waste (including cell phones, computer parts, batteries and small appliances)
• Automotive parts (including disc pads, tire rims and car batteries)
• Motor oil, paint, hazardous chemicals or propane tanks
• Food soiled cardboard, hot and cold beverage cups, paper plates, towels and tissues
• Dishes, cooking utensils, pots and pans, coffee mugs or ceramic pots
• Liquids of any kind
Special recycling programs for the “DO NOT include” list and more are available through entities such as the LaPorte County Solid Waste District (solidwastedistrict.com), the Lake County Solid Waste Management District (lcswmd.com) and the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County (itmeanstheworld.org).
You can learn more about local recycling solutions at earth911.com and why you should recycle common items at iwanttoberecycled.org. There are also some very useable “Reuse Ideas” from Keep America Beautiful on Pinterest.
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