If you haven't joined the American tradition of recycling, this November 15 would be a good time to start. That's America Recycles Day, a celebration that has been going strong since 1997. The America Recycles Day Web site reminds consumers that it is the only "nationally recognized day" that encourages recycling. Since its beginning, the movement has grown to include participation by 49 states with a total of 2,000 planned events.
So how does one celebrate America Recycles Day? Seek out planned events or plan an event of your own, the founders suggest.
Planned events may include paper and aluminum can recycling. That's how a community in Montgomery County, Md., celebrated in 2009. The event ran for several days, attracting plenty of volunteers and lots of people with paper and others items to donate. Similar events happen around the country on the official America Recycles Day.
While paper and aluminum are popular materials for recycling, many other materials can easily be added to the recycle and reuse processes, such as motor oil, plastic and glass.
Plan an event for your community
If no event is scheduled in your community, you may want to organize one. With the participation of local civic groups or merchants and the tools available for your use through the America Recycles Day Web site, planning a day of recycling is relatively simple.
With a step-by-step guide, the site offers ideas, instructions, templates and advice. You can order free banners and posters when you register.
Plan a family event
Perhaps you'd rather participate as an individual or with your own family rather than through a community event. The Web site has you covered there, too. It provides interactive games for younger children and a video contest for older kids. You can sign a pledge and leave a promise of just what you will do in the coming year to recycle, reduce and reuse. You can see what others are doing, too. It's a great way to share ideas.
Or simply take a walk around your neighborhood. Ask children to point out how recycling can help reduce litter and pollution. See if they can spot items, such as park and play equipment, that might be made of recycled materials.
End the day by purchasing a reusable item in place of a disposable one, such as an aluminum or stainless steel water bottle. Or purchase an item made of recycled material and have the children explain why it matters. The EPA reminds participants that one part of recycling is buying recycled products.
Putting materials back into the manufacturing loop means that less material goes to landfills. Fewer natural resources are used in recycling than are used to produce new materials, often just single-use containers. This helps reduce the amount of air that is polluted by manufacturing and helps save water required in the manufacturing process. It's hard to imagine any single activity that helps the environment so much, short of reusing and refilling everything.
If you are responsible for organizing events for your club, organization or youth group, planning an America Recycles Day event this November 15 is an excellent project, one that people of all ages can readily participate in. It's also a good time to involve children and start a lifelong recycling habit. We can all 'pick it up' on America Recycles Day.