Today is a day to celebrate recycling! It is indeed an odd thing to celebrate, and yet it is an important one. Believe it or not, there are still many, many people in the United States who do not recycle even the most basic items; there are also communities that simply don’t offer recycling, either curbside or at centers. The purpose of America Recycles Day is to educate people and to promote recycling. In addition, it is a day for all of us, recyclers or not, to be thoughtful about what we purchase and what we discard.
Studies have shown that in the US, the average non-recycler generates almost 5 pounds of trash per day. On the other hand, recyclers generate just over one pound of trash per day. For the recycler, 75% of the items they discard are recycled as opposed to being sent to the landfill. In addition, recycling helps to conserve natural resources and it reduces the amount of fossil fuels burned to create brand new products. An all-around win. Not only that, the industry generates close to 700,000 jobs and almost $38 billion in wages.
I think the equally important aspect of America Recycles Day is taking time to think about the items we purchase. Things to consider include buying in bulk to reduce packaging; how much unnecessary packaging is used for a single item; whether or not we really need to buy the item at all; and whether the item and/or the packaging fully recyclable.
Sometimes it all may seem futile. But I like to think in bigger pictures. For example, if your household uses 3 boxes of cereal per week and you recycle them, that’s approximately 12 boxes saved from the landfill per month and 144 in a year. See? It’s adding up! What happens if you convince a friend’s family to do the same? That 288 boxes recycled in a year. What happens if you get the whole block to do it? The whole city? You get the idea. So even if you can’t celebrate today, help spread the word because a lot of small steps by many individuals add up to a big difference!