America Recycles Day: 13 Tips For Getting Greener
November 15 is America Recycles Day, a nationwide event organized by the nonprofit Keep America Beautiful that is designed to (obviously) get Americans to recycle. The event is co-sponsored by corporate titans such as PepsiCo and Johnson and Johnson and focuses on getting volunteers to organize recycling-themed events in their communities. Anyone interested in searching for an America Recycles Day event in their area can do so here, but the goal of the event isn't simply to get people to give a hoot about recycling for one day in November. America Recycles Day is about getting people to think about their daily habits and how much (or little) they actually recycle. According to a new survey from Kelton Research, only 37 percent of Americans feel like they're "doing enough" for the environment, 54 percent admit they are not "knowledgeable about what it takes to be eco-friendly" and 66 percent of respondents said they would like to learn simple steps to help the planet. So here are 13 simple steps to help you go greener on America Recycles Day and on every other day of the year.
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1. Know your neighborhood. Recyclables are not universal so some materials need to be taken to specific locations. Earth911.com has a handy tool that lets you search for recycling centers in your area.
2. Seriously, do your homework and don't just throw recyclables in the bin willy-nilly. Mixing materials contaminates the recycling process and creates more work for the people at the recycling plant.
3. Recycling plastic bottles seems like Eco 101, but many people toss the cap in the regular trash. Don't be like that! Save the caps from your water bottles, they're also recyclable.
4. Coffee cups are not always recyclable because some brands have a wax lining. Check the cup for the recycling symbol to find out. Don't fret over your eco-unfriendly java, those paper sleeves that protect your hand from your red hot brew are always recyclable.
5. Grocery bags and take-out bags are obvious recycling targets. But you can also put any kind of transparent plastic bag in with your grocery bags. That means the bags from your bread, dry-cleaning and newspaper are fair game for the recycling bin.
6. Newspapers are a big-name recyclable in the minds of most Americans, but virtually all commercial paper products can be recycled. Corrugated cardboard, cereal boxes, pizza box tops, etc. are accepted by most paper recycling programs.
7. Recycling isn't just how you toss trash, it's about not creating trash in the first place! Reuse plastic bags for doggie doo-doo or as trash bags in small garbage cans. And if you get a lot of unwanted junkmail you can get off some of those lists at Catalogchoice.org.
8. The key word in recycle is 'cycle.' It's not just what you throw away, but what you buy that makes recycling work. Check for products that use recycled content in their packaging and avoid ones that use wasteful practices.
9. Recycle in your car by keeping two bags for your trash. One for regular stuff and one for recyclables. (It's a great way to get extra mileage out of those pesky plastic bags!)
10. Don't stop sorting in your kitchen or your car! Keep separate bags in your bathroom and living room so you can collect other recyclables like shampoo bottles.
11. Recycling all those soda and soup cans makes a big difference. Unlike paper, metal can be recycled numerous times and, if it ends up in the landfill instead, takes much longer to biodegrade.
12. Not everything that can be recycled is a piece of trash. According to the EPA there are 100 million cell phones deactivated in the U.S. every year. Donate them to charity or find out where you can drop them off for recycling instead of cluttering your junk drawer.
13. Food is natures most basic recyclable. Consider starting a compost heap for your backyard instead of pitching those egg shells and coffee grounds. Don't have a yard? You can put small amounts of biodegradable foodstuffs into a window box to enrich the soil as well.
There you have it! Thirteen steps to send you on your way to becoming a super recycler every day, not just on America Recycles Day. Still confused about what is and isn't recyclable? Click here for a comprehensive breakdown from Earth911.com on what you can recycle, and where.
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