The sole nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting recycling in the United States comes at the perfect time – between Halloween and Thanksgiving – two holidays known for creating an excess amount of waste and having an adverse impact on the environment. Each year on November 15, millions of people across the nation take part in celebrating America Recycles Day, which is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of recycling and purchasing recycled products.
Though the national recycling rate has improved over the course of the past 30+ years to 32% of all waste disposal being recycled, there is still much work to be done. Therefore, during the 2020 America Recycles Summit, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its first-ever National Recycling Goal to increase the national recycling rate to 50% by 2030. The agency recognized that collective commitments are best achieved when we have a common goal and has challenged businesses, communities and individuals to embrace this revolutionary goal to help collective efforts to improve the nation’s recycling system, create more jobs and conserve our natural resources. An added bonus of these efforts is the cleaner air that will result from a reduction in the need for power and for processing raw materials, which also reduces harmful air pollution.
Here in the St. Louis region, area residents who are inspired by America Recycles Day to make a commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle in all aspects of daily life are also taking action for cleaner air. With that in mind, here are some helpful tips to consider for incorporating green into your day-to-day routine:
- Stay informed about recycling in your community – Understanding what can be recycled in your area is key to ensuring that anything you sort and place in your curbside recycling container with the intention of it being sent to your local recycling center actually makes it there. These items consist of obvious materials such as paper, plastic, glass and flattened cardboard, as well as less obvious materials, including most forms of metal and even food waste. For more details on what does and doesn’t belong in the blue bins, be sure to check out stlcityrecycles.com.
- Repurpose and reuse old items – In the general consumption of goods, we oftentimes ignore the fact that a major portion of our waste can be reduced or reused before resorting to recycling. Shopping at or donating to secondhand stores are great ways to prevent unwanted items from ending up in the landfill, reduce wastage of energy and resources on the production of new clothes and help save you money. With the holiday season upon us, gifting used items from a secondhand shop or using recyclable materials around the house like old fabric, maps, newspapers or magazines for gift wrap are also easy ways to significantly cut back on waste.
- Ditch the plastic bottles – At this very minute, people around the world are buying a million plastic bottles, and most of these bottles will end up in landfills or in the ocean. Not only does the production of plastic water bottles contribute substantial amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, their litter lingers for years on end. Instead of buying single-use bottles, consider purchasing a reusable water bottle you can take with you and refill as needed to cut down on unnecessary waste and help improve air quality. If you still prefer a single-use water bottle, make sure it gets properly recycled once you’re finished with it.
You can do your share for cleaner air and further commit to living a recycled lifestyle by taking the #BeRecycled pledge at americarecyclesday.org. For more great tips on how to achieve cleaner air year-round, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.