Did you know that November 15th is America Recycles Day? A country-wide initiative of Keep America Beautiful—a national non-profit organization that works to promote clean, green, and beautiful communities through recycling and litter prevention programs—America Recycles Day is a grassroots event that leverages the power of 15,000 community organizers and 1.5 million participants to educate and inspire communities of all sizes all around the country to boost their recycling efforts.
If you think your community needs a bit more support and motivation to recycle, why not consider hosting an America Recycles Day event next year? Anyone can register to be a host on the event website, and there are plenty of great toolkits and resources to help with ideas and planning. And if you still need a little more inspiration, check out the fantastic ways that these nine communities celebrated America Recycles Day in 2016.
Palm Beach County, Florida
Palm Beach County’s Solid Waste Authority held an open house to give community residents the chance to get up close and personal with the recycling and waste management process. Event attendees could try their hand at sorting recyclables on an interactive touch table line, watch trash being fed into a renewable energy generator, and learn some vital facts and figures about garbage generated in their own backyard.
The Roswell Recycling Center showed that the benefits of recycling can go beyond helping preserve the environment. The center spent America Recycles Day collecting clean, gently used blankets to be donated to the Humane Society, thus helping keep textiles out of the landfill and supporting a good cause at the same time.
Concord, New Hampshire
Led by Concord General Services (CGS), Concord residents celebrated America Recycles Day by taking the #BeRecycled pledge, an initiative that encourages community members to commit to recycling more and reducing waste. Over the past eight years, community recycling in Concord has increased by 150%, and CGS is counting on efforts like the #BeRecycled pledge to keep boosting that number even higher. As an added incentive for those who shared their pledge on social media, CGS offered prizes including a bundle of “Pay as you throw” trash bags.
Cañon City, Colorado
For the past eight years, the Upper Arkansas Recycling Program in Cañon City has held a unique recycled art show during America Recycles Day. All art pieces were required to contain at least 75% recycled content in order to be considered for the exhibition, which ran for the first three weeks of November.
Port Huron, Michigan
Another community that seized on the idea of turning recyclables into art for America Recycles Day was Port Huron, Michigan. Plastics manufacturing company US Farathane collected all kinds of recyclable items, from aluminum cans and plastic water bottles to cereal boxes and toilet paper rolls, and distributed them to its 340 employees to be used as craft materials. The idea behind this project was to use the finished craft projects to showcase the many possible uses for recycled items.
Run by the City of Lawrence Solid Waste Division, the Lawrence Arts Center, the Lawrence Lions Club, and a number of local schools, the Recycle for Sight program collected unwanted eyeglasses that were then cleaned, sorted, and distributed to low- or middle-income people who would not otherwise be able to afford them. This initiative helped prevent useful items from being thrown away while supporting community members in need.
Recycling is much easier when you know what items are and are not recyclable and, accordingly, where they should be disposed of. That was the idea behind Patriot High School’s America Recycles Day project, which involved adding a recycling bin to every one of the school’s classrooms with clear, easy-to-read labels describing recyclable items.
Styrofoam, particularly in the form of coffee cups and takeout food containers, is a major source of waste and one that is difficult to dispose of in an environmentally friendly way. For this America Recycles Day, the Maplewood Reuse Center took aim at reducing styrofoam waste by challenging its employees to choose a reusable mug, both at home and at work, rather than a disposable styrofoam cup. Employees could snap a photo of themselves with their reusable mug (a mug shot!), and enter to win a company drawing for a free reusable mug.
Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota
Plastic bags are another major source of waste. Despite the fact that many types of plastic bags are recyclable, in the vast majority of cases they end up in the landfill. ProAct Inc., a Minnesota-based non-profit providing people with disabilities with life and employment skill development programs, set the goal of collecting 100 pounds of plastic bags throughout the month of November, to keep them out of the landfill and, more importantly, out of local parks and natural environments.