Environmentalist, Green

America Recycles Day

America Recycles
Americans’ recycling rate is only 34.7%.
Image: Shutterstock

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never even heard of America Recycles Day, but what a wonderful thing to discover!  With all the hoopla around Thanksgiving, this “holiday” that falls on November 15th, can easily be overlooked.  Yet, recycling is such an important thing for our environment that it’s critical we don’t disregard it.

Recycling is something that seems like it’s always been around to some extent.  It has as long as I can remember, anyway.  It really didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Our family had a recycling bin for papers and cans.  We recycled.  It was what you did, or so I thought.

My family went on a trip to visit my grandmother in St. Lois, MO somewhere around the mid-1990s.  My loving grandmother graciously provided us with sodas upon arrival.  I finished mine and looked around for the recycle bin.  Unable to locate it, I kindly asked my grandma where it was.  She looked at me like I was crazy.

“Oh, we just throw things away here,” she said.

I was completely floored.  The world had just flipped upside-down.  No recycle bin?  What planet were we living on?  I felt unable to actually throw the can away.  My consciousness would not let me do it.  I actually held onto that can until I got to the airport and could recycle it!  I’m pretty sure my grandmother had confirmed her suspicions that I was indeed a strange child.

Years later while in Japan, I was equally amazed to find that they had about 20 different categories of recycling.  I thought cities like Seattle were doing well until I stumbled upon the Japanese system.  At that point, I wondered if Seattle was now a little like a grandmother who had no idea a system like this could exist.

America needs to keep up the effort of recycling.  The statistics are not flattering.  The average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash per day.  Yes, that’s per person per day.  The U.S. creates over 250 million tons of garbage every year.  Yet, our national recycling rate is only 34.7 percent.  Compare that to 77 percent in Japan in 2010.  It’s probably even higher now.

So, America, let’s be proud to celebrate America Recycles Day.  Clean out your closet and donate the extra clothes to a shelter.  Hold a yard sale to get rid of your old stuff.  Try to think of new ways to use ordinary household items.  Don’t forget to recycle your cans, newspapers, plastic bottles, glass bottles, and other paper scraps.  Why not go one step further and search for ways to recycle appliances like cell phones and batteries safely?

Let’s make it a goal to reach at least 50 percent recycling rate next year!

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