November 15 is America Recycles Day. Beginning in 1997, the National Recycling Coalition introduced America Recycles Day. Each year the President declares the day in the hopes of encouraging people to “Keep America Beautiful”. The day is meant to raise awareness about recycling and the importance of recycled products. This awareness has been working, as the rate of recycling in the United States has increased from 7% in 1960 to its current rate of 32%. Recycling has also helped the economy, accounting for 681,000 jobs and $37.8 billion in wages. Recycling is good for the environment and the wallet. You can learn more benefits of recycling at the EPA website.
Ways to implement recycling practices in your everyday life:
- Replace single-use water bottles with reusable bottles.
- Replace plastic bags at the grocery store with reusable tote bags.
- Replace plastic produce bags at the grocery store with reusable bags.
- Recycle these common everyday items: paper, plastic, cans, cardboard, glass
Food waste can also be recycled. This is called composting. Food scraps are made from once-living things, or organic matter. Organic matter breaks down in nature without any help from people. Composting is a way to allow waste organic matter to break down. As organic matter is broken down, it releases nutrients that plants can use. In nature, compost forms an important part of soil.
You might be surprised to find out that most of our organic matter can be composted at home. If you have a yard, you can start a compost pile. Composting can also be done indoors in special containers. These indoor containers contain earthworms that quickly eat through fruit and vegetable scraps. In some areas, waste management workers collect organic matter at the curb, along with regular trash pick-up. They bring the organic matter to municipal composting facilities. At these facilities, the organic matter is sorted. Woody materials, such as tree trimmings, are shredded and used for mulch. Food scraps are placed in very large piles. The conditions in these piles are kept favorable for decomposers so that the food can be broken down quickly.
Try composting with your classroom with our free activity.
Reduce and Reuse
Don’t forget that reusing items is a form of recycling. You can also reduce the number of resources you use. What are some ways to reduce? You might first think of not wasting resources, or using only what you really need. You might use both sides of your notebook paper, for example. Another way to reduce is to choose products with less packaging. Packaging is made from raw materials, and is simply thrown away when you buy a product.
Another way to conserve resources is to reuse. You can often use the same product again and again before throwing it away. By doing this, you are saving resources because you end up using fewer products over the long term. One way to reuse is to save scrap paper, such as worksheets that are printed on only one side. You can use the blank sides of your scrap paper for rough drafts or sketches.
Take part in this free reuse contest in your classroom to help promote awareness.
What other ways can you think of to reuse products in your everyday life? Share your own ideas and spread awareness on social media with #AmericaRecyclesDay.