Often, people who are passionate about recycling, green living and sustainable energy may feel like they're alone in their struggle to preserve the environment and its resources. America Recycles Day (ARD), however, helps remind those who practice environmentally sound habits that they have strength in numbers on their side.
Held nationwide each year on November 15, ARD promotes the proper disposal of recyclable materials, as well as the purchase and use of recycled products. The purpose of the event is to attract newcomers to the recycling cause, and it gives those who are already advocates of the practice the opportunity to put their enthusiasm to work and win followers.
In observation of ARD, businesses and private citizens can go to the America Recycles Day website and take the pledge. Those who sign up for the commitment promise to take three actions on November 15: to learn about what materials their communities recycle, to act on that knowledge by reducing personal waste, and to share the commitment with others, encouraging at least one other person to pledge.
ARD aims to increase awareness of the importance of recycling. While already a growing practice in the United States—event organizers say that the U.S. recycling rate has risen steadily over the past 30 years and now stands at 34.7 percent—there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
Recycle to Save Energy
While most people understand that recycling is generally a good idea, you may not realize just how great an impact it can have.
Statistics from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency put into perspective how much value recycling gives back. For example, recycling an aluminum can preserves 95 percent of the energy it initially took to create the product. That's enough to power 2 hours of TV viewing, 3 hours computer use and 20 hours of light from a 14-watt CFL bulb.
Steel is another material that offers impressive benefits when recycled. The recycling plant can retain between 60 and 74 percent of steel's original energy, according to the EPA. Before you throw that tin can in the garbage, consider that one ton of recycled steel saves the amount of energy contained in 3.6 barrels of oil.
Recycling also prevents certain materials from sitting in landfills for hundreds of years. The EPA notes that plastics take anywhere from 100 to 400 years to break down . However, recycling just five 2-liter plastic bottles yields enough material to produce an entire ski jacket.
While the energy savings from recycling glass are not quite as impressive as those of aluminum, they're certainly not to be dismissed. The energy saved by recycling one glass bottle could power a 100-watt light bulb for four hours. It also avoids sending that material to the landfill for an incredibly long time, as glass takes 1 million years to break down, according to the EPA.
Pitch In on America Recycles Day
It's likely these statistics will make you want to pitch into the effort, especially if you've already chosen to save energy with cutting-edge technologies like radiant heating. Luckily, you'll have numerous opportunities to do so today. America Recycles Day features hundreds of events that will take place in communities all across the country.
Enthusiastic recyclers can go to the ARD website to find an event near them. In many areas, there will be plenty of exciting options to choose from. A showcase in Guilford, Conn., will put a recycled art project on display for public viewing. Denizens of New York City can take part in Recycling at Central Park, while several events in the Sacramento, Calif., area offer attendees a new oil filter for their cars when they recycle used ones.
Whether you participate in a big community-wide event or start making small steps at home, celebrate America Recycles Day and take the time today to learn more about recycling and how you can make a difference.