You might not know it, but today is America Recycles Day. So for 300+ million Americans (that’s us), it’s a great day to step it up and share our passion for recycling with friends, neighbors, and the rest of our communities.
How important is recycling?
You’ve probably heard that recycling is important more times than you can count. But how vital is it really? Consider the benefits of recycling aluminum cans to get a better picture.
According to the Aluminum Association, recycled aluminum only takes 5 percent of the energy that mining and refining traditional aluminum requires. Plus, recycled aluminum reduces greenhouse gas production by 95 percent. Those are some serious savings just for putting your soda cans in the recycle bin (and that’s not to mention the CRV).
The state of recycling and dangers of e-waste
In 2009, Americans created 243 million tons of trash but recycled and composted only 82 million tons (33.8 percent).
While recycling of office paper and yard trimmings (74 and 60 percent respectively) is relatively strong, metals (34.5 percent) and glass containers (31.1 percent) are not as good as they could be — particularly since recycling these materials can reduce greenhouse gas production.
Perhaps the biggest area for improvement, however, is e-waste.
In 2009, only 25 percent of the 2.37 million tons of electronics ready for end-of-life management (a handy term for disposal or reuse) were actually recycled. With millions of Americans replacing their old laptops, TVs, and cell phones every couple of years in favor of the latest and greatest, this leads to quite a bit of waste.
And because this e-waste includes materials (such as lead and mercury) that can adversely affect both people and the environment, it’s even more crucial that we recycle our devices. It’s also a good idea to research products and companies before making purchases.
Don’t know where to recycle your items?
The biggest stumbling block for recycling is not knowing where to do it. Earth911.com can help you find nearby recycling centers for everything from electronics and plastics to paint, glass, and more.
Another service, Call2Recycle, offers a listing of drop-off locations for cell phones and rechargeable batteries. And the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a great resource for dropping off and mailing in old cell phones.
Make a pledge
But sometimes we all need a little push. So in honor of America Recycles Day, why not make a pledge to do more? From reducing your carbon footprint to making sure all your recyclables get sorted or printing double sided at work, every little bit counts (especially if all 300 million of us pitch in!).
America Recycles Day
Find out about recycling events in your area at the official website for America Recycles Day.
Hazardous materials in electronics (PDF)
Learn about the hazardous materials used in electronics.
Check out how artist Steven Rodrig used e-waste to create art.