Earlier this week we celebrated America Recycles Day (ARD), a national Keep America Beautiful initiative that seeks to raise awareness about recycling each November. Started in 1997, America Recycles Day is the only nationally recognized day promoting and celebrating recycling in the U.S. According to the EPA, the average individual produces 4.4 pounds of waste PER DAY . It is estimated that 75% of this waste is recyclable, however only 30% is currently being recycled . Clearly, we have room to REDUCE our waste stream, REUSE materials we purchase, and increase the amount of materials we RECYCLE.
This year, the theme of America Recycles Day is “Bathroom, Bags & Gadgets.” In efforts to increase the national recycling rate (34.3%), ARD efforts this year are focusing on recycling common products that are often forgotten about – like shampoo containers, plastic bags, and personal electronic devices like phones and tablets. Now, it should be noted- not all of these items can go into your single stream curbside recycling bin that you have at home, school and work. Check out this Recycling Locator to identify where you can take some of those items you are not sure what to do with- such as plastic bags and other film plastics, electronic devices, and clothing. For more information about what you can put in your curbside recycling bins, here is a helpful guide put together by Durham County’s Solid Waste Management department.
Why Reduce, Reuse and Recycle?
- To conserve natural resources. Did you know that recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees  and recycling one ton of plastic can save up to 2,000 gallons of gasoline? 
- To save energy. Did you know that recycling aluminium requires 95% less energy that making it from scratch? The energy savings are 70% for plastics and 40% for paper. 
- To save landfill space. Did you know that more than 28 billion glass bottles and jars end up in the landfill every year? That’s the equivalent of filling up two Empire State Buildings every three weeks. 
- To create jobs. Did you know that for every job created by burning or burying waste, 25 recycling-based manufacturing jobs can be created from the same amount of waste? 
- To reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Did you know that if the U.S. can raise its 34.5% recycling rate to 75%, it will be the CO2 equivalent of removing 50 million cars from the road? 
How you can get involved:
- Take the “I will Recycle” Pledge.
- Learn more about recycling (and share what you learn with a friend!)
- Book a school recycling presentation
- Attend a Durham ARD event:
How do you Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle at your home, school, work, or organization? Let us know about your efforts to reduce waste and keep Durham clean and green.
- Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures 2013; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- 11 Facts About Recycling, dosomething.org
- Recycling Fun Facts, The University of Michigan, Plant Operations
- Recycling Facts, MRC Polymers
- The price of virtue:How to get people recycling more – even if they do not particularly want to, The Economist June 7, 2007.
- Recycling Facts, Recycle Across America,
- Recycling Works Fast Facts, Recycling Works