It’s fitting that America Recycles Day should fall on November 15, a mere week and a half before the season when we’re spending and eating more than normal… and generating more trash than usual, too. This year, my family and I are using ARD as a kickoff to get into good habits that we can maintain throughout the rest of the year.
These recycling and waste-reducing tips will help you make the most of America Recycles Day, and also set the stage for a more sustainable lifestyle going forward.
- Attend an America Recycles Day Event. When I checked the America Recycles Day website, there were more than 1400 events across the country. In my area, I saw everything from an organization collecting used towels for an animal shelter to extended hours for document shredding to a tailgate swap meet. Look up your own city to see what’s going on, and join the fun!
- Take the Chance to Recycle Hard-to-Recyclables. One of the most common events during America Recycles Day is recycling events for electronics, paint, and other items that are typically not accepted in curbside programs. Now’s your chance: Clean out your garage and basement, and find a collection point in your area to drop off these items. You’ll be less likely in the future to just get frustrated and sneak them into the trash can.
- Get Off Mailing Lists. Carve out some time this week to take stock of all the unsolicited mail you’re receiving and request removal from mailing lists so that you’re reducing the amount of wasted paper you’re recycling (not to mention the energy that the post office wastes transporting and delivering the unsolicited mail). Take a look in your mail pile or recycling bin at all the mail that’s piling up and spend 30 minutes or so unsubscribing: On the Federal Trade Commission Website, you can opt out of unsolicited mail like credit card offers; you can also sign up with a junk mail service that will remove you from most other types of junk mail, or just start calling catalog companies, charities, and other organizations to request that you no longer get their mail. It’s even a good idea to go through your email and unsubscribe from email newsletters that you find yourself automatically deleting without opening (except, of course, for messages you get from us at Recyclebank!) — even though emails don’t waste paper, unwanted emails do waste your time, and a bit of extra electricity in the time it takes you to delete them.
- Make it Easier to Recycle. I always recycle in the kitchen, where the recycling bin is right there. In the rest of the house, not so much. If you’re like me, a solution is to have recycling bins in every room. You can find a dual recycling bin or, for a cheaper solution, just buy a waste basket in a different color (green is an obvious choice, like this cute Umbra basket). It’ll be that much easier to recycle old magazines as you’re done reading them in bed, toilet paper tubes as you finish a roll in the bathroom, and scrap paper as you work in the office.
- Ration Your Trash Bags. When trash bags come in a big roll that’s concealed in a cardboard box until you pull out that last one, it’s hard to tell how many bags you’re filling. Ration yourself to only one trash bag a week (the average American generates 4.3 pounds a day). It’ll make you conscious of everything that goes into that bag, and will hopefully spur you to recycle and compost more, and to be more mindful about throwing something away instead of finding another use for it.
- Plan a Sustainable Thanksgiving. Turkey day is less than two weeks after America Recycles Day, so while you’re in sustainability mode, start planning how you can minimize waste on Thanksgiving. This could include eating less meat (perhaps buy a turkey breast rather than a whole turkey?), preparing smaller servings, and DIY centerpieces, just to name a few.
- Celebrate Your Favorite Fall Sport by Giving Back. As fall sports seasons like soccer and football are winding down, consider donating used sports equipment to an organization like Sports Gift, which collects sports equipment for disadvantaged kids, so they too can enjoy the many benefits of playing sports.