That’s right; November 15th is America Recycles Day. Since 1997, communities across the country have celebrated this day as a way to raise awareness about the benefits of recycling and buying products made with recycled materials.
For many of us recycling is second nature-we place our recycle bins curbside on a weekly basis. Recycling is certainly an important part of living sustainably., however, a nagging question lingers: Is recycling really the best option? What about the other 2 R’s-reduce and reuse? Perhaps recycling is a symptom of a much larger problem: the creation of an unbelievable amount of waste that then needs to be recycled. Lloyd Alter of Planetgreen.com says that the bigger issue “… is the energy made producing things that don’t last, replacing bottles that get recycled instead of refilled, picking up shopping bags that get tossed instead of reused.”
So who are the brains behind this nationally recognized day of recycling? Among the many sponsors organizing this annual event are bottled water companies, soda companies, garbage disposal companies, bottled juice companies, breweries and plastic lobbyists. Notice a common theme among them? Plastic and aluminum comprise a big chunk of their livelihood. Their products come in bottles or cans or they lobby for plastic, plastic and more plastic. Hmmmmm-no wonder they are advocating for a recycling day; more plastic and aluminum used means more of their products are being sold which translates into more money in their pockets.
There is a whole movement that goes way beyond promoting recycling called the ‘zero waste’ movement. The ‘zero waste‘ movement imagines a future where everything is a renewable resource and reusable so the amount of trash sent to landfills is minimal.
So can we, as a community, step beyond America Recycles Day and shoot for Zero Waste Day? Here are some ideas on how you can celebrate:
- Don’t buy any single use items-at least for today and then work towards everyday. No plastic bottles of water, no single serving snack bags, no coffee or tea in a plastic or paper disposable cup
- Recommit to using reusable shopping bags
- Try to buy products with little or no packaging-shop locally or buy food in bulk
- Eat food and beverages using reusable cups, bowls, plates, utensils, and trays-no paper or plastic disposables
- Refuse single-use straws in your drinks
- Try to reuse something that you would normally thrown out
- Support and compliment businesses that have a program in place to reduce, reuse or recycle
Bottom line: Less is the new black. Use less today and everyday.
What are some other ways to celebrate Zero Waste Day?
Can’t get enough about zero waste? Here’s more to chew on: