Today is America Recycles Day, which is the only day nationally recognized to encourage people to recycle. For the past eleven years, this date has been celebrated across the country increase awareness of recycling at our home and business. (See here as to events in your area.) As the world has evolved, isn’t it time to consider changing this day to America Reuse or Reduce Day encouraging us to reduce and reuse rather than just recycle? Shouldn’t recycling be the last resort?
Don’t get me wrong. I believe in recycling but as the recycling for cash coordinator at my school, I see what people recycle. Just to give you a short background, I collect yogurt cups, small electronic hand held items such as cell phones, broken crayons, elmer glue sticks, and electronic trash such as CDs and DVDs and their plastic cases. (Note, I don’t get paid for all of these recycling programs.)
Since my boxes are in the open, people just drop off their recycling. Once a week or so, I visit my boxes to see if any of them need empting. To be honest, it feels like Christmas every visit because I have no idea what was left there. I either get
- what I asked for, which means they are reading the bulletin,
- a deviation of what I asked for like a portable phone rather than a cell phone. (Even received a burnt out CFL once)
- or something that someone could use.
Just the other day, someone dropped off an unopened package of CD-Rs! (I snatched those…) In the past, I have received perfectly good software, videos, and DVDs, good crayons, and two dozen clear CD cases. Many times, I put all of these treasures in the teacher’s lounge. A day goes by, and I checked back to find out these little treasures are gone.
So, the question becomes why are we recycling what is perfectly good rather giving it away so others can reuse it?
Consider the following before you recycle:
- swaps and barter sites
- the National Christina Foundation and other nonprofit organization for computers
- Can you reuse something in another way rather than recycling it? Glass jars to store food, nails, or other items. Plastic water bottles to place in your toilet tank to reduce water usage. Cardboard and newspaper to suppress the weeds. (See my no till garden.)
And while you are at it, consider buying products that you can reuse over and over again like a reusable water bottle and shopping bag rather than a plastic bottle or bag. Remember, energy is consumed in order to recycle as well as to create new products out of those items.
So, readers how have you reused or reduced rather than just recycled?
This post is part of the Green Mom’s Carnival on America Recycles Day being hosted by Leslie at Recycle Your Day.