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KSRE Tuesday Letter

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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

November 15, 2022

Take the #BeRecycled Pledge on America Recycles Day

Submitted by Abigail Crouse

America Recycles Day is today, November 15, and K-State’s Pollution Prevention Institute encourages you to make the #BeRecycled pledge to learn about recycling in your community, take action to improve recycling and share what you learned about recycling with others.

On average, every American generates 4.9 pounds of household trash each day. That’s more than 1,700 pounds of waste per person in a single year. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, half of this waste is destined for the landfill while only a third of it is recycled and composted.

The first step in decreasing waste is to reduce consumption and use durable goods, but when that can’t be done, strengthen your recycling game. By improving recycling, you can help strengthen the economy, conserve natural resources, save energy, reduce pollution and prevent excess materials from entering landfills. Here are a few tips that can help:

• Know what you can recycle – Not all recycling centers accept the same materials, and if you contaminate your recycling with unaccepted items, then your entire recyclables bin could be landfilled. Contact your service provider and find out if you’re recycling correctly. If you don’t have a provider, consider using Earth911’s recycling search or a similar tool to find one.

• Know where “unrecyclable” materials can be recycled – Plastic bags, e-waste, fabrics and many other items are not commonly accepted in curbside recycling, but they can still be recycled. Consider using Earth911’s recycling search or a similar tool to find out where to take items your provider does not accept.

• Recycle more – Challenge yourself to not throw any recyclables into the trash bin and to recycle them instead. As of 2018, the EPA found that only two-thirds of paper waste is recycled, one quarter of glass is recycled, and less than a tenth of plastic is recycled—so there is definite room for improvement. More recycling also strengthens the circular economy, which can benefit all of us.

• Use items made of recycled materials – When making purchases, select products produced with recycled materials. This strengthens the recyclables market and encourages producers to use fewer new materials.

• Spread the word – Inform others about ways they can improve their own recycling efforts and encourage them to take the #BeRecycled pledge. More people recycling correctly leads to a better recycling market and a healthier planet.

Recycling alone is not the answer to America’s waste problem. The best action is to always reduce consumption and consistently use durable, reusable items in place of disposables, but when that can’t be done, strengthen your recycling game. Recycling helps. For more information about America Recycles Day, visit www.sbeap.org/americarecyclesday.