Gather up your plastics and aluminum cans, because today is America Recycles Day! According to PlanetPals.com, it’s “the only nationally recognized day in the USA dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and to buy recycled products.” The very first America Recycles Day took place on November 15, 1997, in an effort to promote recycling. Furthermore, this day challenges and encourages businesses to purchase and sell recycled goods.
A Super Brief History Lesson About Recycling
Generally, many people think that recycling began back in the 1960s or ‘70s, sometime around the creation of Earth Day. Actually, the history of recycling began long, long ago within ancient societies. iSustainableEarth.com says that the Greek philosopher Plato advocated recycling as early as 400 B.C. For hundreds of years following that period, it was commonplace to reuse whatever people could, as they lived off the earth in agriculture-based societies.
The Industrial Revolution began the era of synthetic materials and goods. At the time, almost no one knew how the sprawling factories would impact the environment. Many cities turned into filthy, smoggy places, and people threw garbage onto the street. By the late 1800s, people began to see the damage caused by irresponsibly discarded waste. Before 1900, cities like New York and Baltimore set up citywide waste management or recycling programs.
The recycling of household materials was further advocated during the two world wars of the 20th century. Propaganda posters encouraged people to gather scrap metal or rubber to reuse for the war effort. Throughout the 1950s and ‘60s, news outlets and the government began to draw more attention to the importance of recycling.
With the establishment of Earth Day in 1970, things really began to move toward dealing with waste in more earth-friendly manners. Recycling programs started to pop up, and studies on the impact of industry and waste on the environment gained steam around the United States. Numerous acts and laws passed throughout the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s sought to better manage waste and encourage local recycling parks. November 15, 1997, marked the first America Recycles Day, created to continue drawing national awareness to the importance of recycling. Today, recycling and other sustainable choices continue to influence our daily lives.
Just a Few More Quick Recycling Facts
- iSustainableEarth.com says, “…recycling an aluminum can only requires about 5% of the energy it takes to produce a new one…”
- Benefits-of-Recycling.com notes, “Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil, and 4000 kilowatt hours of electricity. This is enough energy to power the average American home for 5 months.”
- Earth911.com says, “According to the EPA, recycling, including composting, diverted 68 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 2001, up from 34 million tons in 1990.”
- According to HealthyWomen.com, the National Recycling Coalition estimates that “recycling in the U.S. is a $236 billion a year industry. More than 56,000 recycling and reuse enterprises employ 1.1 million workers nationwide.”
- TimeToRecycle.com reports, “Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour! Most of them are thrown away!”
For more information and tips to become a more avid recycler, visit AmericaRecyclesDay.org. Sign up to take their pledgecommit now to recycling more this year.
Check out these other Zing posts to learn more about recycling and living a more earth-friendly lifestyle!