Americans generate about 254 million tons of trash annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) most recent figures, and only about one-third of that waste is recycled. For many, one of the main barriers to recycling is not knowing how or where to recycle certain items.
For instance, many household cordless products we use every day are powered by rechargeable batteries. These batteries are not only recyclable, but contain materials that are potentially harmful to the environment if thrown in the trash. In fact, at least 20 percent of people are holding on to their used batteries because they know they shouldn’t be tossed out — but they don’t know where to dispose of them.
You can be part of the solution to reduce waste by learning how to properly recycle the products you use every day. Celebrate America Recycles Day — Tuesday, Nov. 15 — by incorporating the following into your recycling routine.
Check household “recyclable” items.
Aluminum cans and plastic bottles are the most commonly recycled items, but lots of other items found around the house can be recycled, as well. Start recycling plastic bags and paper towels right in your curbside bin. Pin a sign in the kitchen to remind kids they can throw napkins and sandwich baggies in, too.
Designate a separate container for rechargeable batteries from old cordless products and look up the nearest participating collection site so you know exactly where to go when the container is full.
Dump your stash.
Are you a battery hoarder? Do you have a drawer in the house filled with dead batteries? You aren’t alone. Establish a monthly routine when you sort through the junk drawer and gather up old electronics and used batteries to drop off while running other errands.
A study commissioned by Call2Recycle, Inc. found that an estimated 6.7 billion batteries were sold into U.S. markets in 2014. Of that number, 30 percent were rechargeable batteries available to be recycled. The Call2Recycle program makes it easy to be a responsible battery user with its network of more than 30,000 drop-off locations including retail stores in your own community that you may already visit regularly. Find a battery collection site near you by visiting www.call2recycle.org/locator.
Buy recycled products.
Recycling gives new life to old products by turning them into new ones. By using recycled materials in their products, manufacturers conserve energy and natural resources and r educe w aste i n l andf ills. C hecking t he l abels f or products that are recycled and eco-friendly when making a purchase is the easiest way to be a responsible consumer.
Participate in a local community recycling event — or create your own.
Thousands of events are organized nationwide on America Recycles Day to raise awareness about the benefits of recycling and buying products made from recycled materials. Get involved!
Host your own battery-specific recycling drive and invite your community to contribute their battery “hoards.” Your neighbors will thank you.
Take the #BeRecycled pledge.
Take the “I Will Recycle” pledge and commit to incorporating more green activities into your everyday routine. Start by selecting a specific item you use frequently and pledge to recycle more of that item in the future. By starting small, there is a greater chance you’ ll continue throughout the year. Your efforts can inspire your family and friends to take the pledge and join you in incorporating environmentally-friendly behavior into their everyday lives.
These eco-friendly activities are simple and easy to incorporate and can help you lead a greener lifestyle, not just on America Recycles Day, but all year. By including one new item into your recycling routine — such as batteries — you can make a positive impact. Not only does this keep batteries out of landfills, but when recycled, valuable materials can be recovered and used in new stainless steel products, such as golf clubs, batteries and other products.