November 15th – America Recycles Day

Thursday, November 15 marks the celebratory day of recycling, where the goal is to better educate all Americans about the environmental and economic benefits of recycling. America Recycles Day is celebrated with local events, pledge contests and prize drawings that drive home the point that we will all do more and be better about recycling in the coming year. The national recycling rate has increased every year since 1980, and is currently 34%…lets help improve that on campus! The Sustainability Committee will be hosting several events and games, so be on the lookout! Prizes will be awarded.

Find an event near you. (Enter your zip code under Attend an Event to find a local celebration.) Or, check out a list of events near Alliance.

Take the pledge to recycle more this year. (and be entered into a drawing for fabulous prizes).

I recently went to a conference and heard the organization 5 Gyres speak. Its vision is to witness plastic pollution decline in the environment until it is no longer found in the world’s oceans. The video is of a research team that went to investigate the Great Lakes, and they found the same results in the ocean – tons of plastic infested waters.

Take a look around you- most of what we eat, drink or use in any way comes packaged in petroleum plastic, a material designed to last forever, yet used for products that we then throw away. This throwaway mentality is a relatively recent phenomenon. Just a generation ago, we packaged our products in reusable or recyclable materials (glass, metals and paper) and designed products that would last. Today, our landfills and beaches are awash in plastic packaging and expendable products that have no value at the end of their short lifecycle.

The short-term convenience of using and throwing away plastic products carries a very inconvenient long-term truth. These plastic water bottles, cups, utensils, electronics, toys and gadgets we dispose of daily are rarely recycled in a closed loop. We currently recover only 5% of the plastics we produce. What happens to the rest of it? Roughly 50% is buried in landfills, some is remade into durable goods and much of it remains “unaccounted for,” lost in the environment where it ultimately washes out to sea.

Just think…there are 350 million-square-kilometers of ocean, and 73 million pounds of plastic. Take a look at this “plastic soup,” and maybe you will avoid using single stream plastic, or just recycle a little bit more.

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