GROTON -- America Recycles Day is a national campaign, celebrated every year on Nov. 15, that encourages Americans to promote the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling.
Since the United States does not have a national law that mandates recycling and because it is left up to local jurisdictions, more effort is needed to educate and encourage communities.
So to help Americans raise awareness about the importance of recycling and to buy products made from recycled materials, America Recycles Day was organized in 1997 by the National Recycling Coalition.
Recycling and using recycled materials helps to conserve our natural resources, save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Massachusetts residents fill enough trash bags each year to circle the Earth two-and-a-half times. Two-thirds of the trash could be recycled or composted but only one-third is. The rest is buried or shipped, at a cost, to another state.
Recycling paper and containers at local transfer stations is free to residents. And while Massachusetts prohibits the disposal of paper and cardboard, car batteries, bottles and cans, TVs and computers, leaves and yard waste, large home appliances and hazardous waste, they are collected for a fee.
Glass and plastic bottles, cans and plastic bags are also collected at grocery markets.
It's important to teach children how they can help the environment and save the Earth's natural resources. Local schools have created learning environments that foster awareness and teach students the importance of recycling and reusing products. Collection bins are placed in classrooms, offices and cafeterias for paper and plastic bottles while a large green and yellow Abitibi collection bin sits in the school parking lot, hungry for newspapers, magazines, office and school papers, mail and catalogs.
"We want recycling to come automatically to children so they know in school and at home," said Peter Myerson, principal Swallow Union Elementary School.
Patricia Ascione, guidance counselor, agrees that teaching children to be mindful of recycling leads to good habits, saying, "Everyday is Earth Day."
For young students, like 10-year-old Luke Williams, in fourth-grade, realizing the impor ance of reducing waste is very important. "I recycle bottles and paper at school and at home because otherwise it all goes into landfills and pretty soon ... the world will be polluted," he said.
WAYS YOU CAN CELEBRATE AMERICA RECYCLES DAY
1. Commit to recycle more! Buy recycled products for home, school and work.
2. Learn what materials you can recycle in your community at americarecyclesday.org; separate bins to collect plastic, all cans (aluminum/tin/steel), glass and newspapers/cardboard. Find a bottle and can redemption center, return plastic bags to grocery stores collection.
3. Use refillable water bottles, mugs for your coffee and reusable canvas bags for shopping.
4. Reduce junk mail by removing your name from unwanted mailing lists at www.mass.gov/consumer.
5. Get bank statements, bills and newsletters by email.
6. Reuse paper bags, cardboard boxes and plastic packing materials like Styrofoam peanuts and bubble wrap.
7. Compost leaves, grass, newspapers, paper towels and food scraps for great garden soil.
8 Recycle textiles. Donate unwanted items to good will charities, such as HGRM (Household Goods Recycling Ministry) and Epilepsy Foundation.
9. Reduce toxic home and garden products and keep out of the trash.
10. Visit your local recycling facility/transfer station for information.
To learn more about how you can reduce waste, preserve and protect our resources and environment, and teach children about the importance of recycling, visit these websites:
www.americarecycleday.org; www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/recycle/; www.recyclingworksma.com; www.earth911.com/recycling; www.epa.gov/recyclecity; www.turi.org/community; www.hgrm.org; www.donatenewengland.org; greenplanet4kids.com.