Earth Day is celebrated each year in April, but doing good for the environment is something we can all do, every day. While we may take part in recycling efforts in our own homes, it’s also important to make sure we are doing our part in our American Legion post homes.
EnviroForensics, an environmental engineering firm, reports that the average American produces 4 pounds of waste material each day, and the amount of waste produced annually in the United States alone could circle the globe 24 times. Many of these items include plastic, aluminum, cardboard, paper, and glass, which can be recycled instead of filling up landfills.
Here are some tips to help get you started if you don’t already have a recycling program at your post home.
Tip 1: Find out what is recyclable in your area
MasterClass.com published the following list of items that can typically be put into your recycling bin. However, most recycling resource organizations suggest you check with your local recycling center, municipality, and waste hauler to find out what kind of materials are accepted in your area and if they offer pickup services. If pickup or curbside service isn’t available in your area, EnviroForensics suggests trying to find a public drop-off area. They advise most major cities have locations throughout the area that accept recyclables free of charge.
Common recyclable items:
Tip 2: Conduct a waste audit
- Cans: Aluminum and steel cans can be recycled, as long as they’re empty and rinsed. Recycling centers will not accept aluminum foil covered in food waste because it can contaminate other recycling materials.
- Glass: You can recycle glass bottles and jars, as long as they’re empty and rinsed. Do not recycle window glass, or kitchen glassware, like cups or plates. These materials are often manufactured with certain additives that can contaminate other recyclable materials.
- Paper products: You can recycle cardboard boxes, newspaper, printer paper, magazines, mail, and paper tubes. Do not recycle paper, paper towels, toilet paper, or cardboard that is greasy or covered in food waste because it can contaminate other recycling materials.
- Cartons: Food and beverage cartons like milk cartons, juice cartons, or soup cartons can all be recycled, along with their caps, as long as they’re empty and rinsed.
- Plastics #1 and #2: You can recycle plastic containers with the numbers 1 or 2 inside the triangle recycling symbol, as long as they’re empty and rinsed — in general, this includes thick plastic bottles, jugs, and tubs for kitchen, bathroom, or laundry materials. You can also recycle plastic water bottles.
We’re not saying you need to dive headfirst into a dumpster, but Earth911.com
recommends conducting a waste audit of items that typically make up your trash composition. They recommend surveying the contents of your trash and making a record of these contents every day for about two weeks to get an idea of what items are going into your trash and determine what items you can start to recycle.
Tip 3: Set up recycling bins for designated items
To help make recycling as easy as possible, MasterClass.com advises setting up a recycling bin next to each of your trash cans. However, they point out that you shouldn’t line your recycling container with a plastic bag. These bags are typically not recyclable, and you should avoid using them to bag your recycling.
Tip 4: Keep your local recycling rules posted somewhere visible
If you’re like us, sometimes looking at both the trash and recycling bins side by side is like staring into an abyss and having no idea what to put where. It can sometimes be confusing about what goes in the trash or what’s recyclable. MasterClass advises that rather than guessing every time you go to throw something out, keep a list of rules or an infographic near the bin so you can quickly reference them when you need to. We found a handy printable resource guide and tips online at Waste Management.
Tip 5: Recycling bottles, cans, electronics, and more as a fundraiser
In a blog article posted at www.FundraisingIP.com
, the authors write that one option to raise funds in a “green” and environmentally friendly way is to organize a collection drive for items such as bottles, cans, ink cartridges, electronics and more. They explain that many states have a refund policy where they’ll pay a set amount per item or pay by the pound for collected and returned containers. They advise groups to check their state’s guidelines to find out what items can be refunded.
In addition to collection drives, they also suggest that groups collect cans and bottles as part of a roadside, beach, or river cleanup effort, and do even more for their local environment by cleaning up refuse.
For American Legion Auxiliary units, this could be included as part of your ALA Community Service program activities and recorded as volunteer hours. If your post home currently has a recycling program or hosts a recycling event as a fundraiser, please share your story with us on our social media @ALAforVeterans.