As my dad used to say, “Who'd a thunk it!” Today is America Recycles Day! I had no idea!

As my dad used to say, "Who'd a thunk it!" Today is America Recycles Day! I had no idea! I was looking some stuff up the other day and came across this information. On Nov. 15, 2004, George W. Bush issued a presidential proclamation that this day would be America Recycles Day.

According to the National Recycling Coalition, America Recycles Day "is dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle, and buy recycled products."

The grassroots idea actually sprouted in Texas in 1997 by Kevin Tuerff and Valerie Davis of EnviroMedia. It was based on the successful Texas Recycles Day program and brought together state recycling coordinators from throughout the country, along with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, the National Recycling Coalition, the United State Postal Service, and the Steel Recycling Institute, among others. Now, 38 states join as partners promoting and supporting the America Recycles Day; proudly, Missouri and Kansas are both in these ranks.
The national recycling rate is currently at 34 percent. Recycling 75 percent of the nation's waste would create nearly 1.5 million jobs by 2030, according to a report by the Tellus Institute with Sound Resource Management. "Recycling is the easiest thing we can all do to improve our community, conserve natural resources and create green jobs. Collectively, we aim to make recycling bigger and better 365 days a year," said Brenda Pulley, Senior Vice President of Recycling at Keep America Beautiful and national program manager for America Recycles Day.

America Recycles Day is a national program of Keep America Beautiful, and is the only nationally recognized day and community-driven awareness event dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States. Since its inception in 1997, communities across the country have banded together and participated in America Recycles Day on Nov. 15 to educate, promote environmental citizenship, and encourage action.

The day is about promoting recycling, so sure – recycling centers are going to be working overtime. Volunteers will be out in droves helping folks unload their cars and trucks of newspapers, aluminum, plastic, and all kinds of recycled items. Throughout the month of November, it is estimated that two million people will join in the celebration. Let us not forget the serious side of why recycling really matters.
With today's recycling rate at 34 percent that constitutes a multi-billion dollar industry that employs millions of Americans and helps to advance our clean energy economy. It takes the people – you and me – to make it all happen. Through the simple act of recycling and buying recycled products, it is the people that make the choices to close the loop and make the circle complete that fill the supply chain of recycled materials that help fuel our economy. You can be one of those that makes a difference. Do you stand over your trash can and throw all of your aluminum and plastic away? According to a report published by the nonprofit organization, As You Sow, it is estimated that the value of just discarded packaging in the United States is worth more than $11 billion.

If you have ever wondered if you really make a difference with the one aluminum can you throw away, think about it like this. The number of cans recycled every 30 seconds equals the number of people who could fill an entire pro football stadium. And recycling just one aluminum can saves the equivalent energy of powering a 46-inch LED TV for three hours. A glass container can go from the recycling bin to a store shelf in as few as 30 days. The decision you make does matter – make the right choice!

Lynn Youngblood is a Kansas City-based naturalist.