History of National Recycling Day
Recycling is a much older concept than we give it credit for. Archaeological studies have found that during periods when natural resources were sparse, waste dumps show less household waste, giving many reason to believe that they were recycling and reusing products in the absence of virgin materials.
In fact, finding recycled or reusable resources has always held a premium in human history. Whether it’s the “dustmen” of Victorian era England, who went around and collected coal fires to help with brick making, or the development of shoddy and mungo rags combining used materials with sparse amounts of virgin wool, recycling has played a key part in our relationship with natural resources.
Additionally, in modern history, wartime has always been a period of buckling down and recycling. Most resources in wartime go to, well, the war. So citizens typically need to find innovative ways of reusing what materials they have for what they need. Additionally, scrap metal and second hand materials is increasingly important to help create a bank of resources for armies to turn into utilities. Examples of this are from World War II with the National Salvage Campaign in Britain and the Salvage for Victory Campaign stateside.
In our modern times, nationalism has been replaced with environmentalism and the urge to help preserve our sparse resources by reusing goods and reducing waste. So, if pre-historic humans can figure out how to recycle, your annoying roommate can figure it out as well.
National Recycling Day timeline
Paper recycling increased by 89 percent since 1990.
America Recycles Day (aka National Recycling Day) became a national holiday.
Cartoon Network’s “Captain Planet” aired for the first time, encouraging children nationwide to recycle and help protect the planet.
Sweden was one of the first countries to establish an official recycling system for glass bottles with refund deposits.
National Recycling Day FAQs
Is there a National Recycling Day?
When did recycling day start?
How much does recycling cost the United States?
Recycling can, reportedly, cost around $50 to $150 per ton. That’s much less than trash collection and processing, showing that for most cases recycling is also more cost-effective.
How much has recycling increased in the past year?
While it’s a bit tricky to quantify year over year recycling changes, it has increased exponentially over time in a remarkable upward slope. For example, in 1960 it was at seven percent. Most recent figures show it around 35 percent now.
How to Observe National Recycling Day
Join An Event
Recycling events can be surprisingly fun (and educational). For instance, an event in Missouri involves making bracelets from plastic shopping bags, doing a composting activity, and building something out of recycled goods. Look for events in your area, bring your friends, and get involved. The more you know, the more you can make a difference!
Recycling is more than just dumping cans into a recycling bin (although that’s part of it). There’s so much more you can do! Make your commitment to reduce, reuse, recycle, and buy recycled.
Share The Love
Excited about your latest recycling trip? Share it on social media using the hashtag #BeRecycled. The more we get the word out, the more we encourage others to recycle and help save the planet!
3 Powerful Ways Recycling Saves Energy
It fuels your binge-watching
One recycled tin can would save enough energy to power a TV for three hours.
It maximizes social media time
One recycled glass bottle can save enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes.
It keeps the lights on
One recycled plastic bottle can save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 3 hours.
Why National Recycling Day is Important
It's not hard to do
Recycling doesn’t have to be confusing, overwhelming, or intimidating. Doing small things like bringing your own to-go cup to Starbucks, bringing reusable grocery bags on your shopping trip, and using a safety razors rather than disposable ones can really help make a difference.
Celebrities are into it
Johnny Galecki (Leonard from “The Big Bang Theory”) is proving recycling can be cool — and a whole lot easier to do. He’s a volunteer advocate for Recycle Across America — a nonprofit dedicated to standardizing recycle bin labels.
It can truly change the world
Think just one person can’t make a difference? Lauren Singer developed a zero-waste lifestyle where she’s able to reduce, reuse and recycle everything she consumes. She’s got this down to a science — and is now able to fit all of the trash she’s produced within the last four years in a single mason jar. Her website proves that if everyone lived similarly, waste wouldn’t be nearly as much of a problem.
National Recycling Day dates