Office for the Aging


Take the Pledge! November 15 is America Recycles Day

New Yorkers of all ages can help preserve energy and resources by learning how to minimize waste.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2006 every American generated about 4.6 pounds of waste daily and recycled approximately one third of it (roughly 1.5 pounds).

The EPA reports that the rate of composting and recycling in the United States rose from 7.7 percent of the waste stream in 1960 to 17 percent in 1990. Today, Americans recycle around 33 percent of their waste.

In 2007, the amount of energy saved from recycling aluminum and steel cans, plastic PET and glass containers, newsprint and corrugated packaging was equivalent to:

  • The amount of electricity consumed by 17.8 million Americans in one year.
  • 29 percent of nuclear electricity generation in the U.S. in one year.
  • 7.9 percent of U.S. electricity generation from fossil fuels in one year.
  • 11 percent of the energy produced by coal-fired power plants in the United States
  • The energy supplied from 2.7 percent of imported barrels of crude oil into the United States
  • The amount of gasoline used in almost 11 million passenger automobiles in one year.

Despite that progress, however, much more needs to be done because the stakes are very high.

America Recycles Day Highlights the Benefits of Recycling
Recycling helps to conserve natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. According to the EPA, recycling one ton of aluminum cans saves the energy equivalent of 36 barrels of oil or 1,655 gallons of gasoline.

Saving Energy on America Recycles Day
If a ton of cans is a little too much to visualize, consider this: recycling a single aluminum can saves enough energy to power a television for three hours. Yet, every three months, Americans toss enough aluminum into landfills to rebuild the entire U.S. fleet of commercial airplanes, according to the National Recycling Coalition.

Using recycled materials also saves energy and reduces global warming. For example, using recycled glass consumes 40 percent less energy than using new materials. Americans also contribute to recycling by purchasing products with recycled content, less packaging and fewer harmful materials.

Learn How Recycling Helps the Economy on America Recycles Day
Recycling also reduces costs to businesses and creates jobs. The American recycling and reuse industry is a $200 billion dollar enterprise that includes more than 50,000 recycling and reuse establishments, employs more than 1 million people, and generates an annual payroll of approximately $37 billion.

Did You Know? What You Can Do…
There are many opportunities to go green by Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling. Here are several simple ideas to get you started.

  • Reduce food waste by using up the food you already bought and have in the house instead of buying more. You already paid for it - so use it!
  • Non-perishable and unspoiled perishable food can be donated to local food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters.
  • Reuse items around the house such as rags and wipes, empty jars and mugs, party decorations, and gift wrap.
  • Buy products in concentrate, bulk, and in refillable containers. They reduce packaging waste and can save you money!
  • Return used car tires to retailers or wholesalers that recycle or retread them. Tires are banned from most landfills, and illegally dumped tires become breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other pests.
  • When buying products, check the labels to determine an item's recyclability and whether it is made from recycled materials. Buying recycled encourages manufacturers to make more recycled-content products available.

New York Recycles!
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has compiled a web page to support the New York Recycles! program.(External Link) You can find a list of things organizations can do to aid in the recycling effort, a schedule of recycling related events planned in New York State, and you can find out how you can help raise awareness about the importance of recycling.

You can take the New York Recycles! pledge(External Link) on the NYSDEC web site, too.