Pledge to Recycle More for America Recycles Day 2011

| 11/4/2011 9:48:19 AM

Heidi CardenasBased in Lake County, Illinois, Heidi Cardenas has been freelancing since 2000. She studied business administration at the College of Lake County and has a background in human resources administration. She has written for "Chicago Parent Magazine" and guest blogs for The Herb Companion, Natural Living and TribLocal. She enjoys writing on a wide range of topics, but especially gardening, natural living, and home and family eco topics. 

Have you taken the pledge? “For America Recycles Day 2011, I pledge to learn about recycling options in my community. I will find out what materials are collected for recycling in my community at I pledge to reduce my personal waste by recycling. Within the next month, I will start to recycle one new type of material.”

America Recycles Day is November 15. I never knew that until I saw it mentioned in my Earth911 email newsletter this week, although I have been recycling for some time. America Recycles Day is a program of Keep America Beautiful (in operation since 1953, before I was born—why haven’t I heard of KAB before now either?), which strives to unite individuals and organizations to find solutions for preventing litter, reducing waste and beautifying communities. Keep America Beautiful also sponsors the Great American Cleanup each spring, a huge volunteer event to beautify parks, clean seashores and waterways, and coordinate mass recycling collections.

Reading about America Recycles Day in my email made me start thinking about all the things that I can’t get into the recycling stream in our area. That includes the hard plastic caps from soda bottles, laundry detergent bottles, ketchup bottles, alkaline batteries, hard plastic breadbag clips, waxed cartons from orange juice and other food products, and pizza boxes if they have any grease residue on them. I actually can get plastic bottle caps recycled if I take them to Aveda in the shopping mall that is 40 minutes away, but I don’t go there often. I mailed our caps in one time, but it cost almost $8 to send them. Our school district’s after-school coalition collects them for Aveda’s recycling program, so I send take them there.

plastics for recycling 

I think the batteries bother me the most. My family has stopped using alkaline batteries and uses rechargeable batteries, which are accepted in numerous places for recycling, although not through our curbside recycling program, which we must pay for monthly whether we use it or not, thanks to our village administration entering into a contract for waste disposal. Alkaline batteries contain zinc powder, manganese dioxide and potassium chloride; some produced before 1996 may contain mercury. They end up in landfills, leaking these toxins into the soil, water and air because there aren’t any universal mandates to recycle them and few programs to do so. A Google search of how to recycle alkaline batteries where we live in Lake County, Illinois, gets me a free ride down the rabbit hole of recycling batteries, always ending up in the same place—dispose of them with your regular garbage if you don’t have any BigGreenBox programs near you (which we don’t). Supposedly Walgreens and Whole Foods have BigGreenBoxes, but none of those stores near, or even far from our house has them. BigGreenBox is a program run by Toxco Corporation, which provides the collection boxes for a fee and recycles the batteries it receives.

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