National Recycling Day, plus climate champions–Keep America Beautiful, and litter clean up around the world!
National Recycling Day, Climate Champs–Keep America Beautiful, Litter Clean Up Around the World!
NATIONAL RECYCLING DAY/AMERICA RECYCLES DAY
America Recycles Day celebrates the importance of recycling, and promotes proper ways to recycle. America Recycles Day (ARD) first started as Texas Recycles Day in 1994 as the idea of Kevin Tuerff and Valerie Davis, who were employees of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality at the time. When the two later left their state jobs, they offered the idea of making a national recycling day to the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) who embraced the idea.
The first America Recycles Day was announced in Orlando, Florida during the NRC’s 16th Annual Congress & Exposition by a parade for about 2,000 gathered people. On October 1st, 1997, the NRC and EPA co-sponsored a press conference on the event with then Vice-President Al Gore as the honorary chair.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton published and signed a proclamation on America Recycles Day, making it a national observance. In the proclamation, the President promoted the environmental and economic benefits of recycling and emphasized the need for Americans to continue to recycle and buy recycled products. Every President to follow him has continued to issue a proclamation for the observance each year, with the exception of President Donald J. Trump.
Why does National Recycling Day matter to us? According to “National Geographic,” Americans send 64 tons of waste to landfills during their lifetime. That’s 246 million tons of waste each year. National Recycling Day aims to encourage Americans to purchase recycled products and to recycle more. In fact, America’s Environmental Protection Agency is offering free webinars on the topic. They include “Emerging Technologies in the Circular Economy,” and “Compost Success Stories & Sustainable Food Choices.”
Click on the links in the Deeper Dive Section at the end of this story at TheClimate.org/episodes to register for both.
CLIMATE CHAMPIONS, KEEP AMERICA BEAUTIFUL
Keep America Beautiful is a nonprofit organization founded in 1953. It is the largest community improvement organization in the United States, with more than 700 state and community-based affiliate organizations and more than 1,000 partner organizations.
Curiously, Keep America Beautiful was founded in December 1953 by a group of American corporations (including companies such as the American Can Company, the Continental Can Company, and Owens-Illinois Glass Co.), nonprofit organizations (the Izaak Walton League, National Council of State Garden Clubs, and the U.S. Brewers Foundation), government agencies (Connecticut State Highway Dept., N.Y. State Department of Public Works), and individuals in reaction to the growing problem of highway litter that followed the construction of the Interstate Highway System, and an increasingly mobile and convenience-oriented consumer culture.
The original goal of the organization was to reduce litter through public education, including public service announcement (PSA) campaigns, and engage tri-sector partnerships through the support of industry, government and nonprofits. One of these early campaigns in Pennsylvania (PennDOT) some attribute to having coined the term “litterbug,”
Keep America Beautiful’s most popular campaign is “The Crying Indian.” It was launched on Earth Day 1971. It featured an actor playing a native American, who, at the end of the public service announcement, while standing on the side of a U.S. highway, has trash thrown at his feet by somebody in a passing car. Cut to a close up of his face, and he’s shedding a single tear. The tagline was, “People start pollution. People can stop it.”
That tagline and the term “litterbug” are reason enough why Keep American Beautiful matters to all of us, worldwide. Why? Because it tries. It continues to try with initiatives like its 2002 Cigarette Litter Prevention Program; it’s 2017 Community Restoration and Resiliency Fund launched after Hurricane Harvey. And in 2018, it adapted Plogging (litter pickup while jogging) popularized in Sweden.
LITTER CLEAN UP AROUND THE WORLD
Today, November 15th is National Recycling Day in the United States, but we aren’t the only country that cares. Here are some other notables: Clean Up Australia Limited is a not-for-profit Australian environmental conservation organization.The organization has sponsored a yearly Clean Up Australia Day since 1990. On the first Sunday of March each year groups of citizens clean up rubbish at different clean up sites across the country. According to the organization, more than a million people participate each year. Clean Up Australia Limited also supports other environmental efforts, including preventing waste in the environment.
Keep Britain Tidy is a UK-based independent environmental charity. The organization campaigns to reduce litter, improve local places and prevent waste. It has offices in Wigan and London. Keep Britain Tidy was originally set up by a conference of 26 organizations in 1955. The conference was initiated by the British Women’s Institute after a resolution was passed at its 1954 AGM to start a national anti-litter campaign. In 1987, Keep Britain Tidy changed its name to Tidy Britain Group.
TIDY Northern Ireland is a non-profit environmental organization that runs the “Keep Northern Ireland Tidy Campaign”, and manages a number of local environmental quality programs such as Blue Flag, Seaside Awards, Green Coast Awards, Borough Cleanliness Survey, Northern Ireland Litter Survey, BIG Spring Clean, Coast Care, River Care and Lough Care, TIDY Business, and Young Reporters on the Environment and Eco-Schools. Many of these programs also operate beyond Northern Ireland.
And because the US state of Texas often refers to itself as a “republic”, there’s Take Care of Texas. It’s a personal responsibility campaign which provides information on ways to keep air and water clean, conserve water and energy, reduce waste, and save money. The campaign is spearheaded by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and is known for its trademarked catchphrase, “Take Care of Texas. It’s the only one we’ve got!”