Today is America Recycles Day! Since 1997, November 15 has been a national holiday dedicated to celebrating and educating the public about the importance and impact of recycling. Recycling reduces the amount of trash in landfills, helps conserve resources, decreases pollutants made when harvesting raw materials, saves energy, and helps our national economy through increasing jobs and access to domestic materials just to name a few.

Recycling has become commonplace in schools, offices, homes, and some cities even have recycling bins on their streets. Paper recycling has increased by 89% since 1990, when Captain Planet was first aired. Some states now charge for plastic bags at the grocery store to encourage people to use reusable bags. The United States and the rest of the world are slowly starting to make the changes needed but we must continue to find new ways to ensure recycling is simple and available to everyone.

Working with young people from our education groups and experiencing their vast knowledge of environmental issues and the importance of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle has shown that pushing recycling in schools and campaigns to encourage ecofriendly living is having a lasting impression on the future. Here on Pigeon Key, we strive to educate our students and the public on the importance of green practices through example. We regularly participate in beach clean ups both on Pigeon Key as well as at other local beaches. We recycle based on local guidelines, but also try to reuse anything that can be repurposed. If one were to look in our kitchen, instead of drinking glasses, our shelves are lined with jelly and pickle jars that we have accumulated over time. Our students sign buoys that have washed ashore and we hang them in our classroom.

To celebrate America Recycles Day, let us recommend a few possible activities or changes you can make in your day to day life.

•Clean up your local beach, park, or neighborhood! You can social distance and all you need is a trash bag, gloves, friends, and maybe some good music.

•Please make sure you are properly cleaning anything you are recycling. Items cannot be recycled if there is leftover food or liquids in them.

•Talk to your community leaders about ways to incorporate recycling into your community.

•Reduce the amount of nonrecyclable items you use. Try to avoid “fast fashion” or clothes that do not last long and are made from synthetic fibers. Either do not bag your produce or purchase reusable produce bags so you aren’t using any single use bags.

•Reuse items that you can use in your life. Make that old shirt into a cleaning rag. Use those old jars ass water glasses or to store things.

•Educate you friends, family, and community about the importance of recycling! Knowledge leads to change!

Photo: Interns from our 2019 education season participate in an organized beach clean-up at Bahia Honda State Park.