The United Nations recognized Global Recycling Day on March 18 initially in 2018. It was created as a response to global warming and the threat to natural resources created by the overwhelming amount of trash that humans create each year.
According to nationaltoday.com, “Annual reports estimate that the earth might not live to see the next decade if we don’t curb our litter.” However, raising awareness is making a difference. Approximately 700 million tons in CO2 emissions were saved by recycling in 2021. This is set to increase to one billion tons by the year 2030.
To honor those who are making a difference, Globalrecyclingday.com will be awarding ten people, places, businesses or activities around the world with the distinction of #RecyclingHeroes. Nominations for the honor closed on March 3, and the winners will be announced on the Global Recycling Foundations’ social media. Each winner will receive $1,000.
Ranjit Baxi, Founding President of the Global Recycling Foundation (GRF) commented on their website, “We want to recognize Recycling Heroes for their outstanding contributions during these unprecedented times. Nominations are invited from individuals, communities and businesses who have continued to make significant impact towards recycling in the last 12 months and whose efforts will contribute towards a greener future of our world.”
The Seventh Resource
The GRF website calls recycling the “seventh resource.” It says, “Of the earth’s natural resources, we tend to think of six as the most important – water, air, oil, natural gas, coal and minerals. These resources represent the foundation of our very existence…humanity can’t survive without them….However, these resources are finite and rapidly running out…We are carelessly using the earth’s natural resources without thinking about what will replace them, while billions of tons of waste pour into landfill sites every year… The simple solution to this is recycling – the ‘Seventh Resource’, which can be used again and again.”
A dual mission has been set forward by the GRF for Global Recycling Day, to inform world leaders of the importance of recycling and to ask people around the world to think of recyclables as a resource, not waste.
10 Facts About Waste
Here are ten facts about waste and why recycling is so important:
- Over eight BILLION tons of plastic has been produced since the 1950s. Of this, 6.3 BILLION tons of it has become plastic waste in our landfills and polluting our environment.
- One hundred and fifty MILLION tons of plastic currently pollutes the world’s oceans.
- It takes one MILLION years for a glass bottle to break down. But glass can be recycled.
- Disposable diapers comprise 3.5 million tons of waste every year, and, according to Reader’s Digest, it takes 500 years for one diaper to decompose. During that time, it is producing toxic substances that leach into the environment. Plus, 200,000 trees are cut down per year to produce them.
- Prig.org states that, “…around 85% of textiles thrown away in the United States are dumped into landfills or burned — including unused textiles and unsold clothes. Furthermore, it is estimated that the average American throws away about 37kg/81 pounds of clothes every year– that’s the weight of an 11-year-old child!”
- On a global level, the amount of trashed clothing is equivalent to one dump truck full unloading every second of every day.
- The EPA estimates that nine million tons of “fast fashion” furniture gets tossed every single year, according to architecturaldigest.com. That’s roughly 5% of everything brought to landfills. Not only is it wasteful, but it’s also not a good investment. Part of the problem is that fast fashion furniture is harder to repair because something made of particleboard and laminate is harder—if not impossible—to repair once the surface is damaged.
- As much as 40% of all food goes unsold or uneaten in the United States. Instead of being consumed, this food ends up in a landfill, according to wedontwaste.com. Yet, more than 34 million Americans are food insecure, according to moveforhunger.com.
- Paper makes up 26% of all waste in a landfill, according to plantswitch.com. With half being made up by newspapers.
- Methane and carbon dioxide make up 90 to 98% of landfill gasses.
We Can All Recycle
Everyone can join the recycling movement. Glass, paper, tin, aluminum, cardboard, and many plastics can be taken to recycling centers. Old and unused clothing can be donated and unused textiles can be repurposed. Unused food can be given to food banks. And old, damaged furniture can be upcycled.
Buying vintage furniture at estate sales and antique stores is having an upswing in popularity because it is better made. And there is a growing number of companies that are repurposing old clothing, like H&M and Patagonia.
“Global Recycling Day was created in 2018 to help recognize, and celebrate, the importance recycling plays in preserving our precious primary resources and securing the future of our planet,” says the GRF website. “It is a day for the world to come together and put the planet first.”