November 15th is America Recycles Day, a national event started by the Keep America Beautiful organization, in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency and various state agencies and manufacturers. Of course, recycling has to happen year round to be effective, but the goal of the event is to encourage communities and individuals to renew their commitment to the cause. With that, here are seven recycling reminders.
Limit food waste. Americans throw out 14 percent of the food they buy, according to the EPA. Freezing and reusing leftovers is one way to bring that figure down. It might be worth investing in a stand-alone freezer. See our freezers buying guide for more information.
Turn in electronics. Many manufacturers and retailers take back electronics for recycling. For example, Best Buy accepts computers, TVs, and more, even items not bought there. You might also be able to sell your old gear by going to www.usell.com, where you can identify possible options for resale and recycling.
Keep appliances out of the landfill. When you buy a large appliance, most retailers will haul away the old one. ApplianceSmart.com, Best Buy, Sears, and some utilities participate in the EPA's Responsible Appliance Disposal Program, which ensures, among other things, that chemicals are recovered and the metal, plastic, and glass are recycled. Some utilities will even pay you to dispose of an energy-wasting appliance.
Be smart with hazardous waste. That includes things like paint, batteries, and compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Municipalities sometimes sponsor collection days several times a year for these items. The website www.earth911.com can direct you to services in your area.
Return plastic bags. More than 15,000 stores nationwide participate in a program to take back plastic bags and film, like the wrap around cases of bottled water. Look for the clearly marked recycling bins near store entrances.
Look to donate. Clothes, for example, can usually have a second life. Some thrift shops and donation services will even pick up your donations at home or work. At Goodwill (see locator.Goodwill.org for retail locations), if they can't sell the clothes, they'll recycle old clothing scraps into cleaning cloths for industrial buyers.
Rally the neighborhood. If your community is behind on recycling, consider hosting an educational recycling event. Go to AmericaRecyclesDay.org for ideas and helpful downloadables.
More from Consumer Reports:
Top-rated home appliances
Best and worst products for your home
Expert Ratings and reviews