Commentary: Recycling provides for a better future

By USAG Benelux Environmental DivisionNovember 14, 2023

A green reusable bag surrounded by leaves with the reduce, reuse, recycle logo on it.
America Recycles Day serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of recycling in our daily lives. (Courtesy photo) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

CHIEVRES, Belgium – Every year, America Recycles Day serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of recycling in our daily lives. In a world increasingly aware of its environmental impact, recycling has emerged as a crucial solution to mitigate pollution, conserve resources, protect biodiversity and reduce waste. This article explores the significance of America Recycles Day, the environmental benefits of recycling, and how individuals and communities can actively participate in this global movement.

America Recycles Day: A Time to Reflect

America Recycles Day, observed annually on Nov. 15 since 1997, encourages us to reflect on our consumption habits and their consequences for the planet. It's a day to renew our commitment to sustainable living and the responsible use of resources.

Why Is Recycling Important on America Recycles Day and Every Day?

  • Resource Conservation: Recycling helps conserve precious natural resources such as trees, minerals, and fossil fuels. When we recycle paper, for example, it reduces the need to cut down more trees, preserving forests and wildlife habitats.
  • Energy Savings: Producing items from recycled materials often requires less energy than creating them from scratch. For instance, recycling aluminum saves up to 95% of the energy needed for primary production.
  • Waste Reduction: Recycling significantly reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills or incinerators. Landfills release harmful greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change.
  • Pollution Reduction: Extracting and processing raw materials can release pollutants and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Recycling reduces this pollution and its associated health risks.

The Environmental Benefits of Recycling

Recycling is not just about reducing waste; it's a vital tool in our efforts to combat environmental challenges. Here's how recycling directly contributes to a healthier planet: Recycling conserves energy and reduces the carbon footprint. It helps lower greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change. By protecting natural habitats and reducing pollution, recycling indirectly supports biodiversity and preserves ecosystems. Recycling reduces the pollutants released into the air and water, resulting in cleaner environments and improved human health. These environmental benefits underscore the significance of recycling in our fight against pollution, habitat loss, and climate change. Recycling, more than just a waste management practice, is a crucial step toward a more sustainable future.

How Can You Make a Difference on America Recycles Day and Beyond?

  • Know What to Recycle: Familiarize yourself with The USAG Benelux recycling program and its guidelines. Different regions have varying rules about what can and cannot be recycled. Properly sort recyclables like paper, cardboard, batteries, glass, plastics, and metals. Keep them clean and dry to ensure they can be recycled efficiently.
  • Reduce and Reuse: Before recycling, consider reducing your waste by buying products with minimal packaging and reusing items when possible. Purchasing cheaper products can become more expensive in the long run due to their lower quality and durability, leading to frequent replacements and repairs. Sustainable, albeit pricier, products often last longer and provide better value over time. You can choose products made from recycled materials and support companies that prioritize sustainability. You can also shop at a second hand store such as Grandma’s Attic on Chièvres Air Base or the Brussels Consignment Shop.
  • Advocate for Recycling: Encourage your community to implement and expand recycling programs. Advocate for policies that promote recycling and reduce waste. Your voice always counts.

By recycling, we reduce waste, conserve resources, lower pollution levels, and mitigate climate change. It's a small effort that yields significant benefits for our planet's future. Embracing recycling as a way of life and advocating for sustainable practices can pave the way for a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable world for generations to come.

Let's make every day Recycles Day and join the movement towards a better future.