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Buy Recycled Products on ‘America Recycles Day’

Release Date: 11/12/1998
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

by Region 6 Administrator Gregg A. Cooke

     Do you know that Sunday, November 15 is American Recycles Day? Do you know how you can reduce the trash going to America's landfills while saving energy and money?

     Did you know that one three-foot stack of newspapers equals one 30-foot tree?  That recycling one aluminum can saves the energy equal to one cup of gasoline? That 62,800 trees must be cut to provide pulp for a single edition of The Sunday New York Times? Or, that the average American generates nearly 1,500 pounds of trash each year, creating more than 200 million tons of waste annually in the United States?

     While these figures are alarming, there is actually some good news to tell this year. More Americans than ever are recycling, with the nation's recycling rate now more than 27 percent. This means the cans, jars (did you know that recycling one glass bottle saves enough electricity to light a 100 watt bulb for four hours?), paper, and plastics we place at the curb are making a real difference in reducing our nation's waste.

     But recycling does not end at the curbside. It just begins. To be successful, recycling must be a three-step process, as depicted on the national recycling logo with the three chasing arrows.  The first step is collecting our recyclable materials, the second is the manufacturing process that converts them into new products, and the third is buying these recycled products.

     When we buy recycled products, we do our part to maintain market demand for recyclables, ensuring the continuation of recycling programs everywhere. If consumers purchase more recycled products, manufacturers will continue to use recyclable material in their products.

     One common misconception is that recycled products are hard to find. This is no longer true. No matter where you live, you probably have access to recycled products in your stores, and you don't even know it.  

     Some items are safe bets   steel, aluminum and glass always have a high percentage of recycled content and are often not marketed as "recycled." For all other materials, however, read the label to see if the product has any recycled content. Look for the "recycling" logo with the three arrows.

     When you put your two-liter soft drink bottle in your curbside recycling bin, do you ever think you might be wearing one or walking around on one? Many fleece jackets and carpets contain recycled soda bottles.  

     There are thousands of other products that contain recycled materials. Products such as pens, pencils, plastic wood furniture, insulation, paint, tennis shoes, clothes made from recycled plastic, cereal, cookie and cracker boxes, re-refined motor oil, carpeting, wallpaper, hoses, patio furniture, camping and hiking equipment, golf accessories, bicycles, and others you may not have considered are now routinely available.                                    

     When reading labels, look for the highest percentage of "post-consumer recycled content" you can find. Some recycled paper content can be found in products such as facial tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, greeting cards, copy paper and office paper products. Some plastics are recycled into bottles and jugs containing liquid laundry detergent, dishwashing liquids, shampoos and household cleaners. And there are many more products in grocery stores, hardware stores, home shopping catalogs, clothing stores, and shopping centers. Just take time to read the labels!

     Buying recycled is easy to do   whether at the grocery store or at the office. Recycled products are everywhere, and they are equal in quality and cost to their non-recycled counterparts.  

     Buying recycled conserves resources and saves energy. It usually takes less energy to make recycled products, such as aluminum, which takes 95 percent less energy to make than new aluminum from bauxite ore. It reduces waste because recycled items go into new products, not landfills or incinerators. It creates opportunities for economic development across the nation. The recycling process creates far more jobs than landfills or incinerators ever could.

     On Sunday, November 15, we are celebrating America Recycles Day and millions of Americans will celebrate recycling's success and commit to keep it going. Communities across the country are planning events to encourage residents to recycle more often and buy recycled more often.

     Recycling only works when we, the consumers, close the loop. We start that loop by putting our recyclables out for collection. On November 15, make your pledge to close that loop by purchasing products and packages made with recycled content. Remember, if you're not buying recycled, you're not really recycling!

     By making a pledge, Americans 18 and older will also be entered in a random drawing to win the American Green Dream House, a brand new three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home built primarily with recycled-content and energy efficient products. To find out how to pledge, visit at and get the complete rules. All pledges must be submitted by Nov. 20, 1998.