Happy Earth Day, Recyclers! It’s the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, and boy, have we come a long way since the first one. Let’s take a quick trip back, shall we? The 1960s were a period of environmental awakening. With Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring highlighting the negative effects of pollution on public health, the spark to protect the planet (and its people) was born.  Senator Gaylord Nelson developed the idea of a day of environmental demonstrations to raise awareness about the planet’s vulnerable state. And on April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day.

Cedar Swap Pond in Milford, MA, 1968

In 1990, Earth Day went international with participants in 140 countries. This annual day of action had become an important focal point for people across the globe to engage in caring for planet earth. Learn more about the history of Earth Day here. The theme for Earth Day this year is climate action.  And while most of the planned events are canceled, we encourage you to check out EarthDay.org’s 24-hours-of-action.  From making a plant-based meal or joining the Citizen Scientist movement, to creating art about the earth, there’s something for everyone. If the idea of taking on something new feels overwhelming right now (we get it!), let’s remember that the simple act of recycling is a powerful tool almost everyone can use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.  Here’s why: First, think of an iceberg.  The tip of the iceberg – what we see above water – represents the empty cans, bottles, paper and non-recyclable trash we produce.  The 70% of the iceberg that’s underwater represents the waste generated “upstream” before stuff even enters our homes, schools or businesses.  Upstream waste comes from mining, manufacturing, packaging and distribution of the products and packages we eventually throw away and recycle.   Put another way, a huge amount of waste (70%) is hidden behind the waste and recyclables we see.   And that’s why it’s important to recycle ALL that can be recycled, but also try to reduce waste before it happens. Here’s a quick checklist:
  • Reduce the use of single-use plastics by avoiding products with extra packaging and buying in bulk.
  • Reuse products as long as you can and as many times as possible.
  • Repair durable items instead of buying a replacement. Click here for help with that.
  • Try a “Tool Library” or “Library of Things” when you need a tool or gadget for infrequent use. Click here for a list, or help start one in your local library.
  • Recycle when the above options are no longer possible (make sure the item IS recyclable – check the Recyclopedia if you’re not sure).
So while you’re home, don’t forget that you can do your part on the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day by continuing to reduce, reuse, and recycle!

Partner Spotlight: City of Malden

Hat’s off to the City of Malden for working overtime to get the Recycle Smart message out to everyone in their community, regardless of which language they speak.  The folks at Malden City Hall had the Smart Recycling Guide (available on our Resources page here) translated into 6 different languages – Haitian Creole, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Arabic.  The guides are on their website, ensuring every resident has access to recycling information. Malden also has a great video on what belongs in the bin (and what doesn’t). Thanks for being an outstanding Recycle Smart partner, Malden!​


Recycling Love

Recycling and trash collection workers are among the thousands of essential workers serving our communities during these unprecedented times.  We love the message this resident of Sharon, MA left to show their appreciation.  Thanks for bringing a smile to our faces.

📷: Mark Oliveira

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