Celebrate Texas Recycles Day & America Recycles Day on November 15th
What is America Recycles Day?
Held on and around November 15th, America Recycles Day (ARD) is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States!
Texas & STAR roots — Also known as National Recycling Day, this day began in 1994 after two Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) employees suggested the idea to the Nation Recycling Coalition to keep encouraging recycling halfway between Earth Days. The two later left TCEQ to form EnviroMedia, an Austin advertising firm, and teamed up with (what is now) STAR to take the idea nationally.
The first America Recycles Day was officially held on November 15, 1997, with 44 states and three US territories participating, and Vice President Al Gore as Honorary Chair. Co-founder Valerie Salinas-Davis says, "We raised about $700,000 in sponsorships and gave away the 'Great American Green Dream House' in a drawing among some 500,000 recycling pledges." Stewardship of ARD was subsequently transferred from STAR to the National Recycling Coalition (NRC), and ultimately to Keep America Beautiful.
* See more history below in a recent article by Bob Gedert, NRC Founding Member & Past President.
What is TexasRecyclesDay.org?
On Nov. 1, 2021, STAR launched TexasRecyclesDay.org with help from contributing organizations Keep Texas Beautiful and Take Care of Texas.
TexasRecyclesDay.org is a hub for sharing recycling information, digital assets, and social media posts, free to use for local governments, businesses, non-profits, and anyone who wants to promote recycling right in Texas.
Assets are available year-round, and the collection will continue to grow. Each month features targeted messaging based on how Texans live and recycle.
We’re setting out to make every day Texas Recycles Day by harmonizing and amplifying recycling messaging state-wide.
The History of America Recycles Day
By Bob Gedert, NRC Founding Member & Past President
November 15, 2023
America Recycles Day (ARD) is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and buy recycled products. ARD is celebrated annually on November 15. (Source: Wikipedia) Americans renew their pledge to recycle as they celebrate America Recycles Day on November 15th. What did you do to promote recycling recently? That is the main purpose of America Recycles Day, often known as ARD to recycling specialists. This November 15th marks the 29th anniversary of America Recycles Day, as we recall its history and purpose.
ARD roots go back more than two decades to the State of Texas. Yes, we owe the great Republic of Texas for the seeds of a national celebration for recycling. Texas Recycles Day began in 1994 as the brainchild of two employees of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Kevin Tuerff and Valerie Davis.
Their idea was to promote recycling through a six-week campaign to boost recycling in the state. They chose Nov. 15th as approximately a half year after EarthDay, and that date needed to be after Election Day and before the holidays. When Kevin and Valerie left their state jobs and started EnviroMedia, an Austin based public relations and advertising agency focused on environmental issues, they proposed transforming Texas Recycles Day into America Recycles Day. They presented the concept at the National Recycling Coalition’s Congress, and it was embraced immediately.
The first national run of America Recycles Day was on November 15th 1997. The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) pre-announced the event through a kickoff parade at the NRC 16th Annual Congress & Exposition, held in Orlando FL, a gathering of 2,000+ recycling members met for educational sessions and national policy development. On October 1st, 1997, the NRC and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) co-sponsored a national press conference at the White House Conference Center, featuring Vice President Al Gore as honorary Chair for the event, with assistance from Fran McPoland (a long-time Board Member of the NRC). The theme was “Buy Recycled,” and the press conference featured a model store filled with recycled-content products. A raffle was offered to those who signed recycling pledge cards, with the raffle winner receiving a free “American Green Dream House”, a home built with recycled-content and energy-efficient products. At least 40 states participated in the first America Recycles Day.
Over the following years, the NRC advertised the event through buttons, posters and the promotion of local events. More than 3,000 local events across the nation in all 50 states were posted on the NRC website in 2007, the 10th anniversary of ARD. To promote recycling, a different recycling theme was presented each year on America Recycles Day. In the early years, the theme revolved around buying recycled, looking for recycled content products, encouraging letter writing campaigns to manufacturers, and signing pledge cards to recycle at home, at school, at work and at play. Later years focused on residential collection of recyclables, and the expansion of recycling in local communities.
As the managing entity and promoter of America Recycles Day since 2009, Keep America Beautiful (KAB) provides promotional and marketing support and resources to a very large network of local event organizers. KAB has kept the program intact as a local event promotion throughout the nation, yet has enhanced the effort with national funds from private sponsors. The NRC assisted in advertising the ARD to its 6,000 members in recent years, and supports KAB efforts to promote ARD nationwide.
The 2019 ARD campaign theme was “Be Recycled”, utilizing the TV and radio advertising developed by KAB with the themed title “I Want To Be Recycled”, demonstrating an individual recycled plastic bottle wanting to be recycled into a picnic bench. KAB offers creative commercials promoting recycling, sponsored through the Ad Council and available for distribution to local communities. For more information about ARD: https://americarecyclesday.org/
The US EPA recognizes the importance and impact of recycling, which has contributed to American prosperity and the protection of our environment, through it’s celebration of America Recycles Day. Visit the EPA’s How Do I Recycle?: Common Recyclables to learn how and where to recycle these and other items. In addition, learn more about the National Recycling Strategy.
Yet one statistic still haunts the recycling community: the national recycling rate is still 32% - and stuck at that level for several years. As we try to raise the nation’s consciousness on recycling, and increase pledges to recycling, we desire to raise the recycling rate through higher citizen participation rates; we need to move it up and beyond this level of stagnation. To learn how to get more involved in recycling, contact the National Recycling Coalition (or STAR).