Better Than Turkey

Items included plastic bags, typewriters and phonebooks. Uses ranged from fuel for cars to material for clothes. On Nov. 15, communities from coast to coast celebrated America Recycles Day by hosting an array of events aimed at waste producers of all ages.

Many events focused on the next generation of recyclers. Frisco, Texas, began preparing for the day back in August with the release of a recycling coloring book intended for second-graders. The city's Environmental Services Department used the book as an opportunity to announce its “Name the Recycling Truck” contest. Fifth-grader Rachel Ruppel won with her “Ms. Recyclina” submission and is now featured on the truck and will star as the main character in the next coloring book.

The city unveiled the recycling vehicle on America Recycles Day and also announced the winner of the “Landfill Reduction Through Battery Recycling” contest for the school district. Christie Elementary contributed 85.5 pounds of batteries to the district's 700-pound total.

In West Springfield, Mass., students cut out the middlemen and recycled items themselves. An art exhibit at the high school showcased a lamp made from Styrofoam cups, a wine cork board and dresses constructed of bags. (Let's hope the dress with the clear, plastic bottom comes with a slip.)

Collection events — a recycling day staple — also proved to be a popular draw. Cobb County, Ga., for example, held an electronics recycling event, accepting a plethora of items including computer monitors, microwave ovens, laptops, and — for the true pack rat — 8-tracks and typewriters.

Retailers got involved as well. At the Whole Foods Market in Bellingham, Mass., customers encountered a “Grease Car Show” as soon as they entered the parking lot. Several owners of biodiesel-fueled cars settled in for the day and talked with shoppers about converting to biodiesel. Inside, a representative from AltEnergy Oasis shared his recipe for “home brew” fuel. The store also increased its bag redemption from 5 cents to $1 for the day, collecting 232 bags, a jump from 84 last year.

The National Recycling Coalition estimates that people participated in more than 1,000 America Recycles Day events in 2005. At press time, statistics for 2006 had not been released.