April 22 marks the celebration of Earth Day – however, in all reality, we really should celebrate the Earth every day! Every single day we have the privilege of living here and being the beneficiaries of Mother Nature’s gifts. And with that in mind, it is not too much to ask that we do something in return. Yes, we are talking about the ways in which we can help to make a difference, how many small acts can make a large impact. We saw the positive impacts that Covid had on our Earth: less pollution as a result of less travel, once-murky waters became clear again, animal life returned to areas once dominated by humans… Humans are in fact a major contributor to our Earth’s pollution problem. Doesn’t that seem counter intuitive?

Mankind should be the stewards of this planet, and my hope is that we will continue to take strides – every day – to live up to the privilege of being its stewards. By so doing we can leave a cleaner and healthier planet for our children and their children. With that said, if we all just take small steps every single day it can make all the difference. I’m not necessarily implying that we have to take drastic measures (but imagine if we did?), but start small and grow from there.

I turned to the good old World Wide Web for the best recycling strategies that I could find – tips that we can implement in our lives and homes – and I’m sharing with you a few of the things that I found.

What items could and should we recycle?

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website was the most helpful and informative that I found out of the dozens of websites that I read through. And according to the EPA’s website, the following items are all recyclable and should be recycled: paper, batteries, plastic, glass, used oil, household hazardous waste, and tires – but of course there are more items that can be recycled. If you’d like further examples of each, and or how to recycle them, or just for more general information, please visit https://www.epa.gov/recycle/how-do-i-recycle-common-recyclables.

One of the facts that stood out to me on the EPA’s website was about paper: “Paper makes up 23 percent of municipal solid waste (trash) generated each year, more than any other material. Americans recycled about 68 percent of the paper they used in 2018. This recovered paper is used to make new paper products, saving trees and other natural resources.” What further piqued my interest was that gift wrap and gift bags fall under the “paper” category. Not all gift wrapping can be recycled, so next time you need to buy birthday or Christmas wrapping paper, consider purchasing recycled wrapping paper or wrapping paper that can be recycled.

The dirty 7-letter word: plastic

When I look at plastic waste, I often think of the floating garbage island that is said to reside in the Pacific Ocean. It is the stuff of nightmares. I envision the tons of plastic that reside within that floating island, as well as the vast amount of plastic waste that gets into- and pollutes our waters and oceans, and the impact that has on the animals who live in those waters. It is quite disturbing to think about.

According to the EPA’s website: “More than 35 million tons of plastics were generated in the United

States in 2018, which was about 12 percent of the waste stream. Only 8.7 percent of plastics were recycled in 2018…”

When it comes to plastic, we can think in terms of plastic bottles and plastic bags, just to name two major pollutors. We should use reusable water bottles instead of single-use water bottles. But if you do use the single-use ones, recycle them! And when it comes to single-use plastic bags, many towns/cities/counties/states have in recent months and years discontinued allowing their use. We are encouraged to use reusable shopping bags instead, which is actually way more fashion-forward and convenient, too!

When it comes to the items that we use in our every day lives, we have a choice. And our choices are impacting everyone around us – and impacting unborn generations. I implore you all to make a choice: choose to be a steward of the Earth. Pay the Earth back for giving you life. And think of your children and their children, set an example and let’s leave the Earth a better place.