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Celebrate America Recycles Day

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Did you know that every Nov. 15 is America Recycles Day?

Initiated in 1997, this day is set aside to raise recycling awareness throughout the United States and to identify the benefits of making resources available to future generations.

We live in a bountiful and beautiful country, but too often we squander our resources by not making sure that those things that can be recycled get used more than once. It's staggering how much we dispose in landfills and in our waste water systems. And it's a waste of America's natural wealth, as well. In these times of economic uncertainties, nothing should be wasted that can be recycled.

Sadly only 25 percent of all American households actively recycle. In 2009, Americans generated about 243 million tons of trash of which about 61 million tons of this material was being recycled and 21 million tons composted, resulting in only 33.8 percent of all materials diverted from landfills.

Our country's lack of environmental awareness is costing all of us money and energy that we shouldn't be losing. Look at these examples of savings:

· If every household in America reused a paper bag for groceries at least one shopping trip, 60,000 trees would be saved.
· Every ton of mixed office paper recycled saves 380 gallons of oil.
· Recycling just one ton of aluminum cans conserves more than 1,665 gallons of gasoline.
· Over 150 million cell phones are sitting unused in our homes and offices waiting for recycling. If we recycled just one million of these phones, we would save enough electricity to power almost 2,000 homes for a year.

Every little bit of recycling by each person helps, too. The Environmental Protection Agency has created spreadsheet called the individual WAste Reduction Model, or iWARM, for consumers to help them understand the energy saved by recycling small quantities of common household products, rather than landfilling them. The model is located at http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/tools/iwarm/index.htm.

Here are some examples from iWARM of what individual recycling efforts can do to help make our country more sustainable:

· Recycling one aluminum can will save enough energy to run a television for three hours, and if the TV is an LCD or LED model, it would be powered for even longer.
· Recycling just seven 20-oz. plastic bottles could allow you to run a ceiling fan for 7.4 hours.
· A 60-watt light bulb can be run for almost 10 hours on the amount of energy saved by recycling one daily newspaper. This increases to 45 hours for a 60-watt compact fluorescent bulb.
· Recycling one gallon plastic milk jug can save enough energy to run your clothes washing machine for over an hour - more than enough for a full load of clothes.

Here are a couple of examples of what some Air Force bases are doing to save money and how individuals there can collect rewards for recycling:

In 2010, Tinker AFB, Okla., recycled more than 2,700 tons of material, preserving natural resources and landfill space, and saving the base more than $115,400 in tipping and disposal fees. This is money that was returned to the base to use for operations; morale, welfare and recreation programs; and other purposes. So it's not just being a good citizen, it makes economic sense to recycle. Even Tinker personnel who recycle can join in on the savings. A rewards program for recycling is offered at a kiosk installed near the base exchange, called "Dream Machine." For every beverage container recycled, either aluminum or plastic, people are given points that can be redeemed for discounts at restaurants and stores throughout the country.

Petersen and Schreiver AFBs in Colorado have introduced a new single recycling stream pickup program to make it easier than ever to collect all recyclable materials. All recyclables can be put into a 95-gallon recycling cart without worry about separating paper, plastic, glass, computer parts, rubber, ink cartridges and more. When a base resident participates in this program, they establish an account with the participating recycle bank program. The program then tracks the individual account's weight of recyclables from the carts and converts that weight into points that can be used to shop for rewards from hundreds of businesses in more than 20 categories.

Think of it this way, you can do your part as an Airman to make sure that Osan Air Base is fulfilling its mission in saving our country's resources and economic viability by doing something small and simple like recycling or increasing the amount that you already recycle.

The Air Force is dedicated to protecting and respecting the natural resources of our country and our world. As part of the service's ongoing Win the War Against Waste campaign, an initiative to reduce solid waste, active duty members, civilian employees and their family members are encouraged to WWAW on Nov. 15 by renewing their commitment to recycling.

Make your pledge today for America Recycles Day at http://americarecyclesday.org or Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/AmericaRecyclesDay).