11/15/2012 01:24 pm ET

America Recycles Day 2012: How Consumerism In The United States Is Getting Better

Today is America Recycles Day, the only recognized holiday dedicated to recycling waste in a country plagued by a consumerist reputation. The holiday was established in 1997, and has promoted awareness and resourcefulness throughout the United States.

In the words of HuffPost blogger Michael Zacka, “every individual who recycles, or makes it their business to purchase recycled materials, is a hero.” While one can or bottle may not seem to make much of a difference, every bit counts. Recycling a glass bottle saves enough energy to operate a 100-watt light bulb for four hours, while a recycled soda can saves enough to run a 100-watt bulb for 20 hours, according to the EPA. Recycling just one can of Coke saves the energy of a two hour-long movie playing on TV.

Yet, only about 27% of glass was recovered for recycling in 2010, while 11.5 million tons went into the municipal solid waste stream. The most wasteful time of the year is just around the corner, says the EPA. Between Thanksgiving and New Years, household waste increases by 25%, meaning an extra one million tons of waste per week heads to the dumps.

The good news is that we are getting better. According to Earth911, aluminum can recycling is increasing every year, jumping from 58.1% in 2010 to 65.1% in 2011. This puts us on track to meet the aluminum industry benchmark of 75% recycled aluminum by 2015.

America Recycles Day is a time for us all to get involved, says HuffPost blogger Mattias Wallander. You can host your own event, look up one in your community on the America Recycles website, or sign a recycling pledge to become more mindful of your waste. Check out some of Earth911’s favorite ways to celebrate the auspicious day.

Below are some tips to keep recycling fun, creative and easy every day of the year. Have a happy America Recycles Day, and don’t forget to tell your friends!

Recycling Tips