11/16/2012 05:02 pm ET Updated Jan 16, 2013

More Than Bottles and Cans: Five Ways to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle on America Recycles Day

Yesterday marked America Recycles Day, the only nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States. Organized by Keep America Beautiful, America Recycles Day is a time for each of us to think about our level of personal waste and to consider ways to reduce it.

Every year since 1980, the rate of Americans who recycle has increased. And, as most of us know by now, recycling is about more than just bottles, cans, newspapers and magazines, although recycling all of those is important! New innovations -- along with some tried and true methods -- allow us to easily recycle more than just those items required by law. Today, think about what you can do to decrease your own environmental impact and make the "reduce, reuse and recycle" mantra a part of your daily routine.

Here are five ways to get started:

1. Recycle Computers: Don't just leave your used laptops in the closet, and certainly don't discard them. The Dell Reconnect partnership between Goodwill Industries International and Dell diverts used computers and equipment from area landfills. You can bring used computers and accessories to one of nearly 2,500 designated drop-off locations. Donated equipment is either refurbished and resold at Goodwill or broken down into parts, such as metals, plastics and glass, to be recycled by Dell partners worldwide.

2. Recycle Food: Composting isn't just for farmers anymore. An increasingly large number of Americans are cutting down on their waste by composting in their own homes -- turning natural food scraps into fertilizers for backyards or even window plants. Don't know how? It's easier than it sounds! Learn how to get started at

3. Recycle Clothes: Every year, Americans divert billions of pounds of goods from landfills when they choose to donate their used clothing and household items. How much of a difference can your used jeans and t-shirts make? Visit to calculate the human impact of your Goodwill® donations.

4. Recycle Shoes: Since 1990, Nike's Reuse a Shoe program has collected more than 28 million pairs of used sneakers, turning them into athletic surfaces at playgrounds, and in some cases into new shoes and apparel. If your sneakers are too worn-out to donate, find the Reuse a Shoe drop-off location near you.

5. Recycle Holiday Lights: This one is especially timely, with the holiday season just around the corner. Every year, you open up that box of holiday decorations and find those chords of lights twisted all around each other with some working, some not, right? Forget about turning and testing those tiny little bulbs, desperate to see which ones are working. Get rid of former lights, guilt-free. recycles lights, free of charge.

What about you? What are you recycling?

For information about America Recycles Day events near you, visit