Bag Blog

In Celebration of Recycling

By Mike Baum (Richmond Times Dispatch) Do you remember the first America Recycles Day? It wasn't that long ago -- 1997 in fact -- that Nov. 15 was officially designated so that people across the country could recognize and promote the critical importance of recycling in our communities.

Hundreds of events will be held nationwide today to raise awareness about the importance of recycling and to encourage us to sign personal pledges to recycle and buy recycled products.

Virginia residents will act in solidarity with people everywhere. From gathering newspapers to collecting old computers and donating gently used clothing, we will do our part to protect the environment so that it can be enjoyed by generations to come.
By taking the decisive step to recycle more, we also think about how our actions affect our planet.

We all know the bumper-sticker adage: Think globally, act locally. Well, this day really speaks to small contributions each one of us can make for our communities and our nation -- with tremendous results.

Virginians generate tons of waste material that is deposited in landfills every single day. I invite you to celebrate America Recycles Day by taking steps to help reduce waste. Recycle as many materials as possible, reuse products when you can, and purchase products with high recycled content to reduce the staggering amount of materials that are buried in landfills.

Keep Virginia Beautiful is our state's campaign to prevent litter and promote recycling and waste reduction. It advances local, regional and statewide efforts to help consumers participate in community-based clean-up and recycling efforts.

In celebration of America Recycles Day, I am proud to announce a partnership program that will dramatically increase the recycling of plastic bags and wraps across the state.
The "A Bag's Life" campaign has launched an informative and entertaining website,, to teach consumers what to recycle with their plastic bags and where they can recycle them. The new site even offers an app to help you find the closest plastic bag drop-off location.

The site tells you where to recycle all your plastic grocery bags, dry-cleaning and newspaper bags and product wraps like the plastic wraps around cases of soda, paper towels and bottled water. The website provides an easy-to-use store locator, and with nearly 800 stores already listed, we hope that most Virginians will be able to participate.
A Bag's Life is a public-private partnership supported by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Recycling Association, the Virginia Retail Federation, Trex and the American Chemistry Council.

A Bag's Life will launch a video contest for high school students that will be promoted through Facebook and Twitter. The contest is a great way for students to create a 60- to 90-second video that highlights creative ways to recycle and reuse plastic bags -- and maybe even win a cash prize.

Plastic bag recycling is on the rise with more than 832 million pounds recycled nationwide in 2008. By recycling your plastic bags and wraps, you're providing valuable material that goes on to live a second life as durable backyard decks, fences, shopping carts and, of course, new bags.

This innovative plastic bag recycling effort supports Keep Virginia Beautiful's mission, which seeks to unite all of us in appreciation of our state's natural and scenic environment through education and hands-on activities.

The group serves as a link for volunteers in affiliate groups across the state who want to help in the effort to control litter, reduce waste, promote recycling and simply beautify the landscape.

The goals of the first America Recycles Day are no different than they were in 1997. Much like Earth Day, it's a time to inspire awareness and appreciation for the environment and a good reminder that every day is an opportunity to learn. Every day is an opportunity to change behavior to protect the Earth.

Virginians want a healthy, prosperous, clean energy economy now and for the future -- for our state, our nation and the world. Making an effort to recycle your plastic bags and wraps is one way you can make a difference. And pledge that this year you will recycle more than ever.

Baum is the executive director of Keep Virginia Beautiful.