A simple way to care for Mother Earth

Take time each day to recycle

America Recycles Day, which was observed on Nov. 15, is a day dedicated to encouraging citizens to recycle. It was started in 1997 by the National Recycling Coalition and has been sponsored by Keep America Beautiful, a nonprofit organization, since 2010.

“America Recycles Day educates people about the importance of recycling to our economy and environmental well-being, and helps motivate occasional recyclers to become ‘everyday’ recyclers,” according to Keep America Beautiful. It encourages citizens to take the “#BeRecycled” pledge, found at americarecyclesday.org/pledge. More than 77,000 people have taken the pledge this year.

Americans recycle or compost 34 percent of their trash, which lags behind the rate of other countries like Germany (62 percent) and South Korea (83 percent), according to Green America.

The faith community is an ardent supporter of recycling and all other initiatives aimed at protecting the environment. It is Mother Earth who “sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs,” said St. Francis of Assisi in “Canticle of the Creatures.”

In his 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home,” Pope Francis laments our “throwaway culture.”

“To cite one example, most of the paper we produce is thrown away and not recycled,” he says.

In his encyclical, Pope Francis offers a reflection on St. Therese of Lisieux and her “little way of love.” He says that St. Therese “invites us to practice the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship.”

He then makes the connection to this “little way” with our care for the earth. “An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures,” says Pope Francis. What better “little way” can we care for, protect and preserve Mother Earth than by recycling?

Here in northeast Wisconsin, our opportunity to recycle is made easier by Tri-County Recycling, which serves homes and businesses in Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago counties. Tri-County offers a recycling guide which explains all of the materials that are accepted for recycling.

Glass, paper, plastic and metal are all recyclable, but with exceptions:

Glass: Food and beverage bottles and jars. Not window glass, ceramics, china or drinking glasses.

Paper: Newspaper, cardboard and paperboard (food boxes); milk, juice and soup cartons; junk mail and catalogs; office and school papers; phone books, softcover and hardcover books and magazines; and shredded paper in a paper bag. Not tissue paper or gift wrap.

Plastic: All plastic bottles, cups and containers; household bottles, jars and jugs; dairy containers and lids; produce, bakery and deli containers and lids. Not plastic bags, wrap or film; motor oil bottles or Styrofoam.

Metal: Aluminum bottles and cans; steel, tin and bi-metal cans; empty aerosol cans except with pesticide. Not aluminum pans or foil; empty paint cans; large/bulk scrap metal items.

Tri-County (www.recyclemoretricounty.org) offers an online recycling guide that includes information about recycling other materials such as electronics, and drop-off sites for non-recycling material such as motor oil and paints.

While America Recycles Day comes once a year, recycling should be a daily commitment. It’s our “little way” of protecting Mother Earth.