Two State employees working for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in 1994, paved the way for America Recycles Day. You heard that right, it was the lone star state that made recycling a national priority. Today, that initiative and much more is carried on through the EarthShare of Texas’ shining member, State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR).
Recently, STAR celebrated the 27th annual Texas Recycles Day, but the organization does more than one day’s worth of work. STAR is on a mission to advance recycling through “partnerships, education, and advocacy for the benefit of Texas.” This non-profit is running on all cylinders with helpful recycling programs and continues to push legislative efforts for the future of Texas recycling and its economy.
Recycling in Texas
Thanks to the 2015 Texas Recycling Data Initiative, actively supported and co-funded by STAR, Texas passed Senate Bill 649 into law. This bill led to the Recycling Development Market Plan (September 2021) (RDMP.) This comprehensive plan lays out necessary data, as well as economic effects and obstacles that come with everyday recycling in Texas, and helps Texas understand the weight of recycling on the economy.
According to the RDMP, in 2019, recycling contributed an estimated $7.4 billion dollars to the Texas economy! However, progress always faces resistance. The RDMP notes specific obstacles when it comes to state and individual levels of recycling. Some hindrances to effective recycling for Texas communities are:
- Contamination – people don’t always know what to put into which bin
- Education – Texas is a big state, and recycling is a little different everywhere
This holiday season, it’s easy to spot the issues found in the RDMP. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, American household waste increases by 25%.” Recycling, now more than ever, should be a top priority on both a professional and household level. To remedy this, STAR provides opportunities to help make recycling more accessible throughout the state.
Partnership – Bin Grant Program
STAR offers entities a chance to win a free supply of green recycle bins, in three sets/sizes, through its Bin Grant Program. The program gives local schools, small businesses, etc., the opportunity to play a small role and make a big difference. Meanwhile, the best way to normalize and encourage recycling is by providing the option to recycle alongside education.
Education – Master Composter Program and TexasRecyclesDay.org
Recycling goes deeper than knowing which bin to throw paper or glass into. STAR also stewards the Texas Master Composter Program (MCP), a nation-wide community-led volunteer program on a mission to “empower participants to compost and teach others about composting.” STAR advocates this knowledge and recycling diversity through helpful resources and technical assistance for participating communities. Exposure goes hand-in-hand with education on the many types of recycling.
STAR also recently launched TexasRecyclesDay.org, an online clearing house for recycling education and outreach materials, available year-round. This collaborative project with Take Care of Texas and Keep Texas Beautiful will help harmonize recycling messaging across the state, by encouraging local governments, NGO’s, and community organizers to follow a shared calendar of recycling messaging based around how Texans live, work, and recycle.
Advocacy – The Value of Recycling
Change doesn’t happen overnight. STAR reminds us of the ongoing need to advocate for good, consistent recycling. Recycling revives the beautiful Texas scenery and reinvigorates the economy. Composting energizes the soil and can establish closer communities. The programs and data initiatives STAR spearheads, all remind us that it’s our choices that add or subtract value to the places we live, we work, we learn, and we enjoy.
It only took two Texas employees with great enthusiasm to get the whole nation to implement Recycles Day. Your support to EarthShare of Texas will help STAR and many other organizations better and benefit the state. And if you’d be so kind, raise a Lone Star over the holiday season to STAR, then recycle the can.