Want to celebrate -- and understand -- recycling? Today's the day

  • Here are recycling guidelines from Kane County.

    Here are recycling guidelines from Kane County.

Updated 11/30/2022 12:34 PM

Today, environmental groups, local municipalities and President Joe Biden are encouraging you to celebrate recycling.

America Recycles Day, a national observance that lands on Nov. 15 each year, is recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency along with the White House and is spearheaded by the environmental nonprofit Keep America Beautiful.


To promote the holiday, local groups are sharing recycling tips and highlighting events that allow people to recycle items that aren't accepted curbside, such as electronics, tires and Styrofoam.

Environmental education nonprofit SCARCE, based in DuPage County, has been sharing recycling tips with its Facebook community throughout November.

So far, the group has reminded people that holiday wrapping paper is typically not recyclable, plastic bags can be taken back to the grocery store, aluminum cans should not be crushed, and anything smaller than a credit card should probably stay out of the curbside bin.

Kay McKeen, SCARCE founder and executive director, said while "we can't fix all the problems with recycling," tips like these help make sure what can be recycled is making it through the process.

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"One thing that's really important is that the little things add up," McKeen said. "I think people want to do the right thing, and we're crossing our fingers that the better we do it, the more items really will be recycled."

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, SCARCE will also be hosting an event to collect used vegetable cooking oil, which can clog drains and contaminate the water supply if poured down the drain, McKeen said.

Used oil will be accepted from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 26 at seven different locations in DuPage County, where it will go on to become biodiesel. There are a total of 10 sites throughout the county that accept used oil year-round.

"Even if we're having issues in the world of recycling, one plastic cap that you recycle -- at least that's not a piece of litter now," SCARCE environmental educator Erin Kennedy added. "I think (recycling) does make an impact, and for your friends and your family, you're really kind of modeling that behavior. You have the ability to educate your circle of friends and family at the same time."


In McHenry County, the nonprofit Environmental Defenders of McHenry group partners with the county health department four times a year to collect Styrofoam, fluorescent tubes and bulbs, and clothing and textiles. The group had its last one-day recycling event of the year last month and will come out with new dates over the winter.

Meanwhile, the defenders run three polystyrene Styrofoam collection sites year-round in Algonquin, Crystal Lake and Woodstock. To be properly recycled, the material must be clean of food or other debris.

Environmental Defenders spokesperson Destiny Seaton encouraged McHenry County residents to refer to the Green Guide -- a comprehensive recycling directory released yearly by the McHenry County College Sustainability Center.

With Election Day behind us, anyone in Kane or DuPage Counties looking to get rid of campaign signs can recycle them Friday and Saturday.

The DuPage County Environmental Committee is accepting political and other corrugated plastic and cardboard signs at the County Campus, and Kane County will be accepting them at the Kane County Government Center.

Specific recycling guidelines and additional recycling events can be found by county below:

• Cook County: ​​tinyurl.com/SWANCCRecyclingGuidelines.

• Lake County: tinyurl.com/SWALCORecycling.

• McHenry County: tinyurl.com/McHenryRecycling.

• DuPage County: tinyurl.com/DuPageRecycling.

• Kane County: tinyurl.com/KaneRecycling.

• Will County: tinyurl.com/WillRecycling.

• Jenny Whidden is a Report For America corps member covering climate change and the environment for the Daily Herald. To help support her work, click here to make a tax-deductible donation.

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