outdoor activities

Sustainable Weekend Activities: NYC

Check out our top eco-friendly weekend recommendations and feel free to share your own in the comments section.

Canstruction Design Competition: Twenty-five teams of architects, engineers, contractors and the students they mentor will compete to build enormous structures made entirely out of unopened cans of food, which are then on view to the public until they are dismantled and donated to City Harvest for distribution to those in need. Admission is free, but visitors are asked to bring a can of high quality food to the exhibition’s collection station to reach their goal of collecting over 50,000 pounds of non-perishable edibles. Saturday, February 9 and Sunday February 10, 10:00 a.m. –6:00 p.m.

Clothing and Textile Recycling:  Textiles can be dropped off weekly at eight select Greenmarkets: 97th Street, Union Square (Monday and Saturday only), Grand Army Plaza, Fort Greene, McCarren Park, Inwood, Tompkins Square and Jackson Heights.  Collections accept clean and dry clothing, paired shoes, bedding, linens, hats, handbags, belts, fabric scraps 36″ x 36″ or larger and other textiles. Click here for the full schedule of textile recycling stations.

Free Music Fridays at the American Folk Art Museum: Enjoy live music every Friday from 5:30 –7:30 p.m. Admission is always free.

Health & Race Walking in Central Park— Still looking to turn over a new leaf in 2013? Join other New Yorkers as you get fit and enjoy Central Park’s winter landscapes. Saturday, February 9, 9:30 a.m.—11:00 a.m.

Lunar New Year Firecracker Celebration: Join the Better Chinatown Society for the 14th Annual New Year firecracker ceremony and cultural festival at Sara Roosevelt Park this Sunday, February 10 at 11:00 a.m.

Rechargeable Battery and Cell Phone Recycling: Here at EPA, eCycling is one of our favorite topics. If you’re interested in diverting e-waste from landfills, check out GrowNYC’s collection boxes for rechargeable batteries and cell phones, stationed at Greenmarkets across Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. For a complete list of hours and locations, click here.

Volunteer: Find volunteer opportunities in your area as an easy way to shake up your weekend plans (while also lending a hand).

ea as an easy way to shake up your weekend plans (while also lending a hand).

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Eco-friendly Weekend Activities

Cross Central Park Promenade Tour – You will see many surprises: a hidden bench that tells time, miniature boats powered by the wind, a magnificent sculpture celebrating fresh water. These are just some of the sites on this east-to-west walk through the Park. Sunday, February 3, 2:30 – 3:45 p.m.

Family Art Project at Wave Hill: March Out The Mardi Gras! Join visiting native New Orleans artist and instructor Paul Deo to make a colorful parasol, hat, nature mask or funky bead necklace. Then join an imaginative indoor parade as we create the sights, colors and sounds of the Mardi Gras at the Ecology Building in Wave Hill. Sunday, February 3, 10:00 a.m. –1:00 p.m.

Fix Your Bike Workshop: Come learn how to fix bikes, do simple maintenance and tune-ups at the Time’s Up bike mechanic skill share. Sunday, February 3, 6:00 p.m.

NYC Audubon Winter EcoCruise: Step aboard the New York Water Taxi for a winter adventure in New York Harbor! Look for harbor seals on the rocky shores of Governors Island and the more remote Hoffman and Swinburne Islands. Learn about the surprisingly diverse winter birds of New York City, including ducks, geese, loons, and sandpipers – many of which migrate south from the Arctic Circle. Dress warmly and bring your binoculars because there will be plenty to see! Departs Pier 17, South Street Seaport. Sunday, February 3, 2:00 –4:00 p.m.

The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter – Ready for summer? Stop by the American Museum of Natural History this weekend to frolic with 500 butterfly specimens in a balmy 80 degree vivarium. Saturday-Sunday, February 2-3, 10:00 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Sea Farming Shellfish and Seaweed in Long Island Sound

Local students, through a program with Rocking the Boat a nonprofit community development organization, helping to set up the shellfish and seaweed raft off of Hunts Point in the Bronx.

By Mark Tedesco

The theory behind the martial art of Jiu Jitsu is to use an attacker’s force against him or herself.   What if the same theory can be applied to pollutants that degrade coastal water quality?  An innovative project just offshore of where the Bronx River empties into western Long Island Sound is doing just that.

Shellfish and seaweed suspension raft off the Bronx River

There on a raft anchored about 20 meters offshore, not far from the Hunts Point market, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the University of Connecticut, and Purchase College are studying a pilot sea farm of shellfish and seaweed.  Students from the South Bronx community are maintaining the sea farm through involvement of Rocking the Boat, a nonprofit community development organization.  The seaweed and shellfish (ribbed mussels) grow by absorbing and filtering nutrients from the water.  When harvested, the nutrients they contain are taken out of the water.  As a result, sea farming of shellfish and seaweed could be a powerful tool in cleaning up nutrient-enriched waters.

While nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are essential for the growth of plants and animals, in excess they can overwhelm coastal waters, resulting in poor visibility, low oxygen levels, and loss of healthy wetlands and sea grasses. Through the Long Island Sound Study, EPA and the states of New York and Connecticut are taking action to improve the water quality of Long Island Sound by reducing the amount of nitrogen entering Long Island Sound by 60 percent, mainly by upgrading wastewater treatment plants and controlling fertilizer-laden stormwater runoff. Enhancing sea farming of shellfish and seaweeds in Long Island Sound can complement nutrient control strategies as part of a comprehensive clean water strategy.  The pilot study is evaluating a range of potential markets for the harvest, from seafood for human consumption to agricultural feeds, from biofuels to pharmaceutical products.

The project has caught the interest of the CNN and the New York Times.  If successful, the expansion of sea farming of shellfish and seaweed can mean more jobs, cleaner water, and local quality products.

About the author: Mark Tedesco is director of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Long Island Sound Office.  The office coordinates the Long Island Sound Study, administered by EPA as part of the National Estuary Program under the Clean Water Act. Mr. Tedesco is responsible for supporting implementation of a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Long Island Sound, approved in 1994 by the by the Governors of New York and Connecticut and the EPA Administrator,  in cooperation with federal, state, and local government, private organizations, and the public.  Mr. Tedesco has worked for EPA for 25 years.  He received his M.S. in marine environmental science in 1986 and a B.S in biology in 1982 from Stony Brook University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Sustainable Weekend Activities to Keep you Warm!

It may be cold, but there’s no need to hibernate! We’ve got suggestions to help you brave the temps while still staying sustainable and eco-friendly.

Animal Autographs – Head to Staten Island to learn how to identify Greenbelt inhabitants by their footprints. Walk and crafting geared to ages 4-8. Sunday, January 27,  1 p.m.

Eco-Crafting Competition – Teams will compete to create crafts out of discarded materials in this Iron Chef-style competition. Come out and cheer for your favorite up-cyclers! Friday, January 25, 6 p.m.

Family Art Project: Give a Winter Bird a Home – Learn how to make a birdhouse or feeder with recycled materials. Entrance is free at Wave Hill Gardens until noon on Saturday. January 26, 10 a.m.

Light Show at Winter Garden – Check out the opening weekend of the LED-light installation at the World Financial Center Winter Garden. Daily from sunset to 12 a.m.

Winter Jam – It’s time for the annual winter sports festival in Central Park! Get out and explore some of the winter activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, animal tracking and more. This year there is even a doggie snow zone! Saturday, January 26, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Woodlands Discovery in Central Park – Explore the North Woods with a Discovery Kit geared toward kids ages 8-12. Binoculars, a hand lens and flora/fauna guides provided help inspire woodland adventures in the wilds of Central Park. Friday-Sunday, January 25-27, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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NYC Sustainable Weekend Recommendations

Greening the Apple’s weekend recommendations are back for 2013! Start the year off on a green foot with some of these activities!

Electronic Waste Recycling at Tekserve— The Lower East Side Ecology Center is bringing one of its 10th Annual “After the Holidays” E-waste Events to Tekserve in Chelsea to help you responsibly recycle  all of your unwanted or broken gadgets. Spread the word to your friends and neighbors! Saturday, January 19, 10:00 a.m.—4:00 p.m.

Emergency Preparedness Training in Prospect Park— Whether you are preparing for an extended journey through the woods or just want to be more prepared for any situation, an emergency preparedness program is perfect for you. Let the Urban Park Rangers help prepare you for the unexpected. Sunday, January 20, 1:00 p.m.

Health & Race Walking in Central Park— Still looking to turn over a new leaf in 2013? Join other New Yorkers as you get fit and enjoy Central Park’s winter landscapes. Saturday, January 19, 9:30 a.m.—11:00 a.m.

Ice Skating in Van Cortland Park— If you haven’t been to the ice rink in Van Cortland Park this winter, what are you waiting for? Saturdays, 12:00 p.m.—10:00 p.m., Sundays, 12:00 p.m.—8:00 p.m.

Tropical Paradise at the NY Botanical Gardens— Want to get out of the cold? Check out the Botanical Garden’s “Tropical Paradise,” featuring orange-yellow crotons, fuchsia bromeliads and more! You’ll feel like you’re on a tropical vacation without having to leave the City! Saturdays and Sundays, 10:00—6:00 p.m.

Winter Constellations and Stargazing— Winter’s long nights provide ample opportunity to stare into the sky and see stars.  Learn to recognize the constellations of winter, and then gaze into the night sky on the lawn in front of the Greenbelt Conservancy’s Nature Center to see which constellations you can find.  Registration required. Sunday, January 20, 5:30 p.m.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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New York City, Then and Now

The Documerica Returns Traveling Exhibit is on display in New York City! You can view the exhibit in the lobby of 290 Broadway, New York, NY through January 18.

From January 22 – February 5 the exhibit will be with Rutgers University in the G.H. Cook Campus Center.

Documerica and New York City

We invite you to share scenes of New York today for State of the Environment. Or just simply reflect and enjoy this blast to the past. You can also match any Documerica scenes as they exist today to be a part of the Documerica Then and Now Challenge.

DOCUMERICA: Sustenance for the Inner Man at the Sheepshead Bay Annual Art Show 05/1973 by Arthur Tress.

Three photographers contributed a great deal of images from this area, more of which we have highlighted below.

Arthur Tress
From the National Archives: “Arthur Tress’ photographs of the general New York Harbor area, including Staten Island, include some of the most startling images of unchecked pollution and environmental decay in and around urban areas during the early 1970s.” View his album on on Flickr

Wil Blanche
Wil Blanche’s DOCUMERICA assignment took him to New York City and Westchester County where he took pictures of landfills, water pollution and the rapidly changing Lower Manhattan skyline. Among his photographs are images of the newly completed Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.” View his album on Flickr

Danny Lyon
While on assignment for DOCUMERICA, Danny Lyon captured striking images of inner city American life of the early 1970s, including neighborhoods in El Paso, Houston, Galveston, Chicago, and the boroughs of New York City.” View his album on Flickr

DOCUMERICA: Sheepshead Bay 05/1973 by Arthur Tress.

DOCUMERICA: Garbage Is Covered by One Foot of Earth in Croton Landfill Operation along the Hudson River 08/1973 by Wil Blanche.

DOCUMERICA: Battery Park Waterfront, Lower Manhattan. Staten Island Ferry in Background 05/1973 by Wil Blanche.

DOCUMERICA: Parking Lot at Ferry Dock on Staten Island 05/1973 by Arthur Tress.

*Re-posted from EPA’s State of the Environment Photo Project blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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An Intern’s Inspiration

EPA photo/Kasia Broussalian

By Kasia Broussalian 

Greening the Apple has come a long way in the nearly two years since its inception. Back then, there were three of us—and me just an intern—crafting ideas for a blog in the public affairs office of Region 2.  Still a new concept for federal government agencies, our blog proposal was answered with a few confused looks. But after its launch in March 2011, our plan to tell the green side of New York City inspired others across the public sector, including myself. I took much of what I learned while at the EPA with me; guiding my current project as the host of Research Radio, a podcast series from The New School in New York.

My interest in the environment started in college. As a photojournalism student at the University of Colorado, I focused most of my school projects and freelance work on water issues in the western United States. I spent a few months traveling the Colorado River, hopping over divots in a potato field in the Teton Valley of Idaho, and on a horse-drawn sleigh feeding cattle with a rancher on the Yampa River in Colorado. All of which prompted me to intern at EPA while finishing my Master’s degree. Now as a writer at The New School—where a great environmental studies program offers many exciting ventures that engage with the world around us—I’m still trying to find new ways to tell stories about the green side of the city. This time, it’s through a radio podcast with one of the university’s professors. (Read below for an episode summary, as well as a link to the podcast).

Million Trees NYC (EPA photo/Kasia Broussalian)

When it comes to the competition for real estate between nature and New York, many assume that nature lost years ago, when the boroughs’ green forest was steadily edged out by concrete.  However, those dubbing the city as a concrete jungle need a reality check; New York has a wild side—an amazing array of diverse plants and creatures often overlooked in this metropolis—and it’s not entirely by accident. Initiatives like PLANYC’s Million Trees NYC project actively work to promote and maintain the city as an ecological hot spot.

This effort is the topic of Research Radio’s latest podcast, “The City’s Jungles; Not Quite Concrete.” Research Radio recently met with Timon McPhearson, assistant professor of ecology at The New School for Public Engagement.  McPhearson, whose research focuses on urban ecosystems, has been spending his summers and falls in the city’s parks. People may connect the Big Apple with iconic landmarks like the Empire State building and Rockefeller Center, but its heart is still green.

For the past three years, McPhearson and his students have been measuring tree growth and management practices in collaboration with the city’s Million Trees NYC initiative. Though the project’s main goal is to plant a million trees by 2017, another is to create a more sustainable and diverse urban forest. McPhearson’s lab documents the initiative’s progress not only on the health of the newly planted trees, but also on whether levels of biodiversity are increasing.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Eco-Friendly Weekend Activities – Special Holiday Edition!

It’s that time of year again! We want to wish everyone a fun and sustainable holiday season. Since the world didn’t end when the Mayan calendar said it would, we compiled some extra suggestions for how to spend your time in the New York City area for the rest of December. See you next year!

Christmas Morning Bike Ride: Neither rain nor snow nor holiday will keep the Five Borough Bike Club from their ride through three states. Approximately four hours of great fun and comradeship. George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal, 178th St. at Ft. Washington Ave, Manhattan, 45 miles, C-14 pace. Ride ends at the Willis Ave Bridge in the Bronx. Leaders: Jesse Brown and Rodney Millard. Call 917-578-2244 with inquiries. Tuesday, December 25, 8:30 a.m. (see link above for other options available).

Ice Skate at Van Cortlandt Park: The caption says it all! Open daily during the holiday season.

Holiday Open House at the Queens County Farm Museum: Warm up the winter season with mulled cider, tours of our decorated historic farmhouse, and craft activities for children. The event takes place from Monday, December 26th until Wednesday, December 28th and is free of charge.

Midnight Run in Central Park – Celebrate the New Year with a toast to your health by participating in a four mile annual fun run. Monday, December 31, 10 p.m.

Needlecrafts: Before video games, movies, and television, indoor games and projects helped pass the long winter days. At Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, you can try your hand at needlepoint! Wednesday, December 26, 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.

Presents to the Animals – It’s the last chance to see animals at the Prospect Park Zoo pounce on their presents of treat-filled bags and boxes. Saturday and Sunday, December 29-30, 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Volunteer – For many New Yorkers, it’s been a very tough year. Rather than just donating money, there are many ways you can donate time or other services. We’ve provided several ways you can get involved to help make sure that 2013 is a better year for everyone. (Note: The following list does not reflect EPA policy or endorsement.)

City Harvest – From nutrition education to food distribution, help make sure that all New Yorkers get well fed this holiday season.

Disaster Response – New York Cares is perhaps the city’s largest volunteer organization. Check out their special activities targeted toward ongoing Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.

Friends of Firefighters – Volunteer to help firefighters and their families who may need extra support this holiday season.

Holiday Volunteer Projects – Several food prep and package delivery activities for individuals, families and large groups.

NYC Service – Launched by the mayor, this citywide initiative helps coordinate volunteer initiatives.

Occupy Sandy Recovery – Sign up for volunteer opportunities with this on the ground organization.

Red Hook Initiative – Help out in this Brooklyn neighborhood that was affected by the recent storm.

Roberto Clemente Park Cleanup – Head to the Bronx to volunteer at this ongoing park cleanup opportunity. Wednesday, January 2, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Volunteer in Staten Island – Some of the communities in Staten Island are going to be recovering from Sandy for a long time. Target your time in a hard-hit area by checking out this extensive list.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Sustainable New York City Weekend Events

Have you completed all of your holiday shopping? There are plenty of green activities both indoor and out this coming weekend to keep you busy!

Christmas Bird Count – Spend the pre-holiday weekend out in nature, all while doing your part to support the bird population. The Christmas Bird Count is a nationwide bird census that helps conservation researchers track the long-term health of bird populations. Saturday, December 15, 12 & 3 p.m., and Sunday December 16, 3 p.m.

Columbus Avenue Holiday Market: The Columbus Avenue Holiday Market will again be held out of the historic, beautiful, and well known Church of St. Paul the Apostle located right on Columbus Avenue between 59th and 60th Streets. The holiday market event will be situated in St. Paul’s 9,000 sq ft Hall with its high ceilings and exquisite grand doors just a few steps down from the sidewalk level. Check out the 60 plus vendors that will be featuring their unique handcrafted and vintage wares out of the spacious 9000 square foot auditorium. You’re sure to find amazing holiday gifts such as art, jewelry, toys, chocolates, body care, handbags, clothing, stationary, scarves and hats, pottery, and more! Saturday, December 15, 12 –6 p.m.

Conference House Woodlands Storm Cleanup: Join Natural Areas Volunteers in storm cleanup of the woodlands at Conference House Park. Your help is needed to restore the forest and clear out the storm debris. Please follow this link to pledge a day of service. Note that registration is necessary. Saturday, December 15, 9 a.m.–1 p.m.

Degenerate Craft Fair: Sustainable, crafty and handmade gifts with an artistic flair. Saturday, December 15, 12-9 p.m. and Sunday, December 16, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

Ice Skate at Van Cortlandt Park: The caption says it all! Saturday, December 15, 12 –10 p.m., and Sunday, December 16, 12 –8 p.m.

Manhattan Adirondacks Tour: Olmsted and Vaux designed the North Woods to replicate the forests of the Adirondack Mountains, with their crystal streams, tumbling cascades, rustic bridges, and picturesque pools right in New York City’s backyard. For directions, please call 212-860-1370. Tour meets at: The Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, inside the Park at 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues. Saturday, December 15, 12:30 –1:30 p.m.

New York Transit Museum Holiday Train Show: Head to Grand Central Terminal to check out the 11th Annual Holiday Train Show. Weekdays, 8 a.m. –8p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. –6 p.m.

The Wild Garden: Discovering Central Park Woodlands Exhibit– Use this hands-on exhibit to illuminate the history, ecology, and management of the woodlands and learn why these landscapes are so essential to the purpose of Central Park. The exhibit includes a digital interactive app highlighting historic photos and revealing hidden features. Exhibit introductions are available by appointment for groups of 10 or more; call 212-860-1370 for more information. Saturday, December 15, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

What the Dickens: Second Annual A Christmas Carol Marathon: Housing Works Bookstore hosts the second marathon reading of the holiday classic by Charles Dickens and featuring a roster of local authors. Begins Sunday, December 18, 1 p.m.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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America Recycles Day

 

EPA Photo/Eve Survilo

By Jeff Maurer

People everywhere want to know what they can do to fight climate change. There are a lot of things they can do: they can promote clean energy, drive fuel-efficient cars, and reduce energy waste to name a few solutions. But one of the simplest and most effective things they can do is something many of us do every day: recycle.

People don’t often think of recycling as a way to fight climate change, but it is. Recycling reduces the need to mine and process new materials which produces greenhouse gas emissions. And by reducing the amount of trash we send to landfills, we cut both carbon dioxide emissions from incinerating waste and methane emissions from trash decomposing in landfills, which is one of the most potent greenhouse gases. Recycling paper products also reduces the need to cut down trees that trap greenhouse gases.

The US recycling rate has been trending steadily upward since the 1970s; while only seven percent of municipal solid waste (trash) was recycled in 1970, 34 percent was recycled in 2010. This is great progress, but we still have a long way to go. The almost 10 million tons of paper containers and packaging we throw away every year could save the energy equivalent of 1.6 billion gallons of gasoline. Our aluminum can recycling rate is only 50 percent, well behind countries like Brazil (94 percent), Japan (91 percent), and Germany (89 percent). There is plenty of room for progress.

America Recycles Day – organized by Keep America Beautiful and sponsored by EPA and others – is every November 15. It’s a great opportunity for Americans to think about ways to recycle more and waste less. There are a lot of ways to do that – creating or joining a recycling event, taking the pledge to increase your recycling rate (or have your place of work do it!), or following one of the many recycling tips on the web page (americarecyclesday.org). By doing so, you’ll reduce waste, protect the natural environment, and help to reduce the release of gasses that cause climate change.

Climate change is the great environmental challenge of our time. Earth’s average temperature has risen by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century and is projected to rise between 2 to 11.5 degrees over the next 100 years. 2012 is on pace to be the hottest year on record, and each of the past 10 years is one of the 11 warmest years ever recorded. Nobody knows precisely what the effects of climate change will be, but most models predict more intense storms, sea level rise, heat waves droughts, and a host of other effects that have led some climatologists to drop the phrase “global warming” in favor of “global weirding”. This is why climate change is becoming a larger part of the national conversation; people know that something needs to be done and they want to be part of the solution.

Recycling is one part of the solution. We know which strategies work to increase recycling: making recycling easy, providing incentives to recycle, and educating people about the benefits of recycling. We’ve seen these strategies work across the country and around the world. But the best way to increase our recycling rate is for each individual to make the choice to recycle more. That’s what we hope people will do on America Recycles Day. For people who want to do their part to fight climate change, recycling is a practical and meaningful step.

About the Author: Jeff is a speechwriter and public affairs specialist. He started in EPA’s Washington, DC office in 2005 and moved to EPA’s Region 2 office in New York in 2011. Before joining EPA, Jeff served in the Peace Corps in Morocco. He is an avid soccer fan and part-time standup comedian, and can periodically be found performing at clubs around New York.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.