Okie Recycling Tours

Are you curious to learn more about recycling happenings in your local community or state? Do you want to know how recycling works in your city? How about what happens to your recycling once it leaves your curb? Or, how recyclables are made into new products and available for you to purchase? If your answer to these questions is “YES” then head on to the OKRA YouTube channel for the Okie Recycling Tour or click on the links below for recent tours. The Okie Recycling Tour is a new recycling documentary program brought to you by OKRA. It covers recycling happenings in Oklahoma, featuring organizations,          businesses, cities, companies, schools, institutions and individuals working to improve recycling in their communities. Below are few episodes from our past Okie Recycling Tours.

Okie Recycling Tour Part 1 – Tulsa TRT

Okie Recycling Tour Part 2 – City of Stillwater

Okie Recycling Tour Part 3 – Keep McAlester Beautiful

Okie Recycling Tour Part 4 – Riverfield Country Day School

Okie Recycling Tour Part 5 – Bixby OK Tire and E-Waste collection event

Future Tours – Do you or your organization want to be featured in our next Okie Recycling Tour? If your answer is yes, please feel free to contact

Defending Recycling

Print or download the Defending Recycling information. (PDF)

How to Respond to Attacks on Recycling
Published Summer 2000 by the NRC

A Five-Step Approach to Defend Recycling
Responses to 10 Common Anti-Recycling Arguments
1. Recycling costs too much.
2. Recycling should pay for itself.
3. Recycling causes pollution.
4. Recycling doesn't save trees or other natural resources.
5. There is no landfill crisis.
6. Landfills and incinerators are safe.
7. If recycling makes sense, the free market will make it happen.
8. There are no markets for recyclables.
9. We are already recycling as much as we can.
10. Recycling is a burden on families.


Whether it’s by national newspapers, network TV, or conservative think tanks, attacking recycling is a popular way to make headlines. But as recycling professionals know, the overwhelming majority of these attacks are based either on oversimplifications of complex environmental issues or on political philosophies out of step with mainstream America.

The sound bites are hard to beat: Recycling is a waste. There is no landfill crisis. Recycling doesn’t save trees. These statements are both short and provocative—in other words, perfect for the news media. The idea of bashing recycling is so compelling that "the evils of recycling mania" is even used as an example of how to get publicity by being contrarian in Jay Levenson’s popular "Guerilla Marketing" series.

As tempting as it is to draft a long letter with statistics and anecdotes to counter every negative point made about recycling, the reality is that long letters to the editor rarely get printed. So how can a recycling advocate respond?

With this fact sheet, the NRC recommends a five-part strategy to respond nationally and locally to attacks on recycling. Since most decisions about recycling programs are made at the local level, we suggest that you spend most of your energy responding locally, even to national attacks. We also offer some sound bites of our own in response to ten of the most frequent attacks on recycling. Use them in your letters to the editor, talking points for interviews with reporters, and speech notes for local leaders.

A Five-Step Approach to Defend Recycling

1. Respond to the Source.

Send letters to the editor for print pieces and to the producers for radio and TV spots. If you want your letter to be printed, it must be short and to the point. While letter lengths vary among publications, most are between 50 and 100 words. That’s not much space, so stick to one or two key points. A well-crafted and focused letter is more likely to be printed than one that addresses too many points in too little space.

If you don’t expect your letter to be printed and are writing to educate the editor or producer instead, suggest some positive story angles in addition to correcting inaccuracies in previous stories. Remember, anti-recycling messages make the news because they are contrarian or counterintuitive. Try to use this motivation to your advantage by coming up with a surprising twist or unique angle. Also think of ways that recycling could be related to other hot news stories (e.g., global warming, the economy, elections, etc.).

2. Give rebuttals to local opinion leaders.

Don’t wait for the people who make decisions about your local recycling program to ask about the points made in an anti-recycling article. Supply them with brief responses to the main points in the article. Share anecdotes and statistics from your community program that show the benefits of recycling to your community. The longer you wait to provide positive information, the longer your decisionmakers have to wonder about the legitimacy of the negative articles. Prepare this material now so you can respond immediately after the next negative story appears.

3. Respond to copycat local critics.

Stories in major national newspapers (e.g., the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Wall Street Journal) are often reprinted in regional newspapers a day or two later. Local columnists often pick up national stories and write their own articles. For example, John Tierney’s 1996 article in the New York Times Magazine is still quoted by writers four years later. Respond to the copycats by following steps #1 and #2.

4. Generate positive publicity for recycling.

To generate positive publicity, you have to get writers and editors interested in the story. Sending press releases to local writers and editors on a regular schedule is a common approach. New statistics, contests, freebies, events, awards, and links to national stories are all good ways to get media attention.

Send your press releases to specific people. When environmental articles or upbeat features on community activities appear in your paper, take note of the writers’ names and add them to your mailing list. Staff writers can be reached at the publication. Freelance writers are often identified by the words "Special to (name of newspaper)" under their names. Newspapers will often provide contact information for their freelance writers.

5. Share what works.

If your letter to the editor gets printed or you convince a reporter to write a positive story, share your success with your peers through the NRC network.

Responses to 10 Common Anti-Recycling Arguments

When you write a letter to the editor or talk to a reporter, you rarely have the luxury of eloquently elaborating your points. Instead, you are required to fight sound bites with more sound bites. Many of the responses below will seem simplistic, but so are the anti-recycling messages they are meant to combat. The goal is to get your letter published and your points across—shorter letters and pithy answers have a much better chance of being printed than long, detailed ones.

If you do have the opportunity for a more lengthy response, you may find additional information on the National Recycling Coalition site.

1. Recycling costs too much.

  • Well-run recycling programs cost less than landfills and incinerators.
  • The more people recycle, the cheaper it gets.
  • Recycling helps families save money, especially in communities with pay-as-you-throw programs.
  • Recycling generates revenue to help pay for itself, while incineration and landfilling do not.

2. Recycling should pay for itself.

  • Landfills and incinerators don’t pay for themselves; in fact they cost more than recycling programs.
  • Recycling creates more than one million U.S. jobs in recycled product manufacturing alone.1
  • Hundreds of companies, including Hewlett Packard, Bank of America, and the U.S. Postal Service, have saved millions of dollars through their recycling programs.
  • Through recycling, the U.S. is saving enough energy to provide electricity for 9 million homes per year.2

3. Recycling causes pollution.

  • Recycling results in a net reduction in ten major categories of air pollutants and eight major categories of water pollutants.3
  • Manufacturing with recycled materials, with very few exceptions, saves energy and water and produces less air and water pollution than manufacturing with virgin materials.
  • Recycling trucks often generate less pollution than garbage trucks because they do not idle as long at the curb. If you add recycling trucks, you should be able to subtract garbage trucks.4
  • By 2005, recycling will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 48 million tons, the equivalent of the amount emitted by 36 million cars.1

4. Recycling doesn't save trees or other natural resources.

  • 94% of the natural resources America uses are non-renewable (up from 59% in 1900 and 88% in 1945). Recycling saves these non-renewable resources.1
  • With recycling, 20% more wood will need to be harvested by 2010 to keep up with demand. Without recycling, 80% more wood would need to be harvested.4
  • 95% of our nation’s virgin forests have been cut down and less than 20% of paper manufactured in the U.S. comes from tree farms.4
  • It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminum than it does to make it from raw materials.5 Making recycled steel saves 60%, recycled newspaper 40%, recycled plastics 70%, and recycled glass 40%. Landfilling never saves energy.4
  • Recycling saves 3.6 times the amount of energy generated by incineration and 11 times the amount generated by methane recovery at a landfill.2
  • Using scrap steel instead of virgin ore to make new steel takes 40% less water and creates 97% less mining waste.3
  • Tree farms and reclaimed mines are not ecologically equivalent to natural forests and ecosystems. Recycling prevents habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, and soil erosion associated with logging and mining.

5. There is no landfill crisis.

  • Recycling’s true value comes from preventing pollution and saving natural resources and energy, not landfill space.
  • Recycling is largely responsible for averting the landfill crisis.
  • Most states have less than twenty years of landfill capacity —who wants to live next to a new landfill?6
  • The number of landfills is decreasing, while the cost to send waste to them is on the rise.6

6. Landfills and incinerators are safe.

  • Landfills and incinerators can be major sources of pollution. For example, leachate from solid waste landfills is similar in composition to that of hazardous waste landfills.2
  • About 1/4 of the sites on the Superfund list (the nation’s most hazardous sites) are solid waste landfills.3
  • Landfills are responsible for 36% of all methane emissions in the U.S., one of the most potent causes of global warming.2
  • About 2/3 of operating landfills do not have liners to protect groundwater and drinking water sources.4
  • Landfill owners only have to check for groundwater contamination for 30 years. What happens afterwards?

7. If recycling makes sense, the free market will make it happen.

  • Government supports lots of services that the free market wouldn’t provide, such as the delivery of running water, electricity, and mail to our homes.
  • Unlike most public services, recycling does function within the market economy, and quite successfully.
  • If the market were truly free, long-standing subsidies that favor virgin materials and landfills would not exist, and recycling could compete on a level playing field.

8. There are no markets for recyclables.

  • Prices may fluctuate as they do for any commodity, but domestic and international markets exist for all materials collected in curbside recycling programs.
  • Demand for recycled materials has never been greater. American manufacturers rely on recyclables to produce many of the products on your store shelves.
  • By the year 2005, the value of materials collected for recycling will surpass $5 billion per year.1
  • All new steel products contain recycled steel.7
  • Over 1,400 products and 310 manufacturers use post-consumer plastics.8
  • In 1999, recycled paper provided more than 37% of the raw material fiber needed by U.S. paper mills.9

9. We are already recycling as much as we can.

  • The national recycling rate is 28%. U.S. EPA has set a goal of 35% and many communities are recycling 50% or more.3
  • Many easily recycled materials are still thrown away. For example, 73% of glass containers, 77% of magazines, 66% of plastic soda and milk bottles, and 45% of newspapers are not recycled.3
  • We are nowhere near our potential, especially if manufacturers make products easier to recycle.

10. Recycling is a burden on families.

  • Recycling is so popular because the American public wants to do it.
  • More people recycle than vote.10
  • More than 20,000 curbside programs and drop-off centers for recycling are active today because Americans use and support them.3

Statistical sources: (1) Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, (2) Environmental Defense, (3) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, (4) Natural Resources Defense Council, (5) Aluminum Association, (6) Biocycle Magazine, (7) Steel Recycling Institute, (8) American Plastics Council, (9) American Forest & Paper Association, (10) Resource Recycling Magazine.

World’s Shortest Comprehensive Recycling Guide

Print or download the World's Shortest Recycling Guide (PDF)

Good to recycle
Bad to recycle
Unbroken glass containers
Clear is the most valuable. Lids can go with metal.
Ceramics, pyrex, tableware, windows, lightbulbs, mirrors. Broken glass is hard to sort. Only bottle glass is acceptable. Ceramics contaminate glass. Glass is normally color sorted for recycling.
Clean dry newspapers &
newspaper inserts
Rubber bands, plastic bags, product samples, water, dirt, mold or other contamination. Pack newspapers tightly in large brown grocery sacks or tie with natural twine. Keep dry.
Empty metal cans, caps, lids, bands and foil Full cans, spray cans unless instructed, cans with paint or hazardous waste. Metals can be recycled again and again.
Plastic stamped #1 or #2
on the bottom.
Some areas only accept clear plastic or certain shapes.
Plastic types #3, #4, #5, #6 or especially #7. Caps are usually a different type from the bottle - toss if unmarked. Even a small amount of the wrong type of plastic can ruin a melt. Much plastic collected for recycling is actually landfilled.
Grocery bags, most clear plastic bags especially if marked #2 or #4 Paper, water, dirt, mold or other contamination. Reduce your need; reuse bags until they're torn. Use old bags to pick up dog waste. Many grocery stores have a barrel for recycling old bags.
Mixed paper: junk mail, magazines, photocopies, computer printouts, cereal/shoe boxes, etc. (some places also take corrugated cardboard and phone books) Stickers, napkins, tissues, waxed paper, milk cartons, carbon paper, laminated paper (fast food wraps, some food bags, drink boxes, foil), neon paper, thermal fax paper. Any wet or food stained paper. When in doubt, throw it out.Paper fiber can be recycled about 7 times before it gets too small. Plastic window envelopes are ok.
Scrap aluminum such as lawn chairs, window frames and pots Metal parts attracted to magnets. Non-metal parts. Aluminum is not attracted to magnets.
There is no need to remove labels or bands from cans and bottles. Clean only enough to prevent odors. Do not recycle containers with traces of hazardous materials. Do not recycle dirty or food stained paper.


Motor oil (never dump into storm drains) and Tires. Call your garbage company, local quick-lube, tire shop or call 1-800-MOTOROIL. Old oil and old tires are serious problems.
Automotive batteries, sealed lead/gel-cell batteries Keep lead out of the environment; take to an automotive or security dealer for recycling or trade in.
Rechargeable batteries (cordless phone, camcorder, shaver, portable appliance, computer, etc.) Call 1-800-8BATTERY for information. Throw alkaline and heavy duty batteries in trash unless prohibited (See California Universal Waste Note. Nickel-Cadmium rechargeable batteries contain toxins, please recycle.
Laser/Ink printer cartridges Send to one of the many recyclers or refillers.
Household toxics (paints, oils, solvents, pesticides, cleaners) Call your garbage company for advice. Do not dump into storm drains.
Computers, eyeglasses, household goods Donate to charity. Give to a repair shop.
This is world's shortest comprehensive USA/Canada recycling guide. Contains generalizations; local procedures may differ. From the Consumer Recycling Guide, "www.obviously.COM/recycle/". ©1997-2006 Evergreen Industries. Remember: Unless you buy recycled products, you are not recycling.

How to Start, Expand or Promote a Recycling Program

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


Learn how to consume and throw away less.

  • Adbusters fronts an effort to reduce resource consumption by promoting events such as “Buy Nothing Day” the day after Thanksgiving.
  • Air Quality Health Advisory sign up. An Air Quality Health Advisory will be issued if/when ozone levels reach unhealthy for sensitive groups level.
  • Energystar (EPA) helps you reduce your energy consumption with EnergyStar appliances and home improvement ideas.
  • Greener Cars is a source for seeing the resource consumption of specific cars.
  • Home Energy Saver helps you reduce your energy consumption with economic energy solutions.
  • Oklahoma Star Incentive Program (DEQ) informs you how to reduce or eliminate the creation of pollutants and waste at the source.
  • Use Less Stuff (DEQ) is heading up a campaign to reduce the resource consumption of citizens across the state.


Learn how to reuse items which keeps them out of the waste stream and doesn’t require reprocessing like recycling does.


Learn about recycling which turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources.

Various recycling programs in Oklahoma:

Oklahoma Department of Central Services State Materials Recycling Program

Keep Oklahoma Beautiful: KOB has 40 recycle bins (with lids) available for you to check out & use at your next event.

Green Oklahoma - A news and resource site for all things green in Oklahoma.

Number of beverage cans and bottles that have been landfilled, littered, and incinerated in the U.S. so far this year according to the Container Recycling Institute (CRI):
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*If you know of a program or site that you feel should be added send us a note with the web address and why.

Updated 4/26/18

Educational Resources for Schools


Solid Waste Management Resource Trunks are  available for loan to K-12 educators! Trunks feature a ‘Close the Loop’ display component with tabletop display and samples of items made from recyclable materials. Also included in the trunks are activities and resources on topics such as: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; Backyard Composting; Household Hazardous Waste; Illegal Dumping and Littering; and much more. Solid Waste Management Resource Trunks are funded by a grant provided to Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service by U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development. Click here for description of contents and loan application.


Over 40 DVDs are available for loan at no charge, courtesy of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Waste Management Program, with funding from the USDA.  Titles may be sorted by topic, age level, release date, length, etc.  Click here for the title list and application.

(elementary / middle school)

(high school)

Get Informed

Reducing Waste At Home



A good portion of what you throw in the garbage each day is paper. Much of the paper generated in our homes comes in the mail. The average American household receives more than 500 pieces of advertising mail each year.

Take action to reduce the amount of unwanted mail you receive.

  • If you want to get off most national marketing lists, you can register with the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service.
  • If you just want to stop certain catalogs, you can contact individual mailers and ask them to remove your name from their mailing lists; call them or send your request by mail or e-mail.
  • There's also a toll-free number to stop mailings of credit card offers. One call to 1-888-5-OPT-OUT will reach the major national credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Have your Social Security number ready — they will ask you for it to confirm your identity.

Recycling junk mail is okay, but reducing the flow of junk mail will conserve natural resources, save landfill space, and save you time and money.

Packaging makes up 30 percent of municipal solid waste. You can reduce the amount of packaging you throw in the garbage by purchasing items that have less packaging.


  • Reduce the amount of packaging by purchasing concentrates and diluting them with water in reusable containers.
  • Avoid single-serving products in favor of larger servings or buying in bulk.
  • Take your own reusable cloth bag so you don't need "paper or plastic."

Over-packaged products often cost more than less-packaged products. This means that you can save money when buying products with less packaging.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 27 percent of the nation's total food supply — 97 billion pounds — went to waste in 1995. Food is wasted in many ways, such as preparing too much, letting fresh food go bad and buying too much.


  • Planning meals and creating a list of products needed before shopping will help you buy exactly what you need.
  • Composting leftover fruit and vegetable food waste with your yard waste helps create high-nutrient compost.
  • Donate excess canned goods to a food bank.

Making better use of the food you buy will save you money and reduce how much food you throw away. Composting the remaining food waste will provide you with a great additive for your garden.

Reducing Waste at School


There are lots of ways that we can reduce waste at school. By thinking ahead and being creative, you can reduce your impact on the environment and save money at the same time.

A "waste-free lunch" is a meal that does not end up in the trash. You can buy food items in bulk then put them in reusable containers to carry to school. (Additional information is available from the DEQ at 405.702.5166.)

Use a reusable lunch box or bag and fill it with your lunch in reusable containers. You could also include a cloth napkin – don't forget to bring it home so you can wash it and use it again. Another idea is to ask your school cafeteria to use items such as reusable trays, napkins and silverware.

You create less waste by using washable containers to pack your lunch. Packing your food in reusable containers is typically less expensive than buying food that comes in disposable containers.

More than 20 percent of the food we buy gets thrown away. One way to figure out how much food you waste is to measure and track all the food you throw away from your lunch over a fixed period of time. Then you could brainstorm ways to reduce how much food you are throwing in the garbage. Eat what you take.

If you are bringing lunch from home, you can use an icepack so that it stays fresh until it is eaten. If you buy from the school cafeteria, only take a small portion of food; if you're still hungry, go back for seconds!

About 48 million tons of food are thrown away in the United States each year. By taking only what you can eat or sharing your extras with a friend, you are taking steps to waste less and save money.

Reduce Your Use of Office Paper


Copy paper, like the kind used in photocopiers, computer printers and plain-paper fax machines, is the most common type of office waste paper.

  • According to the U.S. EPA, the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.
  • The U.S. EPA estimates that paper and paperboard account for almost 40 percent of our garbage.
  • Office paper is highly recyclable, but a lot is wasted. Waste reduction is more cost-effective than recycling because it reduces the amount of material that needs to be collected, transported and processed. Waste reduction can save money for businesses and institutions of any size.
  • Nearly 3.7 million tons of copy paper are used annually in the United States alone. That's over 700 trillion sheets.

Paper is bulky to store, in boxes or in file cabinets. By using fewer sheets, you can put storage space to more productive use.

For example, Owens Corning recently made all of its offices worldwide "paperless." Having had 14,000 file cabinets around the world, the company has already saved around $30 million in lease costs.

Mailing costs
Fewer sheets mailed may mean reduced postage. A single-sided 10-page letter costs $0.60 to mail; that same letter, copied onto both sides of the paper, uses only five sheets and requires only $0.39 in postage. The price of postage is rising, and those extra ounces can really add up.

Environmental benefits
By increasing double-sided copying (duplexing), U.S. offices could reduce annual paper use by 20 percent (Inform, Inc).

By using and discarding less paper, you are conserving resources, reducing water and energy use, and preventing pollution.


  • Try to use both sides of a sheet of paper for printing, copying, writing and drawing.
  • Reuse paper that's already printed on one side by manually feeding it into copiers and printers. Use it for internal documents like drafts and short-lived items such as meeting agendas or temporary signs.
  • Once-used paper can also be reused in plain paper fax machines — they only need one clean side.
  • Use less paper E-mail can be used to share documents and ideas. Be sure to only print the e-mails you need to have a hard copy of. This advice goes for Internet documents as well. Instead of printing a Web page, bookmark it or save the page on your hard drive and pull it up when needed.
  • Desktop fax, electronic references (CD-ROM databases), electronic data storage, electronic purchasing and direct deposit are all ways to use electronic media that reduce office paper waste.
  • Help minimize misprints by posting a diagram on how to load special paper like letterhead so it will be printed correctly. * Practice efficient copying — use the size reduction feature offered on many copiers. Two pages of a book or periodical can often be copied onto one standard sheet.
  • Use two-way or send-and-return envelopes. Your outgoing envelope gets reused for its return trip.
  • Use reusable inter- and intra-office envelopes.
  • Reuse old paper for notepads. It can be cut to custom sizes and simply bound with a staple.
  • Draft documents can be reviewed, edited and shared on-screen.

The National Recycling Coalition recently published Purchasing Strategies to Prevent Waste and Save Money. This publication contains many useful ideas on how to purchase products that create less waste. Remanufactured toner cartridge Here are some purchasing ideas for offices to make the workplace more environmentally friendly.

  • Refurbish and buy refurbished office equipment.
  • Reuse and refill toner cartridges and ribbons.
  • Purchase non-toxic, biodegradable cleaners that contain low- or no-volatile organic compounds.
  • Buy concentrates.
  • Buy in bulk.
  • Buy products that are reusable, returnable or refillable.
  • Buy recycled office products that contain post-consumer recycled material.
  • Use flexible interior features, such as movable walls, to reduce waste associated with renovation.
  • Choose durable materials and furnishings to reduce the costs and waste associated with replacement.

Tips for Reducing Waste while Traveling


The U.S. Travel Data Center estimates that 43 million U.S. travelers are "ecologically concerned." There are several ways that travelers can reduce waste while traveling. Here are just a few ideas to get started.

  • Businesses are responsive to their guests, customers and clients who voice concerns, so speak up. If you have compliments or comments regarding their company's environmental performance, write a note or speak directly to the general manager of the hotel, the operator of a resort or campground, the captain of the airplane, or the manager of your tour company.
  • Book your guestrooms, campsites or meeting rooms in places that are clearly interested in protecting our environment, and let management know that's why you've chosen their establishment. Encourage the places you visit to reduce waste and to implement water- and energy-saving measures.
  • Use reusable bags, storage containers and towels. Rent equipment, avoid disposables, and pack waste-free picnics by bringing reusable containers and recyclables home with you. Buy fruits and vegetables without packaging.
  • Purchase electronic tickets for air travel whenever possible.
  • Going on a fishing trip? Use non-lead sinkers. This will protect wildlife from lead poisoning.
  • Gas boats on land instead of in the water to reduce pollution in lakes and rivers.
  • Upgrade to the most efficient boat motor. A 4-stroke engine is quieter, 40 times cleaner, and 2 to 4 times more fuel-efficient than a 2-stroke engine.
  • Keep campfire ash far from lakeshores to protect water quality.