Santa Barbara Allied Waste Services is celebrating “America Recycles Day” throughout the county today by handing out free recyclable bags.

In honor of the nationally-recognized holiday, AWS hopes to inform community members that taking small steps — such as using reusable bags — can conserve resources, money and the environment. The bags are available at Tri-County Produce in Santa Barbara and the Goleta Albertsons on a first come, first serve basis.

AWS, which is part of waste management corporation Republic Services, provides curbside trash collection in the area and helps both local governments and businesses to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills.

Peg Mulloy, media relations manager for Republic Services, said today’s events are aimed at creating lasting changes in peoples’ behavior.

“From our perspective, the key to environmental conservation is to educate and encourage people,” Mulloy said. “Today is just like any other holiday and the point is to draw attention to something that needs to be remembered all year.”

AWS General Manager Stephen MacIntosh said the events will pay particular attention to individual influence on the environment.

“The impact we have with our consumption choices is way bigger than we realize,” MacIntosh said. “It is good to have a day that forces people to think about that.”

According to MacIntosh, small efforts similar to those promoted at the bag giveaways can prevent significant environmental damage.

“There are a lot of things that people just do not realize,” MacIntosh said. “For example, taking one diesel truck off the road is equivalent to removing 325 cars. And taking out one bag of garbage or recycling is equivalent to 70 bags of upstream trash.”

Additionally, MacIntosh said today is an opportunity for students to become involved in conservation efforts.

“I would say from the students’ perspective, the best thing you can do is act,” he said. “If you are going to the grocery store, you might as well pick up one of our bags.”