I’ve never felt emotionally attached to a water bottle — until today, when I watched a beat-up little bottle yearn for a new life in the form of a park bench. Thirty seconds was all it took for me to want to pick up that bottle, coddle it, and then toss it (ever so gently) into a blue recycling bin. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster.

That’s exactly the goal of the "I Want to Be" campaign videos: to inspire people to connect with their trash as something that can be “reborn” over and over again instead of tossed into a garbage bin, only to disappear in a landfill. Brought to you by Keep America Beautiful and the Ad Council — two non-profit public service groups that have teamed up in the past — the new campaign promotes recycling as a form of social good. The campaign’s clips of glum garbage, including a talking water bottle and down-in-the-dumps aluminum can, deliver a strong message. Recyclable materials can be reincarnated into more than just composition notebooks or number 2 pencils.

A park bench is just the beginning. The video above features the Baltimore Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium, the exterior of which is partially made from post-consumer recycled aluminum (a material that can be recycled over and over forever). From light bulbs to printer cartridges, recycling (or giving new life to household stuff by way of donating or upcycling) is a simple way to take care of Mother Earth. Unfortunately, most of America’s trash currently crowds landfills instead of recycling plants. In 2011, Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash but recycled or composted only 35 percent of it. Being remiss in our recycling duty not only creates unsightly mountains of garbage, it also affects human health by taxing environmental and financial resources and increasing the planet’s pollution.

Beyond the dramatized, heartfelt clips, the campaign’s website, iwanttoberecycled.org, details the recycling process, debunks recycling myths, and provides resources to take action and spread the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” word. Putting a theatrical spin on recycling may seem slightly over the top, but we have to applaud the campaign for grabbing people’s attention and asking them to think about garbage as a resource instead of a waste.

Do these videos persuade you to recycle more often, or are they just silly? Let us know in the comment section below or tweet the author @nicmcdermott.

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