According to information on the Earth Day Network, Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, began the movement for a "national teach-in on the environment." He was joined by U.S. Rep. Pete McCloskey. Together they recruited Denis Hayes as the first coordinator of the effort. Earth Day was born.
On April 22, 1970, millions of Americans demonstrated for a healthy environment. One huge result of the movement was the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the subsequent passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. The idea stuck and Earth Day has been celebrated ever since.
In 1990, Earth Day went global under the organizational skills of Denis Hayes.
The first U.N. Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Nelson was acknowledged for his role working with the environment. He went on to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995.
This year will be the 42nd celebration of Earth Day. Each year as Earth Day approaches plans are made by numerous groups to clean up the roadsides. I cannot help but notice that since the warm weather our road has been littered with empty cans - most of them beer cans. I suspect that people too young to take the empty cans home for disposal carelessly toss them out of their car windows.
One year I even found a case of beer bottles with some of them still full. Somehow people think when they are in the country that dumping is all right. They see fields without houses nearby and take advantage of the isolation.
The township officials around here do a great job of taking care of their own townships. Each one holds a spring clean-up day. Residents are able to dispose of unwanted items for a nominal cost.
It always amazes me how much garbage accumulates from year to year. On the Saturday designated as roadside clean-up day, volunteers walk the roads picking up the debris that they find. Bags and bags of garbage line the highway until the highway trucks come around to pick them up.
Littering is against the law, but people do not seem to take it seriously. There used to be signs along the roads telling the price of the fines. At this point I think that law enforcement agencies are stretched too far to be able to enforce this minor infraction of the law. That being said, I do not think we are expecting too much for the people who use the roads to take their garbage home for disposal - that even goes for cigarette butts! I often see those carelessly tossed, some even with glowing embers that could ignite any dry materials they land on.
I do know that those eligible for work release programs are charged with clean-up duties from time to time. I would think after they picked up someone else's garbage for a while they would think twice about throwing something away carelessly.
Roadside litter is by no means the only contribution of junk. There are homes in some areas that are designated for dismantling. They have gotten to the point that they are no longer able to be repaired. Another culprit is areas where people let junk vehicles collect on their property. Some townships have laws governing the number of abandoned vehicles that can be within sight.
I noticed that the Audubon had a workshop recently about making cleaning supplies that are eco-friendly. All of us need to become more aware of sources of water pollution. Water is a precious resource that must not be taken for granted. I feel fortunate that the well on my property is a good one. The water that comes from off the hill has no contaminants to pollute it. I do not need to worry about the amount of water or the quality of it.
As we pass this milestone called Earth Day, I invite you to take a look around. See how you can be more efficient with your resources. Conserve, reuse and recycle. All of these efforts go toward making our environment just a little bit cleaner.
I include a piece of haiku in honor of April being poetry month. The day I put this piece together was Haiku Day, so the radio informed me. Haiku is written with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second and five in the third, for a total of 17 syllables. It was kind of fun to do. Try it!
God created Earth.
We are charged as the stewards.
Enjoy the beauty.
Remember to celebrate Earth Day and involve the family in the celebration.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.