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We are all stewards of our planet

Thursday is an important day for our planet — it’s Earth Day.

The theme of this year’s recognition is Restore our Earth, and it represents a chance for everyone on every continent to recognize and appreciate the land on which we live.

Every year, Americans join with those living in countries around the world in the celebration of Earth Day. In fact, the event has become the largest, most celebrated environmental event worldwide, as it serves as a reminder and a re-awakening to citizens to respect the environment. This year’s activities have been spread across three days, with a youth climate summit held Tuesday, a global education summit set for today and the Earth Day Live digital event scheduled for Thursday.

Looking back to the late 1960s, America was plagued with an abundance of smokestacks, sludge and smog polluting the air, land, rivers and lakes.

But Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, a former senator from Wisconsin, changed how Americans lived by bringing the condition of the environment to the forefront.

On that April day in 1970, approximately 20 million Americans began their fight for a healthier environment. Americans began to speak out against oil spills, toxic landfills, power plants, pesticides and the extinction of wildlife, just to name a few. On Thursday, it is estimated that more than 1 billion people from all parts of the planet will take part in an Earth Day activity.

Eventually, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.

Today, we live in a cleaner world because of the efforts of so many. But much more can be done.

Here in the Tri-State Area, there are many ways we each can help to improve the environment. We can conserve water just by turning off the spigots while brushing our teeth. We can help save on waste at area dumps by recycling cans and plastics, by buying recycled products and by composting, and we also can save on the amount of gases put into the air by walking, carpooling with our co-workers and keeping our vehicles tuned up. Area officials have taken the lead in working to cleanup the many brownfield sites in our region.

As each passing generation since the first Earth Day in 1970 grows to adulthood, the environment improves because environmental awareness improves.

Thus, that one day each year is a worthwhile time to remember that we’re all stewards of the planet we live on.

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