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Earth Day, Every Day
Photo: Sherrie Smith
April 22 marked the 37th anniversary of Earth Day. For some communities it was the day when people volunteered several hours on a variety of projects, for others the day was the conclusion of a week or two devoted to removing accumulated debris in parks, streams, rivers, and empty lots.

For instance, Montgomery County, Maryland, has been organizing a clean-up of the Long Branch, located in the watershed area of the Anacostia River. More than 200 residents participated in the three-hour event that concluded with an Earth Day Celebration in the Long Branch Community Center. Individuals and groups such as leaders and members from Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church participated.

Other stories have been featured in the media. On Thursday, April 20, the Washington Post’s home section profiled “Green Clean,” an environmentally friendly cleaning company. This article points out that a major challenge for the cleaning service owner is that many people associate the smell of chlorine and ammonia with the impression of cleanliness. Even though we have a hard time breathing these harsh smells, we think “clean” when we smell them.

The Friday edition of the Washington Post included a short piece in the business section about recycling  for Prince George’s County. Even though Carol Bracaglia has worked 16 years in recycling for the county, she is passionate about her job—she is constantly on the lookout for new says to recycle. Two pictures were on page three in the Metro section that day. An awesome pile of trash bags were collected during the two-week project to clean up the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers.

Being Green Every Day

While a lot of good is done on Earth Day, it is important to be “green” every day. Some ideas:

Recycle. Check your local government’s web site to find guidelines for collection and contact numbers. If there is no recycling program or it is limited, contact your local government office and ask how to recycle. The more interest from the public, the more attention that government officials will pay.

Define recycling more broadly. Paper, aluminum, and glass containers are just the start. For instance, find a place to recycle automobile oil since dumping it in your storm drain will impact water reservoirs miles away. Also contact office supply stores about recycling printer cartridges and old computer equipment.

Look at the chemicals you use around the house. What is the impact on your children and pets, especially family members who have respiratory difficulties? Cautions about inhaling or contact with skin apply to all household members as well as the landfills and water treatment plants. Look for more environmentally friendly products that are safe, nontoxic, and biodegradable.

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