Forty-three years ago the celebration of Earth Day began, bringing the environment to an awareness level never before seen.
Before Earth Day was recognized, cities and towns across America, and certainly the Ohio Valley, were covered with smokestacks, sludge and smog polluting the air, property and rivers.
That changed, thankfully, due to the efforts of Gaylord Nelson, a former senator from Wisconsin, who created Earth Day. From that effort grew the Environmental Protection Agency and passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.
It will continue to take conscientious people, and ultimately communities, to speak out against oil spills, toxic landfills, pesticides and the extinction of wildlife.
Yes, today we live in a cleaner world because of the efforts of so many, but there's more that can be done.
There are many ways we in the Ohio Valley can help to improve the environment. We can save on waste at area landfills by recycling cans and plastics, buying recycled products and composting in our backyards. We can conserve water by turning off the spigots while brushing our teeth and while washing dishes, and we can save on the amount of gases put into the air by carpooling with our co-workers.
Thankfully, the importance of Earth Day also is being taught in classrooms in the Tri-State Area as children are learning to create environments conducive to sustaining wildlife, as well as discovering the benefits of plant and vegetable gardens.
And, of course, there's recycling, which has become almost second nature to our schoolchildren who have consistently ranked among the nation's top recyclers in recent years. We credit officials with the JB Green Team, as well as area teachers and administrators for keeping recycling efforts growing.
Environmental awareness has certainly increased in the last 43 years, but for those who aren't as "green" as they could be, we ask that you think about being good stewards of our planet on this Earth Day and help to preserve the world for future generations. It's appreciating and showing respect for our surroundings.