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Celebrate Earth Day with action

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Jenny Lynes
April 22, 2010

Celebrating Earth Day today might reward you with a sticker or even a steel water bottle, but the real impact will result from your decision to make small life changes that help us all live in a clean, healthy environment.


And then youíll celebrate the rest of your life.


Forty years ago, Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson proposed the first national day for environmental action. His intention was to bring the issues to light and join those who fought for preservation of land and cleaner air and water.


In the 40 years since the first Earth Day, one thing has become increasingly clear: We all desire the improvement of our natural recreation spots, access to energy, food systems and business practices.


At Clean Wisconsin, we are fortunate to work daily on such tasks as protecting the Great Lakes from mercury contamination, reducing our energy bills, and providing jobs for Wisconsin citizens by making energy from biofuels and renewable resources. But we realize our world couldnít operate if this were everyoneís job.


So what can you do as someone who isnít a full-time environmentalist? There are many easy ways you can achieve big impacts for our environment that donít require quitting your day job.


First, pick something you care about. Have no idea what your carbon footprint is but really like riding your bike? Make a goal to bike to work 3 days a week and encourage the construction of bike paths and lanes in your community.


Maybe you canít live without your dryer but could do with no air conditioner. Do a little research on things such as energy-efficient light bulbs (CFLs) and low-flow showerheads. Finding the impacts of your lifestyle may result in the discovery of easy ways to cut back on energy use.


Also, keep in mind that participating in politics is not as scary or demanding as it may seem. Sending an e-mail or calling your legislator to express your support of clean energy does not require hours studying in the library and takes only a couple minutes of your time.


Finally, keep an eye out for other ways to make a difference once youíre settled in with your new eco-friendly habits. Setting the printers to a double-sided default or asking your friend to quit accepting all those plastic bags at the supermarket can save you money and help you sleep better.


In this spirit, we should all take the 40th anniversary of Earth Day this year as a type of New Yearís resolution. Today, pledge to make small changes in your life to benefit our environment.


Together, these changes will improve the health, happiness and the vitality of all of us in Wisconsin. We donít all need to be full-time environmentalists, but we can all be green.


Jenny Lynes is communications assistant at Clean Wisconsin, the stateís largest environmental advocacy organization, founded on the first Earth Day in 1970. Readers can reach her by e-mail at commintern@cleanwisconsin.org or call (952) 210-7095.

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