Thursday was Earth Day and groups throughout the local area and the nation did their part by picking up trash, recycling and other tasks to make our planet a better, cleaner place.
Being conscious of how we can make the environment better, however, should not be only be a holiday - an event observed and practiced only one a year. Every day should be a time when the world around us is treated kindly.
We feel the citizens of the Upper Peninsula are further ahead in achieving this goal than many areas of the country. The natural beauty of the Upper Peninsula outdoors is a precious thing to residents. Many of us play, work and relax in the U.P. outdoors. We know that it is something worth preserving.
There are many programs and efforts right here in the U.P. that help the Earth and environment every day, year after year.
l The city of Escanaba has a sophisticated and automated recycling program that is easy for any city resident to participate in. All city residents have to do is put trash that can be recycled into a wheeled container supplied by the city. The material is collected twice a month. All a resident has to do is wheel the container to the curb. A city collection truck takes care of the rest.
l Every year, numerous local groups and individuals participate in the Michigan Department of Transportation Adopt-A-Highway Program. Participants volunteer to clean up trash and litter along designated stretches of highway they "adopt."
l Many city of Escanaba residents mark Christmas by recycling - at least those that use a real Christmas tree. Residents can bring their trees to various drop off sites throughout the city. They are collected by city crews and put through a chipper. The resulting material is then used to make compost.
l Gladstone High School was recently awarded a grant to have solar panels installed at the school. It is part of a program to teach students about energy efficiency and renewable energy.
l The Escanaba High School renovation project scheduled to begin in June will be the first public school in Upper Michigan to receive a "leadership, energy, environmental design" or LEED certification. The designation means the project will be done in an environmentally-friendly manner. Contractors will be required to recycle the materials they use.
The list of earth-friendly efforts could go on and on with activities and groups too numerous to mention.
The bottom line is, though, we can all do our part each and every day with little effort. Tasks such as turning off lights and electric appliances when they are not being used is not only environmentally friendly, but saves money as well. Recycling is easy and takes only the time to sort the material. Lawn waste and leaves can be composted to help give your garden an extra boost.
Many of us choose to live in the U.P. because we love and appreciate what nature has to offer here. It's worth a little effort to preserve it.