by Tim Froberg

Earth Day isn’t a holiday where we celebrate an important event.

It’s more a call to action to protect and preserve our planet.

Earth Day will be observed on April 22 across the globe. Its purpose is to create public awareness of environmental problems such as air, water, and soil pollution, while promoting ecology and conservation.

Earth Day was launched in 1970 by former Wisconsin governor Gaylord Nelson. Nelson was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1963 and made environmental concerns his top priority. Environmental issues in the United States were heightened in 1969 by a major oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, followed by a pollution-created fire on the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland. The two events drove Nelson to push for a national day for environmental cleanup and educating the public on the environment.

Roughly 20 million gathered for events across the country on the first Earth Day, and it was such an overwhelming success that it led to the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency a few months later.

Earth Day is observed in more than 193 countries and includes events coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network. This year’s theme is “Restore Our Earth” which focuses on emerging green technologies that can restore the world’s ecosystems.

What can one do to observe Earth Day? You can take small steps to help. Here’s a list of Earth Day suggestions.

Reuse and recycle products. If you’re writing something on a piece of paper, don’t toss it away when you’re done. Use the other side. If you’re printing with your computer, employ the printer option where both sides of the paper are used. Yes, these are simple little things, but doing them will encourage good ecological habits. Progressive communities like the Fox Cities make it easy to recycle garbage, so keep up the good work, and make the effort to separate refuse.

Reduce energy and water consumption. Take your daily shower, but don’t be a Cosmo Kramer and spend your day showering. Try to reduce shower time. Turn the faucet off when brushing your teeth and take a day off from running the dishwasher. Shut off non-essential lights and use energy-efficient lightbulbs. LED lights use roughly 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, the most common lighting used in homes.

Ride your bicycle to work. Pee-wee Herman wasn’t crazy after all. Use pedal power to reduce your carbon footprint by not burning gasoline, which emits pollutants into the air. There’s an added health bonus, too. You will get great cardiovascular exercise.

Plant something. Planting a tree is an excellent way to celebrate Earth Day and does more than just beautify an area. Trees help produce oxygen and filter out pollutants to clean the air, while preserving water levels in the soil. Fruit and shade trees are the best way to go. Fruit trees give you a healthy natural food source, while shade trees planted in the right location can keep a home cool and reduce energy costs.

Start a garden. Gardening is a fun, relaxing, rewarding hobby that benefits the environment. By growing your own vegetables, you can reduce the carbon footprint made by delivery trucks and trips to the grocery store.

Volunteer for cleanups in your community. OK, this isn’t boatloads of fun. Just remember that by picking up litter, you can help prevent environmental contamination and the poisoning of wild animals, while removing potentially flammable items that might contribute to wildfires.