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Earth Day 2014: Celebrate Earth Day, five ways to say thank you to our earth

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Earth Day 2014 is today – Tuesday April 22. The annual event showcases worldwide events held in honor of our planet and to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Earth Day was first celebrated – surprisingly – all the way back in 1970, but is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in close to 200 countries around the planet.

According to National Geographic yesterday, in 1970, “one in ten Americans turned out for the first Earth Day, pushing the federal government to take on environmental problems.” Today, the 44th annual Earth Day since its inception, more than a billion people will do something today to commemorate Earth Day, and do their part to recognize green initiatives. Will you?

Speaking of the first Earth Day, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy said: “It was really an eye-opening experience for me,” who says she was a teenager at the time and had little regard for such concerns. “Not only were people trying to influence decisions on the Vietnam War,” McCarthy recalled, “but they were beginning to really focus attention on issues like air pollution, the contamination they were seeing in the land, and the need for federal action.”

McCarthy says the problem of pollution was polarized in 1969 when images were flashed across television screens of an Ohio waterway, "choked with debris, oil, sludge, industrial wastes, and sewage" that "spectacularly erupted in flames on June 22, 1969, and caught the nation's attention." McCarthy said she can "remember the picture of the Cuyahoga River being on fire" and how it was "shocking" to her.

Says earthday.org: “Education is at the heart of Earth Day.” The non-profit site says our planet “is at a turning point. The massive global migration underway now from countryside to cities will demand huge investments in energy, water, materials, waste, food distribution, and transportation over the next 25 years. If the right investments are made now, this unique opportunity will be the catalyst for dramatic changes in the built environment and the fight against carbon emissions and climate change.”

So with that in mind, here are five ways we all can do our small part to support Earth Day initiatives:

1. Remove garbage from the ground and replace it by planting something. One doesn’t have to look very far to see litter. There is likely some on your property right now. Spend a few extra minutes doing something you perhaps would normally overlook – go out of your way and pick up some trash. Replace the trash by stopping at your nursery and picking out a sustainable tree or some wildflowers. Perhaps as a family activity, take on a role as a planter, or a supplanter. Swap trash for a tree.

2. See how your school can get involved. If your school or your child’s school is not already planning weekly activities for Earth Day, check out some of the green projects and “toolkit” suggestions as listed on earthday.org. Be sure to register your class’s Earth Day events so your activities can be counted as part of the whole.

3. Educate yourself and your children. Earth Day is a time to make a commitment to opening a book or a web page and learning a little about the planet we inhabit and oftentimes take for granted. There are a host of issues to learn about: green energy, pollution, endangered species, water shortages, recycling, climate change, or study up on the important ecological regions of the earth, like rainforests, and how to assist in their preservation. Educate your children on Earth Day – This is their planet too.

4. Send an Earth-Day e-card. Multiple sites, like someecards.com, offer personalized and humorous messages that can be sent for free. Highlight the importance of Earth Day by helping to spread environmental messages. Some of the cute sample messages:

I'm celebrating Earth Day by once again having no wedding invitations to send out

This Earth Day, I'll be doing my part for zero population growth by continuing to never get laid

I wonder if the next planet we destroy will also get its own holiday

This Earth Day, let's reflect on those carefree economic times when we were recycling cardboard boxes rather than contemplating living in them

5. Reduce, reuse and recycle. Explains WikiHow.com:

Buy as little as possible and avoid items that come in lots of packaging. Support local growers and producers of food and products - these don't have to travel as far and so reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Take your drink container with you, and don't use any disposable plates or cutlery. Recycle all the things you do use for the day or find other uses for things that you no longer use. Carry a cloth bag for carrying things in and recycle your plastic bags.

The above five suggestions are simply common-sense things we can all do. Check out earthday.org for multiple other individual and group projects and activities available in your area. Let’s hear from you. Any suggestions as to what we all can do? How are you planning on celebrating Earth Day? Leave your comments below.

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