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There are many ways to make a difference this Earth Day

The Northland Arboretum is partnering with the Brainerd Parks and Recreation Department to clean the Arboretum grounds and area parks. There is a sign-up for those who want to participate and it highlights options to be involved on Earth Day. The Earth Day clean-up event is from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, April 22.

Clasped hands are painted so they come together creating a vision of Earth.
There are many ways to be involved on Earth Day from physically cleaning up local parks, to buying local, to supporting causes and reducing waste.
Contributed / Metro Newspaper Service
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It’s Earth Day and there are multiple ways to make a difference locally, to benefit the planet, and to share this day with the next generation.

It started in 1970 as a way to make a difference for the environment and raise awareness about pollution. A CBS News broadcast had famed newsman Walter Cronkite talking about the first Earth Day. The clip is available on the earthday.org website. The day galvanized people to take action, join forces and led to additional changes.

“By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of other first of their kind environmental laws, including the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act,” the organization reported. “Two years later Congress passed the Clean Water Act. …Today, Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behavior and create global, national and local policy changes.”

The History of Earth Day

There are many ways to be involved on Earth Day from physically cleaning up local parks, to buying local, to supporting causes and reducing waste.

Spend Earth Day giving back to Mother Nature

The Northland Arboretum is partnering with the Brainerd Parks and Recreation Department to clean the Arboretum grounds and area parks. There is a sign-up for those who want to participate and it highlights options to be involved on Earth Day.
The Earth Day clean-up event is 9 a.m. to noon Friday, April 22.

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More information and a sign-up is available at bit.ly/3925Ait and as of Thursday night there were still a few slots open, with one at the Arborteum and slots at Buster Dog Park and Kiwanis Park. Central Lakes College students along with other community members stepped up to fill slots at Rotary Park, Gregory Park and Lum Park. Go online or call 218-829-8770.

Give back by finding out how cities and counties handle landscaping and green space requirements along with tree removal and replacement. Let elected officials know what is important to create a sustainable community that reflects those environmental values and is one that is enticing to live in as well as work and play. It may take a little more work, but multiple goals can be achieved with thoughtful action in planning for development.

Other ways to make a difference and reuse and recycle includes establishing a compost bin to take spoiled or unused fruits and vegetables and turn them into a rich garden resource.

Create awareness

For those with children, the internet abounds with ideas on craft projects to do related to Earth Day.

In the lakes area, it’s a bit early for planting season. Don’t let that 70-degree forecast for Saturday keep people from thinking of the 36-degree high expected Monday. But planning for a garden, picking out a tree to plant later, or going out and picking up garbage in the yard or around the block, or in the neighborhood, or perhaps a favorite park, are ways to be involved.

Then round out the day with an educational program that highlights the planet, the night sky, endangered animals and habitat. Disney+ is featuring an Earth Day special with National Geographic following “Free Solo” climber Alex Honnold and others in the Amazon for “Explorer: The Last Tepui.”

Traveling and shopping

AAA–Auto Club came up with ways Americans can do their part for Earth Day by participating in activities to protect the planet. Those suggestions include bringing reusable water and toiletry bottles, using electronic travel documents, taking shorter showers, reusing bath towels and keeping heat/air conditioning at moderate temperatures.

“We’re proud to partner with Tourism Cares, an organization that shares our commitment to help the travel and tourism industry thrive responsibly over the long term,” stated Debbie Haas, vice president of travel for AAA–The Auto Club Group, in a news release. “Research has shown over time and particularly now that enjoying the outdoors is one of the top reasons people travel. Increasingly travelers, especially younger generations, care about sustainability. By understanding the needs and expectations of travelers, our organizations can work together toward a sustainable future.”

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The Better Business Bureau encouraged people to buy green at the grocery store to celebrate Earth Day.

“In theory, eating ‘green’ should be an easy way to consume a healthy diet while protecting the planet,” the BBB reported in a news release. The BBB notes it’s part of being an educated consumer and knowing what comes along with labels of organic and other “green marketing terms.”

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HomeGoods would take the smaller of the two spaces in the renovated interior of the former big box store in Baxter.

“Third-party organizations, like Forest Stewardship Council , TransFair USA , and Rainforest Alliance , certify that specific types of products are grown or produced in an eco-friendly manner. For example, for meat and milk from cows who have been 100 percent free-range grass grazers their whole life, you should look for products with the American Grassfed seal. Real Simple covers top eco-friendly labels and what they certify,” the BBB stated.

Other organizations like the World Wildlife Fund can assist with information and a way to help. Using reusable grocery bags is also a way to cut down on plastic bags. Buying from local producers is recommended. BBB noted GreenAmerican.org recommends meal planning and proper food storage as ways to cut down on food waste.

Meal planning services, which provide the appropriate and measured ingredients for meals, may provide a way to eat healthy and without the waste that can come when cooking for a small number or just in food preparation and spoiling.

Gift buying

When thinking of gifts this year, perhaps even for Mother’s Day, consider a gift that has a connection to reducing, reusing or recycling. Shopping at stores in the community that repurpose items is one way to support that goal and find unique gifts and there are now a host of options for shops with that kind of impact locally.

There are many organizations that provide items tied to making a change for the better for the environment and wildlife. Perhaps a donation in a loved one’s name will benefit that special someone who really does have everything they need. Organizations like 4Ocean, which reports pulling 22,485,184 million pounds of trash from oceans, rivers and coastlines, started selling bracelets using some of the plastic pulled from the ocean and using the proceeds to help fund the effort to pull a pound of trash for every item.

Now, 4Ocean also sells necklaces, T-shirts, hoodies, reusable water bottles, biodegradable sponges, reusable shopping bags, steel beverage cups, face masks, phone cases, beach chairs and cleanup kits of tongs and mesh bags. The business also started a Clean Ocean Club membership sending out a new limited edition bracelet that raises awareness about an animal or ecosystem affected by plastic pollution and then doubling a donation to an ocean-friendly organization with a proven track record — and this year for Earth Day that includes planting trees in Guatemala.

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A host of organizations from Target to media companies are offering Earth Day sales and specials. A quick Google search will find numerous news stories on deals for the day. A number of companies are making changes to reduce or eliminate plastic packaging. Best Buy added a sustainable living section with everything from items for indoor gardening and kitchen composting to smart appliances, a bidet to reduce toilet paper consumption, as well as solar power kits and electric tools and equipment.

There are more ways now than perhaps ever before since Earth Day was established to make a positive impact for the planet on this day and every day.

Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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