To the point week of 04-24-08

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TUESDAY WAS EARTH DAY around the country. It’s a day that we as Americans should become more aware of the amount of trash and pollution that we are placing on this planet.

For me, Earth Day began last week, when I began to make trips to the dumpsters that had been provided to residents by the Vevay Town Council.

As my wife rummaged through the basement and I tackled the garage, I was amazed at the amount of “stuff” that we have found a place for over the years. I don’t think we meant to become such pack rats, but our van loads of unwanted stuff going to the dumpsters certainly proved that we were.

At this time I’d like to thank the Vevay Town Council for providing the service to the town residents – and from the loads upon loads that were being left in the dumpsters, everyone else appreciated it, too.

There have been similar programs organized by the county for county residents, and the solid waste recycling center in East Enterprise is also an excellent place to find a suitable location for unwanted items that can be recycled.

Then Earth Day came on Tuesday, and as I shuffled through information, I was amazed at how each of us in our own little way helps to contribute to a great big mess.

Did you know that the average American contributes 1,859 pounds of air pollution to the atmosphere each year? I didn’t, and I don’t think that counts the melodious sounds of Doc and Edsel in the Wine Festival Parade each year.

Did you know that running a refrigerator and freezer for one year can produce as much pollution as driving your car from Chicago to Las Vegas? I didn’t. Although we aren’t going to give up our refrigerators, as we replace appliances around our homes, finding ones that are more environmentally-friendly is a wise thing to do.

Every minute 37,000 empty soft drink bottles are thrown away in the United States.

That’s really incredible to me, and it’s also a statistic that I will allow each of you to multiply into hours, days, weeks, months, and years – because I’ve sworn off math in this column.

It seems so simple to buy a water bottle and fill it up before you leave the house rather than buying a new bottle of water each time. Even with recycling, those used bottles add up over time.

When I was in elementary school, a man came and did a presentation in our school about pollution. This was smack in the middle of the Ecology movement (extra credit if you can draw the Ecology symbol), and the Indian was crying on the side of the highway and there was a lot of attention being drawn not polluting.

We hadn’t gotten to actually recycling yet, because we were trying to get people to stop throwing their trash out on the side of the road, first.

Anyway, the man at our school gave each of us a stick of Wrigley’s chewing gum (big spender), and much to our amazement, we were allowed to chew it.

As we all munched away, the man asked one of our students to come up and throw his gum wrapper in the middle of the gym floor.

The kid did, and the man said something like, “That’s not very bad, is it? It’s just one gum wrapper, so who’ll ever care?”

Not us, we figured. You could barely see the wrapper on the big gym floor.

Then the man told each and everyone of us to get up, come forward, and drop our gum wrapper in the middle of the gym.

You know what?

We made a mess.

It was that day that I learned a pretty big lesson: You may think that your little piece of trash doesn’t mean much in the big picture, but when everyone else throws out their little piece of trash, suddenly we have a great big pile of trash – and we can’t have that.

Earth Day is a day that helps us remember that we need to protect our planet for future generations, but if we’re really serious – Earth Day should be everyday.

We live in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen – can we please stop throwing bags of trash and garbage out along our scenic roads and down into our wonderful creeks and streams?

Is it really that hard to get rid of your trash? It seems to me that people who do these things work harder at finding a place to dump their trash than it would take to simply get rid of it the right way, anyway.

Clean up, Switzerland County – we all have to live here.