Save the planet. It's a message echoed across the world in honor of Earth Day each April 22.
Janet Reed, executive director of The Clay-Owen-Vigo Solid Waste Management District, would like to see it practiced all year long. But she knows the attitude usually has to be learned by many people early on in life.
Part of the district's effort enforcing conservation and recycling hits the schools in hope of getting young people more involved.
"What we do in April, we do all year long," Reed said about the district's efforts to educate the community.
The Earth Day movement was started 33 years ago at a time when Americans were driving gas-guzzling cars and industry was pouring out pollutants from its factories. According to the Earth Day network Website, things started to change after that first environment crusade, leading to the creation of legislation such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.
The solid waste management district recently donated Earth Wagon Environmental Libraries to all middle schools in the three-county district. Reed pointed out that the wagons are extra special because they are made entirely from recycled milk jugs, like some of the furniture in the office at 109 E. National Ave.
All the wagons contain an assortment of environmentally-related learning tools, including books, videos, brochures and activity guides.
"The wagons are one of the many ways we target the kids," said Reed. "They're going to be making decisions for us someday." By having the resources available daily, students seem to be getting the message and are passing it along to their parents, encouraging household recycling. The wagons are also available for use to home schoolers, churches and other organizations upon request.
The group does many educational presentations at all the schools, including how to start a worm bin for their kitchen garbage at home and creating an edible landfill, which Reed said is an all-around favorite with children. The tasty chocolate and marshmallow treat helps show the students how landfills are designed and made.
Recently, the organization sponsored a poster contest. The children's concern for their planet shows in the enthusiastic response Reed received.
"Seventy-five percent chose endangered species, one of my favorites, as their theme in the contest," Reed said.
There are many simple things everyone can do to be more earth-friendly. Reed noted that by just picking up litter along roadways and alleys can benefit the environment. She added that cities sponsoring big trash pick ups and residents planting trees when they have to cut one down, all help keep the environment healthy.