By Peggy Kindiger
We’ve all heard the mantra, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” (and add to that “Repurpose” or “Upcycle”). With spring being a time of renewal and Earth Day being celebrated on April 22nd, this is a good time to revisit the concept of caring for our environment.
The idea of conservation is hardly a new one in the United States. People such as Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Margaret Murie, and Rachel Carson wrote of their concerns about the wilderness, and the effects of pollution on the environment. We have several books and electronic resources from these authors (see below).
The first Earth Day (April 22, 1970), was the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. Earth Day began as a day of education on environmental issues and to increase public awareness of the problem of pollution. Later in the 1970s, the observance led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Now, Earth Day is celebrated globally with events such as cleaning up trash, planting trees, hiking, and gardening. More information can be found on the official Earth Day website: www.earthday.org
While no single person can “save the earth”, we can all do something in our little corner of the world to reduce trash and to make our neighborhood a better, cleaner place to live. Get together with your family members and friends to pick up trash that’s been blowing around, carry your drinking water in reusable containers instead of throwing away all those plastic bottles, reduce your use of items such as Styrofoam that don’t easily break down, take recyclable materials to a recycling center (there’s one in El Reno!), or contact the City of El Reno to arrange for recycling by OEMA on your regular trash pickup day. The library has several books, listed below, that can inspire ways to reuse or repurpose items that don’t need to be thrown away quite yet.
The theme for Earth Day 2019 is “Protect Our Species”. The theme draws awareness to some of the world’s endangered and threatened species such as giraffes, elephants, coral reefs, and various insects, including bees. Honey bees are essential for the pollination of not only ornamental flowers, but also many of our food crops. The production of apples, apricots, cherries, melons, berries, cashews, and especially almonds and blueberries all depend on bees. Learn more by visiting www.worldatlas.com.
Although we don’t have indigenous giraffes or coral reefs in this corner of Oklahoma, this year you can support the Earth Day theme by becoming educated on ways to increase and protect honeybee populations in your backyard and in your neighborhood. If you don’t have enough room for a hive, you can always plant some attractive flowers to provide more food for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Also, reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides will keep populations healthier. Every little bit helps!
Later this summer, on July 20th, we will observe the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. Only a few persons in the history of the world have been privileged to see the earth from space, and the effect has always been profound. William Anders, one of the crew of Apollo 8 (the first to circle the moon) said, “We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.” And I’ll leave you with this:
“In the future, I would like to be more of an advocate for animal conservation. Every single part of the Earth reacts with every other part. It’s one thing. Every little animal is important in that ecosystem. [Seeing the planet from above] makes you realize that, and makes you want to be a little more proactive in keeping it that way. If I could get every Earthling to do one circle of the Earth, I think things would run a little differently.”
– Karen Nyberg (NASA astronaut, 50th woman in space)
Silent Spring, Rachel Carson, 363.73 CAR
Upcycling: Create Beautiful Things with the Stuff You Already Have, Danny Seo, 745.5 SEO
A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold, 578 LEO
Recycling and Upcycling: Science, Technology, Engineering, Steven Otfinoski, 363.7 OTF Y
Rachel Carson: Preserving a Sense of Wonder, Thomas Locker and Joseph Bruchac, 92 CAR J
Henry David Thoreau-A Neighbor to Nature: Earth Keepers, Catherine Reef, 92 THO J
Yuck! Waste, Nuria Jimenez, 363.72 J
Crafty Ideas from Junk: Exciting Step-by-Step Projects to Make and Do, Myrna Daitz, 745.5 DAI J
Creating by Recycling, Anna Llimaos, 745.5 LLI J
Other resources on the environment and recycling along with essays by John Muir (the “Father of our National Park system”) can be found on OverDrive, Gutenberg, and LibriVox, which are accessable through the library’s website: www.elrenolibrary.okpls.org