Earth Day highs and lows

“It’s so clean here,” Colonel Hill observed as we stood looking out the window of a restaurant many stories above the downtown Des Moines streets.

“It could be better,” I responded, spying cans and paper litter, even from that far away.

I realize it’s a matter of perspective. The colonel was visiting from Washington, D.C. Litter on big city streets makes Iowa look positively pristine by comparison. But even if we could smugly say we’re not as bad as they are, that’s hardly a badge of distinction.

Today is Earth Day. Started in 1970 as a protest, since then the day has served as a celebration of the birth of the modern environmental movement and a day of action.

An AP article compared pictures from the EPA Documericaproject. Things look a lot better, but they also show work to be done. Earth Day raises awareness each year of the need for good environmental stewardship, and of the need for each person to take responsibility for our environment.

Every spring I find myself ranting about all the litter in the roadside ditches. Because of the mild, mostly snow-free, winter just past, I was able to keep the ditches along my walking trail reasonably clean throughout the winter. Pretty much every day I took a walk this winter, I came back with 2-3 bottles or cans. The capacity people have to litter is endless.

Since Earth Day is about action, my action today will be to bag up all the recyclable containers I’ve picked up in the last few weeks and take them to a recycling center.

But also, because Colonel Hill reminded me that by comparison we also have it pretty good here in Iowa, I’ll focus on the beauty of our surroundings, too. The plum tree my husband planted this week and the bleeding hearts blooming in the garden.

Our earth is beautiful. Earth Day reminds us all to take responsibility for keeping it that way. Happy Earth Day!

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