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Keep it clean: Make every day Earth Day

Photo courtesy of NASA
Although Earth Day has passed, it's important to always keep our environment clean and free of filth. 

By Editorial Board


This is it. Our one home planet. Earth. Dreams of colonizing some other orbiting body aside, it’s all we’re gonna get in this lifetime.

In school in the era prior to 1968, globes and maps were all we had. They were neatly divided by lines and each nation was color-coded to show us clearly where neighborly fences and hostile division lay. There were no clouds to obscure the view.

Then, in 1968, the world saw the first color photograph of Earth from the Apollo 8 mission. No borderlines, no color-coding, just one beautiful picture that captured the blue, green and white sphere, where the white-topped clouds did obscure some of the views, yet somehow made it more beautiful.

That photograph changed the world and lead many more. In 1969, with a background of dark space, sat the only terra firma man had ever stood upon until that day, when Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.

In viewing those photographs, humans saw the Earth as they never had before, and it shifted our perspective. With no graphic artist’s colors and lines chopping it up, people grasped on a guttural level that we’re all in this together. This is our home, there is no other refuge. If we ruin it, we live in ruins.

Within a year of the first man landing on the moon, Earth Day began. A concerted effort to clean up the Earth and draw attention to pollution problems, Earth Day has grown now for 51 years, drawing crews out into the streets to pick up litter and beautify neighborhoods.

The successes of the movement Earth Day ushered in are wonderful. Pollution in most places has been addressed in ways that have improved the air and made for better living conditions. Media-assisted campaigns have helped change many minds about refuse and its proper disposal. Much of the Earth (but not all) is significantly cleaner now than it was in 1969.

There’s still work to do, and the biggest work is in changing an event into a lifestyle for everyone. Making every day Earth Day.

Drive through some areas, and you’ll quickly note that some people aren’t going along with the program. Within a block of many urban “corner stores,” despite the refuse bins lining the street, there are chip bags, ice cream wrappers and soda bottles tossed on the ground.

Sit in your car and observe, and you’ll see the culprits. Mostly kids, but not all. Some adults don’t care about litter, just as some adults don’t care about other things, and they drop their refuse as they stop.

That means someone else must pick up the litter, or leave it to be blown by the wind, creating an eyesore of our neighborhoods… so really the option is to clean it up.

It’s not fair, but it is right.

Kudos to those groups who get it:

• Places like Robinson Township where officials are promoting adopt a street efforts

Crafton and Coraopolis where community-wide cleanup days were held

Sto-Rox Youth Partnership and others led by resident Cynthia (Lutz) Gerbino to pick up trash in the Norwood area of Stowe

McKees Rocks Mutual Aid members who have spent several weekends cleaning up in the Bottoms neighborhood

• Members of the Sto-Rox High School football team, who have been seen out and about picking up trash

And so many more...

If those who get it give in to those who don’t we end up living in their world. We pick it up because we’d rather not.

We want to live where it’s nice. Where it’s clean. The trick is to do your part… and sometimes pick up the slack when someone else is not doing their part.

We must, because, as that beautiful picture of Earth orbiting on its own in the vast vacuum of space showed us, this home is what we’ve got.



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