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Appreciating the planet during Earth Week

When you live in Oregon, it is easy to see just how beautiful the Earth is. From breathtaking waterfalls to peaceful forest hikes, this lush state offers a variety of ways to immerse yourself in nature and appreciate what the Earth provides. With Earth Day right around the corner on Saturday, April 22, now is a prime time to consider what you can be doing to pay back the Earth.

One easy action you can take is recycling, not just remembering to do it, but making sure to do it correctly. Everyone has seen, or maybe even been, the person who tosses a banana peel, Kleenex or granola bar wrapper in a recycling bin, none of which can be recycled. Thus it is important to be conscious of what you throw in the recycling, both at school and in your apartment or dorm room. When in doubt about a certain item, consult the University of Oregon Zero Waste Program’s website for detailed recycling information.

Taking some time to soak in the surrounding natural areas of Lane County is another way to appreciate the Earth. If you’re in town, Hendricks Park is one option for enjoying an afternoon hike or a casual picnic surrounded by spring’s blooming trees. Spencer and Skinner Butte are also good spots to appreciate the fresh air and expansive views that Oregon has to offer. Grab a few friends or just head out by yourself to get a refresher on just how important natural areas are for our physical and mental wellbeing.

Lettuce from Yep Yep Farms is grown through aquaponic farming, a system where plants are grown in water from the tanks of aquatic animals. The Lane County Farmers Market is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Phillip Quinn/Emerald)

You can also celebrate the Earth by buying fresh local foods. This time of year brings many fruits and vegetables into season, including colorful berries, which are great for adding something fresh to your meals. Try visiting restaurants who use local ingredients in their food, or head over to Saturday market to purchase an array of produce. Each of these items will be a reminder of the magnificent foods the Earth produces for us.

A more direct way to protect the planet is through volunteering for cleanup efforts. SOLVE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving Oregon’s environment, holds events year round to keep beaches, parks and forests litter free.

These events are always in need of volunteers ready to help keep the Earth’s environment clean. On Earth Day, SOLVE and Eugene organization Nearby Nature will be working together to host a cleanup of Alton Baker Park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. SOLVE is currently looking for volunteers for the event. Registration is available on the Nearby Nature website. Remember, you can be helpful year-round by refusing to litter and by removing trash from natural areas when you see it.

Finally, keep in mind that you can protect the Earth’s pristine beauty even with small changes. Those changes might even help you out as well. Turning the lights off when you leave a room not only helps the planet, but saves you money on electricity. Walking or biking to the store, class, or work not only keeps pollution out of the atmosphere, but also keeps your body active and healthy in the long run. Even taking a shorter shower can save water and reduce your water bill. 

No matter what steps you take to celebrate Earth Day, keep in mind the importance of maintaining our planet, not only for your future, but for many generations to come. 

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Leanne Harloff

Leanne Harloff