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Celebrate Earth Day every day to clean up the planet

Editor's note: In honor of Wednesday's Earth Day, Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful is encouraging all Gwinnett residents to get out and do something to improve the environment. The following article submitted by GC&B outlines things you can do to make Earth Day every day.

In 1972, when Congress passed the Clean Water Act, which aimed to stop streams, rivers and lakes from being polluted, only 36 percent of the nation's assessed stream miles were safe for uses such as fishing and swimming. Today, about 60 percent are safe for such uses. These and other environmental initiatives are part of the progress made since the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970.

Thirty-nine years later, Earth Day is still a symbol of environmental success and one that Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful is proud to honor. As part of Keep America Beautiful's Great American Cleanup, GC&B is urging Gwinnett's residents and businesses to remember that "Green Starts Here." There are myriad ways each one of us can help celebrate Earth Day, whether it's instituting a recycling program, picking up litter or planting a tree.

Various Gwinnett organizations already have plans for Earth Day. The Gwinnett Rotary Club and the Peachtree Ridge High School Interact Club are joining forces this week for a special tree-planting project. Working side-by-side, students and Rotarians will plant 12 seedlings on the campus of Peachtree Ridge, bringing environmental awareness to students and enhancing the landscape.

"We were glad to enable this beautification project with the donation of seedlings and some sweat equity," Rotary President Slade Lail said. "Rotary's motto is 'Service Above Self.' We work to lead by example and want to teach the next generation how important it is to be good environmental stewards. This is just one small example of how we can each do our part to preserve the resources and the beauty of this great Earth."

At Iron Mountain, a records management, data protection and information destruction company in Norcross, employees are also celebrated Earth Day. Together with GC&B, they had a lunch-and-learn event that will provide each employee with the knowledge and tools they need to help preserve our natural resources.

For more ways you can observe Earth Day throughout the year, visit GC&B online at www.gwinnettcb.org.

SideBar: Reduce, reuse, recycle

Celebrate Earth Day all year long with the three "R's": reduce, reuse and recycle.

Reduce waste by buying less and shopping smarter.

· When possible, buy products that require less packaging and are made from recycled content when possible, or buy from second-hand stores.

· Buy items that last longer, even if they might cost a little more.

· Buy in bulk. You'll usually get your items cheaper, too.

Reuse what you already have, instead of buying more.

· Reuse food containers

· Donate unwanted items to charity or have a yard sale

· Turn used computer paper over and print on the back side, or use it as scratch paper for notes or grocery lists.

· Use dishwater for watering plants

Every year, Americans throw away enough plastic soda bottles to circle the Earth four times, and enough office paper to build a 12-foot-high wall of paper from New York to Los Angeles. Recycle instead. Let your waste company pick up approved items curbside or take them to the Recycling Bank of Gwinnett.

· Old newspapers become new newsprint, boxboard, cellulose insulation, animal bedding and more.

· Plastic milk jugs become flower pots, trash cans, traffic cones, pallets, detergent bottles, drainage pipes, plastic yard furniture, toys and more.