Celebrating Earth Day, April 22, 2013

  • Celebrating Earth Day everyday of the year.  Environmentally conscious clean living is not just good for the planet, it is good for the mind, body, and soul.  

    When the first Earth Day was organized in 1970 by former U.S. senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, as a way to bring environmental protection onto the national political agenda, I was not yet two years old.  I don’t remember celebrating Earth Day in school, but perhaps one of those days we picked up trash around the school might have been an Earth Day.  

    Growing up in central Oklahoma in the 80’s, keeping trash out of the landfills was not explicitly emphasized.  With enormous amounts of available land throughout the state, I remember area landfills transforming the landscape on the outskirts of Oklahoma City.  Some of those landfills have added “hilly” elevation to the geography of Oklahoma.

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    Recycling in those days was all about collecting cans, bottles, or newspaper for the refunds offered at the recycling facilities.  I didn’t learn about saving normal paper from the depths of the trash can until moving away to college in a different state.  Now, it is common place to separate as much trash as possible into recycling bins which are conveniently collected at the curb in Northern Virginia.  Each neighbor does his part to keep the environment healthy.

    We’ve talked about this before, but it is just as important to keep unused medications out of our nation’s landfills and water supply.  This year, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Take-Back Day for April 27, 2013.  There are 23 locations within 10 miles of my own home in the suburbs of DC which will be available to accept unused medications on Saturday.  Find a collection site located near you

    Another option for keeping unwanted items out of the country’s waste disposal system is “freecycling.”  The Freecycle Network™ is a grassroots movement made up of 5,095 groups with 9,318,209 members around the world who are “people giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns.”  I’ve both given and received items to and from members of the local community.  It’s a great way to share and reuse items.  

    Please be aware that it is illegal to share doctor-prescribed medications with others.  Can you donate your excess meds instead?

    Some states support programs which will accept prescription medications under very specific and restrictive circumstances.  Very few will take medications directly from patients for safety reasons, but some states which will include Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wyoming.  Talk to your doctor about any excess meds you would like to donate in case your doctor’s office offers a way to ensure that  the medication goes to someone who may need it. 


    In Washington, DC, Earth Day seems to be accompanied by the final arrival of spring with copious amounts of green on the ground and in the trees.  The redbuds and dogwoods are in bloom and our lilacs bushes are waking up from their winter’s sleep.  Today, Earth Day is being recognized in our household by mowing the lawn and pulling weeds out of the flowerbeds.  


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    Read more about caring for your lawn in environmentally-friendly ways in the brochure “Healthy Lawn Health Environment” from the Environmental Protection Agenda (EPA).

    What are you doing to recognize Earth Day around your house, today and everyday?


    Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.


Published On: April 21, 2013