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Earth Day: Each of us doing a little can add up to a lot

Post by Cheryl Tucker on April 21, 2010 at 7:40 pm with No Comments »
April 21, 2010 5:46 pm

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

As Earth Day turns 40 today, the environmental problems facing the world look all but insurmountable: climate change and the growing threat of hunger and water shortages, acidic oceans, vanishing plant and animal species . . . the list could go on and on.

As individuals, saving the Earth really isn’t much of an option. But each of us has the power to improve a little corner of it.

At the personal level, simple things can help, like walking or using mass transit instead of driving, conserving energy in our homes with efficient appliances and compact fluorescent light bulbs, planting native species that don’t need watering and eating more locally grown foods. And sometimes, doing the right thing for the environment has a bonus: It can save us money on our household bills.

At the community level, volunteer opportunities abound for helping Mother Earth. Many local cities and parks departments are participating in Parks Appreciation Day from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, and that offers a good way for neophyte volunteers to get their feet wet – and maybe a little dirty, too.

At Tacoma’s Metro Parks sites, volunteers can trim bushes, comb beaches for trash, and plant flowers and trees. In Pierce County, volunteers can cut, pull, plant and haul at Bresemann Forest in Parkland, Orangegate Park in Summit-Waller, South Hill Park and Frontier Park in Graham. The City of Lakewood plans work parties at Fort Steilacoom Park, American Lake Park, Wards Lake Park and Blue Berry Fields.
Other South Sound communities – from Puyallup to the Key Peninsula – are planning similar volunteer-related events Saturday. Just show up dressed for the weather and bring gloves, clippers or other tools of choice.

Volunteers are valuable resources for cash-strapped parks systems – especially as they ready for the upcoming heavy-use months. On Parks Appreciation Day in 2009, Tacoma-Pierce County volunteers contributed more than 6,500 hours of labor, the equivalent of more than $110,000 in value. They collected more than 140 bags of litter, planted more than 360 trees and spread more than 550 yards of mulch.

Those who enjoy the experience this Saturday should think about volunteering on a more regular basis. Just picking up litter while taking a walk is a good way to get started. Your corner of the Earth will be the better for it.

Learn more
For a roundup of South Sound parks hosting work parties Saturday, go online to

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