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Earth Day: a time to think green

By Teresa Largent
On April 18, 2012

Did you know that soda cans take 200-500 years to decompose? Glass and plastic containers take approximately 1 million years and Styrofoam may never decompose. Reusing or recycling these materials would decrease the amount of trash in the world and preserve Earth's environment. April 22 reminds us to do just that.

Earth Day was founded to appreciate and protect our wonderful planet. Twenty million people nationwide celebrated the first Earth Day in 1970, making it the largest organized celebration in the history of the country.

Shortly after, Earth Day became an international holiday. Now every year on April 22, people around the world celebrate by planting trees, picking up trash, recycling materials and conserving electricity.

Earth Day is important for many reasons. First, it promotes environmental awareness. Second, it reminds us that we all are responsible for taking care of Earth's environment. Third, it encourages everyone to "go green" by reducing the amount of resources used daily.

We often take the environment for granted, failing to recognize its importance. An obvious way that we fail to appreciate Earth is by treating it like one giant trash can. Littering is a huge problem in the United States. In fact, over 75 percent of Americans admit to littering. The most common littered items are small things, such as cigarette butts and chewing gum, which pose many risks to plant and animal life. Littering not only diminishes the Earth's beauty, but it also significantly harms the environment.

Celebrating Earth Day is simple. Do small things such as reduce water use by taking shorter showers and turning off the water while brushing your teeth. Try cutting back on electricity by turning off lights when possible and setting your air conditioner to a higher temperature. Reduce air pollution and vehicle emissions by carpooling with a friend or taking public transportation. Be mindful of recyclable materials and reuse certain items. And if you're feeling bold, plant a tree!

UTSA dedicates an entire week to Earth Day, hosting multiple events. On April 16, the Roadrunner Café will kick off Earth Week with the annual Weigh the Waste event, collecting and weighing the food students waste. The Green Film Series will display three films in the Sombrilla on a solar-powered display. Students will have the opportunity to buy or make recycled art at the Recycled Art Fair on April 18. Other events include a Green Car Show, Paper Shredding and Green Careers Panel. Earth Week will conclude with the Green Tie Affair, a formal event that showcases the initiatives of UTSA's "green" student organizations.

Although protecting Earth's environment is only dedicated to one day, try making every day Earth Day by asking yourself, "Am I green enough?"

Recycle your soda cans instead of throwing them in the trash, reuse that plastic water bottle instead of buying a new one. Most importantly, don't litter. Make sure to check out the Earth Week events April 16-22 at both the main and downtown campuses. For more information and a complete list, visit earthweekutsa.com.


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