Last Sunday the world observed Earth Day. But Earth Day should not be a once-a-year event, it should be a daily occurrence.
I grew up in Germany, where people sweep the sidewalks every Saturday. Litter was my biggest culture shock after moving to the U.S. As the snow melts in the spring, I am always appalled at the amount of trash that has accumulated along the roadsides. Doesn’t anyone take their trash home? I appreciate the efforts of countless volunteers who collect this mountain of garbage, but why do people litter in the first place?
Recycling is a national sport in Germany. Everything gets recycled there: glass, metal, paper, even kitchen trash. You have to pay a deposit for plastic bottles, which enormously reduces waste because who wants to throw away money?
Another area where the two countries widely differ is the use of bags. In Germany you have to bring your bags to the grocery store or pay for plastic bags. This keeps many bags out of landfills and oceans. Here in the U.S. I seem to be the only customer who brings her own tote bags to the store.
These are just a few steps anyone can take without much effort to make the Earth more livable for humans and wildlife alike.
Doris Dumrauf is the author of “Common Backyard Birds,” “Create Your Own Backyard Wildlife Habitat” and “Oktober Heat”
Image: Erkaha (commons.wikimedia.org)