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Earth Day

Sunday is Earth Day and this year’s campaign centers on ending plastic pollution — but I’ll get to that in a minute.

The idea for Earth Day was the brainchild of then U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson. He organized the first Earth Day after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.

According to, “Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a ‘national teach-in on the environment’ to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes from Harvard as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land. April 22, falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, was selected as the date.

Earth Day 1970 was special because it brought an uncommon political alignment, garnering support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city dweller and farmers, magnates and labor leaders. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”

Now, coming up on the 50th anniversary of that first Earth Day, we are faced with a slew of new environmental concerns. Climate Change deniers, oil lobbyists, silent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to the narrative.

I figure it this way. Until we as a country can come together and realize we have one Earth and we need to take care of it, it’s up to us as individuals to do our part.

So what can you do this Earth Day and every day to contribute to bettering the planet?

Let’s go back to this year’s campaign regarding ending plastic pollution.

We all know the old adage “Reduce-Reuse-Recycle”, and while that is a solid plan to live by, how many of are actually doing it? Make an effort to reduce your consumption of plastic, and if you do use it, please recycle it. If nothing else, it saves on your garbage bill! And there are a lot of recycling centers in the area, so there is almost always one on your way to or from somewhere. (I’ll include a list of local ones at the end of the article).

Recently a fourth ‘R’ has been added to the list. That one is REFUSE. That’s right. Making a significant impact on the environment can be as simple as refusing plastic. And you know the most straightforward refusal that produces the most substantial impact? STRAWS.

The United States alone uses 500 million straws every day. That’s enough to circle the Earth two and a half times. They are also the 11th most found ocean trash and can take 200 YEARS to decompose. Most can’t be recycled easily either, so imagine the space that starts to take up in landfills?

According to, “An estimated 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastics in their stomachs. When they ingest plastic, marine life has a 50% mortality rate. What would our oceans be without marine life?

“What’s equally as bad, perhaps even worse is that when plastic does make it into the ocean, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces known as ‘microplastics’ rather than biodegrading or dissolving, which poses great threats to marine life including fish.”

So what can you do? Well, this time the obvious takes it. Simply refuse a straw when you can. Or, if you need to use a straw consider investing in a reusable straw. There are a lot of options available.

It may be a stretch in the immediate future, but you may also consider asking your favorite restaurants to carry biodegradable straws. Restaurants can also have a huge impact by only offering straws when requested. The number of people who won’t think to use a straw unless it is given to them would surprise you. Even McDonald’s is testing the use of biodegradable straws in some of their restaurants.

At the end of the day, the less plastic we can consume the better we all are. That’s less petroleum being used in the making and fewer resources being used in the recycling process also. Plus, yes, less waste in our landfills.

Reusable goes a long way in protecting our environment and keeping trash out of our landfills. Reusable straws, cutlery, cups and bottles, grocery bags, etc., are all easy, affordable steps to cutting down on plastic pollution and reducing your own environmental impact.

We may have a long way to go in regards to convincing the powers that be that Climate Change is real and not going anywhere, so in the meantime, do what you can to make your corner of the world cleaner.

Lycoming County Recycling Centers:

  • Brady Township Municipal Building
  • Brown Township: Rt. 414, Near Brown Twp. Fire Co.
  • Cogan House Township Building
  • Franklin Township Municipal Building
  • Hepburn Township: Bair Park
  • Hughesville Municipal Building
  • Jersey Shore: North PA Avenue
  • Limestone Twp. (Oval) Township Building
  • Loyalsock Township: Boy Scouts, 815 Northway Rd.
  • Lycoming Co. Landfill: 447 Alexander Dr., Route 15, Montgomery
  • Montgomery Borough Municipal Garage
  • Montoursville Borough: Indian Park
  • Muncy Creek Township Building Rt. 422
  • Nippenose Township: Antes Fort Municipal Building
  • Old Lycoming Township: 1240 Princeton Ave. (Across from former Round Hills Elementary)
  • Piatt Township Building
  • Pine Township Building
  • Plunketts Creek Township: Fire Hall, Barbours
  • Porter Township Building
  • South Williamsport Borough: Winthrop and Front streets
  • Trout Run: Trout Run Fire Hall
  • Upper Fairfield Township: Loyalsock Municipal Building
  • Watson Township: Maintenance Building, on SR 44
  • Williamsport: 1550 West Third St.

Clinton County:

  • CCSWA Recycling Center, McElhatten
  • Bald Eagle Township Building
  • Beech Creek Borough Building
  • Castanea Township Building
  • Chapman Township Building
  • City of Lock Haven
  • Crawford Township Building
  • Colebrook Township Building
  • Gallagher Township Building
  • Greene Township Building
  • Lamar Township Building
  • Leidy Township Building – Crossfork & Tamarack
  • Loganton Borough Building
  • Logan Township Building
  • Mill Hall Borough Building
  • Pine Creek Township – Chatham Run
  • Pine Creek Township – Harrisland
  • Porter Township Community Building
  • Porter Township – Conservation District/Extension
  • Renovo Borough – 230 11th Street
  • Swissdale – United Methodist Church
  • Walmart – Hogan Boulevard

Other Local Drop-Off Sites:

  • Lewis Township Recycling Center, 1428 Rovendale Dr., Watsontown
  • East Buffalo Township Municipal Building, Lewisburg
  • Laporte Township Recycling Center, 4987 US Hwy 220, Muncy Valley

This may not be a complete list of drop-off sites and doesn’t include curbside pick up, or places like Staiman’s that pay for your materials, but it is a good start for places to drop your recyclables.

This Earth Day, remember:
Reduce – Reuse – REFUSE – Recycle

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