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Reduce, reuse, and recycle

April 26, 2010

by Jenni Sebora

Reducing, reusing, and recycling. We hear these terms more and more frequently in our homes, our schools, and our businesses.

People are encouraged to “go green” when building and remodeling. The knowledge that our earth’s resources are limited is more prevalent or accepted, it seems.

I heard that the new Twins’ stadium is the greenest, or one of the greenest, literally and figuratively, in Major League Baseball in its use of environmentally-friendly materials and practices.

We can continue to teach our children about the importance of Arbor Day and Earth Day, and the daily importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling.

If I happen to throw away a plastic container or a tin can and my children discover it, they remind me that “this can be recycled.” It goes to our recycling containers in our garage. We have designated containers for plastics, tin and aluminum, and glass, and we also recycle most of our cardboard.

Even though earth-friendly practices seem more prevalent, when did the concept of Arbor Day/Earth Day begin? The following is a bit of history regarding the special day(s).

Nebraska was once a state with wide-open prairie in the 1840s. Pioneers moved to settle in this area, but there were no trees to build with or to burn for heat.

Pioneer Sterling Morton and his wife moved to this territory and immediately began planting trees. Morton was a journalist, and later became the editor for Nebraska’s first newspaper, writing and advocating for the importance of planting trees to cover this vast barren land.

As secretary of the Nebraska Territory, he suggested at a State Board of Agriculture meeting in 1872, that April 10 be set aside as a day to plant trees. About one million trees were planted by Nebraskans on that first Arbor Day.

Nebraska declared its own Arbor Day as a legal holiday in 1882. The date was moved to April 22, the birthday of Morton.

Arbor Day activities were changed somewhat April 22, 1970, to emphasize the importance of our environment. This Earth Day was observed by millions of Americans; 20 years later, in 1990, Earth Day was observed once again.

“Arbor Day, which has already transplanted itself to every state in the American Union, has even been adopted in foreign lands . . . is not like other holidays. Each of those reposes on the past, while Arbor Day proposes for the future.” – J. Sterling Morton.

(Source of information: www.homeschooling.about.com)

Try a fun craft to commemorate Earth Day/Arbor Day. Make a paper maché earth. Start with a Styrofoam ball or other ball. Mix up some paper maché paste: three parts of water with one part of flour, mixing until it is smooth and creamy or mix two parts of white glue with one part warm water.

Tear newspaper into usable strips and dip into the paper maché mixture. Apply one strip at a time onto the ball. Allow to dry and paint the earth with blue and green paint.

Create your own bird feeder out of an empty quart-sized cardboard milk carton, some string, and of course, bird seed.

Cut a hole in the carton big enough so a bird can come and sit and dine on the feed, but not overly big.

Use a hole puncher or poke a hole in the top of the carton to allow for a string to go through for hanging. Fill the feeder with bird seed. Hang the carton on a branch and enjoy bird watching.

(Idea source: www.crafts.kaboose.com)

To purchase inexpensive saplings, contact your county soil and water conservation office. Many counties have order forms online. My family has used this resource to order and plant trees.