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3 more “Rs” for Earth Day

April 22 is Earth Day! Started 52 years ago, Earth Day is an opportunity for us to focus on our personal obligation to the planet we live on. It is also a chance to join together with organizations and other residents of the planet to get involved in environmental stewardship.

As a civic engagement enthusiast, I love days that inspire people to get involved and take action to impact their communities. There are so many ways you can make small changes in your life to make big impacts on the environment. You are probably familiar with the three Rs of environmental stewardship: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. They are a quick way to remember forms of action you can take to lessen your impact on the environment

For this Earth Day, I suggest we add another three Rs to our repertoire: Research, Reach Out, and Register.

Research

I know this is a loaded term, especially when it comes to climate issues. I urge you to consult reputable sources to learn more about climate change and what you can do to curb it. Researching and understanding the science behind environmental issues can help you make informed decisions that can bring about real change.

But where to start? Before you tackle any of the more complicated issues, let’s start small. Do you know what you can actually recycle here in Utah? Not as much as you probably think. 

Just because something has a recycle symbol, it doesn’t mean that our facilities in our state have the services or capabilities to recycle it.

You can conduct your research on recycling by using this handy interactive map. Just click on your county and get to researching!

Additional research:

Reach out

While changes in your personal habits can make a difference, reaching out and talking to your lawmakers can also have enormous impact on environmental issues.

According to Earthday.org, on the first Earth Day in 1970, “20 million individuals — at the time, 10% of the U.S. population — mobilized to call for greater protections for our planet.” So bear with me here, if Utah’s voting-eligible population is around 2,274,774 residents, and 10% of that group called our elected officials when important legislation came up, that would be around 227,477 calls! 

If, like me, the idea of calling someone makes you break out in a cold sweat, you can always email your lawmakers instead. The point is to reach out and let your feelings about environmental legislation be heard. The Better Utah Institute has a great resource with listings of lawmakers and different ways you can get in touch with them.

Register

As I stated earlier, Utah’s voting-eligible population is around  2,274,774 residents. Can you imagine if we all registered and then voted to support environmentally conscious candidates? The most important thing we can do to impact climate change is to vote! Elections at every level impact the environment in so many ways. 

Register to vote, and even if you think you ARE registered, check your registration to make sure everything is accurate so that when ballots are mailed you will get yours right in your mailbox.

It’s up to us to take action to preserve and protect our planet. When we take the original 3 Rs, Reduce – Reuse – Recycle and add in these new 3 Rs, Research – Reach Out – Register, we can see that there are so many ways to get involved and make a difference. 

The first Earth Day was born out of a movement where people raised their voices in unison to enact environmental changes. As they say at Earthday.org,“Don’t underestimate your power. When your voice and your actions are united with thousands or millions of others around the world, we create a movement that is inclusive, impactful, and impossible to ignore.”

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