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As the world turns ...
Every day can be Earth Day
Employees of Rosewood E-Cycle and members of the Rosewood Aktion Club were among the presenters at Saturday’s Earth Day Celebration at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo. The booth lets people know that almost anything with a cord, cable or battery can be e-cycled. At the next table, children could plant a seed to take home. - photo by Susan Thacker

Two children overheard Saturday at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo:

“I got a bamboo straw!”

“Me too!”

Great Bend’s Earth Day celebration was this past Saturday but the official day for the global event was Monday, April 22. This year’s theme is “Planet vs. Plastics.”

One of’s goals is “a 60% reduction in the production of plastics by 2040 and an ultimate goal of building a plastic-free future for generations to come.” Imagine if everyone became more aware of the damage done by plastic and tried to eliminate single-use plastics from their daily lives.

National Geographic tells us that a lot of our plastic winds up on the ocean. “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. Also known as the Pacific trash vortex, the garbage patch is actually two distinct collections of debris bounded by the massive North Pacific Subtropical Gyre.”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) adds, “Over 400 million tons of plastic are produced every year for use in a wide variety of applications. At least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year, and plastic makes up 80% of all marine debris found from surface waters to deep-sea sediments.”

Plastic doesn’t decompose. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tells us that as plastics make their way to the ocean, some of them float. As the plastic is tossed around, much of it breaks into tiny pieces, called micro-plastics.

Need an example closer to home? KU News reported on a 2023 global study of plastic debris in lakes and reservoirs. Researchers found micro-plastics in every lake sampled – including Clinton Lake in Kansas.

History of Earth Day

The first Earth Day started on a college campus in 1970, about a year after a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.

We know that fossil fuels are responsible for the quality of life we enjoy – from comfortable homes to cheap transportation. They are also used to make virtually all of the plastic we find so convenient. Furthermore, the oil and gas industry fuels our economy, creating jobs right here in Great Bend. Environmentally friendly regulation is needed but so are sustainable solutions that don’t leave us all shivering in the dark.

Meanwhile, hosting an Earth Day event at the Great Bend zoo was perfect. It was aimed at children but the lessons were for everyone. We learned that little things add up, so even children (but also adults) can help the Earth by learning to recycle and re-purpose items that might otherwise be tossed in the trash. Egg cartons, milk jugs and paper towel rolls might come in handy for a craft project. Learning to switch off lights when you leave a room is another small way to save energy.

The best things we can do for the Earth are done outdoors. That can include joining a clean-up day, feeding the birds or planting a garden. Just playing outdoors is good for our health and puts us closer to nature.