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Get down to Earth today

April 22, 2008|By RYAN BARRY / Pulse Correspondent

Earth Day is the one day where you have a chance to help the environment, right?

Actually, you can help the environment any day of the year, by recycling paper, glass, metal and plastic bottles, by planting new trees and shrubs and by conserving your electricity and water.

Planting trees helps prevent global climate change, but it also conserves energy by providing a windbreak in the winter and shade in the summer. The Arbor Day Foundation Web site (www.arborday.org) is a good source of information on the benefits of planting trees.

The plastic bags you get at the grocery store are useful, cheap and strong. But they are bad for the environment. They biodegrade very slowly, and, if they get into waterways, they can suffocate wildlife. According to the National Geographic Green Guide (www.thegreenguide.com), plastic shopping bags can only be recycled into products with long life spans like plastic shopping baskets.

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A good alternative to plastic bags is using cloth bags brought from home instead. Scientists estimate that most plastics will stay in landfills for thousands of years before finally decomposing back into the Earth, and when they finally do decompose, they release toxins into the ground.

Your car releases harmful gasses into the atmosphere every time you drive, so try to ride a bicycle or walk when you can. It's good for you and the environment. When your parents buy a car, encourage them to buy fuel-efficient cars, which will help save money and reduce carbon going into the atmosphere.

Most cleaning products are also harmful to the environment as soon as they go down the drain. They are also bad for your hands. So try to buy environmentally friendly cleaners, as well as soaps and shampoos.

One chemical found in most non-environmentally friendly shampoos, sodium lauryl sulfate, has been shown in studies from the American College of Toxicology (www.actox.org) to cause skin and eye irritation. You might want to check to see if any of your products have this chemical in them.

One easy way to care for the Earth is through conservation. Try to turn the lights off when you leave the room and don't leave the water running when you're not using it. It will also help save you money.

These are just a few ideas to help you celebrate Earth Day any day.

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