MADISON — From its meager beginnings as a day of environmental awareness, Earth Day has grown into a global affair in support of healthy, sustainable ideas for use year-round. April 22, 2014, marks the 44th observance of Earth Day. Especially for Wisconsinites, it’s a time of proud reflection. After all, it was Wisconsin native, U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, who established the first Earth Day 44 years ago.

“Earth Day is a vitally important reminder that we each have the power, and therefore a great responsibility, to lead by example for generations to come,” said Mark Redsten, executive director for Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental organization. “It’s important that we keep this energy and momentum growing.”

Everyone can make a difference. Here are five simple steps you can take every day to pitch in for a healthier environment.

  1. Recycle. The average Wisconsin household recycles more than 600 pounds of waste annually. While many might say recycling goes without saying, it’s important to stay up-to-date on what belongs in the recycling bin and what doesn’t. Take a moment to look up the latest recycling standards in your city. You might discover you’ve been putting a few things in the wrong can, and over time this will make a world of difference to our landfills.
  2. Go digital with your newspaper and magazine subscriptions. You already own a computer, tablet or mobile device, so opt for the digital version of newspapers, magazines, and books you already pay for. Check out programs like Zinio, Next Issue and Magzter to keep your favorite titles organized at your fingertips with no need for disposal.
  3. Invest in a sturdy, reusable water bottle. This keeps wasteful plastic water bottles out of our landfills. While you’re at it, invest in a reusable travel mug and reclaim your 10 minutes spent waiting in line at the coffeehouse.
  4. Donate household items – and consider buying used goods when you need something. A lot of people scan eBay, Craigslist and Freecycle in the classic tale of one person’s trash being another’s treasure. Traditional newspaper classified advertising and yard sales are another route, and everyone loves to see a “free stuff” memo at work. In the off chance you can’t find any takers, Goodwill and St. Vincent DePaul remain tried and true options to help your discarded items find new homes.
  5. Take time every day to unplug. Turn the phone off, power down the computer, and switch off the television.  One hour off your device is another hour you won’t need to spend charging. Switch off the power strip and remove unused chargers for added savings. It will add up quickly and you’ll have your electricity bill to show for it.

Want one more way to help the environment this Earth Day? Support Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental organization. Also celebrating 44 years, Clean Wisconsin works for clean air, clean water and the places we all love.