Earth Day began on April 22, 1970, when U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson promoted a focus on being aware of and solving the nation’s environmental problems.

The event grew and is now an international day with 142 nations taking part. The theme of this year’s national celebration is “End Plastic Pollution.”

In honor of Earth Day the Anniston Museum of Natural History is holding a seminar about how plastics are polluting the Earth. The program is from 2-3 p.m., and the cost is free to members, $5 for non-members. All ages are welcome.

Call 256-237-6766 to register. “We’ll share how a few small steps can help the Earth and the animals that share it with us,” according to their website, www.annistonmuseum.org. Participants are encouraged to bring an empty plastic water bottle that can be recycled into a planter.  

“I love that we can help the public learn how to protect the Earth,” Renee Lyons, public relations director, said. “It’s great to teach future generations how to keep our Earth alive and thriving.”

Also, to celebrate Earth Day, some people may want to drive to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The staff is sponsoring a free program on “Environmental Justice and Awareness” from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

The Bib and Tucker quilting group is encouraging those 9 years and older to take part in creating an environmentally themed fabric block for a quilt that quilters will assemble.

On Earth Day in the United States, many school children are encouraged to learn more about gardening, recycling, and exploring the outdoors.

Adults are encouraged to buy reusable grocery bags, drive less by walking more, share car trips with others, grow plants that improve the air in homes and the outdoors, and use solar-energy products.

I was surprised when researching more about Earth Day to learn about plastic microbeads, which are tiny beads mostly found in a few toothpastes and in many facial and body cleansers. The beads are harming our Earth.

In 2015, the editorial board of The New York Times ran an article stating: “New researchers … of the State University of New York at Fredonia, have found a stunning amount of plastic in the largest freshwater ecosystem on Earth, the Great Lakes.” (Microbeads, the Tiny Orbs Threatening Our Water.)

The Times article states how wastewater systems are not designed to filter the beads. Other articles I did revealed that the beads are harmful to fish and animals.

The beads break down and deposit chemicals in waterways. We all know how plastic and paper products ruin the looks of our beached and roadsides.

The research led to former President Obama signing a Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which requires companies to phase out their use in the United States by 2019. Scientists from throughout the world are finding that microbeads have polluted most major water systems, including oceans.

These types of destruction of Earth are not necessary. We can exfoliate our skin with a nubby washcloth that gives us scrub-ability, and we can avoid products simply because they have pretty beads suspended in them. Those interested in reading more should visit www.Forbes.com, “What You Need to Know about Microbeads, the Banned Bath Product Ingredients.”

I plan to celebrate Earth Day in two ways: by using more glass jars and bowls to store food (upon the advice of a friend) and by buying a book of stamps. With the stamps, I will return a note to companies that send me unwanted mail and ask them to remove my name from their mailing lists in order to save paper. Another idea is to simply call the companies and ask them to remove me name.

We all pollute the Earth in various ways, but we need to be aware of pollution and learn how we can minimize the damage. If everyone takes a step, even a tiny step, to improve our communities not only for ourselves and but also for the generations who are coming after us, we can preserve and enjoy our beautiful Earth.

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