I’m old enough to remember the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 as Walter Cronkite and his CBS Evening News brought images of long-haired hippies and flower children dancing around and making public speeches about the importance of preserving and protecting Mother Earth into our living room in small-town Mississippi.

Soon after kids in our classroom began sporting “Woodsy Owl” buttons which proclaimed, “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.”

We cried along with old Iron Eyes Cody, the Native American who walked along the littered shores of the Hudson River, as smokestacks belched pollutants into the air.

Within a few years, protecting the environment became an important cause, not just for hippies and flower children, but for most of the 7 billion people on the planet, all of whom “breathe the same air,” as JFK once famously said.

The truth is, every day should be Earth Day.

We don’t have to look very far to see trash up and down our roadways, in ditches and rivers and streams.

The litter problem in DeSoto County is an embarrassment, a blot on an otherwise progressive, forward-looking county.

It sickens this writer to drive home each day and see trash scattered everywhere, with seemingly no improvement in reducing litter despite a recent push to clean up the county.

It’s not because county officials haven’t tried. They hiked the fines and penalties for littering, up from just $50 prior to 2006 to a $100 fine for a first time offense.

DeSoto County Environmental Services officials routinely host hazardous household waste cleanup days and other special days when individuals are encouraged to to bring in items for disposal rather than chucking trash on the side of the road.

The 47th anniversary of the first Earth Day will be celebrated in DeSoto County on April 22, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on the historic courthouse square.

Leadership DeSoto County is hoping to get parents involved by developing messages for school children, such as “no clutter in the gutter,” a slogan adopted by the DeSoto County Stormwater Advisory Committee.

All five municipalities in DeSoto County will be sponsoring events and activities in conjunction with the opening day of the 2017 Hernando Farmer’s Market season.

“Our goal is to inform and educate the general public in DeSoto County about how to be environmentally responsible,” Vanessa Lynchard, director of Administrative Services said. “We want to offer practical strategies to help families and businesses be green.”

In fact, it’s not just good common sense to keep the environment earth-friendly, but good sound business sense as well.

All too often, we have seen the major economic upheavals which environmental disasters cause like the recent oil spill on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

It’s not a red state issue or a blue state issue. Being green is a fundamental American issue which should be near and dear to us all.

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