April 22, 1970 marked the first Earth Day Observance. The idea was spawned out of tragedy, marking the beginning of the environmental movement. Just a year later, I joined several hundred students who walked to school on Earth Day, thus saving the county at least a thousand gallons of gasoline. Gasoline that cost twenty-eight cents a gallon! Several hundred of us participated in a county-wide litter pick-up the following Saturday. Brilliantly organized, legions of teens and pre-teens cleaned the ditches of litter. The litter then was mostly beer, whiskey, and soda bottles (glass) , empty cigarette packs, cigarette butts, and gum wrappers. We collected truckloads.

The disposable diaper was not yet in use. Plastic bottles of water did not exist. Fast food joints were restricted to large metropolitan areas. The aluminum beverage can was in use – with a dangerous pull-off opener – but most country folk stuck to their belief that Pepsi and Pabst tasted better in glass. If one smoked, one did NOT throw away the refillable and often beautiful Zippo lighter.

Gradually, the glass beverage bottle became the exception rather than the rule. Imported beer, imported water, and all wines still hold out for glass. Occasionally a soft drink or iced tea will be bottled in glass, but costs a pretty penny. The plastic container is ubiquitous, but we tea drinkers can continue to help in our own steady way.

Of course the most important thing we can do is to continue to drink whole leaf tea from a glass or ceramic cup. But here are few few other natural things we can do:

1. Use leftover brewed tea as part (up to half) of the cooking water for rice.

2. Run spent tea leaves through the garbage disposal for a sweet smelling drain.

3. Drain clogged? This really works: sprinkle two to four tablespoons baking soda down the drain, immediately pour a mixture of 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 3/4 cup of warm water down the drain. Let stand (the eruption is normal) for five minutes, flush the drain with hot water. Repeat if necessary.

4. Take your own tea and cup/mug to meetings and functions where beverages will be served . . . in throw-away styrofoam (ouch!) or paper cups.

5. Use a solution of one part white vinegar and nine parts water to clean windows, mirrors, appliances, counter tops, refrigerator, microwave. (The vinegar serves as a natural air freshener.)

6. Place a small container of steeped tea leaves in the refrigerator to absorb onion and other strong odors.

7. Baking soda is a great cleanser. Use it when you need grit to remove soap scum, stove-top spills and the like.

8. Investigate the practicality of capturing and reusing your bathing or laundry waste water for toilet flushing.

9. BUY A WATER FILTER! If you buy bottled water for tea and/or drinking, keep track of the expense for one week. (If you use ten gallons per week, at $1.25 per gallon; that’s $12.50 per week times 52 weeks . . . that’s $660.00 a year for water.)

10. Drink tea.

Have a wonderful Earth Day. If each of us does a little, our community can accomplish a lot.

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