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Earth Day Op-Ed: No Act Is Ever Wasted

Release Date: 04/20/2012
Contact Information: Davina Marraccini, (404) 562-8293, marraccini.davina@epa.gov;

Earth Day: No Act Is Ever Wasted
By Gwen Keyes Fleming, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator for the Southeast

Eight-year-old Brooklyn Wright calls herself Earth Saver Girl and uses entertainment as a tool to achieve her mission of spreading the word about preventing litter and going green.

At 10, Avalon Thiesen has travelled to Nicaragua and Costa Rica in her quest to protect frogs and fragile ecosystems.

Andrew Day, age 17, started a club in his community focused on tagging storm drains and organizing other service projects to clean up the environment.

These are just a few of the students across the Southeast that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is recognizing this year for their commitment to environmental protection. The incredible achievements of these young people remind us this Earth Day that no act is too small, and no one is too small to act.

In 1968, ecologist Garrett Hardin wrote the influential article, “The Tragedy of the Commons.” The article describes the dilemma that arises when multiple individuals act in their own self-interest to deplete a shared resource when—in the long term—no one benefits. Conversely, I often think about the dilemma that arises when people fail to act to protect a resource because they mistakenly believe that their action alone will be a drop in the bucket. If everyone thinks this way, what a far greater tragedy it will be!

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has made it a priority to expand outreach to communities that are historically under-represented in environmental action. The agency is focused on engaging the vulnerable groups, including children, the elderly and low-income communities, that are particularly susceptible to environmental and health threats.

That is why this year, EPA Region 4 is calling on you—whoever you are, wherever you are, and no matter how big or small you are—to take five simple steps to protect the environment. You do not need to consider yourself an “environmentalist,” or even take part in an organized activity, to observe Earth Day. Visit EPA’s Pick 5 website (www.epa.gov/pick5) to learn more about actions you can take today and choose at least 5 actions that you will commit to.

Actions range from simply using less water and electricity to cleaner commuting, reuse and recycling. Many of these actions have no or low cost—some may even save you money!

Aesop is credited with the saying, “No act is ever wasted.” Remember that your actions to conserve resources—however small—can collectively make a big difference this Earth Day and beyond. For more information about Earth Day and to learn about related volunteer opportunities and events, visit:
www.epa.gov/earthday.