Earth Day 2020: 50 Years of Saving Planet Earth

By Jenny Highlander

Did you know that Earth Day 2020 marks 50 years of the celebration of the planet’s single largest civic event? In honor of this year’s golden jubilee of Earth Day 2020, we set out to learn more about how Alachua County is doing its part to help save the Earth and provide readers with some practical tips for how you can incorporate small changes that make a big difference for our planet.

By now you may have heard that both the City of Gainesville and unincorporated areas of the county have banned single use plastic straws. This is just one way that the local government is making an effort to curb plastic waste to help our environment. Another major way our community curbs waste is through a robust recycling program. Curbside recycling service is provided for all citizens of Alachua County and the City of Gainesville at no cost.

Earth DaySo, what are some practical ways you can participate at home? In addition to recycling household waste, some other creative ways you may not have considered that can help protect our environment at home are through rainwater harvesting, composting and xeriscaping.

Rainwater harvesting is the concept of collecting rainwater that you then deploy for a future use, generally for a garden or irrigation. With the abundance of rain in Florida, this type of system can be an extremely cost-effective way to irrigate after the initial system is set up.

Composting is the ultimate in food recycling. Composting uses food waste, grass, leaves and other yard debris. Through a decomposition process, the food is broken down into organic matter that is rich in nutrients and can be added to soil to grow more food. Compost helps new vegetables and fruits to grow abundantly.

Lastly, Xeriscaping is simply a type of landscape design that reduces the need for irrigation. Not only does this conserve water but it lessens the need for fertilizers as well. Xeriscaping in our area doesn’t mean just rocks and cactus, there are many types of native Florida and Alachua County plants that promote sustainability.

So what’s next? Get creative and think outside of the box! Try some new and unique ways of helping the planet, but always
stick to the tried and true reduce, reuse and recycle. The city and county make it easy with the orange and blue curbside recycling system outlined to the right. Post a reminder list on your fridge and get those bins out weekly. Don’t forget that local collection centers are also available for drop-offs. Items such as appliances, car oil, yard debris and even old holiday lights you no longer need have a place to go other than your garbage can.

Every little bit does make a difference. We are fortunate to live in such a forward-thinking community, let’s continue to work together to protect our most precious asset for future generations.

Whether you’re in the city or the county, bins are orange and blue and sorted according to the same system.
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The Rural Collection Centers:

  • Alachua/High Springs
  • Archer
  • Fairbanks
  • Gainesville
  • Phifer