It is the middle of April. The flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, the pollen is worsening allergies, but hey, April is also Keep America Beautiful Month. Who knew?

April is the perfect month for this holiday. It is easier to keep America beautiful because spring usually gives more opportunity for people to work with. There isn’t snow covering up all of the trash to pick up in alleys, it isn’t too hot to help an old neighbor water a garden and the worst scenario so far during this spring season has been rain. The late catching of “spring fever” usually crops up about now.

Do a Google search for “Keep America Beautiful Month,” and up comes pages and pages of tips, events and plans on how to do so.

Southwestern’s Green Team has planned much for this week in celebration of Earth Day, which is on April 22.

This past Saturday was the first annual Sweep Winfield. Over 1,125 pounds of trash and recyclables were collected from participating school teams. On Monday, Scott Kuhn came to the school to talk about home energy ratings. On Tuesday, Brian Robinson spoke about renewable energy. Today was the nature hike around the campus led by Kate Norton. A group of Girl Scout Brownies are coming to SC tomorrow to talk about water conservation. The Green Team is also hosting a tree planting event that day. On Saturday, the Green Team will travel to high schools to present workshops about creation care. Finally, on April 27 the Green Team will be helping to organize a collection of electronic waste to recycle.

Earth Day is when you can truly show patriotic spirit and celebrate by keeping America beautiful. And keep in mind that Earth Day isn’t just for a bunch of tree-hugging hippies to gather and plant trees and sing Kumbaya and curse the government. Oh no. Earth Day has more meat to it than that.

It was actually what evolved from an environmental movement in 1970, the year of Apollo 13, Jimi Hendrix’s death, of the Beatles’ last album and the birth of Earth Day. During this time Americans were also splurging on gas like it was air, and didn’t know exactly how much the environment, especially the air, was being damaged because of this.

On April 22 of 1970, 20 million people of all differing races, political stances, religions, ages and genders assembled at local places to rally for a healthy environment. All who had been protesting against oil spills, bad water use, pesticides, destruction of the wilderness and more had finally recognized a widespread goal.

From this first Earth Day followed the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. By 2000, thousands of environmental groups and millions of people in over 180 countries were somehow involved in Earth Day. This year will be the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

Some people are pulling their weight to make America cleaner. On the other hand, many don’t think about how dirty or smelly America is or could become. We generate about 1.8 million disposable diapers every year. How gross is that? Or what about this: over 80 percent of things that end up in a landfill could’ve been recycled. That’s not smelly, that’s just embarrassing. Even more embarassing is the unrecycled plastic filling up those fills, which is due in part to the 2.5 million plastic bottles Americans throw away, not every year or every day, but every hour. That’s right, raise an eyebrow in surprise. Think of the children and grandchildren of the future wearing their oxygen tanks who might’ve appreciated a change, even a small change, which was made to reduce, reuse or recycle. Though it might be a stretch to think of the future like that, people now can’t ignore the ever changing environment.

A holiday for almost everything exists. “Keeping America Beautiful” could mean a minute change in lifestyle, parking cars for Park-It Day or tossing graded papers into a recycling bin instead of the trashcan. Be proud enough to preserve the place where you live.