If you've looked around Utah Valley the past few months, you may have noticed several businesses and private residences getting into the cleanup and recycling spirit.

Many of the schools have newspaper recycling bins; Reynolds Aluminum has a big truck at the Provo Albertson's and elsewhere; and even stores like Fred Meyer and ShopKo are selling special compartmentalized trash receptacles so residents can separate their paper from their cans and plastic.Yes, folks, the effects of last year's Earth Day have been felt around Utah County. Even civic leaders have joined the recycling fervor.

But while recycle-mania is sweeping the county, more traditional and less-sexy kinds of cleanup are going undone.

For example: How many of people still have Christmas trees in their back yards? For that matter, how many still have colored lights up around the house? I mention these two things, because the other day, as I was getting my coat out of the front closet, I realized that it had been more than two months since I had packed the Christmas decorations and left them in the hallway where they still sit, waiting to be taken to the storage unit.

Then, as I drove to work, I noticed the Provo Tabernacle's Christmas Nativity, which had been frozen to the ground, had been transformed into a backdrop to hold the "We Support Our Troops" and "God Bless The U.S.A." banner.

Now perhaps I am being a bit critical, but I am sure that some residents have noticed other timely items just as interesting in their neigh-borhoods.

Some of us haven't gotten it together yet. If we could take the time to clean up, pack up and store the things that we use from season to season, we may just get to those piles of newspapers sitting in the carport waiting to be recycled.

So take the time now to look around the house, the yard, the neighborhood and the community and see what needs to be done. Shopkeepers should look at their signs and parking lots.

The Association of Involved Merchants of downtown Provo, in conjunction with Brigham Young University's Y-Week, are planning to clean up Provo on April 12 and 13.

Other cities have opened their dumps for rubbish collection, and special burn days are being planned to clear out debris.

While some folks continue to engulf themselves with the latest environmental and clean-air concerns, perhaps the rest of us could arm ourselves with shovels, rakes, hoes and garbage bags, and start to clean up, pack up and recycle our surroundings.

If we still have a hard time giving up our cars and woodburning stoves, let's at least clean up our basements, garages, yards and gutters.

Let's make our community and environment one to be proud of.

(Genelle Larsen, Orem, is an employee of the Deseret News' Utah County bureau.)