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Not everyone's a fan of Earth Day. Some feel it is a "tricked up" holiday driven by a political agenda.

Perhaps it is — to a point.

But the day also is a chance to take a closer look at what matters most.

Many holidays have come to us with ulterior motives. Mother's Day was a brainchild of a Southern senator who wanted to put women on a pedestal and keep them away from voting booths. It quickly became commercial. Father's Day seemed like a nice companion — and a chance to drive consumers to the stores. Even Arbor Day has its self-serving side.

The key is finding something in Earth Day that makes sense to you. Honoring Earth Day doesn't have to mean protesting power plants and boycotting products. It can also mean taking personal responsibility for choices. And this year, Earth Day (April 22) will offer Americans dozens of ways to better their lives.

If notions of global warming make you twitch, then focus on smaller tasks. According to the Earth 911 Web site, the average person generates almost 5 pounds of trash each day. Recycling can shrink that amount impressively. Wonder why soft drinks are used as "lead items" in supermarkets? Because recycling makes them inexpensive. The average pop can is back on the shelf within 60 days. A glass bottle can get back there in less than a month. The damage of not recycling is also a concern. One can of motor oil, for instance, is enough to contaminate 1 million gallons of water.

For those with a "crafty" gene and a family to entertain, Earth Day organizers suggest a dozen activities. Making decorative pet food scoops from laundry bottles, planting herbs, fashioning cards, decorations or even an Earth Day mobile made from egg cartons are possibilities. (Go to for details).

Families might also consider planting trees, cleaning up a vacant lot, doing fundraising or distributing reusable grocery bags.

Conservation can be learned. Offering prizes to family members who remember to turn off lights and other electrical appliances is an idea. Spending more time outside in the summer instead of running the air conditioner full blast inside is an option, as is not taking longer showers than is necessary. Good habits can be formed.

Changing a lifestyle can be daunting. But it can be done. Not that many years ago, motorists serenely tossed paper bags filled with trash from their car windows and thought nothing of hurling old mattresses and other household items into rivers and streams. Today, peer pressure keeps even the biggest scofflaws from indulging in such things.

With a little coaching from parents and some good habits, the future will produce citizens who behave even more responsibly.