Tomorrow, April 22, is Earth Day and next week, on April 30, is Arbor Day. While nature starts to spring to life, we’re also thinking of ways we can be “green” in April and preserve our natural resources. In recent years, local government and groups have stepped up their efforts to beautify our communities and keep our air, water and soil safe.

Pre-pandemic, local clubs donated tree seedlings to elementary students for planting. Other times, schools have held their own tree planting ceremonies in honor of Arbor Day.

Cities, villages and townships continue to make investments in their parks and they’ve made strides to develop more green spaces within downtown settings as well. This benefits both humans and wildlife.

Several municipalities continue to offer recycling services year-round along with seasonal clean up days when residents can properly dispose of things other than household waste, like tires and building materials.

Service groups and others volunteer their time to roadside cleanups like Adopt-A-Highway and similar programs.

Imlay City has the distinction of being a Tree City USA awardee, an honor it’s had for several years. They are just one of 124 communities across Michigan that the Arbor Day Foundation and Michigan Department of Natural Resources has deemed to properly celebrate and care for trees by having a public tree care ordinance, developing a community forestry program and more.

While these groups and agencies have made strides to make our communities greener, it’s equally important that we as individuals do our part to appropriately use these services. That means following the rules at local recycling bins, not littering on public or park properties, treating trees and other plant life so as not to injure them and generally being mindful of the efforts others have made.

It also involves thanking local leaders for what’s offered and providing informed feedback on ways that things could be improved or expanded.

While the region has made strides, there’s certainly a lot of room for improvement. In introducing a series of new bills last month, State Rep. Gary Howell noted that Michigan only recycles about 18 percent of its solid waste, a number that falls well below the national average of 35 percent.

Let’s hope that when April 2022 rolls around, we can point to measurable gains for our local environment that have been achieved personally and collectively.