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Earth Day 2014: How to save the world

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We live on a big planet, and it faces a grim number of complex environmental challenges.

But activists say even the smallest changes can make a difference. In observance of Earth Day 2014, Minnesotans are being asked to recycle, bike to work and shop locally.

Minnesotans were among the 20 million people that participated in the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, TPT MN says, which took a look back at the first Earth Day. Now the annual event has grown into a global tradition. The Earth Day Network works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement, according to the organization's website.

The Earth Day Network is pushing the Earth Day movement from single-day actions, like park cleanups and tree-planting parties, to long-term commitments, National Geographic says.

What can you do?

Promise 50, a Twin Cities-based company, offers ways for people to help save the planet with 50 green ideas.

Here are some highlights:

– When doing laundry, dry loads back to back. It takes a lot of energy to heat up a dryer. Or avoid the dryer all together and hang laundry to air dry.
– In your home office: Turn off the printer when not printing – it uses the same amount of power whether it’s printing or sitting idle.
– Put recycling bags wherever you recycle (in the office, in the kitchen – wherever you read the mail). Then, only touch each piece of mail once and “file” appropriately. And don't forget to recycle all appropriate packaging from razor blades, shampoos, cosmetics, etc.
– In the bathroom: Take cool showers in summer and turn off the water while brushing your teeth.

The company's owner, Alison Fairbanks, told WCCO that small changes in your daily life can help the environment – she brings her own fork so she doesn't have to use plastic ones, she brings reusable bags to the grocery store, she bikes or walks to work and she brings her own water bottle so she doesn't have to buy plastic ones.

Events are planned statewide to commemorate Earth Day.

Many cities are holding cleanups in parks this weekend. Transition Northfield will be holding Earth Day events. And the Como Zoo will host its annual "Party for the Planet" this weekend, among other events.

The Como Zoo's polar bears are also taking part in a live playdate for Earth Day, WCCO says, as part of Polar Bears International's polar bear TV to raise awareness about climate change and how it gravely affects the world's polar bears.

The arrival of Earth Day also has activists pushing for Gov. Mark Dayton to reconsider frac sand mining in southeastern Minnesota. A petition, which has 6,000 signatures, is asking for a two-year moratorium, according to the Public News Service.

Nationally, NASA is hoping to bring attention to Earth Day and its Earth science initiatives with a #GlobalSelfie event. NASA hopes to create an image of Earth from the ground up, while also collecting portraits of the people on earth, according to its website.

All you have to do is go outside and take a selfie with parks, rivers, lakes, the sky or something similar in the background. Be sure to tell where you are by holding up a sign in the photo, write your location in sand, spell it out with rocks or use a printable sign that NASA has provided. Then, upload the photo to social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ or Flickr) with the hashtag #GlobalSelfie.

NASA will use the photos tagged #GlobalSelfie to create a mosaic image of earth, which will be released in May, NASA says.

Companies are also offering freebies this Earth Day.

Starbucks is offering 10 cents off your drink order when you bring in a reusable mug, Investor Place says. Deal News says Caribou Coffee is offering free coffee refills for all of April with the purchase of its Earth Day tumblers, which includes the slogan "Life is celebrating Earth Day every day."

Deal News and Living Rich Without Coupons also mention free iPhone and Android Earth Day app downloads and free activities for kids from Scholastic.

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