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Tri-City activities for Earth Month help clean up environment

Earth Month in the Mid-Columbia -- April -- is a good time to learn to love the land you live on.

Whether you collect aluminum cans for recycling, turn in unwanted cell phones for reuse or simply reduce the amount of trash leaving your household, your efforts can make a difference.

If you're in doubt, just ask any of the more than 8,400 people in our area who took the Earth Pledge in 2008 and spent hours planting trees, cleaning up parks and neighborhoods and recycling everything from computers to ink cartridges.

"You don't get that many people out year after year if they don't believe they're making a difference," said Gail Everett, environmental education coordinator for the city of Richland.

New this year is the Sustainable Energy and Environmental Expo (formerly the Alternative Energy Expo) on April 24-25 at Columbia Basin College. The free event has evolved to include an environmental component, said Darroll Clark, Franklin PUD energy services manager.

"Before, the focus was on all kinds of alternative energy but we've been bringing in more 'green' exhibitors in the past year or so. Last year we had a financial group who talked about the 'green' funds that are available to individuals and businesses," he said.

"And if you're thinking about switching careers, getting into a 'green' industry, this will be the place to ask questions and make contacts," Clark said.

The expo is run by the newly formed, nonprofit group, the Sustainable Energy and Environmental Network. Exhibit space still is available at the expo and SEEnet will welcome any environmental or energy/conservation focused businesses and groups through April 15. It is looking for volunteers to help staff demonstration booths.

To sign up to exhibit or volunteer, go to www.SEEnetwork.us or call 531-5677.

To find a project that needs volunteers, a place to recycle or to post your Earth Month activity, go to www.earthmonthmc.org.

* Loretto J. Hulse: 509-582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com.