VICENZA -- April 22 is Earth Day around the world, and the Army celebrates by focusing attention on its environmental program and renewing its commitment to protect the public resources entrusted to military care.

Earth Day is a time to celebrate these environmental efforts by taking advantage of events programmed for the community. Events planned here for the 2016 Army Earth Day are the tree-planting ceremony at Vicenza High School; a household hazardous waste collection; Directorate of Public Works information booth at the Post Exchange; the Army Earth Day Contest Awards ceremony; and VHS environmental science project displays.

Army Earth Day is also a time for us to develop plans of action to protect our environment. We must do this for our own interests as well as for future generations. The garrison is focused on environmental stewardship so that we can maintain the natural resources so the Army can meet its mission.

Under the leadership of Garrison Commander Col. Steve Marks, the current focus areas for environmental and sustainability performance are reduction in energy consumption; waste-management improvements, to include hazardous waste, solid waste and recycling; and reduction in water consumption. These are the environmental areas where we should pay even more attention when performing everyday duties. Get to know your unit or organization Environmental Compliance Officer. That person can advise you with ways to reduce your environmental footprint in these important areas. Performing well in these areas can save the Army significant amounts of money, money that can be used to support our Soldiers and the mission in other critical areas.

It's easy to be a good steward of the environment at home or at work by taking the simple measures listed below.

Reduce energy consumption by:
• Turning off appliances and lights when leaving a room.
• Using the microwave to cook small meals. (It uses less power than an oven.)
• Purchasing "green power" for your home's electricity. (Contact your power supplier to see where and if it is available.)
• Repairing leaky air conditioning and refrigeration systems.
• Cutting back on air conditioning and heating use if you can.
Help us improve waste management using the 3Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle.

• Reduce
o Buy permanent items instead of disposables.
o Buy and use only what you need.
o Buy products with less packaging.
o Buy products that use less toxic chemicals.

• Reuse
o Repair items as much as possible.
o Use durable coffee mugs.
o Use cloth napkins or towels.
o Clean out juice bottles and use them for water.
o Reuse boxes.
o Purchase refillable pens and pencils.
o Donate extras to people you know or to charity instead of throwing them away.

• Recycle
o Recycle paper, plastic, glass, cardboard and aluminum cans. Use the Eco Center, the Eco Islands, and the Eco Bins. Make sure you use the right container for each recyclable waste.
o Recycle electronics. These go to the Eco Center near where you live.
o Recycle used motor oil. Make sure you know where to take it for recycling.
o Compost food scraps. Place these in the brown bins at the Eco Islands or near where you live.
o Grass and other yard clippings, and dead plants. Take these to the Eco Center near where you live.
o Close the loop -- buy recycled products and products that use recycled packaging. That's what makes recycling economically possible.

Reduce energy consumption by:
o Turning off the water while you wash your hands and brush your teeth.
o Watering household plants with water used to boil pasta.
o Using water saving fixtures.
o Repairing water leaks promptly.
o Not running the dishwasher or washing machine until they are full.

USAG Italy environmental management performance is important and helps global efforts to protect our planet. It takes everyone to do his or her part so that we are successful. It may seem like a small thing to you as an individual, but we reach great success when everyone does it.

Remember the old adage; the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Don't be the weak link in the environmental chain. Like the Army mission, preserving our natural resources is a team effort. Be Army Strong for the environment!