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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Let’s work together to keep our habitat clean

Stephanie Ukkola
Posted 4/21/21

People talk about saving the Earth or protecting our planet, but I imagine the Earth will always be here in some form or another. It’s not the Earth itself that needs protecting. It’s our …

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Let’s work together to keep our habitat clean

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People talk about saving the Earth or protecting our planet, but I imagine the Earth will always be here in some form or another. It’s not the Earth itself that needs protecting. It’s our habitat, our environment, our way of life (i.e. being able to enjoy fresh air, wild forests and uncontaminated water) that needs safeguarding. We need to work to keep the Earth in a state that is comfortable for humans and our fellow creatures and plants to live and thrive. We also need to convey environmental values and shape sustainable habits.
I’m in awe of the companies, municipalities and organizations that have taken major strides. Minnesota Power is creating half of its energy from renewable sources and plans to be 100 percent carbon free by 2050, the City of Duluth has declared a climate emergency and plans to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050, and General Motors is planning to produce all electric vehicles by 2035.
As individuals, we too can make small changes that collectively make a big impact.
I take my two young children for walks regularly and I’m always saddened by the amount of trash I see off the sides of roads and trails. How can people be so careless? Don’t they want to enjoy the trails they walk?
On Sunday morning I put my children in a stroller while I picked up 30 gallons of trash on a 500-foot section of trail between the Soudan Post Office and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. That wasn’t how I wanted to spend my morning. But, I knew somebody needed to do it. Last fall my children helped me pick up almost as much trash just around our block.
By bringing the kids along with me and doing this regularly, I’m helping to instill the value of keeping our environment clean. I teach them other good habits too, like turning off lights when we don’t need them, recycling, and conserving water. We also like to watch Nature Cat on PBS Kids together, an awesome, fun-packed TV series that encourages children to adventure, ask questions about the environment and shows how our actions can impact nature.
When I think of Soudan, I like to think of it as a quaint, family-based community. There’s always kids out running around and most everyone is neighborly; it’s really a nice place to live.
But it’s not always nice, and it’s not always clean or safe. My children have tried eating cigarette butts off the road and there’s often dog poop left on the sidewalks, especially by the park, dog poop that both my children as infants have tried to play in. My neighbor’s cat likes to poop in my garden and children’s sand box.
It’s not safe for kids here when there’s broken glass bottles off the sidewalk. It’s not safe for animals when there’s plastic six-pack holders lying around. Yes, I’ve found both on multiple occasions.
If we really care, if we really want to take pride in our communities, we need to all look out for each other and do what we can to keep our communities safe and clean.
We all can create a better, safer, more beautiful community by leashing our animals and cleaning up after them, by picking up trash or confronting someone when you see them littering. Teach the children in your life how to be a steward for the environment and why it’s important. You don’t have to be perfect, but if everyone cared a little more we would all benefit.
Here are some other ideas on how you can be more sustainable:
• Use reusable bags on shopping trips
• Stop buying bottled water and invest in a reusable water bottle
• Reduce the amount of things you buy
• Start a garden and a compost pile
• Choose to walk or bike, instead of drive, for short trips
• Find ways you can improve the energy efficiency of your home.
Celebrate Earth Day with me this weekend and remember to treat every day like it’s Earth Day.

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