April 2020: Reader Reply
As we celebrate Earth Day, what big step have you taken to leave a smaller environmental footprint on our planet?
Celebrating Earth Day each year has given me the impetus to be very concerned environmentally. It all began, to my best recollection, when I was in the first grade, and there was a war effort due to the start of World War II. We were bringing metal cans, which were washed and labeled. Both ends were removed from the cans, then they were flattened. My family had good times doing this, carrying them and all newspapers to the building behind our school for pickup by the dray line in our small town and transported out of state by train.
There was a value to glass bottles during these years, which was an incentive for my cousin and I to walk about town with our wagons, picking up the bottles and delivering them to the local bar, where we received a penny per bottle.
During the years I had a farm family, we drove the gravel roads where litter was prevalent. My children would get out of the car to pick up what was spotted along the roadside. Some years later, there was a value placed on aluminum and the cans could be sold.
These practices continue today, when my visiting grandchildren and great-grandchildren have the opportunity to do some of the same. The greater challenge lies in the very limited ways North Dakota citizens can find outlets for what is a lot of recyclables that should not be going to landfills.
Member of Verendrye Electric Cooperative
My spouse and I are committed to leaving the world better for our families. When we purchase something for our home or closet, we donate the item we are replacing back to a local shelter or thrift store. We recycle metals and aluminum cans. Each of our grandchildren has their own water bottle to refill wherever they go. We do not use or ask for straws. When we want a fresh restaurant beverage, we try to follow our grandchildren’s example and use our own containers from home. Our motto is reduce, reuse and recycle.
Member of Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative
PICKING UP LITTER
Earth Day is truly every day, as we exercise our responsibility to be good stewards of a healthy and beautiful planet.
What’s my part? Long before it became popular or more accessible, our family was sorting trash into collection bins. We reused lawn bags. We used household cleaners and laundry products that were safe for the environment. Household items were repurposed: containers from consumable products were saved for use in teachers’ classrooms; the fronts of greeting cards were given to the senior citizen center for remaking cards; gift tags were created and cut from each year’s Christmas cards.
We donated items to local thrift stores and purchased their merchandise in return. We’ve refinished a number of pieces of thrift and heirloom furniture, giving new life to character pieces that would’ve otherwise been discarded. This list could go on.
However, perhaps my most common effort is simply picking up litter and various debris whenever I see it. With a handy bag in my pocket, I collect roadside trash as I take country walks. I pick up litter that’s blown across parking lots or has been scattered in the parks and playgrounds and throughout the neighborhood.
Recently, my trash collection mission was noticed by a fellow grocery store customer who commented, “That was really nice of you!”
With a smile and slight shrug, I responded, “We just need to take good care of God’s world.”
“Yes, we do!” she affirmed.
Member of McLean Electric Cooperative
SMALL STEPS MATTER, TOO
As Earth Day approaches on April 22, I would encourage everyone to take steps to save our planet. Carry shopping bags to reduce the use of plastic bags, purchase a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water, wash full loads of clothes in cold water, set thermostats to 68 degrees and dress warmer in the winter.
Compost eggshells, coffee grounds, fruits and veggies, use fallen leaves as mulch, and recycle paper, cans, plastic and glass bottles.
Clothing can be given to goodwill or cut into rags. Turn off water when brushing teeth, carpool or ride bike when possible, and shut off lights in empty rooms. None of these are big steps, but they are steps anyone can do to make a smaller environmental impact on our planet.
Member of Capital Electric Cooperative
NOT USING PLASTIC BAGS
This may not appear to be a “big step” to leave a smaller environmental footprint on our Earth, but I utilize cloth bags for shopping, both for groceries and other necessities. I dislike seeing those detestable plastic shopping bags being tossed to and fro by our incessant North Dakota wind or caught in barbed-wire fences. I also dispose of any trash I see creating an eyesore on our breathtaking wide-open spaces.
Being wheelchair-bound, I fervently wish I could do more, but reducing our use of plastic and picking up litter is a beginning.
Member of Slope Electric Cooperative
UPCOMING READER REPLY QUESTION:
MAY: What is North Dakota’s best-kept secret place to visit?
Deadline for submission: April 13
JUNE: What is your favorite lake in North Dakota and why?
Deadline for submission: May 13
We want to hear FROM you: Submissions should be no more than 250 words, typewritten or in legible handwriting. Include your name, complete address, daytime phone number and the name of the rural electric cooperative to which you belong. Note: Magazine staff reserves the right to make editing changes and cuts. We pay $25 for each letter we print. Email to email@example.com or mail to READER REPLY, North Dakota Living, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727.