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Reader Reply: April 2021

What little thing do you think we could all do to help the environment?


The greatest little thing we can all do to help the environment is to carry a container and gloves with us at all times. This will enable us to stop in our tracks and reach down for litter that is usually staring at us from the path we take.

Too many folks must think God eats our waste, or “gone is gone.” I see it as important to be the one who has a container and gloves with me, be it in my hand or in a vehicle. This is conducive to whisk away paper from a fast-food meal, a can, plastic bag or bottle, and many other items too numerous to mention that should never have been there.

You could also recycle the valuable aluminum for pleasure trips, as my granddaughter and I have done.

North Dakota has imposed a fine for littering. But can it be enforced? Hardly, as I have learned.

I believe North Dakota can have the cleanest environment of any place, as we have a small number of residents in comparison to other locations. And if each of us refuses to create refuse, but also be energetic and environmentally concerned enough to pick what others have thrown, we can be litter-free for the next generation.

Lucille Loftesnes
Verendrye Electric Cooperative


One easy, affordable and old-time way to help the environment is to utilize a clothesline. The clothesline has practically been abandoned for the dryer, but the clothesline has some distinct advantages.

Aside from the initial cost of installing a clothesline, it is free. The infinite resources of sun and wind cost nothing to use. Besides the free cost of the energy, there is the added benefit of wonderful smelling laundry. Anyone who has gone to bed on sun-dried sheets would probably agree.

Maybe people consider a clothesline too time-consuming, but a load of laundry can be hung relatively quickly. I just hung a load of wash in six minutes. I consider six minutes of my time an easy exchange for free energy.

It is a chore that is also relaxing and pleasant – an opportunity to be mindful of the sounds and sights of spring.

While I use my dryer during the winter months, I find most days are great for drying laundry outside in North Dakota from March through October.

Cara Braun
Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative

One of the simplest things we can do to help the environment is take personal responsibility for our garbage. Instead of throwing bottles, cans and fast-food containers out the car window, keep it in your car and dispose of it properly at a public garbage receptacle or when you get home. If you come across any trash that someone left behind, kindly pick it up and dispose of it properly.

Grab a bucket or bag and walk a mile along a roadway somewhere and pick up trash. Take pride in the Earth and strive to keep it clean for yourself, your neighbors and future generations.

Elaine Hoffman
Dakota Valley Electric Cooperativ

We all know our environment is suffering. Our oceans are especially polluted with plastic and chemicals and grow more polluted by the year. To stop this outflow of plastic that litters our oceans, we as consumers need to start making the switch to everyday products that are not made with plastic.

Buying bamboo toothbrushes ensures your plastic toothbrush will not be floating in the ocean for decades. Buying shampoo bars can eliminate having to buy large plastic bottles of shampoo. Prioritize buying glass bottles over plastic ones and using metal, paper or simply not using straws at all rather than using plastic straws.

We cannot dispense with using plastic altogether, but if we all begin using our power as consumers to make the switch to more sustainable alternatives, then we will have made a difference in our own small way.

Leona Petrovic
Parents are members of Verendrye Electric Cooperative


One of my pet peeves is seeing people throw trash out of their vehicle or blowing out of a pickup box. If you’ve ever been part of a cleanup crew, you know what I’m talking about. Something as simple as throwing your garbage in the proper place would make a huge difference to the environment. Nothing looks as bad as seeing plastic bags strewn along a fence line or beer cans littering the county roads and ditches. Come on folks, we all need to do our part.

Cheryl Evenson
Roughrider Electric Cooperative

It is easy to question whether the actions of one individual could protect and preserve our environment, but it is also easy to identify numerous little things individuals can do in their day-to-day lives to keep unwanted items out of landfills.

Initially, we should buy more durable items – clothing, appliances, electronics and shop equipment – disposing of them less frequently. It takes fewer natural resources and less energy to mend clothing and repair appliances and equipment than to manufacture additional replacements.

Another good alternative to sending these items to the landfill is passing them on to family, friends, a local thrift store or salvage.

Invest in and use reusable items whenever possible – kitchen towels rather than paper towels, reusable BPA-free water bottles, coffee mugs and food storage containers. Extend the lives of well-worn towels by repurposing them as shop rags.

Composting biodegradable waste, such as foods, or garden and yard waste, also keeps these products out of the landfill and provides nutrients to the soil.

We could follow in the footsteps of our grandmothers who were not familiar with the term “recycling,” yet gave new life to well-worn clothing that became parts of new quilts, aprons or potholders.

Today’s artisans give new life to scrap metal parts, old or antique jewelry, or other “found pieces,” creatively converting them into unique pieces of jewelry, and home or yard décor.

Each of us can choose to do something. When that something is multiplied by a multitude, we will have a significant, favorable impact on the environment.

JeAnne Selby
Capital Electric Cooperative


One thing every person can do is talk. Tell your family, friends and strangers that if we do not make recycling a habit, we are leaving the Earth in worse shape than when we arrived. Do you really want to leave this God-given Earth a mess when you leave it? If what is in your house, barn, garage or on your land cannot naturally return to the Earth to be used again to nourish living things, do not leave it for someone else to deal with.

Landfills are necessary, but once your trash is delivered to a landfill, it is not recycled. It may be out of your sight and mind, but it is now someone else’s problem. That is not good stewardship.

All the plastics now in use will still be around in 500 years. Some will end up far away, possibly in an ocean, causing the death of whales and other creatures.

Another little thing every person can do is recycle. Be the model for someone to follow. Reuse dishwater to rinse out debris first. Some communities provide recycling bins and collection service. If not, reuse plastic grocery bags and store the clean recyclable items in your car trunk until you are at a place that accepts recyclable items. I recycle glass, plastic, paper and cardboard. Sorting is no longer required. I get cash when I take metal to a metal recycling center. Be the model and spread the word to recycle what you cannot reuse.

Linda Hugelen
Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Cooperative


MAY: What are you looking forward to the most this summer?
Deadline for submission: April 12
JUNE: What is your favorite art or cultural site to visit in North Dakota?
Deadline for submission: May 12
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 name of your electric cooperative. Note: Magazine staff reserves the right to make editing changes and cuts. We pay $25 for each letter we print. Email to or mail to READER REPLY, North Dakota Living, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727.