Celebrate Earth Day Everyday by being responsible and informed

Wednesday, April 22nd will mark the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day! It started back in 1970 with 20 million Americans recognizing environmental hazards, ignorance and chemical spills. That action gave birth to the Clean Air Act, Clean Water and Endangered Species Act, and it reminded us how important it is to practice the 3 Rs of Reduce, Re Use and Recycle. We first learned how good we could do those things during WWII with our rubber, metal and paper drives to support the war effort, and then we kind of forgot about those things for a few decades until things started to smell and get out of control.

So here we are today with 50 years of all that experience behind us to guide us and give us a course of action. So what should we do to celebrate the day – plant trees and prairie gardens, compost food waste, clean up a river, lake or park or our neighborhoods – yes, absolutely! Be sure to do it safely, while practicing social distancing – seriously!

Planting trees and prairie gardens are always a fun family activity and it is nice to have more birds, bees and butterflies around – except when birds want to build nests in my porch… Composting can also be a rewarding activity as long as you are vigilant, educated and responsible otherwise you will get a boomerang of smells, bugs and raccoons back at you. The Minnesota Composting Council or the University of Minnesota Extension are great places to start.

Rivers, lakes, parks and neighborhood clean ups are also fun activities and great exercise. The recent spring winds have had lots of fun with our garbage and recycling carts both in town and out in rural areas so there is lots of plastic bags, bottles and cardboard I see in places they should not be. So let’s take some time or make some time to clean those items up, as they tend to pile up over time.

How about recycling… of course! Believe it or not, here in Minnesota there is still a need and a value for the basics of our recyclables. We have the infrastructure of recycling facilities to sort our materials and manufacturing that needs recycled content in its products – call it the circular economy. It is true that there is currently a glut of materials and low manufacturing due to Covid 19 but there still are end markets for the recycling basics, so let’s review them and remind ourselves of recycling etiquette. Most food and beverage containers that are glass, plastic and metal are recyclable. Plastics #1,2 and 5 are acceptable – everything else goes in the garbage, especially Styrofoam and film plastics. Metals – aluminum and steel, soda or soup containers are best – but take your metal car rotors and other heavy metal pieces to the salvage yard, as they are not household recyclables. Cardboard and mixed paper are always needed. Even your big boxes from your new grill or appliance that you bought with your stimulus check are great – as long as your remove the film plastic and Styrofoam AND break your boxes down to save room for the next person. Covid 19 and sheltering in place has created more folks shopping on line and generating more trash and recyclables which has created more illegal dumping, contamination fees incurred Cities and Counties and over flowing recycling containers. Take your recycling back home with you if your local recycling containers are full, I know it’s inconvenient but placing materials outside the containers is just like littering and results in someone else’s mess, time and money – so please be responsible.

For more recycling questions, please visit the Nicollet County Waste Wizard web site, the Tri County fb page, or call 507-381-9196 for your disposal / recycling questions. Local hazardous waste facilities are now open by appointment only. We are hopeful to have our annual tire, appliance, electronics collections in June so keep an eye open for updates. Together – we can make every day – Earth Day!