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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News

 

Building on Earth Day...

Posted 4/15/14 (Tue)

Did you make it through Tax Day? It can be a stressful time of year, especially when you have any thoughts about the big, bad wolf, aka, the IRS, coming to get you.

Look on the bright side. All those pieces of paper you used to figure everything out, is all recyclable. Don’t throw them in the trash, take them to your nearest recycle center.

Because now that we’ve made it through Tax Day, our next big day is Earth Day, next Tuesday.

This unofficial holiday started on April 22, 1970 as a means of recognizing a need to improve the environment.

At that time, there were a lot of issues with trash; litter along highways, old tires lying around, junk submerged in water and motor oil cans stacked up in alleys behind gas stations.

At the same time, landfill sites were quickly filling up with a growing population in the United States, thus the recycling movement began about the same time.

How many of you can remember the public service announcement on TV with Iron Eyes Cody?

Cody was widely seen in his “crying chief” role in the “Keep America Beautiful” (PSA) in the early 1970s. The environmental commercial showed Cody dressed as an American Indian, shedding a tear after trash is thrown from the window of a car and it lands at his feet. The announcer, William Conrad, says: “People start pollution; people can stop it.”

That commercial was very powerful and to this day carries a strong message about taking responsibility to avoid pollution.

As a society, we’ve done really well since the 1970s, but things could be better.

On a recent road trip from Las Vegas to Barstow, Calif., 157 miles, there was trash all along the ditch in Nevada and in California. It was horrible because it could have been avoided. For the most part, it looked like travelers were throwing out small bags of trash from fast-food restaurants.

The recent situation in North Dakota in which radioactive filter socks are being dumped in highway ditches and in abandoned buildings is really pathetic. Whoever is doing that obviously has no regard for themselves, their neighbors, their community, or the state of North Dakota.

Unfortunately, those full trash bags can’t be recycled. But there are a lot of other items that can.

Since Earth Day began, it’s single biggest reason for being created was to take a day, work hard with your friends, and clean up the environment around you.

While doing that, aluminum cans, tin cans, newsprint, office paper, plastic bottles, magazines, batteries, electronics, household appliances and even used motor oil can be recycled.

Earth Day is a huge day for the Kalix recycling center in Minot. Formerly called the Minot Vocational Adjustment Workshop. It’s like a Kennedy/Nixon election over there on April 22.

Not only do people in the Minot area get together to clean up the surrounding area, Kalix creates incentives for citizens to bring in their recyclable material, such as giving away trees to plant and providing a premium price for aluminum turned it.

Statistics vary greatly on how much refuse is kept out of landfills, but suffice to say, it has been a remarkable amount since this movement began in 1970.

In Minnesota, the plastic bags you take your groceries home in, are recycled. Some ink pens are made of recycled plastic pop bottles, when you buy copy paper, or stationary paper at an office store, chances are some of the material used is from recycled paper. We can even get toilet paper that is recycled material.

A friend who works at Kalix has taken recycling up a notch and created his own sideline business. He takes old pieces of clothing, complete shirts or shreds of material, and makes weaved rugs with the fabrics.

His recycled rugs have become popular enough that he has become a vendor at the North Prairie Farmers’ Market in Minot.

We should all do our part and create our own powerful persona like Kenny Raszler is doing now and what Cody Iron Eyes did in the early 1970s.

As time goes on, recycling and environment are going to become more important, more strategic and more valuable. In parts of Europe, everything gets recycled and it’s been that way for 15 years.

We might as well get used to it too and build that mind set. Earth Day is a good time to start.