Happy Week After Earth Day!  I hope that everyone is able to be outside to enjoy the beautiful weather in our beautiful community 🙂

I recently asked members of the Environmentally Minded People of Minot group on Facebook what environmental knowledge they would want to share with residents of Minot to help them live a lifestyle that has a smaller environmental impact on our community, country, and world.  The response was a bit tepid, but those that did answer the call for ideas had some unique tips.

James wrote “stop messing around with fertilizers and lawn chemicals.”  Roughly translated, he is talking about the treatments many homeowners do to their lawns in the spring and throughout the summer to promote growth and maintain a monoculture of whatever variety of grass you have in your lawn.  The impact? While not bad in an isolated instance, fertilizers and pesticides are often over-applied to our lawns, wasting money and resources. The extra chemicals runoff into our municipal and natural waterways and promote unnatural algae blooms (like we saw last summer in Western North Dakota) or negatively affect wildlife.  If choosing to use fertilizers and pesticides, remember that localized application is the most responsible method to apply these chemicals. James also encouraged home owners to keep their grass cut high to help promote healthy grass and soils.

Brad invited people to sign his MoveOn petition to ban single-use plastic bags in Minot.  I have spoken before about my personal grievance with the over-abundance of single-use plastic bags in our community and this would definitely address the issues of the single-use plastic bags in our trees, and bushes, and street gutters, and…well, you get the point 🙂

Shannon encouraged people that wash their cars at home to do so on the lawn rather than on the driveway.  And she is in good company: the City of Minot regularly encourages residents to move their car washing to the lawn as it allows the grass to soak up all the water and it reduces the amount of water the city needs to clean and process.  Check out your next City of Minot Water Brochure for more info.

I also asked members of the group what they wish other people in our community would do that would help make our city better.  “Recycle” was a big response. So was “turn off your outside lights during the day time”. Shannon had the real winner though. Rather than trying to paraphrase, I asked her if I could just directly use her words.  Thankfully, she said yes.

“…Don’t give up and don’t be afraid to speak out. I sometimes feel like I’ll never find people who want to help make a difference and then I discover someone I work with has the same views that I do. Without getting into specifics that might reveal the source, the story goes like this:

She’s always been bothered by what she felt was unnecessary waste taking place at one of our schools. She had voiced concerns in the past, but they had fallen on deaf ears. One evening, she’s sitting in the stands at her son’s game and the subject happens to come up with people around her. The other parents–some of them school board members–are surprised to learn of the practices she describes to them. Shortly after that, the practices change and the waste is dramatically decreased.

You never know what a difference your actions can make! No matter how small. Just one person can make a change!”

And that segues nicely into my tip/wish for other people living in Minot: whatever you can do, please do it and do it faithfully.  The idealist in me hopes and wishes for national and statewide policies addressing the environmental challenges facing all the people of the world.  But the practical-minded part of me knows that no policy, however well crafted, will ever replace the power of individuals who want to create a change. All of us reading this are the ones who can and will change the environmental practices in our homes, businesses, organizations, communities, states, and countries.  It takes time and diligence, but our small actions create far-reaching effects. Thank you in advance for all that you will do this year to make our environment a healthier, cleaner, and safer place!

 

If you want to learn more about what you can do be environmentally responsible in Minot, please join the Environmentally Minded People of Minot group on Facebook.  All are welcome.

Tim Baumann, The Practical Environmentalist,

I'm an advocate for our environment who tries to think about solutions in ways that are realistic and achievable.