For Earth Day, small contributions make a big difference

  • Thursday, April 21, 2016 5:27pm
  • Opinion

Today marks Earth Day, an event many Alaskans approach with mixed feelings.

On the one hand, we appreciate the natural grandeur all around us. Indeed, there are few places in the world that compare, and, while we don’t always agree on the best way to do it, conservation of those places is a priority for many residents.

On the other hand, we also know that resource extraction drives Alaska’s economy. Industries such as oil and gas, mining and timber have provided good jobs for many Alaskans over the years. Quite often, the environmental message that comes with events such as Earth Day seems to cast any resource development in a bad light, no matter how responsibly it’s done.

We’ll put that debate aside for the moment, though, and focus on one thing that hopefully, we can all agree on. The last of what little snow we had this past winter has receded, leaving behind not just sand and grave, but quite a bit of litter, and it’s time to clean it up.

Road crews are hard at work on the sand and gravel, but it takes the whole community to clean up the litter, much of which is found beyond the reach of street sweeping equipment. The litter accumulates for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s truly unintentional, other times deliberate. Sometimes a load of trash in the bed of a pick-up truck isn’t all the way secured. Sometimes, it’s a raven pulling garbage from an open Dumpster. And sometimes, it’s just someone tossing trash along the road because they can’t be bothered to dispose of it the right way.

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to plan community clean-up events. Fortunately, there’s plenty of people in our community who are happy to pitch in and get the peninsula cleaned up every spring. Watch for announcements for upcoming group efforts, or, if you want to celebrate Earth Day in a more personal way, spend some time cleaning up on your own. Every little bit counts, and when it comes down to it, small contributions can make a big difference.

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