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5 Earth Day Ideas for the Northland

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans celebrated the first Earth Day, which launched an environmental movement that led to the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and much more. Although such policies and laws can help the environment, citizens practicing Earth-friendly behaviors are the beating heart of conservation. For Earth Day 2013, the University of Minnesota Sea Grant College Program encourages everyone to engage in "green" practices to protect Minnesota's earth and water. Here are a few easy things you can do:

Eat local, eat seasonal.

Rainbow smelt should be running along the shores of Lake Superior soon. These non-native, invasive species to Lake Superior are sometimes available in local supermarkets and on restaurant menus, much like other Lake Superior fish. Participate in a smelt fry or try one of these rainbow smelt recipes.

Stop that runoff.

When the snow melts and spring rains fall, the resulting surge of water will find its way into the storm sewers, lakes, and streams. Spring runoff carries an extra dose of pollutants and garbage, creating potential problems for native fish species, the ecosystems, and general aesthetics. Slow the flow by crating a rain garden, installing rain barrels and using pervious pavers to allow water to seep into the ground. Find more here.

Pick up litter.

Phone books, cigarettes, and mangled pieces of car parts show up along Minnesota roadways and beaches every spring. While it destroys the area's aesthetic, it also hurts the environment. Before non-recyclables are carried away into nearby water sources or unnatural materials seep into the ground, lend a hand; organize a trash pick-up with your friends, or just go for a solo walkabout with a trash bag.

Commit to plant a tree.

Arbor Day is Friday, April 26. Although the Northland's frozen ground may not be thawed this year, you can take time on Earth Day to plan a tree-planting day in May. Plant a sapling; plant two; plant a dozen! The benefits of trees are numerous: they make for good landscaping, offer shade, and green-up a downtown area. They also protect waterways. Trees make stopping runoff look easy. In one day, one large tree can lift up to 100 gallons of water out of the ground and discharge it into the air. Plus, for every 5% of tree cover in a community runoff is reduced by about 2%. For more tree facts, click here.

Use refillable water bottles.

With more than 10,000 lakes, Minnesota offers a lot in the department of drinkable water. Lake Superior, for instance, is one of the biggest, coldest, clearest, and most beautiful lakes in the world, and drinking treated water from it makes sense and cents. By using a refillable water bottle, you can save money, reduce garbage, and support local infrastructure, all sustainable practices.

(Bonus Tip) Gain knowledge, pass it on.

Although your contributions to Earth Day are a stride in the right direction, many people in Minnesota do not know how to protect the environment. Pass some tips onward. Learning about the natural world is as important now as it was when the first Earth Day changed the way the nation looked at the environment. Minnesota Sea Grant is one place to start discovering how Minnesota's aquatic resources can be enjoyed and conserved, visit www.seagrant.umn.edu.

Posted on April 22, 2013

This page last modified on April 22, 2013     © 1996 – 2020 Regents of the University of Minnesota     The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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