Get your hands dirty

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Get your hands dirty

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Finding a large yellow tarp washed up alongside the river wasn’t a normal sight for me when I was running on the Sycamore Trail a few weeks ago. A wave of confusion hit me first – as to how on Earth it would land there – until it clicked and and frustration washed over me instead. For a while now, construction has taken place on the bridge that crosses over the Des Moines River alongside the trail. Besides the inconvenience with parking in the lot early on in the process, I’d never came across any issues until that day.

I had a newfound ambition to take action against the potential harm the tarp could cause, not only it’s inappropriate placement but also it brings the possibility of an animal being harmed in some way. After my run and letting off some steam, the next day I decided to contact the construction group in charge of the project. Making my concerns very clear, the email was sent with some jabs towards the situation. Even though I never received any sort of response to the comment, I found later the tarp had been removed and out of its unnatural position.

Unfortunately, seeing these types of situations has become a new normal – trash littered on the ground, foam on rivers, and smog in the air. Because they’ve become such a normality it’s easy for people to ignore, but if it is continued to be pushed to the back of our brains the Earth won’t last much longer.

Recently everyone’s slowly jumping onto the whole “save the planet” idea, (though it shouldn’t be a popularity contest but that’s a whole ‘nother rant), but I don’t see many getting their hands dirty. There’s quite a few organizations that do accomplish great things towards helping the planet whether that be pollution, attempting to bring up decreasing animal populations, global warming, etc. and I wouldn’t dismiss their work in bringing awareness politically, but donating money to plant a tree isn’t practical. For one where is the money going? Ten dollars could really be going towards advertising their organization or potentially even pay those with an upper level job, even then there is the slight possibility it goes to the planting of a tree, but who’s planting the said tree? Who’s actually paying attention to campaigns about air quality?

It’s all up in the air, and throwing money into the organizations simply because they will “save (fill in the blank)” probably won’t accomplish much in the long run. Instead, maybe make the decision to pick up that gum wrapper while walking the dog or carpool to save everyone a bit of cash as well as not exerting two times more toxins into the air.

But these actions won’t start without some initiation, and beginning to treat the earth as you treat your room by cleaning it up, globally we will feel better about our environment.

Not trying to shame whomever created Earth Day, but personally I don’t think it’s that impressive of an idea. Sure I give it some credit for bringing awareness, and communities will hold ‘special’ little events to pick up trash in parks but in all reality Earth Day should be every day. Most people will be kind to the Earth that one day, repeatedly spouting ‘for Earth Day’, then once the day is over they feel as though they’ve done their duties as a living being of the planet and throw a piece of gum on the ground. Really, that’s not doing your part for the Earth. What your doing is what some might call being a ‘fake fan’ but in this case it’s about the planet.

From the day we’ve arrived on this planet nature has been a main resource from food to housing, it was practically the hardware and grocery store of today. Some lived amongst the greenery and wildlife, but as time passed tearing down homes of animals has become second nature (no pun intended). Sadly, polluting the ocean has become a normal occurrence. According to 2015 stats from Statistic Brain we dump roughly nine billion tons of  litter into the ocean each year. Hopefully in the near or distant future some Millennial or technology-crazed Gen Z will be able to make cars fueled by reusable energy an everyday sight, bring to life ways of ridding trash from ocean water and maybe lower the threat of global warming.

That’s the big picture when it comes to the state of our Earth, and it may seem like a problem in another part of the world but here in the metro we still face pollution problems ourselves. Recently Des Moines Water Works, a water treatment plant, noticed high levels of nitrate levels within the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers causing them to run their nitrate-removal equipment, costing the company over $1 million in the process. Currently Water Works is looking to sue the northern Iowa counties where the nitrates allegedly run off farm fields. Now nature does play a part in this instance, rain has been washing the nitrate from farmland into the rivers but humans put the nitrate there not nature.

As much as we want to place the blame on nature for all of the environmental problems occurring, the human population contributes quite a bit to it all. Now nature will obviously take its own course but instead of pushing it faster towards its impending doom, we can do our part to combat nature’s uncontrollable flaws and limit our own pollutant and harmful ways.

Though it would be great to solve global warming with the snap of fingers or save all the whales, starting with little things in the community can actually make a bigger difference. Maybe try not to use plastic bags at the grocery store or not ignore the gum wrapper on the sidewalk. Most people around this school would probably agree that the environment we live in right now could be improved, but from what I’ve witnessed through the treatment of the high school the Earth will be treated the same way. Paper towels litter the bathroom sink floor as they overflow. Dumped lunch or breakfast foods reside on the hallway floors and everyone expects the custodians to clean it up. They are simple tasks that can be done and though initially it can seem daunting even embarrassing when a cartoon of milk spills onto the floor, students would appreciate it if they don’t have to walk through sloshy milk in the middle of the day.

Grab a couple of paper towels and sop it up. Even if you didn’t spill it.

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