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Earth Day Turns 50! Dr. Anna Carlson and Aili Kultala Discuss Sustainable Living

...there's a lot of innovative and exciting approaches that, quite honestly, youth are driving...the younger generation is so keyed in on our responsibilities, we're seeing some amazing efforts to protect and preserve our our environment and understand the interconnectedness and relatedness...I get hope...from seeing's an amazing thing. - Dr. Anna Carlson

Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day!  Anna Carlson, professor of Environmental Studies at Bemidji State University and Aili Kultala who specializes in compostables, recycling and reuse at the Beltrami County Solid Waste Department spoke on the morning show about their sustainability efforts, what more can be done, and why it matters. 

Kultala educated us on what gets recycled and what can be composted. She also discussed a newly implemented re-use program that gives people an opportunity to take someone else's junk that can be repurposed.  From couches to bicycles, Beltrami county is working hard to eliminate unnecessary waste. Beltrami County, we offer garbage services and recycling and recently we started an organics composting program so people can now compost their food scraps. And we are opening a reuse center so that you can reduce your waste as well...there's a lot of confusion about what is recyclable and what should not be in the recycling bin... items that you should be putting in there are bottles and cans, aluminum, steel cans, like your soup and soda bottles, glass bottles and jars and paper and cardboard. So newspaper, magazines, cardboard boxes and plastics like your Tide laundry detergent or your milk bottle or water bottles, that sort of thing. - Aili Kultala

Carlson shared her insights on realistic, intentional, sustainable living as well as her knowledge of sustainability practices other countries have implemented to inspire recycling and limit single use plastics.  She encourages mindfulness in our behaviors and an overall attitude of gratitude for the gifts the earth provides. 

It seems like we're locked in a system that can oftentimes make us feel like those individual choices kind of are a drop in the bucket or they don't really matter. And so I think that this idea of sustainability and living more mindfully comes at a lot of different levels...We think of it in our individual lives and our families and our households. But think of it beyond....our neighborhoods and our communities and our state and our nation...think about how we can make choices that benefit the environment. - Dr. Anna Carlson

For more information about how to recycle in your area, visit your county website." target="_blank">Click here for a video of the processes at the Polk County recycling facility where Beltrami county recycling goes for it's next journey! 

How are you celebrating Earth Day and living sustainably?  Recycling? Shopping for only used clothing? Picking up trash? Going for a walk in the woods? We'd love to hear about it!  Send us an email and let us know! 

Katie Carter started at Northern Community Radio in 2008 as Managing Editor of the station's grant-funded, online news experiment Northern Community Internet. Since 2016, she's produced Area Voices showcasing the arts, culture, and history stories of northern Minnesota. She's our local host of NPR's All Things Considered and CBC's As It Happens every weekday from 4-7pm.