Kyle Troutman: Do a little part for a big Earth

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Thursday provided us with an opportunity to show some love on a small scale for a large entity — the earth.

Earth Day, celebrated every April 22 and regarded as the largest secular event in the world, began in 1970 thanks to action from Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson, who aimed to turn the youth’s anti-war movement toward instilling a public consciousness of water and air pollution in the country.

At the time, the creation of Earth Day inspired 10 million Americans, 1-in-10 of the 1970 U.S. population, to take to the streets and demonstrate against the 150 years of industrial development that has led to a multitude of serious human health impacts.

In the 1990s, Earth Day moved from an American celebration to a global one, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries. Now, more than 190 countries and 1 billion people are involved in some sort of Earth Day recognition.

Locally, we have been no stranger to ecological issues in recent years. In 2014, an amino acid spill from the Monett Tyson plant resulted in a major fish kill in Flat Creek after the city’s wastewater treatment plant biological treatment component was overwhelmed. Consequently, the plant released significant odor and discharged high concentrations of ammonia, resulting in the fish kill.

For its role in the Clean Water Act violation, Tyson was fined $2 million in 2018, sentenced to two years of probation and had to pay $500,000 to remedy harm caused to the treatment plant.

Another more recent ecological issue surfaced in the Verona area in December 2018, when questions arose surrounding a 60-acre farm downstream of an old chemical plant that 50 years ago produced dioxin, once considered one of the most toxic chemicals ever produced and found in research to be a potent liver carcinogen. People coming into contact with it also developed a disfiguring skin condition.

As of the fall of 2020, 92 of the 93 wells surrounding the plant tested negative for 1,4-dioxane, an ether-like substance that is solvent in ground water, whereas dioxin is extremely insolvent. The one that did contain dioxane was not deemed to contain a dangerous level of the substance.

While these issues seem to pop up every few years, Earth Day gives us the chance every year to do the opposite of disaster — enhancement.

There are any number of activities to do or steps to take that can leave the Earth better than it was, the most common being planting, recycling or cleaning.

For planting, pick colorful, pollinator plants that may attract bees, butterflies or hummingbirds, or make a bee-friendly house or garden. Adding trees is also ecologically friendly, as they capture carbon, cool overheated places, benefit agriculture, support pollinators, reduce the risk of disease transmission and boost local economies.

Recycling is a great way to keep trash from building up while also making the most use out of what we already have. The Monett Recycling Center, located at 205 15th St., is open for drop-offs from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 120 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The facility is funded by the city of Monett, Southwest Missouri Solid Waste Management District, and the Department of Natural Resources Division of Environmental Quality Solid Waste Management Programs.

Accepted at the center are aluminum cans; flattened cardboard boxes and cardboard egg cartons; clear and colored glass, with lids removed (no safety glass); all paper except blueprints and slick fax paper; No. 1-7 plastic, which mush be clean (no syringes); and tin cans, cleaned and with labels removed.

Businesses can also take their cardboard and aluminum beverage cans to the Monett Sheltered Workshop, located at 204 S. Central Ave., from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday.

Those wishing to make even more of an impact can volunteer at the Center by calling 417-236-9012.

Cleaning is also a great way to volunteer and make an impact. Simply picking up trash in your own neighborhoods will suffice. Not only does it make the areas more friendly to foot traffic, it also improves the general look of the neighborhood.

There are countless other ways to do small things that help the environment, from reusing eggshells in gardens to using reusable shopping bags for groceries.

Any step taken is greater than any step not, so do what you can to celebrate Earth Day every day, as we only get one Earth to pass on to our future generations.

Kyle Troutman has served as the editor of The Monett Times since 2014. In 2017, he was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers. He may be reached at 417-235-3135 or editor@monett-times.com.

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