Maybe the kids could teach us something…

Written by: Marvin Baker

This past weekend we took the grandkids to Medora to see the musical, eat a pitchfork fondue steak and take in the sights. As always, it was first-class entertainment and it was good to see so many young people from within North Dakota picked to perform on stage.


We stayed in a Medora hotel and because it was hot at the end of July, we took plenty of water; in bottles and carbonated water in cans. When we were packing up to leave, one of the grandkids gathered all the aluminum cans and presented them to me.


I told him we’ll go to the lobby so the hotel can recycle them. When we got there and asked, the answer was “We don’t recycle.”


My grandson, who is 8 years old, was shocked and didn’t know what to say. Then he had a simple question, why?
I couldn’t explain it to him and when we got back to our room, my wife couldn’t explain it. My grandson and his sister are growing up in Rapid City and recycling is very important to them.


Once a week, which is Monday, a trash truck comes by and picks up the trash. An hour later, another truck comes through the ally to empty the recycle bin.


During the week, they put all their recyclables in that bin. Paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, plastic bottles and the like go into the blue bin in the back yard.


That’s all these kids have ever known, and when they stay in Medora and find the hotel, at least, doesn’t recycle, you can see why they are shocked and confused.


But this isn’t an isolated incident that I just happened to catch because these children are my grandkids.
There have been numerous times at the farmers’ market where I’ve seen children of customers bring us paper egg cartons and ask us if we can re-use them or recycle them. Of course we can and they gleefully return to their parents.


I’ve seen a group of young boys on walkabout picking up aluminum cans and other trash in the ditch, not because they get money for the aluminum. That’s a residual benefit. They’ve done it to clean up their neighborhood after a long winter.
If you don’t think these kids are serious, read some of their school reports. They have a genuine concern for the environment. They don’t understand how political it has become. They just know there will be a consequences if something isn’t done soon to ramp up recycling efforts.


If you go to a recycling center, often times you’re going to see children or the elderly dropping off the recyclables; newspapers, magazines, aluminum cans, tin cans, plastic bottles, office paper, etc. They apparently see and know the importance of a good recycling program.


Numerous cities have implemented recycling programs, but they still have a long way to go. Really, the only place in North Dakota that has a solid program is the city of Fargo. It has had a robust recycling program for 35 years that I’m aware of and most of the residents in the city of Fargo are on board with making it better.


Minot recently implemented its own program, that apparently, is experimental. In other words, if people don’t like it, the city will remove it. Is that something the city of Minot wants to do in this day and age?


We often hear about how the landfill is filling up to quickly. Realize that if the recycling program was actually on its feet, there would most likely be 30 to 40 percent less volume going into the landfill.


Critics say it’s about money. There’s no money in recycling. Well, guess what, wheat, canola, oil, coal, gold, silver; the prices of these commodities are cyclical as is recycling.


If people put forth some effort, the price would come back and we’d have a cleaner world to live in.
Take it from a young kid, they know how important recycling is, just ask them and they’ll tell you why, even though we can’t tell them why recycling shouldn’t be a priority.

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