Small steps make a difference

Sunday marked “Earth Day” in Canada. It also was the warmest day in Rainy River District so far this year, embracing the warmth of spring.
Earth Day is celebrated around the world, having begun as a mission of U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970.
I look around my yard and trees that were planted in the early 1980s have matured and been removed. They have left gaping holes in the yard and their shade in the hot summer will be missed.
It is time to think of tree replacements. What will fit with the environment that will add years of pleasure? The cedar hedge is beginning to mature and, given a chance and protection from deer, will be greatly enjoyed.
The province, as part of its energy policy, has mandated the community to count all the trees and shrubs in town and develop a policy to maintain, upgrade, and replace our urban forest.
Legislation like that never would have been considered 50 years ago.
We have come a long way since the early beginnings of Earth Day. District residents now focus on recycling, separating paper, plastics, glass, and cardboard from our organic waste.
A new movement is evolving demanding that plastic drinking straws be banned. La Place Rendez-Vous here is leading the community, making a decision to eliminate those straws.
In Calgary, even organic waste is separated for curbside pickup, composted, and then sold as fertilizer. Many of us are unaware of other legislation that protects our health and the environment.
Since Earth Day’s beginnings, many pieces of government legislation are protecting citizens in Canada. The Clean Water Act of Ontario was passed in 2006, ensuring that every Ontarian has access to safe drinking water.
Even though many reserves lie within the boundaries of Ontario, it was not until November, 2013 that the federal government passed the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act.
Both pieces of legislation protect the sources of water that is used for consumption.
Federal governments concerned with climate change have created and expanded the Canada Clean Air Act, which controls the fuel consumptions and emissions of vehicles on the road. The act reduces the emissions of noxious gases that are emitted into the atmosphere.
Ontario has closed coal-fired electrical generation stations, moving to “green” energy solar and wind generation. Today, wind turbines generate four percent of the world’s electrical power.
Meanwhile, the amount of solar power being generated worldwide has grown by more than 600 percent. It is replacing coal-fired plants around the world.
China is the biggest user of solar power, working to clean its polluted air. In Canada, two-thirds of our electricity is supplied by renewable sources such as wind power, hydro, and solar.
We are taking slow, small steps to improve our environment and Earth. But even those small steps do make a difference.

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