Minnesota’s pollution agency throws cold water on summer amusements.
Summer time and the living isn’t easy, at least not in the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s world. The latest edition of the state agency’s “Living Green 365” newsletter warns that ordinary summer activities many Minnesotans have enjoyed all their lives are actually bad for the environment.
“These festivals and fairs are valuable and fun experiences, but can have a significant environmental impact, from the transportation it takes to get there, the amount of waste festivals produce, the energy it takes to power the festivals, and much more,” the newsletter said.
The good news from our state pollution controllers is that you can take steps to mitigate your environmental footprint this summer. The not-so-good news is these steps pretty much take the fun out of whatever you’re doing.
Imagine poring over this checklist right before running over to the Basilica block party to meet up with your friends.
• Bring your own mug or reusable water bottle
• Always separate your waste into compost, garbage and recycling
• Bring your own bag—plastic bags never fully biodegrade • Car pool, take public transit, or cycle to your next festival
• Ask food vendors for compostable plates and cutlery
• Whenever possible purchase local and organic food and beverage options
• Use mobile apps and websites for information instead of printed brochures
There’s more, but you get the idea. And how about that stylish summer outfit you had your eye on? MPCA fashionistas say it’s more sustainable to shop for recycled threads, borrow someone else’s outfit or make your own.
“While it’s tempting to buy this season’s newest festival looks, this ‘fast fashion’ has a huge environmental impact,” MPCA said. “Textile dyeing is the second highest contributor to global water pollution behind agriculture, and 10.5 million tons of textiles ended up in U.S. landfills in 2015 alone, with only a 15.3 percent recycling rate.”
The agency also uses pollution fun facts to guilt you into taking a bike, public transportation or going vegetarian.
In 2017, transportation contributed 29 percent to the United States’ total greenhouse gas emissions, the most of any other greenhouse gas producing sector. Besides the environmental impact, parking is often hard to find and usually quite expensive at summer festivals and fairs. Taking alternative methods to get to your summer festival not only helps the planet, it saves you money and stress.
But the agency goes too far when urging Minnesotans to reject freebies handed out at festivals and fairs.
Think twice before taking free giveaways. Summer festivals are full of opportunities to get free giveaways like pens, bracelets, etc. Many of these items will eventually end up in our waste stream. It’s great if you know you are getting something that you will use but think twice before taking every free item vendors and festival hosts offer to attendees.
I doubt even the “Living Green 365” staff could follow its own advice to turn down free stuff this summer. It may be green, but it’s just not right.