Written by Taylor Templer, West Central Coordinator
This is a time of uncertainty and great challenge. With schools closed and social distancing rules in place, YES! students and coaches across the state of Minnesota have had to put their environmental projects on hold while they adjust to distance learning. YES! wants to continue to support youth in creating positive environmental change in a time when so much is unknown. Even though YES! students will not be able to meet face to face with their other team members and coaches or finish their intended project within their school walls, we invite them to bring YES! home. Individuals can have a large impact on the environment by making small changes at home.
Here are some ways you can make a difference at home:
- Recycle- We know that some recycling centers have closed due to COVID-19, which makes it even more important that you are still keeping glass, plastic, aluminum, paper out of the landfill! Please save your recyclables if you have the space, so when the recycling centers open again they can be recycled.
- Compost- This is an excellent time to start a small compost bin for your home food waste! Here is a simple way to incorporate this into your home.
- Conserve Energy- Spending more time at home means that we will be using more electricity, let’s practice turning off the lights, unplugging unused electronics, and maybe switching over to energy saving light bulbs like LEDs.
- Conserve Water- Spending more time at home also means that we will be using more water, take this time to assess how much water your household is using and how you can lower your water consumption, maybe you even want to collect and use rain water for watering plants this summer. Here are directions to build your own rain barrel!
- Improve Habitat- Think about your outdoor space, do you have any animal habitat? If not, this would be a great time to build a bee hotel, a wood duck house, or a pollinator garden! Here are directions to build a pollinator garden!
- Pick Up Litter- Have you been able to get outside more and take more walks? If so, I’m sure you’ve noticed all of the trash that has accumulated over the winter months on the side of the road, in parks, and maybe even in your own backyard. Picking up litter is a great activity to do as a family and creates a clean beautiful place to live!
- Explore Local Foods- With many local restaurants closed, local farms and businesses need you! Reconnect with your local food options to ensure you and your family are getting healthy food while supporting your local economy! Here is a great resource to locate Minnesota farmers and growers!
- Connect to Nature- This is a great time to reconnect with nature; there are so many things we aren’t able to do right now, but nature is always available to us. Try recording nature observations like migrating birds appearing, frogs calling, or trees blooming. Get familiar with different native plant and animal species and help the scientific community by sharing your findings by using the iNaturalist app.
- Clean Up Storm Drains- Do you live on a street with storm drains? Help keep our waterways clean by picking up trash, debris, leaves, and sediment that accumulates by storm drains because that is washed right into our rivers and lakes. Check out the Adopt-a-Drain program!
- Reduce Waste- Reduce the amount of single-use plastics you use in your home like plastics bags, water bottles, snack cups, and sandwich bags. Buying in bulk and using reusable or washable containers cuts down on a lot of waste!
Let’s all take action TODAY!
Major funding for the YES! program was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).