On April 22 we will celebrate the 49th Earth Day. The first one was organized by Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson in 1970 as an environmental teach-in. It is estimated that 20 million people participated nationwide. As a grassroots movement it was very successful leading to the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work.
I love Earth Day. I love having a day to celebrate the beauty and amazing wonders of our Earth. I feel especially lucky to live in beautiful Tooele Valley.
A few months ago, I started working as a rural mail carrier and my love of this little valley has magnified. I have gotten to know places that I didn’t know existed almost in my backyard: the rock climbing wall tucked behind the old Lake Point Inn, the sprawling farms of East Erda and the crooked path of Pine Canyon Road.
I love meeting all the farm dogs faithfully guarding their porches and having a horse race my mail truck along a fence line. Sometimes I worry about the poor animal who has provoked a spray from a skunk. And what can I say about Tooele sunsets?
Sometimes social media is brimming with different views of a particularly spectacular sunset. I’ve camped up South Willow Canyon and felt a million miles away from civilization. And one of my favorite events is the purple fields of blooming alfalfa. When I drive “the back way” out of Tooele, I look out west past Stockton and wonder how much it resembles the valley before my Great-great-great-grandparents arrived here in 1856. I’ve stood at the site where their dugout home was located and looked out toward the Stansbury Mountains feeling connected to my past seeing the same view they enjoyed 150 years ago.
My love for Tooele Valley is part of what prompted me to fight for residential recycling for Tooele City. It seemed only natural considering Grantsville had a successful recycling program and the county had recycling available to Stansbury Park residences.
I have been thrilled by the number of blue cans I see as I deliver mail around town. I feel personally connected to those blue cans and I am grateful knowing the Earth will breathe a little easier as more of us make an effort to minimize our environmental impact.
As we celebrate Earth Day 2019, may I suggest a few things we can do to keep our valley a beautiful place?
We can make a big impact by using reusable shopping bags. After our famous Tooele windstorms, I see dozens of plastic shopping bags in tree tops and caught on barbed wire fences. I often hear people lament that they would use reusable bags but they always forget to take them into the store. I had the same problem until I forced myself to leave my groceries at customer service so I could run out to my car to retrieve them, it takes only a couple of times with that inconvenience to burn it into my mind to remember my bags. Now it is a habit.
Cleaning up after our dogs can make a big impact on a neighborhood. No one likes those kinds of surprises left on a lawn. I’ve been caught unprepared walking my dogs and have sheepishly knocked on a door to ask for a bag. So far I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t happy to help. Also, making sure our own yards are regularly cleaned keeps the valley looking and smelling wonderful.
Lastly, I love the clean air after a rainstorm, but as the days pass without moisture, we can see that brown air start to creep in. Driving our cars just a little less can make a big difference. Plan errands with the least amount of travel and if possible, walk! Not only will the Earth be grateful but your waistline might be, too. Idling cars also contribute to our air quality. Our schools have No Idling zones and with a little planning, we can avoid idling almost completely. Running into the bank or fast food restaurant when possible instead of waiting in the drive thru can also help reduce emissions.
I hope this Earth Day you will take a minute to look around and feel connected to the beauty all around us. I hope that you will feel invigorated and peaceful. I hope that if we all make a few small adjustments to our habits, we will, together, make a long-lasting impact that keeps Tooele Valley one of the best places in the world.
Katie Carlile is the 1st vice chair of the Tooele County Democratic Party. She lives in Tooele City.