AUGUSTA — We asked experts to helps us compare how Maine was doing environmentally compared to the nation.
Not surprisingly, Maine is doing better in air quality, water quality and the amount we recycle.
It started 40 years ago when Maine U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie sponsored what became the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. (More bragging rights, Muskie was a native of Rumford.) Because of those laws and all the work that followed, “Maine has air and waters statewide that are much cleaner than they were, and much cleaner than other states east of the Mississippi River,” said David Littell, Department of Environmental Protection commissioner.
Maine has many of the most intact ecosystems among eastern states, such as strong cold-water fisheries, which have 75 percent of the eastern habitat in Maine, Littell said. “We need to continue to protect high-quality air, water, and habitats, while permitting development in lower quality areas.”
The next environmental battle, he said, is climate change.
Click on the link for the rest of today’s story and guide by Bonnie Washuk in the Lewiston Sun Journal.
[Thinking too much about the magnitude of the environment and what we’ve done to this planet can be extremely daunting.
“What can I do? What can one person do?” can be rattling around nearly everyone’s head.
The thing, it isn’t about what one person can do or what one group of people can do. It is about we all can do. What can we do? We start small and build on small victories until we make a dent. And then we push forward some more.
Attached with the story are three lists of what we all can do to help in the long run. Try one or two from each list. Then another and another. – KM]
5 things to do to improve air quality:
- Conserve electricity, buy efficient appliances and products such as compact fluorescents or even better, LEDs.
- Drive a vehicle that gets good gas mileage; keep it tuned.
- Make sure your home is insulated.
- Use an EPA certified wood or pellet stove.
- Drive less, carpool if you can, and support public policy and legislation that moves us toward clean and healthy energy and transportation.
Source: Department of Environmental Protection, American Lung Association of Maine
5 things to improve recycling rates:
- Find out what your local recycling program accepts for materials, adjust your home’s system to match.
- Build a backyard compost pile, keeps organics out of the trash. It will reduce odor, and you get a soil-enriching product at no cost.
- Use smaller trash cans; they fill up faster and make you think twice before tossing something.
- Make recycling more convenient in your home; keep the recycling bin near the trash can.
- Think about the waste generated as you buy something. Make a pledge to recycle more and throw away less, and keep that pledge
—From George MacDonald, Maine State Planning Office
5 things to improve water quality
- Prevent erosion. Soil erosion is the single greatest threat to water quality. Seed and mulch bare ground.
- Use trees and shrubs to filter runoff. Every time it rains, pollutants are washed from driveways, roofs, yards, parking lots and roads into ditches. From there the runoff goes to streams, rivers, lakes or groundwater. A ribbon of bushes, trees and ground cover (buffers) can act as a sponge and filter out contaminants.
- Use less fertilizer and pesticides. Fertilizing your lawn and garden can result in phosphorus and nitrogen that can run off and get into streams, lakes and the ocean. If you leave the grass clippings, you don’t need to fertilize; grass clippings are free fertilizer. Pesticides, which are toxic, can create health problems for people and animals. Compared to 15 years ago, three times as much yard care pesticides are brought into Maine. Pesticides can wash off into into water bodies. If you have pests, spot treat. Learn to like dandelions.
- Maintain septic systems. About 50 percent of Mainers use septic systems. Inadequate septic systems account for 5 to 10 percent of all phosphorus that reaches lakes. Toxins, nitrates, nutrients, bacteria and viruses from inadequate septic systems can seep into wells. That pollution also flows into streams, harms lakes, and on the coast, causes clam flats and beaches to be closed.
- If you have a septic system, don’t use septic additives, don’t pour grease or food down your sink, pump your system every two to three years. If your septic system was installed before 1974, consider replacing it.
Source: Department of Environmental Protection