It wouldn’t take much to make a difference

I, too, have been on a road trip through the middle of our country, and the presence of plastic bags littering the landscape is disheartening (“Our planet, literally trashed,” Letter of the Day, April 3). Personal responsibility is needed to get those plastic bags and all trash recycled. Also, businesses must offer recycling opportunities for individuals away from home. Hennepin County offers grants to businesses to improve recycling. Look on the county’s website.

I challenge each of you to “Thirty Days of Earth Day.” Please pick up one piece of trash or more for the next 30 days. Yes, each one of us can make a difference.

Rebecca Wardell Gaertner, Minneapolis

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I agree the retail-generated plastic bags are a common form of litter. However, the April 3 letter writer chose to focus on the retailers as the source of the problem and thus shifted the focus from the real culprits — that is, people who litter.

My theory is that the more visible litter there is, the more comfortable people are with littering themselves. Of course, the opposite is true as well — when there is a clean landscape, the less comfortable people are to actively litter. This is where we can all help with minimal effort. When I take a walk, which I do on a regular basis, I pick up litter and carry it to the nearest garbage or recycling canister, or I bring it home to my own canisters and put it where it belongs. How did I get started doing this? I got tired of looking at the same piece of garbage every time I walked by it. When you pick it up instead of walking by, it’s gone and you never have to look at it again. It’s that simple.

Patrick Bloomfield, Chisholm, Minn.

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My neighborhood Lunds store offers large, durable, cloth shopping bags for the very reasonable price of $1.50, with periodic opportunities for a free shopping bag with a coupon. This allows me to maintain a supply of these bags and pass them on to others, when they admire the bag, for instance, after I’ve brought supplies or food to a social gathering. I know that most other markets here offer similar shopping bags.

Let’s all do our part and not place the responsibility solely on the merchants.

James Nastoff, Minneapolis



Minnesota ‘not so nice,’ or just sensible?

I had the privilege of attending a naturalization ceremony on Wednesday, witnessing a very proud group of 300 new Americans swear to support and defend the U.S. Constitution and renounce their allegiance to any other state. It was difficult not to be filled with patriotism seeing my country welcome those who had worked so hard to be here.

The presiding judge reminded this newest group of citizens of their responsibilities to participate in democracy and take care of their communities. American citizens, the judge declared, show compassion for their neighbors and respect differences. Diversity, he said, has been, and continues to be, America’s greatest asset.

If these are truly the values of American citizens and Minnesotans, why do we still refuse basic protections and rights for those new to our country? (“Report: Minnesota not so nice to immigrants,” April 3.) If the road to citizenship at a federal level remains long, expensive and difficult to navigate, Minnesotans should at least allow people to live and work here safely during the process.

I can’t help wondering if those of us born in America would have more empathy if we had to work a little harder to earn our own citizenship. Perhaps if we had to learn a new language, memorize the answers to a hundred civics questions (spelled correctly) and prove our moral character, we would better respect our responsibility to ensure liberty and justice for all.

Jennifer Compton, Minneapolis

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I am incensed at the suggestion that if, as a taxpaying citizen, I do not support unregistered immigrants receiving Minnesota driver’s licenses, I am an example of Minnesota “not nice.” In the April 3 article, community organizer Jovita Morales is quoted as saying that by not providing licenses we put the futures of “thousands of children and young people” at risk because their parents “are forced to drive without a license and run the risk of deportation.”

I welcome immigrants who come here legally and take advantage of the unique freedoms our country offers. But, as it states in the Minnesota Driver’s Manual, driving is a privilege and a responsibility, not a right.

If immigrants register, work hard and pay taxes, they should be welcome to take the test and get a legal license. If they come here, drive without a license and put their children at risk, they should be deported.

John E. Rice, Eden Prairie



Political left should be championing this, too

When reading opinion articles, my eyes always go down to the bottom of the piece to see particulars about the person writing.

Why is it whenever I see an article asking for open minds and free speech, it is written by a conservative? The latest was “Hear Rice out — or don’t — but welcome her voice” (April 3) by Republican Laura Brod.

Where are my friends on the left demanding open debate? Why the silence? How can we become a better society by silencing anyone?

Debate is the only way we can discover the truth. The left needs to get on board with this old idea, it is for all of our betterment.

Jack Petroski, St. Louis Park