I visit the Minnesota State Fair nearly every year. I have a love-hate relationship with it, though. I love so many things about the experience, and they keep me coming back, but the waste is absolutely appalling and makes it difficult to attend. It should be renamed Garbage On a Stick.
I know some progress has been made, as I'm not seeing many vendors using Styrofoam. But with so much food waste and paper boat kind of containers, why are we not composting? The recycling situation is pathetic as well. Those bottle-shaped containers, with that little hole at the top, are not conducive to encouraging their use. Most garbage cans are a hodgepodge of recycling and food waste that is in fact compostable.
I've been to quite a few large no-waste or low-waste events facilitated by our local Eureka Recycling. They do a great job of educating attendees as to what goes where. I realize the fair is a huge event, but imagine if we could lead on this and be the first state fair to be zero-waste?
And why, oh, why, are we still selling bottled water? There's no excuse for that. With all the pre-fair publicity, people could be informed there will be no more bottled water and that you should bring your own bottle. There are filling opportunities all over the fair.
I always carry a bag while I'm at the fair. In it are my water bottle, an empty jar with a lid (for beverages I buy), eating utensils and a cloth napkin. I even carried out my aluminum tin from my Sarah's Tipsy Pies and took it home to recycle it. Why? Because I care. It's not a burden, and it's not too much to ask.
If the fair were to provide a better system to avoid waste, I wouldn't have to go to such lengths. I'm willing to, but most people are not. Can we make it easier for the masses to do the right thing? We cannot continue to check our values at the gate.
Jason Holtz, Minneapolis
Editor's note: The letter writer's point about individual participation notwithstanding, the Minnesota State Fair is in fact engaged in efforts to reduce waste, including composting. A recent report by KSTP-TV (tinyurl.com/kstp-fair-waste) has details.
I do have needs, but they do not include improving this situation
Regarding the Aug. 29 editorial "Hey, Gophers fans, it's time to show up," the online presentation of which included the subhead "Alumni, students and sports fans statewide need to help lead a revival":
I need to do what it takes to keep a roof over my head.
I need to take my daily vitamin.
I need to take care of my loved ones.
I need to exercise and stay as strong as I can as I become old.
I need to thank a higher power for another day of my existence on Earth.
I need to donate to those less fortunate than me.
Though I'm an alumnus of the University of Minnesota, does being a Gophers sports spectator rise to the level of a "need" for me, or for anyone else?
No way. Not even close.
Tate Ferguson, Minneapolis
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As graduates of the University of Minnesota and as former high school band members, we have looked forward to attending the annual Homecoming game, with its marching band halftime shows, but this year our tickets for the same seats went from $40 to $80. These seats are in the uppermost row of the stadium. We will be watching the game from home and paying only 50 cents for our soda rather than $5. The university has chosen to seek revenue over fan involvement and appreciation.
Dianne Hopen, West St. Paul
U.S. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN
An honest appraisal would also point out his flaws
While acknowledging U.S. Sen. John McCain's service to our country and heroism for surviving five years of horrific imprisonment during the war in Vietnam, it is vital to remember that he was for most of his career a right-wing politician.
McCain supported Donald Trump's tax plan for the rich, voted to restrict abortion and defund Planned Parenthood, and voted against restricting the sale of assault weapons. In addition, he made misogynistic remarks about women, including his own wife and Chelsea Clinton, then apologized for some. Just to name a few examples.
It may not be polite to speak ill of the dead, but neither should we pretend he was a saint.
Leslie Martin, Mendota Heights
ST. PAUL LIBRARY LATE FEES
Mayor's clemency precedent is a bad one, because …
I don't know what I found more depressing — St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter's proposal to eliminate the late fee for people who do not return books to the library on time, or that he was bouncing with excitement when he proposed it ("Mayor: No more late fees at library," Aug. 30).
When books are not returned on time, they are not available for others. If people have not been to the library in years because of outstanding fees, why didn't they return their books on time, or at least return them before they accumulated excessive fees?
And the revenue lost to St. Paul libraries when late fees are no longer charged should be replaced by additional library funding? Late fees should be paid by the people who did not return their books on time, not taxpayers, and especially not those taxpayers who return the books they borrow on time.
Steve Franzen, Minneapolis
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Will the new library policy promote the return of books when they are due, so, as the mayor says, "every single child of our city can travel the world — from the bottom of the ocean to the edge of the galaxy"? And, is this creating an opportunity for our children to learn about personal responsibility, or will it be an opportunity lost?
Debbie Cook, Bloomington
LEARNING AND ACCESSIBILITY
Two articles helped point toward a larger need
I appreciated the synchronicity of two items in the Aug. 27 Star Tribune. The commentary by Tracy Blodgett explaining the need for captioned media for students who are deaf/hard of hearing was on point and documented a need for students, not only who are deaf, but are emerging language learners, or who have other learning needs. The call for website accessibility by Kevin Rydberg in the Business Forum pointed out the need to have access to the web available for a wider range of consumers.
As education depends more on digital resources, it is critical to have learning materials and websites that all learners can use without asking students to defer their learning. Many teachers are using teacher-developed videos or open-sourced learning materials. Many schools are using digital textbooks, without considering the need for all students to access them. The Minnesota Department of Education and the Legislature can provide resources, supports and mandates for universally designed, accessible educational materials. This charge cannot come only from special educators like Ms. Blodgett, as the need extends beyond students with disabilities. It is time to require that all students have access to learning materials. This will require a system shift at both the state level in implementing mandates for all learners and at the school district level in purchasing and designing curricular materials, asking before that purchase or design if the materials meet the requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Joan Breslin Larson, Monticello, Minn.
The writer is a retired special educator.