Everyday Hero: Lehi forms new sustainability committee 02

Toa Mauigoa quickly empties recycling cans as he gets into a rhythm with his truck and controls on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, in Orem. (Michael Schnell, special to the Daily Herald).

Lehi city recently created a sustainability committee with the hope to raise environmental awareness in the community — a move we applaud emphatically.

We especially applaud committee chairman Stevel Roll’s comment that, “The challenge is depoliticizing it, and making it a stewardship issue for people out there.”

Different people with different political views can argue all they want about what should or should not be done about climate change and other environmental problems (we’ve had a plethora of reader comments on our articles and social media in this regard); but when it comes down to it, each of us can and should do better, no matter where we are on the political spectrum.

We don’t believe a large amount of Utah County citizens are out there intentionally creating sustainability issues; rather, we see most problems stemming from ignorance and indifference. The new Lehi sustainability committee is responding to that by spreading awareness and educating citizens on how they can live in a more sustainable way, specifically in Lehi.

Sure, we can all Google general lists of how to be better stewards of the environment — recycle, drive less, use less water, etc. Those things are all great, but Lehi’s approach is much more specific and applicable to its own citizens. Sure, we should recycle, but how? Lehi’s committee can tell you your options. We should conserve our energy use, but how? Again, Lehi’s committee will spread awareness on the different options offered by the city to its citizens.

It’s this localized step that we believe is the needed push to get our county’s citizens living more environmentally-friendly. And we encourage each city in Utah Valley to follow Lehi’s lead. Some cities already have their own version of Lehi’s committee. Elect a new committee, improve an existing one, do whatever needs to be done, because it’s unquestionable that our cities need to move the environment and sustainability toward the forefront of local issues that need to be addressed.

Just look at the air quality warnings in the winter and other times of the year, encouraging people to spend as little time outside as they can for the sake of their lung health. Look at the stats showing Utah as the No. 1 state for per-person water wasting. We could go on, but the point is that environmental problems are not just a vague worldwide problem we should leave to big government; it’s a stark, unique problem in our own neighborhoods.

Now, we don’t think local governments should implement sustainability measures that force various stewardship regulations down citizens’ throats. We know that many locals disagree with some of the more forceful environment regulations happening in other states. Rather, we encourage local government to put more effort into spreading awareness and encouragement. Teach your citizens how to improve. Motivate them to value conservation efforts in a way that’s not pushy or overbearing.

And on the other hand, we encourage citizens to be more mindful of how they contribute to local environmental problems, and find new ways to be better stewards. Even if your city isn’t putting in the same effort as those with sustainability committees like Lehi, many cities are making it easier and easier for citizens to make better stewardship choices, from improved public transportation to environmentally friendly options when signing on for local utilities.

All in all, we love our county, and we want to see it thriving and beautiful for years to come. We want our grandkids to be able to live here without compromising their respiratory health, let alone do the same outdoor activities we enjoy now. We want Utah Valley to continue being an exciting location for travelers to visit. We want a good future for our home, but we can’t ensure that unless we take on the responsibility of being stewards of the amazing environment around us.