BEMIDJI -- “Leave it better than how you found it,” is a saying that most of us have heard before. But are we leaving everything better than how we found it -- like the earth?

I am well aware that one of the bigger arguments that has been around for a while is whether global warming is a real thing or not. There have been debates with the leaders of nations, environmentalists and scientists for years.

I’ve heard people say many different things like "this is all just a hoax," "we haven't been around long enough on earth to know if this isn't just a natural phenomena" or "this is one of the biggest issues that no one is taking care of or talking about."

I understand that people do not think it is real, but that is not the issue I would like to discuss. This is still the place and planet that we live on and call home, as will many generations after us.

I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life and in Bemidji for three years. In that time, I have had the chance to see the beautiful state and town that we live in. But I’ve also been seeing what is happening in our state and town.

I enjoy floating down the Mississippi River just like many others do, but the last few times I have gone I’ve noticed more trash in the river. Beer cans, glass bottles and even take-out boxes floating in the water.

There is trash collecting in highway ditches and sidewalks. It’s sad when I go on my walks or bike rides and fast food bags and cups are what I see scattered on the ground.

We need to do better for the planet's health. The oceans are filling up with millions of pounds of garbage and animals are dying from eating waste they find littered all over the earth.

Instead of throwing your garbage out the window of your car, wait until you get home or put a bag in your car to put trash in.

The same goes for when you go for walks in parks. Don’t throw your trash on the ground, wait until you see a garbage can or get home.

Living in Minnesota we take pride in the fact that we have so many lakes. It is a big reason that a lot of people come to visit our state. So when you go out in your boat, try to be a little more eco-friendly and think about the aquatic life you might be affecting.

I could never understand why people think that when they throw their trash in the lake and river it just disappears. Lakes and rivers are not garbage cans; please stop treating them as such. Out of sight should not mean out of mind.

Because even if you don't believe that global warming is real, plastics are not a natural thing and take thousands of years to decompose.

Please, when we leave this earth, let's try and leave it better than how we found it.

Hannah LaVigne is a multimedia journalist for the Pioneer. She can be reached at (218) 333-9772.