Spring has arrived here in Bemidji, the lake is free of ice and we can see the grass again -- even if it is brown still. But with the snow gone, we now see what it has hidden these last few cold months: a whole lot of garbage.

Once the weather gets above 30 or 40 degrees, we northern Minnesotans are ready to go outside and get some fresh air after being cooped up for months on end. I, like many people, enjoy it when the weather starts to get warmer. That means I can start going for walks and bike rides again.

When spring rolls around and the snow starts melting, the first thing you want to see when you step outside is definitely not garbage on sidewalks, roadsides and in parks. Layer after layer, as the snow melts it reveals another layer of buried bits of trash. We see things like: beer bottles, candy wrappers, fast food containers, plastic bags, dirty masks, old lottery tickets, soggy cigarette butts, and maybe even a shoe here or there.

It is not anything new that when the snow melts we will see the garbage that the snow has covered up. But, when I was out on a walk around town recently with a friend, we came across a few bunnies searching an area for some food. However, there was so much garbage around them that every time they hopped, they flicked some bits of garbage around too. It was like watching a simulation of what the world is going to be like in the future if we don't start making some real changes.

If you are out on a bike ride or a walk and see some garbage, pick it up and throw it away in the nearest garbage can or dumpster. Bemidji prides itself on how beautiful the town and nature around it is, but if we don’t clean up after ourselves we will start to look like a town that just does not care and the trash will start to pile up.

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Many people complain about how spring in Minnesota is an ugly season. That's mostly because of things we can't help, like the trees not having leaves and the grass being brown, as previously mentioned. But when it comes to the trash littered on the ground, well that is something we can 100% control. And cleaning up our town is a great reason to get out of the house with friends or family and contribute toward something great.

Earth Day is coming up on April 22, and in the spirit of the holiday, and all the reasons listed above, I decided to set my own personal goal to pick up garbage that I see littered around my home and the areas I go for walks and bike rides. I'm also going to try and ride my bike instead of taking my car when I can, to make that job just a little easier. I hope that others will do the same and help set a good example for the Bemidji community and make our town genuinely beautiful.

Hannah LaVigne is a multimedia journalist for the Pioneer. She can be reached at hlavigne@bemidjipioneer.com.