What will it take to preserve our Great Lakes for future generations?

By: Ken Pargulski, M36 Coffee Roasters

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit our state, like many other Michiganders, my life changed dramatically. My business was forced to close, and I quickly had to re-envision a new way forward in order to survive.

Even though Michiganders have faced job loss, illness, school closures and more because of COVID-19, we cannot lose sight of other important things, like the people and parts of our state that set us apart.

Growing up, camping and playing on the shores of Lake Michigan, I was always drawn to the majesty of this inland “ocean”. As the largest freshwater system in the world, it is imperative that we protect and preserve the Great Lakes from pollutants and potential hazards.

We can’t lose sight of what it will take to preserve the Great Lakes for future generations despite the hardships we have faced this year.

Recently, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced plans to end the state easement, closing the Line 5 oil pipeline below the Straits of Mackinac by next spring. She has also laid out plans to invest in the state’s water infrastructure and tackle climate change by putting Michigan on a path to carbon neutrality by 2050.

These initiatives are in line with our “Pure Michigan” way of life. At a time when public health is top of mind, we can’t lose sight of the fact that we are guardians of the world’s largest source of fresh drinking water. Clean drinking water is important for our health, communities and economy.

Using more clean, renewable energy will protect the Great Lakes and improve public health by reducing pollution in our air and water. Wind and solar also has the added benefit of creating jobs.

At a time when COVID-19 is still ravaging our state and our country, we must prioritize the qualities that make our way of life what it is. As a small business owner, I know firsthand that when a community comes together to achieve something, anything is possible.

We need to rally behind the governor and these initiatives because they are critical steps toward preserving our Great Lakes.

Ken Pargulski is the owner of M36 Coffee Roasters in Whitmore Lake, Michigan.