Make it Plastic Free

The best time to start Plastic Free July was on July 1, but the second best time is today. Become aware of the plastic you use everyday all year! Plastic Free July is a world wide movement to become aware of the amount of plastic we use in our lives. It is about finding alternatives to the tons of plastic the world uses everyday. We are filling our bodies, our oceans, rivers and land with plastic. Plastic that will survive hundreds of years. Reducing our single-use consumption can make a big difference.

Reuse and Refuse plastic!

So what are single use plastics? Single-use plastics are items meant to be trashed after use. Single-use plastics are used for packaging and items such as bottles, wrappers, straws, and bags.

Survey your garbage, what plastic does it contain? Can you recycle any of it? What does it tell you about your choices and purchases? What plastic items do you think you could do without? Is there someway you can have less plastic garbage?

Don’t try to go plastic free to start, it’s close to impossible in the world we are living, but awareness and one item at a time is success!

July is plastic-free month

“Please, No straw!”

What is one plastic item you can give up? Baggies? Produce bags? Bottled water? Plastic straws? Plastic utensils? Styrofoam? For the next two weeks, don’t purchase or use that item. Hopefully, you can live without that product, and then choose another plastic item you can also end using. Keep it simple, don’t try to do too much. Simple steps will lead to more success and less frustration. There is nothing easy reducing plastic in our plastic world. Good luck as you begin a new journey of more sustainable and healthy living.

reuse

Reusable cloth produce bags

Ask me if you need help, I have been on this plastic free journey for years, and constantly learn new ways to reduce plastic. It is rewarding to know you have lightened your plastic footprint. Good luck!

Model a new way forward: “When we use disposable items, we send a message: this is what we want, keep it up, make more of this. When we refuse, and choose reusable, we model another way forward. Our choices can make a difference. Let’s make them count!” PlasticfreeTuesday 

Many ideas to reduce plastic use:

How to Get Rid of Throwaway Culture – YES! Magazine (yesmagazine.org)

Getting started – Plastic Free JulyGetting started – Plastic Free July 

Plastic Free July – Be Part of the Solution   

New Zealand to Ban Most Single-Use Plastics by 2025 – EcoWatch

Here’s What Happens When You Eat From Plastic Containers – EcoWatch 

How Plant-Based Packaging Can Solve the Plastic Crisis – Business and Tech (futureofbusinessandtech.com)  


The Story of Plastic (animated short) – Story of Stuff

Pandemic pollution: Disposable masks, gloves are saving lives but ruining the environment | PBS NewsHour

Seven ways to go plastic free for Plastic Free July – Greenpeace Aotearoa

Norwex Movement  10 ways to be plastic-free

A Simple Solution

Do you love clean air? Are you curious? Do you live in a city? What does your city need to do to improve it’s quality of life? This is simplistic, but it is something I believe in, and I loved this solution for the problems of urban living. City living can become safer and healthier if we would all walk more.

Urban living is safer and healthier when we walk more!

When is the last time you walked to the store, a coffee shop, or a park near you? How about walking to a meeting the library, or to a friend’s house?  Do you need more exercise and more time outside?

walk walk walk

This ancient solution, walking, has solved the problems of cities for thousands of years. Urban life can become much better if people get out and walk more. I think communities would be safer and healthier! A recent study from Wisconsin shows walking more can be the critical difference leading to mental, physical and community health.  One Centuries-Old Trick Can Solve Your City’s Problems | streets.mn  

As a person who walks to almost everything I do, I am passionate about safe walking, and hope you will become a walker too. Start by walking to your nearest park as often as you can. Next, choose something close by, and make a habit to walk instead of driving. Leave your phone and music at home or in your pocket, pay attention, and discover something that you hadn’t seen before. What do you see? You will like it and feel better too.

Urban planners need to do better to make cities walkable. Sidewalks need to be free of holes and bumps. Some streets need to be designated for walkers, and an extra effort needs to be made so street crossing  is safe. Law enforcement needs to enforce the laws to keep all pedestrians safe, and all drivers need to be alert and stop for stop signs.  One urban planner I talked to wanted to take out stop signs, another is obsessed with putting bikes on the sidewalk. We must do better! 

Pay attention to pedestrians

One Centuries-Old Trick Can Solve Your City’s Problems | streets.mn  

Twin Cities get serious about crosswalk etiquette – StarTribune.com  

Paris, Barcelona and Vienna are implementing policies to discourage car traffic and favor pedestrians and cyclists. The French capital aims to ensure residents have all necessary services within 15 minutes by foot, bike or public transit. Barcelona is restricting traffic to major roads, while Austria this year is rolling out nationwide access to public transport for a flat annual fee of 3 euros ($3.60) a day.  Read more: A 15-Minute City Without Cars or Commutes Emerges as New Utopia

A Lot to Celebrate!

A Juneteenth holiday weekend, pollinator week, the longest day/summer, and Father’s Day, a lot to celebrate! Enjoy this historic weekend by planting a native tree or plant in honor of the slaves that helped build our country, the beginning of summer, and your dad. Happy Pollinator Week! Happy Juneteenth!

Plant native plants and trees.

This is National Pollinator Week.

What are pollinators? Pollination occurs when pollen is moved within flowers or carried from flower to flower by pollinating animals such as birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles, or other animals, or by the wind.

Pollinators are essential to our environment.  They are necessary for most of the world’s flowering plants and crops. Habitat loss, pesticide use, and introduced diseases are taking an enormous toll on our pollinators.

Agriculture, land development, mowing and chemicals to reduce weed and insects have resulted in loss of habitat loss for our pollinators. These essential pollinators are necessary for most of the world’s flowering plants and crops.

Urban areas are food desserts for pollinators. Turf lawns and hostas contribute to these urban food desserts. My yard is full of plants for bees, birds and butterflies, but I’m surrounded by too much treated turf grass.  I encourage everyone to help pollinators by creating and maintaining native habitat to help bees, birds and butterflies. Native plants and native trees are excellent choices for pollinators. Their deep roots keep them surviving during droughts and heavy rains. Dig out some hostas or grass and plant something helpful to our earth. See suggestion in reading list.

This is an exciting new holiday weekend, in recognition of the day 156 years ago when the enslaved people of Texas were finally met with the far overdue promise of freedom. Juneteenth | History, Meaning, Flag, Importance, & Facts | Britannica

Our new United States holiday!

Reading List:

https://www.ecowatch.com/lawns-must-die-2653462778.html

Pollinator Supportive Trees – Michigan Pollinator Initiative (msu.edu)  

TreesShrubsPoster.indd (msu.edu) 

Trees for Bees and Other Pollinatorss – The Arbor Day Foundation

Pollinator Conservation Resource Center | Xerces Society

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation 

Some Minnesota dragonflies are peaking – StarTribune.com 

Attract Birds: A Dozen Native Trees and Shrubs that Birds Love (abcbirds.org) “Every single person who owns a piece of property of any size can make a difference. They can begin by removing non-native plant species on their land and replacing them with natives. Why native plants? Native plants are important for many reasons, but they are essential as virtually the only hosts for many native insects. Insects are essential food for many birds, particularly nesting songbirds. … A small yard, even in the heart of a city, can provide these crucial sites.”

Twelve spotted skimmer

What Brings you Joy?

This morning a cardinal and other birds were singing, I worked in a community garden with friends, and I saw a new butterfly. This brings me joy.

As this pandemic retreats, what is bringing you joy? Being outside, seeing birds, butterflies and new lush green plants? The beginning of June has brought hiking, biking and gardening and lots of joyful outside time for me. Seeing people in person again has also been a time of joy and freedom.  I am so thankful for the science and the vaccines that have made it possible for us to get our lives back. It is now time to get back to enjoying everyday! Take pictures of what brings you joy, and send them to us.

swallow tail butterfly

Butterflies bring joy

milkweed

What are the special events to celebrate in June? June 5,  is World Environment Day, June 8 is World Oceans Day and June 19, is Juneteenth. June 20 is Father’s Day. All of June is Pride and Gun Violence Awareness Month. See the Actions for Happiness calendar below for joyful ideas. This June take pictures of what brings you joy. Send them to us.

Take care of our beautiful Earth

World Environment Day , This is our moment.

We cannot turn back time. But we can grow trees, green our cities, rewild our gardens, change our diets and clean up rivers and coasts. We are the generation that can make peace with nature.

Let’s get active, not anxious. Let’s be bold, not timid. 

Join #GenerationRestoration

READING LIST:

 Hundreds of lakes losing oxygen:  https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/new-york/articles/2021-06-02/hundreds-of-lakes-in-us-europe-are-losing-oxygen#:~:text=

7 Educational Nature Activities for Kids You Can Do at Home This Summer – EcoWatch

UN World Oceans Day 2021 – UN World Oceans Day  

Join the Fresh Start Challenge! – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Six skills we need as citizens who can’t agree on scientific facts – StarTribune.com

Biden takes aim at all factors hampering Black Americans – StarTribune.com 

98 stories of garbage: State plans to expand 4 over-stuffed landfills in metro – Twin Cities 

‘The Ancient Woods’ Review: Deep in the Forest – The New York Times (nytimes.com) 

15 Healthy Foods That RDs Say Will Make You Happier | Eat This Not That  

 June 19th is Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States.

June is Gun Violence Awareness Month. 

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence will mark Wear Orange weekend June 4-6, and we will honor and remember the lives, families, and communities who have suffered and continue to suffer the ongoing scourge of American gun violence.

Take pictures of what brings you JOY

Plant Flowers Loved by Bees and Butterflies

I love the bee yards that are popping up in my neighborhood. Homeowners are getting the message that turf grass yards are food deserts for pollinators. Our bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and moths have been devastated by habitat loss and excess chemical use. We can all make a simple difference by planting a few plants for them.

As we celebrate World Bee Day make an effort to add some pollinator environment to your yard. Native plants are the best because they have deep roots and don’t need watering or chemicals. I don’t trust some plants from garden stores, I worry about what they could have been sprayed and treated with?? We don’t want to plant for bees and butterflies only to add more chemicals to their bodies! Shop garden shops that can answer your questions. Native plants should be chemical free. Everyday we have an impact on our community, make it positive.

The reading list below has good suggestions for bee lawns. Bee balm, wild geranium, culvers root, milkweed, cone flowers, asters, and Joe Pye weed are some of my favorites for attracting both bees and butterflies.

Bee Balm

A garden workhorse for pollinators

Joe Pye Weed

Cone flowers

Bees like yellow flowers

Native plants have deep roots.

Reading List:

6 Ways to Transform Your Lawn Into an Eco-Friendly Oasis – EcoWatch

How to Turn Your Yard Into an Ecological Oasis | YES! Magazine (yesmagazine.org)

Angelina Jolie Raises Pollinator Awareness With Bee-Covered Portrait – EcoWatch 

Pollinator Lawn – Blue Thumb

Bee Lawns | Bee Lab (umn.edu)

To Help Save Bumble Bees, Plant These Flowers in Your Spring Garden – EcoWatch

Why You Should Grow a Lawn for Bees (treehugger.com)

http://www.queenofthesun.com/get-involved/10-things-you-can-do-to-help-bees/ 

Pollinator Garden Plants and Practices | Habitat Network (yardmap.org)

Gardening for Wildlife with Native Plants (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov) 

30 Unique Plants That Attract Butterflies (treehugger.com)

Marvelous May

Marvelous May

Cheers for May! May is the queen of months. We celebrate mothers, observe baby wildlife, outdoor time and new beginnings.

I challenge you to spend a minimum of 10 minutes outside everyday during May. Take deep breaths and look for amazing changes in nature. Watch the trees change, listen and watch for birds, and look for new butterflies. Sit in the sun, go for a walk, turn off your phone and listen for the sounds of May. Appreciate the intense beauty of our Earth. Search for peace, smile and enjoy.

Don’t miss a minute of May flowers

Write a poem:

Cheers for new May life

Watch for blooms and butterflies

A black cloud rumbles

Actions for Happiness Calendar for May

Make your May Meaningful

Happy Arbor Day

Trees are strength and beauty, resilience and change

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Snags, or dead trees, also give life to wildlife and landscapes. Don’t cut them down unless they are a danger to humans or buildings.

Trees can be dead but full of life and survival. Snags are home to many plants and animals

Fungi growing on a dead tree

Birds love dead trees, and many animals rely on dead, dying or hollow-rotted trees. Woodpeckers, bats, ants and caterpillars live in snags. Woodpeckers nest in cavities excavated in snags (or dead parts of living trees) while using those same dead trees to drill for food.

Trees offer shelter and safe places to perch and watch and rest. Trees, dead and live are complete neighborhoods. Dead trees are actually teeming with life! Fallen logs and snags play a vital role in the lifecycles of hundreds of species of wildlife, providing a place to nest, rest, eat and grow. Before you cut or burn logs and trees realize it is a vital part of the neighborhood!

Many birds rest and watch in this tree

Before you cut a leafless tree. Remember it is a friend to lots of birds and wildlife.

“Today, we are able to breathe again”

Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother

“More than four in ten Americans breathe unhealthy air, with a disportionate impact on people of color” Paul Douglas

Last year on Earth Day I wrote how happy I was that because so many were staying home during the pandemic our air was cleaner. I loved it! This year we have moved to backward mode. Again exhaust fills our air. Many have breathing issues and dirty air makes their health difficult. What can we do different as we recover from the Covid pandemic and the murder of George Floyd? Let’s work so we all experience healthy breaths of air.

I am a firm believer that awareness helps people to take responsibility to do better. That is what this blog is about. So what bugs me, and what can we all do better? We need to have a better awareness of how we pollute the air what black and brown people experience just a few blocks away.

Many idle their cars in on my street in South Minneapolis as they read and talk on their cell phones. They sit in parking lots with their engines running, polluting everyone’s air. I don’t get it? Turn off your engine, save gas, and make the air cleaner for all!

Another rage is yard pit fires, Yuck, they pollute our air!

Million of tons of plastic end up in our landfills and oceans. Have you thought of how the production of plastic harms our air? Chemical plants making plastic are enormous contributors to air pollution, and often they spew chemicals polluting poorer communities. Also, some cities have garbage burners burning plastic polluting neighborhoods of people without power and without a voice. Plastic pollution is a social justice issue. Maybe if we think of plastic pollution/air pollution when we purchase plastic items we can say, “No plastic!”

See the story of plastic: The Story of Plastic (animated short) – Story of Stuff

This year for Earth Day, think of ways you might be causing air pollution: Turn off your car engine, drive less, limit yard fires, and say “No!” to single-use plastic.

We can create sustainable communities where we can breathe and live healthy lives. Let’s come together, become more aware, and work for cleaner air for all!

Reading and watching list

Pandemic pollution: Disposable masks, gloves are saving lives but ruining the environment | PBS NewsHour

Watch Story of the Bottle! – Greenpeace

Causes and Effects of Air Pollution | Go Green Academy

Air Pollution | CDC

Reasons to be Plastic-free

The plastic industry and manufacturers have made it impossible to be plastic-free. As consumers we need to hold them accountable. I call or email companies that use #7 plastic for packaging to complain about the packaging they use. #7 plastic is a composite of different plastics making it hard to recycle. Somehow #7 packaging companies, like Bob’s Red Mill, have managed to stay under the radar screen of scrutiny. Don’t purchase products in plastic that is not recyclable. My husband and I have found recyclable plastic to replace #7, but look for, and wish for alternatives for all plastic. We refill our reusable containers with bulk items at a food coop, but as you know many things are not available in bulk.

The thought of ingesting plastic and all its chemicals is upsetting, and we must stay after manufacturers to break the plastic habit. Our grandparents did just fine without so much plastic, and I think we all can too. See what John Oliver has to say below.

“Plastic really is ubiquitous,” but “for almost as long as plastics have been around, there’s been the question of what to do with them after they’re used,” John Oliver said. ” This is an urgent, growing question, too. “Half of all plastics ever made have been produced since 2005,” he said, and “a lot less plastic winds up getting recycled than you might think” — less than 9 percent in the U.S.

“The fact is, a huge amount of the plastic surrounding us isn’t recycled because it’s not really recyclable, and that means that it ends up in landfills, or burned, or in the ocean, where it breaks down into microplastics, gets eaten by fish, and can end up inside us,” Oliver said. “A recent study even estimated that an average person globally could be ingesting about a credit card’s worth of plastic into their system every week. Which kind of explains Capital One’s new slogan: ‘What’s in your stomach?'” John Oliver

Reading watching list:

Plastics recycling is 90 percent garbage, John Oliver says, but that’s not your fault and there is a fix (yahoo.com) 

Watch Story of the Bottle! – Greenpeace

Virginia Governor Takes Action on Single-Use Plastics – EcoWatch

Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act Receives National Support – Center for Biological Diversity 

 U.S. lawmakers target plastic pollution, producers in new legislation | Reuters

It’s Earth Month

Welcome to spring and the marvelous month of April. Earth Day is on April 22, and Arbor Day is on April 30. What can we all do to make April special? Small actions by many can make a big difference. So how can we all make a daily difference? Whether you have meatless days, pick up litter, leave your car at home, plant for butterflies or go plastic-free, make everyday Earth special.

earth day

Everyday Is Earth Day

By Kelly Roper

Every day is earth day,
Or at least it should be.
We should take steps every day
to save our planet, don’t you agree?

Try walking when it’s practical,
And skip driving a car.
It will help cut down emissions
And raise air quality by far.

Reuse, renew, recycle,
Think of how much you throw away.
Our earth can only hold so much trash,
One day there’ll be the devil to pay.

And when it comes to littering,
It’s not enough to clean up after yourself.
Leave places better than you find them,
And pick up litter left by someone else.

Don’t spray your garden with pesticides,
Protect the birds and the bees.
Choose natural ways of deterring pests,
That won’t carry poisons in the breeze.

These are easy things we all can do,
To protect the earth for future generations.
If we continue to ignore all the warning signs,
We’ll face sad and irreversible ramifications.

Actions for Happiness Calendar for April follows:

milkweed
A monarch butterfly on common milkweed

 

Reading List:

Facts about trees 

Climate Activist Spends More Than Year Picking Up Trash – EcoWatch     

U.S. lawmakers target plastic pollution, producers in new legislation | Reuters

Butterfly: A Life | National Geographic – Bing video

How to Attract Butterflies (joyfulbutterfly.com)

Butterfly Plants: 16 Plants To Turn Your Backyard Into A Butterfly Paradise (bloomingbackyard.com) 

Water: How to Stop Undervaluing a Precious Resource and Be Ready for the Future – EcoWatch