What can you do to help our birds, bees and butterflies? Can you plant some milkweed or other native plants? Can you become aware and reduce the chemicals you use? Can you learn about neonicotinoids and be sure you never purchase plants that have been treated with them? For your information, neonicotinoids have recently been banned from use by the European Union.
Yesterday I had a mourning cloak, a painted lady, a red admiral, hummingbirds, and monarch caterpillars in my yard. Milkweed and native plants make a big difference for pollinators. I am not a fan of lists because experience is better, but here are some native plant lists to get you started: https://www.nwf.org/NativePlantFinder/About and from Audubon
Planting purple cone flowers, bee balm, black-eyed Susan and milkweed are easy ways to get started. After years of trying to get milkweed to grow, I now have swamp milkweed everywhere. It has reseeded itself and thrives in my yard. Also, common milkweed and butterfly weed have sprouted up, but only a few monarch butterflies. The few monarch butterflies have a big job ahead of them, and I am still hopeful we can get their numbers to improve! If everyone does a small part, it can make a big difference!
Below is a video from PBS about monarch caterpillars, enjoy!
I love the following stories of businesses, people, and governments doing the right thing for our Earth. These stories give me hope, and I hope they inspire you, too. Click on the links to read more of the articles.
** California will require solar on all new homes!
** Fabulous news on the plastic pollution front:
* The Chicago White Socks baseball team ban straws!
Action For Happiness has a new calendar for May. I Hope your May is meaningful, and that you get outside to do something you love everyday. Going for a walk, time in my yard, and peaceful bike rides make me happy. What outside activities make you happy? Enjoy!
The Great Lakes are the largest body of fresh water in the world. This is a review of the award-winning book, Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan.
The pristine Great Lakes had always been isolated from other bodies of water, but all this changed with the building of canals in the 1800s. Then in 1959 the Saint Lawrence Seaway opened. This is a riveting account of what has happened to the Great Lakes and other lakes in the United States and Canada since the Great Lakes became an avenue of world commerce and transportation.
Death and Life is a must read for individuals that care about the quality of our water, fishermen and women, and every environmental decision maker. I was thrilled my local book club picked it to read, and excited when the New York Times/PBS Book Club chose it as well.
The author, Dan Eagan, a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has thoroughly researched and interviewed many of the decision makers and citizens involved. Why did they make the decisions they did? I was surprised how many of them were still living to tell their stories and defend their decisions. He has put their stories together to tell an interesting narrative.
Why would species from the Black Sea and Caspian Sea thrive in Lake Michigan? We have learned so much during the past thirty to fifty years about invasive species. I remember how surprised I was when I first learned about invasives. A new world opened! The learning curve has been steep for us, and even if you don’t read this book I encourage you to read about invasive species to learn the harm they do. Eagan delves into the sea lamprey, alewives, zebra mussels, coho salmon, Asian carp, and others that have thrived in this new environment, the Great Lakes, without any predators to control their numbers. Then there are the native lake trout that are native to the lakes, but they are too boring??
Fascinating was the Great Black Swamp that filtered run-off and helped keep Lake Erie clean. Like so many of the wetlands and swamps of the past, our ignorance couldn’t understand their purpose, so drainage began and we have new fertile farmland. Today the farm run-off creates the perfect conditions for toxic algae blooms threatening the drinking water taken from Lake Erie. Interesting stories continue as Egan interviews farmers, and those working to mitigate the effects of farm run-off.
The summer of 2017, a very rainy summer on Lake Superior, I was surprised by reports that for the first time Lake Michigan had better water quality than Lake Superior. The high water level of Lake Superior and the run off from the streams had caused a rusty-brown lake. You will have to read Dan Eagan’s book to discover why Lake Michigan now has cleaner water, and if this is a good thing?
Dan Egan leaves me hopeful. I think he believes, as do I, the earth is capable of healing itself to some extent if left alone to find its ecological balance. It is hopeful that Lake Huron has begun to heal, and that the white fish are adapting to eat zebra mussels. I hope a 10 year sequel is on the writing-table soon.
And finally a quote from the book, “A thing is right when it tends to promote the integrity, beauty and stability of the biotic community.” Aldo Leopold
A link to Dan Egan’s appearance on the PBS NewsHour:
“Huge news out of the UK today that major supermarket chains and companies are committing to a five-year plan to eliminate plastic pollution, especially in packaging. The video in this article also contains some great tips for personally moving beyond plastics.” Earth911
The Minnesota Legislature is debating preemption laws to keep cities from banning plastic bags and Styrofoam containers. Other legislatures throughout the country are prohibiting cities from banning plastic. In the United States we can’t depend on lawmakers to do what is best for our earth, so we must responsibly choose to do the right thing ourselves. See poster below. I would add to this Bristle poster, Never purchase products in Styrofoam.
If we continue the path we are on with plastic pollution, we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. Business lobbyists are working hard to make sure we use plastic products. Laws are being passed to stop cities and counties from banning plastic bags and plastic/Styrofoam containers. We are in a sad place when the lobbyists have more power than the common good of everyone. These lobbyists make me more determined than ever to boycott their awful plastic products.
What are some ideas to reduce your plastic use? Here is an excellent article from Minnesota Public Radio(MPR) on what you can do about plastic pollution. When a plastic product comes your way, ask yourself: Do I really need this, or can I use something else? Chances are you can say no, and yes.
Each one of us can make a huge difference. On Earth Day 2018 set a simple goal for yourself, something that is easy to do. Maybe just keeping your reusable bags in the trunk of your car, or refilling olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottles at your local grocery. Maybe refusing to purchase anything in Styrofoam or never again using a plastic straw. You know your situation, what works for you?
Make sure your environmental goal is easy to accomplish, and something you have a passion or interest to accomplish. Remember, our youth want a livable future.
There are always new things you can purchase in bulk, instead of plastic. My newest way to avoid plastic using bulk hemp seeds to make hemp milk . Trying to reduce one plastic container at a time!
The weather becomes weirder with everyday, right before our eyes. The extremes are becoming the normal. In the past 10 years we have experienced historic floods/rain, historic droughts, historic snowand historic warming. Denying climate change is not an option, nor is the affect humans are having on our earth. The weather is a combination of many things. The winds, location of the sun, the warming oceans, the chemicals we spew into the air/land, too much dark green in the Arctic and many other factors. How much do humans on earth have to do with all of this?
Somehow we need to put things into balance. When we make purchases, put gas in our tanks, eat beef, waste food, and use chemicals, we should ask ourselves, “Is there a better way to do this?”