Sweep Up Pick UP

Clean a storm drain week!

The official Adopt-a-Drain Fall Leaf Cleanup Week kicks off  Monday, October 11th, and runs through Sunday, October 17th.

Leaves in the street plug storm drains and pollute our waterways.



Storm drains feed directly into our local lakes and rivers, unfiltered, so it’s important to keep them clear for cleaner and healthier waterways. Fall is an especially important time to keep the leaves that are collecting on our streets and sidewalks out of our storm drains. While they might be “natural” debris they become pollution when large quantities hit the water, break down, and become food for algae. 

poster for clean water

Keep our waterways clean!

Learn more at: https://adopt-a-drain.org/

Optimistic October

The World Belongs To Optimists

The United States is at peace for the first time in twenty years, people are getting vaccinated, the drought is subsiding and the fall colors are stunning. There is a lot to be thankful for and that gives hope and optimism for the future. Smile, take three deep breaths, spend time in nature and enjoy each day!

Smiling is good for your health! October 1, is World Smile Day.

The Actions For Happiness people have their Optimistic October Calendar below. I would choose one idea a week from their suggestions or create your own activities that make you optimistic.

Some special days to celebrate in October:

October 1, World Smile Day

October 2, International Day of Nonviolence

October 5, National Be Nice Day

October 6, National walk/bike to school day

October 10, World Mental Health Day

October 11, Indigenous Peoples’s Day

October 24, United Nation’s Day

October 31, Of course, Halloween!

Have a hopeful October

The Cost of Bottled Water

We are at the end of World Clean Up Month. As we pick up trash and works to keep our Earth clean, I always wonder, “What can we all do to keep the Earth cleaner and healthier?”

Bring your reusable water container.

reusable containers

My reuseable lunch containers

Today I walked by a car that had it’s back seat full of bottled water, and too often I see people with grocery carts full of bottled water. Why not purchase a large reusable container and fill that at a store? You could save hundreds of plastic bottles from ending in the landfill and live a more sustainable life.

I have confidence in our public water supply. I know where I live it is safe!

What are the costs of bottles water to our environment? A study done in Spain answers this question. Recycling and water in every community is different so we can’t make big generalizations, but in the United States recycling of plastic is only 9 tp 11% which makes bottled water awful for the environment. Also, the production of plastic uses fossil fuels and pollutes our air.

The study found that the environmental toll of bottled water was 1,400 to 3,500 times higher than that of tap water.

Another problem with bottled water is that companies like Nestle take free public water from aquifers to bottle and sell to the public. This is happening on Lake Superior right now (Lake Superior is not for sale). What a racket! Maine has passed a law to make companies responsible for recycling their products instead of the taxpayers. Read about it here Maine Will Make Companies Pay for Recycling. Here’s How It Works. – The New York Times (nytimes.com) 

Read the Spain study here:

What Is the Environmental Cost of Bottled Water? – EcoWatch  

https://www.lakesuperiornotforsale.com/home

https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/blog/2021/9/10/watch-story-of-plastic Watch the excellent documentary, The Story of Plastic.

World Cleanup Day

World Cleanup Day addresses the issue of waste and litter across the globe. On September 18, the international day of service gets communities involved to keep their own neighborhoods clean and sustainable.

We are all in this together. Let’s keep her clean!

So much of litter is plastic waste that easily flows into our rivers and streams, and then all the way to the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.

Plastic litter is harmful to wildlife!

This is an productive day to get out and pick up trash. Wear gloves, bring a bag and get outside to pick up the trash in your neighborhood or choose an area you know needs to be picked up.

Good luck, be safe, watch for traffic, and enjoy your outside time! Thank You!

poster for clean water

World Cleanup Day 2021  

September Peace

Being kind to others, and being kind to the Earth are actions for self-care!

The best weather of the year!

September is a huge leap from August. It is the end of meteorological summer, and after too much extreme weather, fires, flooding and a sad pandemic, many are ready to hope for a better month. Actions for Happiness ideas are below.

September has some of the best weather of the year, and it is a perfect time to be outside watching for changes and appreciating the beauty of each day. It is a big month for bird and butterfly migration.

The Actions for Happiness group has ideas below for September self-care. Biking or walking are the ultimate in self-care. I challenge you to have outside time every day in September.

Peace

Take three breaths for peace

We can’t control the violent weather, but we can work for peace. On your daily walks, I hope you will take three deep breaths for Peace. Collective actions for peace are good self-care. If we all imagine a more peaceful world the earth will be become more peaceful and more kind.

Ideas for September self-care:

I wish you a September of peace and kindness!

Pollinator Passion

“Nature is a way to escape to a healing place!” John Caddy

First there were four, then there were seven, now there are over ten monarch butterflies playing tag in my yard. This has been going on for two months. Monarchs are passionate for meadow blazing star (Liatris), and they get excited when the blazing star is blooming.  Watching them makes one happy.

Monarch butterflies love blazing star!

Our world is in crisis and we need to find ways to lessen stress on our Earth.  We know droughts, incredible heat, fires, floods, and smoky air are causing people, trees and wildlife to move to safer places or even die. Human behavior has helped to create this awful situation, and new paradigms are needed to lessen our carbon footprint. We already know that the world needs us to drive less, use less water, eat less meat, buy less, and reduce our plastic footprint.

What can we do more of that is actually good? Making a healthy change to your yard by planting native plants is a positive action you can take. Deep-rooted native plants are a win-win for our earth! They do not need chemicals and they do not need watering.

The native plants growing in my yard have produced way beyond my expectations during this harsh summer environment. Because deep-rooted plants don’t need to be watered and don’t use chemicals they create a healthier environment, and an important way to help our Earth.  Planting earth friendly plants will bring more birds and butterflies to visit your yard.  A pollinator garden brings joy many months of the year, but especially in July and August when the pollinators are crazy over nectaring plants.

How do you create this healing place for yourself and the birds and butterflies in your neighborhood? Remove some hostas and turf grass and replace them with native deep-rooted plants. You can create your own eco-system of life in your own yard. Start simple!

milkweed

Start by planting some milkweek and bee balm

and purple cone flowers.

Every yard should have purple cone flowers

Native gardens are an eco-system of their own creating food and joy for pollinators and humans alike! Create your own escape from the world by using deep-rooted plants to invite birds, butterflies and other wildlife into your space. Many birds raise their babies on the insects and caterpillars they find in the pollinator garden. Birds eat seed from the native plants all year. The goldfinch are already eating away on the bee balm, cone flowers and brown eye Susan.

hummingbirds love cardinal flowers

Cardinal flowers will bring humming-birds to your yard, but cardinal flower is not drought tolerant.

Reading list:

Study: Birds Are Linked to Happiness Levels – EcoWatch 

Wild Ones Introduces Free, Native Garden Designs – Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes

Earth Overshoot Day Moves Forward By Nearly a Month – EcoWatch

How Non-Native Plants Are Contributing to a Global Insect Decline – Yale E360 

Could Las Vegas’s Grass Removal Policies Alter the Western US Drought-Scape? | Sierra Club

Pollinator-Friendly Alternative to Hosta and Daylily – Monarch GardensCornus alternifolia Pagoda Dogwood | Prairie Moon Nursery

Weed garden wins RHS gold at Tatton Park flower show – BBC News 

Soft Landings – Bee and Pollinator Books by Heather Holm (pollinatorsnativeplants.com)

Top US scientist on melting glaciers: ‘I’ve gone from being an ecologist to a coroner’ | Climate change | The Guardian    

Every Action Matters

Personal responsibility is needed for clean air.

 This has been an unusual summer in an unusual world. Wild fires, pandemic. drought and excess heat dominate the conversation and the media. Many now check the morning air quality just like they check the weather. A local weather expert says there is no normal anymore. In Minnesota and Wisconsin we are used to fresh Canadian air, but more and more we are getting dirty wildfire smoke!

Many of us have no idea how we should change our behavior when the air quality is poor. Lawn mowers, leaf blowers, fire pits, and car trips continue to pollute the already dirty air. Hennepin County has some suggestions below.

Dirty air can make cases of Covid-19 and other respiratory diseases much worse. Be careful, and wear a mask!

I am a firm believer in community health and working together for healthy communities. We can all take more personal responsibility for clean air and clean water. Many minority communities deal with polluted air on a daily basis, and have lived with bad air for many years. Wildfires don’t discriminate like chemical plants, hazard waste dumps, and garbage burners. We all experience the smoky air, and see what breathing is like in other polluted places. Clean air is necessary for everyone, do your part!

Everyone can help

Our actions count, make them positive!

The largest county(Hennepin)  in Minnesota posted ideas to manage bad air days.. I think it is worthwhile.

Below is from Hennepin County:

Stay healthy during air quality alerts

In July, the Twin Cities area experienced air quality alerts due to an increase in fine particles from Canadian wildfire smoke. This made the air unhealthy for sensitive groups, which includes those with asthma, heart or lung disease, older adults, children, and people doing extended physical activity outside.

Stay healthy

Everyone should take precautions when the air quality is unhealthy:

Take it easy, listen to your body, and limit, change, or postpone your physical activity. Stay away from local sources of air pollution, like busy roads and wood fires, if possible. If you have asthma, follow your asthma action plan and keep quick relief medicine handy.

Reduce pollution

There are also steps people can take to reduce pollution to avoid contributing more to unhealthy air quality. These include:

Reduce driving by combining trips, avoiding unnecessary idling, carpooling, and walking, biking, or taking public transit. Postpone backyard fires. Postpone the use of gasoline powered lawn and garden equipment. If possible, invest in electric lawn equipment. Learn more about air quality and how to stay healthy during poor air quality days on the Hennepin County Climate Action website.
Reading list:

Minnesota’s air quality is poor. Here’s how to stay healthy on bad air days. | MinnPost 

Wildfire smoke, poor air quality taint Minnesota summer (sahanjournal.com) 

Air Quality | Wisconsin DNR

5 Big Takeaways From the New UN Climate Report (gizmodo.com) 5 Big Takeaways From the New UN Climate Report (gizmodo.com)

‘Nowhere to run’: UN report says global warming nears limits – StarTribune.com

August Challenge

 

“Being kind and warm-hearted is the secret to a happier life and a better world for everyone.” Dalai Lama

Last night as I was purchasing groceries, the young clerk said to me, “I have had such a good day, all the customers have been so nice!”

August is here, and this month subscribes to a kindness challenge.

The Actions for Happiness group has a calendar for Altruistic August with lots of ideas. See their ideas below.

If you still haven’t Your first action a kindness is to get vaccinated from Covid The collective health of all our communities is important. Get vaccinated!

Then…Our Earth needs kindness too. During August I challenge you to drive less, recycle more, buy less, and reuse more.

Make your August into double challenge days! If everyone does a little, it adds up to a lot. Thank you.

Here’s my list of things to do:

Meatless Monday, Plastic-free Tuesday, Walking Wednesday, Transit Thursday, Zero food-waste Friday, litter pick-up Saturday, and finally, Smiling Sunday.

Have a Fun and thoughtful August, Actions for Happiness calendar follows:

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