My Four Thoughts of Hope

The sun sets on 2015
The sun sets on 2015
 
 

2015 has been a good year for some environmental initiatives. While there is still a long way to go.  I have four stories from 2015 that create hope for the future of our planet.

  1. Microbeads: Congress passed and President Obama signed legislation banning microbeads from products. This is huge for our lakes, streams and oceans!  http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2015/12/obama_signs_ban_on_microbead_p.html
  2. Renewable Energy:  I have been thrilled many times this year as I read about new solar installations. Both wind and solar have entered the big leagues of energy. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/12/24/why-2015-may-be-remembered-as-a-transformative-year-for-how-we-get-energy/
  3. GMOs: Large manufacturers are starting to reject GMO ingredients.  While so far it might be just talk, it is a big change, thanks to the voice of the consumer! http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-food-gmo-analysis-idUSBREA1H1G420140218
  4. Paris Climate Agreement: Thanks to President Obama, President Hollande and the French negotiators we have an incredible beginning to deal with climate change. http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/12/13/npr-2-degrees-100-billion-the-world-climate-agreement-by-the-numbers

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Climatarian, A New Resolution!

Lentil Stew for Meatless Monday
Lentil Stew for Meatless Monday (lentils from Montana, carrots and onions grown in Minnesota)

My series on reducing waste continues, #31daysoflesswaste

What is a Climatarian?

A Climatarian diet involves choosing what you eat based on the carbon footprint of the food, and using your power as a consumer to drive down the production of beef and lamb which have the biggest impact on our climate.  A climatarian is about eating local food to reduce transportation and reducing food waste.

Climatarian defined in NYT’s top food words 2015: http://nyti.ms/1SZ0jFc see http://bit.ly/goclimatarian for more info

What on Earth is a climatarian?

http://www.climates.network/climatarian

https://health4earth.com/meatless-mondays/

My easy suggestions to become a Climatarian

  • Celebrate Meatless Monday, and a few other days also
  • Shop food co-ops and eat locally grown foods.  Even in December I can find foods  grown in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
  • Walk or take the bus shopping, and grow and preserve your own food
  • Eliminate beef and reduce cheese consumption
  • Compost all food waste

 

Entertaining? Three Easy Ways to Cut Landfill Waste

Dr Seuss
Dr Seuss

My series, 31 days of less waste continues. Three easy ways to cut landfill waste this week:
** Always use real plates, cups, glasses and silverware.

If you lack enough real dishes

Use real dishes
Use real dishes

for your party or dinner, borrow from a friend or relative. The quality of your party improves 100% even if everything doesn’t match. It will still make your event special. Using paper/plastic plates and glasses creates lots of landfill waste.

 

** A very wasteful trend has developed. Often the only water served at parties is water in small plastic bottles. Serve municipal water in real glasses. A great way to cut waste and save money is to drink water from public water systems. Run tap water through a Brita or other water filter and you have water better than bottled water. Water filters can be recycled at Terracycle.com

No need for plastic bottles!
No need for plastic bottles!

** Get in the habit of using reusable table napkins. Make your own napkins from remnant pieces

Cloth napkins are the best!
Cloth napkins are the best!

or purchase napkins from reuse stores. Use your imagination, wash cloths or bandanas also make good napkins. They don’t need to match, I like a contrasting colors look.

 

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons all adds up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills. (EPA)

ECO Gift Wraping

Gifts in reusable cloth bags
Gifts in reusable cloth bags

Day 13, of 31 days of less waste

Below ideas from Yogajournal.com

Have you ever waded knee-deep through the detritus of discarded paper, tissue, and ribbon after a gift-opening frenzy and thought, “What a waste”? Well, you’re right. According to Use Less Stuff, during the holiday season Americans throw away 25 percent more trash than usual—or 25 million tons of garbage. What’s more, many wrapping materials are not recyclable because they have a high metal content

6 Eco-Friendly Ways to Wrap Gifts

  • Furoshiki is a type of traditional Japanese wrapping using cloth. Take any square of cloth—a bandana, a scarf, or even a cut-up shirt or pair of jeans—lay it out in a diamond shape, and center the gift on it. Flip the southern corner of fabric up over the gift, tucking the cloth under if necessary, and bring the north corner over the top and let any extra material hang. Then tie the east and west corners at the top of the gift.
  • Decorate a paper bag with stencil or crayon.
  • Use an out-of-date map or some sheet music.
  • Recycle vintage containers, such as cigar, shoe, or hat boxes.
  • Incorporate environmentally friendly items, such as raffia, string, or strips of cotton or silk, in lieu of synthetic ribbon.
  • Use natural gift-box fillers, such as leaves, straw, pine needles, or shredded recycled paper scented with a few drops of essential oil.

My favorites for wrapping gifts are:

My husband's gift wrapping
My husband’s gift wrapping

** Use washable, reusable shopping bags as gift bags

** I reuse the gift bags from last year for this year’s gifts.

** Use light hand towels or cloth napkins.

** Use wrapping paper made of recycled materials

http://www.yogajournal.com

https://www.bridgingthegap.org/using-less-stuff/

Surprise of the Year/Lake Superior

Lake Superior in winter, Is this a thing of the past?
Lake Superior in winter, Is ice a thing of the past?

Lake Superior a Climate Change Antenna

Over 90% of global warming is in the oceans.  A decades long research on 235 lakes shows that, “Lake Superior is one of the more rapidly warming lakes” The big lake is warming even faster than the oceans!  My unscientific observation is that it seems like the days the wind off the lake are fewer.  But that happens when warmer winds from the west and south dominate! Also part of our warming climate.

So why is it important?

1. Toxic clouds of algae can bloom.  And run-off from the land makes this worse!

2. Fish populations are altered, which has been going on for a while!

3. The worst: Invasive species can find a new home!

More reasons to reduce you carbon footprint.

See the story below:

http://www.startribune.com/world-s-lakes-are-warming-up/362719881/

Sunset on Lake Superior
Sunset on Lake Superior

Cut food waste day 12, Meatless Monday

My series, 31 days of less waste continues:

I love risoto
I love risotto

Clean out the Refrigerator Risotto
Food waste is a waste of energy. Growing shipping and packaging of products takes lots of energy. What are your ways to reduce food waste?
I have always been intimidated by risotto, but after my recent trip to Eastern Europe and many delicious meals, I knew I could become good at making risotto.
This is my vegan, Meatless Monday recipe. Serve with fruit, salad and a veggie patty. Top with whatever nuts you might have, the garnish of cheese will make it vegetarian, not vegan.

Clean out the Refrigerator Risotto
– 1 small onion or leftover onion
– 1 cup rice (I use brown, white rice is easier and faster)
– 2 cups of water or more
– 1 clove garlic (optional)
– vegetables or leftovers to use up (I used collard greens , parsley, celery, and carrots)
– 1 tsp. salt
– garnish with nuts (optional)
– oil for browning onions and veggies. I use olive or coconut.
Process:
Stir fry onion in oil until it starts to brown, add vegetables and continue to stir fry for few minutes, next add rice for about 3 minutes and salt. Throw in any other left overs. Next, I add about 1/2 cup of warm water, stirring every few minutes, and adding more warm water as the water is absorbed. When the rice is soft and creamy, it is ready to serve. About 30-35 minutes.
Easier method:
After the rice and vegetables are slightly browned add the 2 cups water and place in an oven dish in the oven @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Erase Plastic Pollution

Do we want water that looks like this?
Do we want waterways that looks like this?

My series on less waste continues:

We can all do something about this tremendous influx of trash and I will be posting ideas for 31 days on how to reduce trash and waste:

Plastic, what an amazing and awful product at the same time.! It is cheap and it is light.  Unfortunately, it has become an enormous environmental problem.  Many lack the personal responsibility to get single-use plastic bottles and bags to the recycle bin.  Many developing nations I visit seem oblivious to it, except in tourist areas! Days 6 through 11 of #31daysofreducingwaste are going to focus on how we can have less plastic pollution.

So what is the problem with plastic? Many say the materials in plastic cause cancer. Plastic will never dissolve, but will break into thousands of pieces of litter. The plastic in the oceans will be here on earth for hundreds of years and it will be found in the intestines of many fish, turtles and birds.  Plastic creates a terrible waste and litter problem.  According to the http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/tag/plastic/   If left unchecked, there could be 250 million tons of plastic in the ocean by 2025 — about one pound of plastic for every three pounds of fish. We can’t let this happen.

Avoid plastic, fill your glass or metal bottles with liquid

Avoid plastic, fill your glass or metal bottles with liquid

** The best way to reduce plastic trash is NOT to drink bottled water. Bring a reusable water bottle to work, school, and for all your adventures.

**Avoid plastic bags. Always bring your reusable shopping bags.

Shopping bags made from recycled plasstic
Shop with reusable bags

** How can you avoid baggies?  I love these wpid-wp-1418350258136.jpegcompostable wax paper bags

** Reuse and recycle all plastic bags.

Please recycle plastic bags at grocery stores!
Please recycle plastic bags at grocery stores!

* Reduce packaging: Try to purchase items with no packaging or packaging that can be recycled.

 

 

** Never purchase items that contain microbeads :  https://health4earth.com/2014/07/16/what-products-contain-microbeads/

 

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons all adds up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills. (Source: EPA)

http://washburn.mpls.k12.mn.us/washburn_green_team_video.html  This is a great video made by my local high school students on reducing trash.