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

 

The Elegant Mourning Cloak

Mourning Cloak, often the first butterfly to appear

March 14, is National Learn About Butterflies Day. Have you seen a butterfly yet? A perfect reason to go for a walk, to look for butterflies. On sunny March days it is possible to see Mourning Cloaks even in northern North America and southern Canada.
The Mourning Cloak is often the first to appear and lives in most of North America. This large ( 3-4 inch wingspan)) elegant velvety butterfly is a real treasure. They often overwinter hidden in bark or woodpiles. Tree sap is their food source, and willows, elms, birch and aspens are hosts for their caterpillars. Mourning Cloaks often live longer than other butterflies with a life span of 10 to 11 months, and even after sleeping all winter they are beautiful. Let me know if you spot one.

Reading and watching list:

Butterfly: A Life | National Geographic – Bing video

How to Attract Butterflies (joyfulbutterfly.com) 

National Learn About Butterflies Day – Things Everyone Should Know (nationaldaystoday.com)

10 Fascinating Facts About Butterflies (thoughtco.com)  

10 Tips for Attracting Butterflies to Your Backyard (thoughtco.com)

March Motivation

mindful march
Spread kindness and touch the earth

May March sunshine on your shoulders make you happy!

Happy March! Be kind to the Earth, be kind to yourself, and be kind to others! The Actions for Happiness calendar ( below) has many good suggestions to be more mindful and spread kindness.

March brings me joy. The longer days and the hope of spring are motivators to get outside and notice the changes, even if it is just melting snow. Everyday the outdoor world is waiting to be explored, your own neighborhood is perfect. Even 5 minutes of mindful observation will lighten your mood. Breathe, smell the earth, let the sun, rain and snow tickle your face, touch the wind, talk to the trees, hear the sunrise/night fall, smile and be kind.

This March pay attention to how you can reduce your carbon footprint: Can you reduce idling your car or drive less? Can you eat less meat and waste less food? How can you reduce the waste and plastic you generate? Can you buy less things and be a smarter consumer? Just doing a little bit can make a positive difference. Thank you and good luck!

Reading List:

Embrace Winter challenge: Go bird-watching or stargazing – StarTribune.com 

Making ourselves worthy of our vaccine – StarTribune.com 

UN Releases Scientific Blueprint to Address Climate Emergencies – EcoWatch

Sounds of Silence: The Extinction Crisis Is Taking Away the Earth’s Music – EcoWatch 

Enjoy many good suggestions below to have a Mindful March:

be mindful
Be mindful of your footprint on Earth

The Challenge of Plastic

Do the best you can until you know better, then do better” Maya Angelou

 

Covid-19 has been a plastic disaster. As we climb out of this abyss we must take single-use plastic seriously. We also need to hold companies accountable for bad packaging.

Why as taxpayers and citizens are we paying the price of this environmental disaster of plastic while the creators of this packaging have no responsibility? The landfills in the county where I live are full, and plastic trash can last for hundreds of years, maybe forever!  What are the manufacturers of this plastic thinking other than profit? As consumers we are also at fault. If we keep buying this plastic packaging they will keep making it!

July is plastic-free month
Work to reduce your plastic footprint

How can we all reduce our landfill trash? Surveying my garbage I find I have way too much plastic that cannot be recycled, and most of it is # 7 plastic that cannot be recycled.   Why would companies use plastic that can’t be recycled? I decided to ask them. I sent an emails or telephoned Wyman’s Blueberries, Bob’s Red Mill, Morning Star and Gardein.  A few companies admitted they wished their  packaging was better, but it was a freshness and a cost issue to stay competitive. What about the costs to the environment and our health? 

#7 plastic is a mixture of different plastics and it is designed to make it hard to know what it contains. It can contain harmful chemicals like BPA. Don’t purchase it, and don’t purchase any plastic that can’t be recycled!

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 

Also choose reusable masks and gloves!

Bob’s Red Mill was the most disappointing of the companies I contacted. They sell lots of products, many that are hard to find, and have a monopoly on some products. Bob’s has a trusted reputation of being  healthy and sustainable. I am sad they use awful  # 7 packaging, and at our house we won’t purchase their products or any #7 plastic until their packaging improves.

Please recycle plastic bags at grocery stores!

The good news is that by being a smarter shopper it is possible to find items that are packaged in recyclable #4 plastic. These #4 bags need to be dropped off at grocery stores for store recycling. They should not be placed with your normal plastic recycling because they disable the sorting machines.

health4earth
Bring your own reusable bags.

Lets hold plastic producers accountable and avoid harmful plastic. It is always best to reuse bags and containers when possible, but sadly that often is not an option. However, with new awareness we can do better, one plastic item at a time.

Reading list:

Tips & tricks for grocery shopping with less waste (plasticfreetuesday.com)

Solving Packaging

Virginia moves closer to ban plastic foam containers | Environment | rappnews.com 

Action item: Can you join me and take action demanding President Biden act on plastics? Click here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/president-biden-be-a-plasticfreepresident?source=email&