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

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