There is so much anxiety and frustration with our elected leaders. In August, I hope you can step back some frustration, be kind to yourself, and be kind to the people in your world. Let’s work to make things happier and kinder. Below are my actions for more kindness and happiness. Also, Action For Happiness has a new Altruistic August calendar. See below.
These are my August Actions. They will make you happy !
What is Overshoot Day? It is the day the people on earth start using more resources than the Earth can renew. In other words the last five months of the year we are living on borrowed time using more resources than the Earth can regenerate. Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when we (all of humanity) have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year. To stay even we would need 1.7 earths to live on. All countries are not equal in the amount of the earth’s resources they use. The United States is not great, using the most resources. The USA would need 5 Earths to supply their needs, Australia would need 4 Earths to meet their needs, China would need 3 Earths, and India and many other countries helps balance it out and only would need 7/10th of an Earth to meet their resource needs. Read more here.
We use the resources of 1.7 Earths.
We use more resources and services than nature can regenerate.
What about the future? I wish it were easier to solve this problem. We consume too much and waste even more. Everyday we need to think how important clean water and clean air are to our survival. Start by cutting food waste, use fewer chemicals, strive for zero waste and quality when we make purchases, and of course, drive less. If everyone does a small amount, it can add up to a lot!
The Global Footprint Network has listed the four following solution areas to address ecological overshoot:
Cities: If we reduce driving by 50 percent around the world and replace one-third of car miles with public transportation and the rest by walking and biking, we can #MoveTheDate of Overshoot Day back 12 days.
Energy: Reducing the carbon component of humanity’s Ecological Footprint by 50 percent would #MoveTheDate 93 days.
Food: If everyone in the world cut food waste in half, reduced the Footprint intensity of their diets, and consumed world-average calories, we would #MoveTheDate 38 days.
Population: If every other family in the world had one less child, we would move Overshoot Day 30 days by 2050.
What are you doing to reduce your global footprint? Today as I was grocery shopping, refilling my containers, striving for zero waste, and being plastic-free. What good ideas do you have?
A month ago I spent a couple of weeks in Germany, and was I impressed! Other Americans I talked to shared my thoughts of awe with Germany. First they take care of their infrastructure. They maintain their roads, trains, bike lanes, public transport, even restrooms reach a high standard. As I enjoyed riding trains through the countryside, I saw many solar farms and some wind farms. Renewable energy has overtaken coal consumption in Germany.
There is no litter in Germany. A twenty-five cent deposit is charged on plastic bottles. Germany leads the world in recycling. It’s just natural for Germans to be good to the Earth, and it is hopeful that when you do things right it does lead to success. Yahoo, awesome Germany!
More good news stories:
** Oklahoma has changed their mowing along highways to help the monarch butterflies.
** Starbucks and Seattle are ending their consumption of plastic straws, and Penzance, Great Britain has become a plastic-free town.
** California has already made their green energy goals for 2020.
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!