Superior Views, October 2021

Ruff grouse scare me as they fly up as I walk into my yard.   A flock of juncos fly into our yard, robins are devouring the Mt. Ash berries, yellow-rumped warblers are diving to eat flies off our house. The nuthatch and blue jays are emptying the feeder, the goldfinch are munching on something in a dead white pine, and woodpeckers are busy making their marks on trees. Yes, it is October on the big lake and we are all getting ready for the winter months ahead. All the energy and activity makes us happy.

For many days thick Fog hung thick over the lake signaling the drought has subsided and rain is again common. After many dark days the sun is welcome

It has been an unusual Superior Views summer with a sun that seemed more intense than usual, and winds off the lake that were calmer than most summers. Sadly, wild fires from Canada and Northern Minnesota polluted the air quality for weeks at a time.

The warmer than normal summer changed the pattern of the plants and trees. The leaves turned earlier than normal and the flowers bloomed weeks earlier than usual. Actually, I think the native plants and flowers enjoyed the warm temperatures and milder winds, but the trees suffered with the heat and drought.

Lake Superior is not for sale! A local resident is trying to sell ground water for profit.

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.

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

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

“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

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

 

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