Plastic Free July

Welcome to Plastic Free July

Be healthier and avoid the chemicals contained in plastic!

Plastic Free July is about creating awareness about our plastic problem and to encourage individuals to move to a plastic-free lifestyle. Working together we can make a difference to reduce our plastic use and create a world free of plastic pollution.

Other than being light weight, plastic is not a good product. It is made of fossil fuels, and the production of plastic creates air pollution. It pollutes our waterways and land. Plastic also contains toxic chemicals which can poison our food and health. https://azchemistry.com/list-of-chemicals-in-plastic

Plastic particles have been found in the air we breathe and the water we drink. Plastic has been found in our blood, lungs, and the clothes we wear and food we eat. A study says we eat a credit card of plastic a week. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/study-finds-we-eat-a-credit-card-worth-of-plastic-every-week/ Doesn’t this make you want to reduce your plastic?

Plastic reduction is not easy, start small with one thing to eliminate. I have 4 ideas for your #plasticfreeJuly: Start your #plasticfree month by deciding to bring your own bags and decide “no plastic bags” or use a reusable water bottle and choose not to purchase bottled water or soda. Or decide every bit of plastic you purchase must be recyclable (a lot is not), and then make sure it is recycled. Maybe, bare purchase your produce or meat without plastic. You know what plastic you use. Look at the plastic waste you create, what can you eliminate? Good Luck!

I challenge you to a July without plastic bags or plastic bottles.

States and Countries are changing the discussion on plastic:

Maine shifts the cost of recycling and trash to the manufacturers. Shifting the Costs of Recycling to Manufacturers, Not Consumers | Sierra Club

Landmark legislation in California will reduce single-use plastic by 25% over the next ten years. The ambitious law requires at least 30% of plastic items sold or bought in California are recyclable by 2028 and economic responsibility falls to producers. It’s the first state in the US to approve such sweeping restrictions. Guardian

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-59357222  Ban on single-use moves forward in England

London theatre to ban visitors from bringing single-use plastic bottles | Royal Court theatre | The Guardian

Recycling Myth of the Month: Those numbered symbols on single-use plastics do not mean ‘you can recycle me’ – Oceana   

2022-tips-to-use-less-plastic | Choose to Reuse (hennepin.us) 

June Justice

Do something kind!

We live in an unjust world. Children are shot for being at school, shoppers are shot buying groceries, and whole countries are under siege because leaders are full of lies and visions of power. Poor countries are suffering from climate change created by wealthy countries. We live in an unjust world

Justice and Truth!

We must work for justice and truth. As a civilization we will not survive if we don’t work harder for justice and electing leaders who speak the truth and do not spew hate.

We must do more to keep our children safe, and gun violence should be an issue Americans vote on, only then things will change!

Gun violence in America kills more children than any other cause. This is not a civilized society! All countries have mental health issues, but the United States needs the gun restrictions that other countries have managed to pass. See information from John’s Hopkins below.

Be kind

Make an effort to spread kindness every day! Kindness creates a ripple for more kindness!

From John’s Hopkins University:

“Ten people shopping for groceries in Buffalo were killed in a racist act of gun violence. The next day, worshippers at a California church were shot in another racist incident. Last week, tragedy struck again, but this time in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where 21 people, including 19 students and 2 teachers were killed in a mass shooting.

All are tragic reminders of why we need lawmakers to implement gun violence prevention policies that can prevent this needless loss of life.

As the new Center for Gun Violence Solutions – formed from the recent merger of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence and the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy – we are continuing to fight for evidence-based policies to reduce mass shootings including firearm purchaser licensing, firearm removal laws such as extreme risk protection orders, and bans on large capacity magazines.” John’s Hopkins University

https://www.everytown.org/

This is an excellent speech: https://www.nbcnews.com/now/video/watch-president-biden-s-full-speech-addressing-gun-control-after-recent-mass-shootings-141353029701

Good suggestions for working for community health and a kinder world:

Leave Those Violets

Beautiful violets are popping up all over our yards, and gardeners either love or hate them. I am a lover of violets. My love affair started when I learned they were the host plant to the fritillary butterfly. How could violets be a fritillary host plant? The timing of these butterflies and the blooming violets were so mismatched. This post is to try to explain how important violets are to the fritillary butterfly.

Violets are the only host plant for the fritillary butterfly.

During the past month millions of blue violets have been pulled out of gardens and lawns. It is unfortunate because the overwintering caterpillar of the fritillary butterfly is just climbing out of its winter leaf letter hiding place looking for violets to sustain their life cycle. The fritillary caterpillar will eat only one thing, its host plant—violets.

The fritillary caterpillars emerge out of the leaf litter where they have wintered, into a few weeks of munching on violets. The caterpillars eat at night so we don’t see them. Next, the caterpillar forms a secretive well-hidden chrysalis, and a few weeks later a beautiful fritillary will evolve from its chrysalis.

Fritillary on thistle

What do these beautiful butterflies’ nectar on? Not violets, but the fritillary’s preferred native nectar plants include milkweeds, Joe Pyes, native thistles, coneflowers, and wild bergamot (bee balm) Plant these native plants to keep the new butterflies in your yard!

After mating, the female fritillary looks for violets to lay her eggs on or near. These eggs grow into caterpillars that will overwinter in the leaf litter surrounding the violet. The caterpillar wakes up around the time the spring violets emerge and the cycle begins again.

I think the best way to create fritillary habitat is to have a dedicated spot in your yard where violets can thrive. Maybe a place where you can allow the leaf litter to stay. Also, creating a bee lawn is a wonderful way to sustain these pleasant violets and the fritillary butterflies too. https://extension.umn.edu/landscape-design/planting-and-maintaining-bee-lawn

Make May Meaningful

Working together, if everyone does a small part it can add up to a big whole.

May is an exciting month. The days are getting longer, and after a cold spring the changes in nature will be enormous and fast. I hope you can get outside every day and enjoy the beauty of the plants, birds, and butterflies of our planet.

Early blooming native plants. Enjoy!

If you breathe, you should care about clean air. The wild fires have begun, and people are driving their cars, using lawn mowers, blowers and spreading chemicals. All these things contribute to dirty air.

How can we make May meaningful? You can choose to do some of these things to help create clean air for all of us.

-Never idle your car engine. Turn off your car when waiting or using your phone. Idle Threat: Turn Off Your Engine If You’re Waiting 10+ Seconds – Emagazine.com

-Participate in No Mow May No Mow May: 8 Reasons to Let Your Lawn Grow This Month – Bob VIla

-Plant natives and don’t use chemicals on your lawn. The Power of Trees – Health4earth

-Reduce your plastic footprint. The production of plastic pollutes our air, and plastic sheds chemical into our bodies and air. The burning of plastic in garbage burners creates more pollution! What is Microfibers Pollution and Why is It Bad? – Ocean Clean Wash 

-May Ukraine find peace. Take three breaths for peace in Ukraine.

-Find meaningful activities at the Actions for Happiness calendar:

Peace for Ukraine

The Power of Trees

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth.” Herman Hesse

Are you planting trees on this Arbor Day weekend?

Trees are fascinating in every season.

A resting place for birds.

Every tree is unique, and some species are more beneficial to wildlife than others. Always try to plant trees native to your area. https://www.nwf.org/NativePlantFinder/Plants https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/trees/native-trees.html

Oak trees are the best for wildlife. Many species of animals, birds, butterflies and insects use oak trees for food and shelter. Entomologist Doug Tallamy says native oaks are the most powerful of all for our environment. oaks: the most powerful plant of all, with doug tallamy – A Way To Garden

Trees do a lot for us. The invigorating feel we get when out in nature improves our health. Trees help clean the air, capture carbon, create homes, shelter and food for wildlife. Trees stop erosion, help manage flooding, and their shade can help cool our homes and our bodies!

Trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and store carbon in their wood. The older the tree, the more climate benefits it provides. The shade from trees also lessens the need for cooling in buildings, which reduces carbon dioxide and other pollutants from power plants.

For example, an oak tree with a 20-inch diameter – big enough that an adult could barely wrap their arms around – reduces carbon in the atmosphere by about 1,000 pounds annually. The energy that tree saves is enough to charge your smartphone about 55,000 times!

Trees provide many additional benefits. That same tree near a single-family home provides overall benefits of about $200 per year by increasing the property value, conserving electricity, intercepting and filtering stormwater, and improving air quality. Imagine the benefits multiplying for each tree in your neighborhood! Hennepin County

Learn more about the climate fighting power of trees and find a list of trees that can thrive into the future on Hennepin County’s Climate Action website.

How does climate change threaten birds, and how does planting natives help?

“Our warming world poses profound challenges to conservation. Audubon’s report “Survival By Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink,” published in October 2019, found that as many as 389 out of 604 bird species in North America could be at risk of extinction due to rising temperatures. Learn more at climate.audubon.org. The report showed that in order to protect birds, we need to reduce the emissions that cause the warming and protect the places on the ground that birds need now and in the future. Planting native grasses, trees, and shrubs does both. First, replacing lawns with native plants lowers the carbon produced and water required to maintain them. And native gardens also help birds be as strong as possible in the face of the climate threat—by providing food, shelter and protection. Native plant patches—no matter how small—can help bird populations be more resilient to the impacts of a warming world.” Audubon.org

Reading list:

10 Soccer Fields of Tropical Primary Forests Were Lost Every Minute in 2021 – EcoWatch

Oaktober: The Importance of Oak Trees – Nature’s Perspective Landscaping (naturesperspective.com)

5 Simple Steps to Birdscape Your Yard | Sierra Club  

Where Do Pollinators Go in the Winter? | Xerces Society

March for Ukraine

Buy less, waste less and use less energy!

Two bad things are happening in the world. Europe is at war in Ukraine, and a new UN report says climate change is going to cause many future problems. UN climate report: ‘Atlas of human suffering’ worse, bigger – StarTribune.com 

Support for the Ukrainian People

We know the drill to help ward off climate problems, drive less, use less plastic, eat less meat, and reduce food waste. Buy less, waste less, and use less energy!

Every day I take three breaths for peace to help Ukraine. Here is a list of organizations to support and help Ukraine: See below and Donate to the fund of the National Bank of Ukraine – Official website of Ukraine 

I was in Ukraine in 2013. The people were very kind, helping us get around, take public transportation, and order food. My husband and I loved the beautiful country and kind people!

Yes, we are under stress worrying about Ukraine and climate change. Below is the mindful calendar for March to help maintain our mental health.

Medical supplies from the United States and Europe because Ukrainian suppliers ran out of gear and medical supplies. For more information go to razomforukraine.org.

United Help Ukraine is providing lifesaving first-aid kits to the front lines. The organization also helps the families of those wounded or killed in war and gives support to displaced people from Crimea and eastern Ukraine. For more information go to unitedhelpukraine.org.

Sunflower of Peace is raising funds for first-aid medical backpacks for paramedics and doctors on the front lines. Each backpack has the ability to save up to 10 lives, according to the organization. For more information go to facebook.com/sunflowerofpeace.

Ukrainian Red Cross Society: Volunteers and staff provide first aid in areas where medical access is limited. Funds will be used to support those in need, blood collection, mobilization of volunteers and resources and emergency activities. For more information go to redcross.org.ua/en.

Help for children: UNICEF is ensuring Ukrainian children have access to safe water, nutrition, health care, education and protection during the invasion. For more information go to www.unicef.org/ukraine/en.

Voices of Children provides psychological and psychosocial support for children caught in the middle of the armed conflict. For more information go to voices.org.ua/en/.

Journalism: The Kyiv Independent, a Ukrainian-English news site, provides up-to-date information of Russia’s invasion. Its fundraising site can be found on GoFundMe.

Tips To Use Less Plastic

There is always something you can do to use less Plastic!

Hennepin County is challenging people to use less plastic. These ideas are from them:

Why should we reduce plastic?

Plastic has many functions and benefits, and it has been very helpful to society. However, the growth of plastic use and plastic waste is unsustainable for our health and for the environment. Today we are using twenty times more plastic than we did in the 1960s. Plastic is hard to collect for recycling, is usually made from petroleum, and causes substantial litter that contaminates soil, water, food, and our bodies. We need our systems to change, but we can also be more careful about how and when we choose to use plastic in our daily lives.

Choose Glass!

Tips to use less plastic

Because plastic is everywhere, it feels hard to use less. Start with products that are easier for you to avoid, and slowly reduce plastic in other areas of your life. Replace the durable plastic items you own only when they are used up or broken, unless they are hazardous to your health. Here are more tips to get started:

  • Learn to refuse single-use plastics you don’t need, such as plastic water bottles and cups, straws, plastic bags and plastic utensils.
  • When you must buy plastic products, choose ones that you can recycle rather than ones you must put in the trash.
  • Instead of single-use plastic items, choose ones you replace less frequently or not at all, such as steel shaving razors, permanent soap dispensers or refillable beauty or personal product packaging.
  • Buy foods in family sizes or in bulk, then repackage them into smaller portions instead of purchasing individually wrapped items.
  • Try to DIY a few things like condiments, cleaners, and meals made from scratch. Or learn a food preservation method that doesn’t require plastic.
  • Shop bulk items

Shop bulk and fill your own containers

bulk produce
Avoid plastic, purchase produce in bulk without plastic

Easy tips to use less plastic and create less waste

We can make choices with our wallets and our lifestyles that create less demand for new plastic, even if we can’t avoid plastic every day. Be thoughtful about where you shop and how to reduce your plastic footprint.

  • Buy secondhand reusable items to replace single-use plastics, from water bottles and utensils to reusable bags.
  • Look for whatever it is you need secondhand; it reduces the need for new plastics, and it reduces the amount of plastic used for product packaging.
  • Look for reusable, non-plastic items in secondhand stores, such as dishware, wood furniture or home décor.
  • Rent things such as tools or specialty clothing instead of buying them, since most tools have at least some plastic components and clothes are often plastic fiber blends.
  • Take care of the things you own so they need to be replaced less often, from mending clothing to repairing electronics and keeping your cell phone longer between upgrades.

No matter how much time or money you may think you need to spend on avoiding plastic, there is always something you can do to use less.

Honor Our Earth

Honor the Earth through the food we love!

Within a few weeks scientists will be out with new data on our warming planet and how this warming is affecting all of us. By news accounts, it will not be good news. The study is out: climate study

There is no planet B!

 Many have of us have experienced the storms, floods and fires of the past few years. These will only get worst if we don’t stop the warming of our planet and find an equilibrium of Earth stability. Everybody has a part to play, and if everyone does just a little, it adds up to a lot!

There is no planet B and we all need to do better so our future generations can have a livable planet.

This week I attended a virtual workshop honoring the Earth through food.  Two big changes we can make to our lives to honor the earth and help reduce climate warming are to eat meatless one or more days a week, and really get serious about reducing food waste. 

We all know ways we can eat healthier. Reducing beef and pork in your diet is a win- win for the planet and can also makes enormous changes to better your health. Changing your diet could add up to 13 years to your life, study says | CNN

Eating for Health® : Bauman College | Berkeley, California

Shopping in bulk will reduce plastic in your diet!

I think a good way to eat healthier and eat less meat is to reduce your plastic packaging! Microplastics Could Harm Humans by Acting as Toxin ‘Magnet,’ Study Finds – EcoWatch  

Wasting food is a waste of our time, water and lots of energy.  It is something we all need to work on harder. In the United States 30-40% of our food is wasted. We can do better.

These were excellent suggestions from my workshop to reduce food waste:

1. Prepare meals with waste in mind. Work new meals around leftovers like into wraps, soups or rice bowls. 2. Plan meals ahead  3. Be mindful of the food you waste. How can you do better? 4. Optimize storage and maximize shelf -life. Check out storage options at savethefood.org  5. Shop more often and with a list  6. Be mindful of the food we eat and love.

Save The Food

 https://www.ecowatch.com/how-to-store-produce.html

‘Love Letter to Food’ Video Shows How Much Food We Waste (nationswell.com)

Love Food Hate Waste – Dianne – Bing video 

Plastic In Our Food and Air

Do we have too much plastic in our world?

Do we really want to ingest plastic microbeads every time we eat and drink?

Currently I am participating in a community plastic challenge working to reduce the plastic we send to landfills. I’m challenging myself to think of new ways I can reduce plastic in my home and for my family. It is impossible to eliminate all plastic, but we can be healthier by reducing plastic’s impact in our homes and lives.

These are the things I am working on to reduce plastic in my home:

1. Purchase fresh unpackaged produce. Always travel with reusable bags and reusable bottles and containers.

2. Store leftovers in glass containers and jars.

3. Never purchase take-out unless their containers are reusable or compostable.

4. Only cook in glass or metal pans

5. Purchase glass containers over plastic containers. Good examples are mustard, honey, and vinegar.

6. Make a conscious effort to purchase clothes, towels and sheets made of organic cotton and wool, and keeping our surroundings dusted and vacuumed will eliminate some of the microplastics we breathe.

What are the facts we know about plastic?

-Plastic production pollutes our water and air

-Plastic microfibers have been found in the food we eat.

-Micro fibers of plastic are in the clothes we wear and therefore in the air we breathe.

­-Plastic is the most common litter found in the oceans.

-Studies are just beginning on how harmful plastic is to our health.

Using glass containers gives me confidence we are reducing our plastic contamination

Reading list:

Plastics in our Food? – FOOD, FACTS and FADS (foodfactsandfads.com)

8 Everyday Foods That Contain Plastic and Safe Alternatives (nestandglow.com)

Toxic Nanoplastics Found at North and South Poles – EcoWatch 

Industrial plastics found in some fast food, researchers say | TheHill

UN to Create Global Treaty on Plastic Pollution – EcoWatch  

We Have Breached the Planetary Boundary for Plastics and Other Chemical Pollutants, Scientists Say – EcoWatch

U.S. Is World’s Biggest Producer of Plastic Waste, Report Finds – EcoWatch

California Just Passed 5 Mega Laws to Fight the Plastic Crisis – EcoWatch 

What is Zero-Waste?

Refuse, Reuse, Recycle

I use the term zero waste often. It is a daily goal in my household, a goal we work for every day.  Everything we purchase has an impact on our environment from our use of materials and natural resources to the emissions created for manufacturing. Then there is the end of life of a product. Will it sit in a landfill for 500 years polluting the ground and air surrounding it, can it be reused many times, or can it be turned into a new product?

Manufacturing, landfills, garbage burning, and hazardous waste contribute enormously to our warming planet. We need to take all our trash and waste seriously. Remember food waste is waste too!

Unfortunately, we have a long way to go to reach a zero-waste future.  Walking through a grocery or drugstore highlights how far we still have to go. Almost everything is packaged in plastic. Plastic that can’t be recycled!  As consumers we can try to purchase products with a minimum of packaging or refuse to purchase them completely. I often call manufacturers like Field Roast, Morningstar and Bob’s Redmill to request they start to use recyclable packaging.  Currently, in the United States only 9 to 10% of our plastic is recycled. We have a long way to go and need to begin to hold producers of plastic responsible so they produce packaging that can be recycled or reused.

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is how we need to live. Every product we purchase affects our environment; So, before you buy, ask yourself if you really need it? If you do, consider buying gently used instead of new, and look for minimal packaging and shipping.

My county, Hennepin, is creating plans for a zero-waste future:

Hennepin County’s zero-waste vision is a waste management system where all materials are designed to become resources for others to use to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. The key performance measure is diverting 90% or more of all discarded materials from landfills and incinerators.” Hennepin County

Zero waste is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean. Currently, only 9% of plastic is actually recycled. In a zero waste system, material will be reused until the optimum level of consumption.” The definition adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA)

Watch The Story of Stuff and learn more about the zero waste movement.

In the United States 30% of our food is wasted. A huge waste of energy, labor and resources. https://www.usda.gov/foodlossandwaste

This is excellent! https://www.ecowatch.com/how-to-store-produce.html