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

3 Sustainable Choices

A new year, new habits!

“Small acts when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world!” Greenpeace

The new year has arrived, and we all have the best intentions to have a fresh beginning. With all the uncertainty and discord around us, focusing on something bigger than ourselves helps to rise above all the confusion. Choose to do things that are fun and make you feel better about your place in society.

New goals and new ideas help stimulate new interests and are good for our mental health.  First of all, don’t worry about being perfect, just do something different. No one is perfect, but if everyone does something it adds up to big things for us and our community.

Millions of people around the world have been harmed by storms and our warming world during the past year. With all the harm humans have done to our planet the last hundreds of years, our warming Earth is struggling to find some equilibrium, and we can all lessen our negative impact. By reducing our consumption of the Earth’s resources, we can help our corner of the world and make a big difference. My ideas are to help you think of ways you can make a positive difference and hopefully have fun!

Every day my household works on three big things to reduce our consumption of the Earth’s resources:

Reduce meat consumption

1. Cutting meat consumption and always celebrating meatless Mondays. There are so many meatless options in the frozen food section of grocery stores it can be easy and fun. The hard part is finding meatless options without increasing plastic pollution. Here are some ideas to get you started. Vegan Recipes To Help You Eat Less Meat : Life Kit : NPR  

Quick & Easy Vegetarian Recipes | EatingWell

Vegan Recipes To Help You Eat Less Meat : Life Kit : NPR 

How is plastic in our food affecting our health?

2. Reducing plastic is paramount.  Plastic creates waste and litter, it contributes to climate change, pollutes our water and is harmful to wildlife.  It is concerning how plastic affects our health and what it’s impacts might be for us. We have a lot to learn about how plastic is harming our health. Please reduce your consumption of plastic. Start by using reusable bags, cups and bottles, and then you will slowly learn new ways to reduce plastic in your environment. So much plastic can’t be recycled, but if you must purchase items in plastic, make sure it can be recycled.

Irritable bowel syndrome linked to more microplastics in gut (nypost.com)

end food waste

30 to 40% of food in the USA is wasted!

3. Reduce Food waste.  Food waste is a total waste of water, labor, time and energy. First start with your shopping, don’t buy more than you can use. Buying in bulk is a good way to regulate how much you purchase (bulk can reduce plastic waste also). Second, staying on top of what items are in your refrigerator/freezer is extremely important. Maybe have an “eat first shelf.” I keep a container in my refrigerator to accumulate celery tops and other vegetable scraps for weekly soup making or stir fry.  Finally, turning leftovers into a new meal is one of the best things about cooking. Make it fun and challenging! Wraps and rice bowls are winners!

How to Reduce Food Waste | Sierra Club

Below are many ways you can help our planet and also your soul:

Opinion | 10 New Year’s Resolutions That Are Good for the Soul – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

7 Ways to Make 2022 More Sustainable – Plastic Free Home – Environmental and Zero Waste Blog (theplasticfreehome.com)  

13 sustainable choices for your green life | Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (state.mn.us)  

3 eye-opening, science-based New Year’s resolutions that could help everyone | PBS NewsHour

12 Ways to Live More Sustainably (biologicaldiversity.org)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Plan For Leftovers

In my meetings some are wondering what big thing they can do to stop climate change. I think many people doing lots of little things to help our planet amount to a lot! We can all make a difference by buying less and wasting less. Thank you!

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons all adds up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills. (Source: EPA)

end food waste

Enjoy your leftovers!

Make a plan for your holiday left over food. What do you generally do  with left over food? 40% of the food  in the United States is not eaten, and ends up in our landfills causing an enormous waste of our precious resources. Wasting food is an enormous waste of water, money, time, labor, energy and transportation.  The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has an incredible education campaign to inform the public how much we are wasting.  For example the production of one egg takes 55 gallons of water! Their website is savethefood.com

Not only does wasting food, waste valuable resources and lots of water, but also food in our landfills decomposes creating and giving off methane gas which is a harmful air pollutant contributing to global warming

So let’s get creative and “Save the Food.” One of my favorite cooking activities is to reinvent leftovers into a new lunch or dinner stir fry, soup, tacos, enchiladas, salads, fried rice, quinoa bowls and many other things lend themselves to create special meals of leftover food.

Have a fun holiday, and make a creative difference by reusing, planning, seriously cutting waste, and saving food from the garbage!

The story of a strawberry here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WREXBUZBrS8

I am thankful for all the medical workers and teachers who have worked so hard during this pandemic! Thank you

Reuse on America Recycles Day

November 15, is America Recycles Day.  After so many years I am still surprised how hard it is to recycle in the United States. In my travels across America I can go weeks without seeing a recycle bin. In Europe often recycling is front and center, not perfect but it is seems a priority.

I have been surprised to learn this doesn’t always mean the product is recyclable????

Unfortunately it is still very hard to recycle plastic correctly in America. Paper/cardboard, glass and metal cans work well, but plastic, please read on.

Plastic recycling is very challenging. There is very little regulation of plastic in the United States. Plastic producers claim recycling is the answer to their products, but they don’t want any responsibility to pay for recycling or disposal of their products. They often they say their plastic is recyclable, when in fact it might be just one per cent recyclable or not at all.

Why is plastic recycling so hard? First there are those recycle 1-7 numbers. For something to be recycled it first needs to be collected, and then sorted into those  numbers. Next, it needs a market, or someone to buy it. All this makes plastic recycling expensive for communities (tax payers) and it is labor intensive.

 I am fortunate to live in a county (Hennepin) that makes this a priority, and I can’t express my gratitude to them enough!

Both Maine and Oregon have passed legislation to hold producers responsible for recycling and disposing of their products. This is a beginning and it is hopeful that more regulation of plastic could happen. As consumers we also have responsibility, when we purchase plastic we reinforce the idea that this is OK, and more of it is produced. The plastic chemical companies are gearing up to produce more plastic for the future, lets work to hold them accountable! Talk to your elected officials about how plastic producers should be held responsible for what happens to long lived plastics after disposal. Manufacturers also need more integrity in labeling what is in their plastic products.

On America Recycles Day recycle more of your paper/cardboard, glass and tin cans, and recycle plastic bottles and containers, but also begin to REDUCE your PLASTIC consumption.  Always bring your reusable cups/bottles, and bags for a start.

Big new goals on America Recycles Day https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/581578-epa-issues-national-recyling-plan-with-goal-of-50-percent-recycling

Make it a plastic-free day!

buy in bulk

Buying in bulk and refilling your bottles is the next step in reducing plastic.

Reading and watching list:

Maine Will Make Companies Pay for Recycling. Here’s How It Works. – The New York Times (nytimes.com) 

John Oliver Takes on the Plastics Industry – EcoWatch

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

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 – EcoWatchBreak Free From Plastic Pollution Act Receives National Support – Center for Biological Diversity

World Kindness 2021

World Kindness Day is a global day that promotes the importance of being kind to each other, to yourself, and to the world. The purpose of this day, celebrated on November 13 of each year, is to help everyone understand that compassion for others is what binds us all together. This understanding has the power to bridge the gap between nations.

Make a special effort to be kind.

We all want to live in kind healthy communities. We want to live where we are respected and can thrive. Each of us can work for kinder environments by limiting the noise we create, picking up litter and after our dogs, sweeping our sidewalks, and listening and smiling more. How hard is that? We can create environments that are pleasant places to live. Kindness doesn’t cost any money! Kindness creates a ripple, it radiates out, and together we create happier and healthier places to live.

Action Needed! Blah, Blah!

Much Much more is needed!

Love the Earth and Protect it!

The world climate summit is taking place in Glascow, Scotland. The world has known for a long time it needs to do something about our warming earth. There has been such a lack of leadership to get something done, and now we have reached a point where it has become hard to ignore. During the first week some important promises to protect forests, reduce methane and reduce coal. Will it be enough? No, but the conversation has begun. Russia and China didn’t attend so continued efforts are needed to keep them moving forward and integrate them into the discussion

In the United States the powerful lobbyists and oil industry have been able to control and stop action, and it is still happening with Joe Manchin as he hauls in the cash to resist a move away from fossil fuels.

Strong leadership and a desire to work together needs to come out of this important conference. Together everyone is the solution to our climate, We must all set this as a priority over greed, lies and waste.

Everyday we make an impact, make it positive!

Speak out for change! Work for a healthy future!

During the pandemic 2020 carbon emissions were reduced and we can do it again. Everyday with just a little effort, we can make an impact, and move to a new future of sustainability  Let’s start now by buying less junk, reduce our plastic use**, stop idling our engines, and a couple days a week eat meatless. Try walking and riding public transportation, you might like it!

There are some hopeful things happening in the world:

From Future Crunch:    Future Crunch Good – Bing News

 Amazing: Cars powered by combustion engines now make up less than 10% of sales in Norway, and forecasts suggest the country’s last sale of a new petrol or diesel car will come in April 2022, three years ahead of what was already the world’s most ambitious target.  Drive

 Russia has committed to carbon neutrality by 2060, Turkey has finally ratified the Paris Agreement, and the UAE has become the first petro-state to commit to net zero by 2050. Critics say these pledges aren’t enough, but they’re missing the point. They’re not promises. They’re ratchets – once announced, they only increase in ambition.

China has begun construction on the largest and most ambitious clean energy project of all time, 100GW of wind and solar in its western desert. That’s more than the entire existing wind and solar capacity of India, and will be able to generate four times as much power as the Three Gorges Dam. Bloomberg

The important question is what happens after the summit? Countries should be meeting yearly to report their progress and set new goals. Also, continued work needs to be done getting all countries involved.

Reading/listening list:

Report warns of climate change’s ‘code red’ impact on health – CNNReport warns of climate change’s ‘code red’ impact on health – CNN  

Jane Goodall: Every day you live, you impact the planet | TED Talk  

Could climate change lead to war? It’s a growing geopolitical threat | Star Tribune     

Plastics Could Release More Emissions Than Coal by 2030, Study Finds – EcoWatch 

‘Last, best hope:’ Leaders launch crucial UN climate summit – ABC News (go.com) 

Climate summit sees new pledges on cutting methane, saving forests (yahoo.com)

Financial Industry, With $130 Trillion, to Pursue Climate Goals – The New York Times (nytimes.com)   http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/nationworld/report/110521_cop_26_action/cop-26-doesnt-look-so-hopeful-countries-living-climate-emergency/

**Why we need to reduce our use of plastic:  Plastics are on track to contribute more climate-change-causing emissions (to the tune of at least 232 million tons of greenhouse gases annually) than coal plants by 2030, according to a new report out of Bennington College. The reason? As fossil fuel companies seek to recoup falling profits, they’re increasing plastics production.    REPORT: The New Coal: Plastics & Climate Change — Beyond Plastics – Working To End Single-Use Plastic Pollution  

New November

Climate Month

Thousands of years ago the Celtics celebrated November 1, as the New Year. This year in November the world climate summit is happening in Glascow. As New November converges with the climate summit lets create new positive goals to reduce our use of fossil fuels. Let’s all work together to make a difference for the earth.

Have fun reducing your carbon footprint.

The Actions For Happiness calendar below is about doing something new, perfect for setting new goals. You know what works for you and your household. Maybe you can reduce food waste or reduce the plastic that comes into your home. Maybe try back yard or drop-off composting or bring reusable bags shopping. Each one of us knows something positive we can do to make a impact. Good Luck.

This November we don’t know what will happen in Glascow, Scotland, but each one of us can make a difference. Every action counts. Lets focus our energy on making a healthy world for everyone! If everyone does a little, it adds up to a lot! What are some New November ideas you are excited to try?

Happy New November!

 

Superior Views, October 2021

Ruffed 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.