Holiday Sustainability

“We have the choice to use the gift of our life to make the world a better place–or not to bother” Jane Goodall


Our actions and daily choices speak to the world we want to create. This holiday, we can choose to make friendly choices for our planet. Instead of buying new decorations use what you have and follow these simple steps to make your decorations, gifts, and gatherings more sustainable: Seven tips for an earth-friendly holiday season (worldwildlife.org)

Look at the materials gifts are made from and keep sustainability in mind. Use paper products made from recycled materials and avoid single-use plastics that can’t be recycled. Buying secondhand items like vintage clothes, furniture, and refurbished technology is another great way to gift more sustainably.

Look for cards and wrapping paper made from recycled materials. Avoid foil-backed cards or those with **glitter—which aren’t recyclable.

ban glitter

Glitter is a microplastic!

** Reasons to avoid glitter:

A few facts about glitter will surprise you!

  • Glitter is made of a microplastic known as Mylar, which is hurting ocean life
  • This plastic accounts for 92.4% of the 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean
  • Marine life is mistaking glitter for food, which is damaging their livers
  • Every tiny sparkly bit takes thousands of years to break down

Seven tips for an earth-friendly holiday season (worldwildlife.org)

5 Changes to Make Your Holiday Celebrations More Sustainable (thespruce.com) 

3 Major UK Retailers Are Banning Glitter This Christmas Over Environmental Concerns – EcoWatch

December Kindness

Happy December! We have many challenges as a society. Community health is important to me. Making our streets safe, clean air and clean water should be top priorities for us all. Covid-19 is not going away, and we need to still wear masks, social distance and get vaccinated. We can’t have healthy communities unless everyone is healthy and everyone works to make it a reality. Kindness is an important aspect of healthy communities, make it a priority for your day.

Every day work for kinder and healthier communities!

Kindness creates a ripple, keep kindness going! Make our communities kindness healthy! Kindness ideas below.

Smile and Be Kind!

Nothing exists by itself alone. We all belong to each other; we cannot cut reality into pieces.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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.

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    

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:

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

Happy Arbor Day

Trees are strength and beauty, resilience and change

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Snags, or dead trees, also give life to wildlife and landscapes. Don’t cut them down unless they are a danger to humans or buildings.

Trees can be dead but full of life and survival. Snags are home to many plants and animals

Fungi growing on a dead tree

Birds love dead trees, and many animals rely on dead, dying or hollow-rotted trees. Woodpeckers, bats, ants and caterpillars live in snags. Woodpeckers nest in cavities excavated in snags (or dead parts of living trees) while using those same dead trees to drill for food.

Trees offer shelter and safe places to perch and watch and rest. Trees, dead and live are complete neighborhoods. Dead trees are actually teeming with life! Fallen logs and snags play a vital role in the lifecycles of hundreds of species of wildlife, providing a place to nest, rest, eat and grow. Before you cut or burn logs and trees realize it is a vital part of the neighborhood!

Many birds rest and watch in this tree

Before you cut a leafless tree. Remember it is a friend to lots of birds and wildlife.

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

Resolve to be a Better Consumer

Consumption is a big challenge for us as humans–we need, we want lots of things…The vast majority of products end up in landfills, and over 60 % of fabric fibers are synthetics derived from fossils fuels so they don’t decay.” Designer  Christian Siriano

SO, How can we become better consumers?  We have incredible power with our consumer dollars.  How can we use that power wisely? Why would you reinforce corporate greed with your purchases? Everyone wants to save money, but you are not saving money when you purchase lots of cheap things that will end up in the land fill next year!  

Lots of environmental repair is needed, and I hope you will join me to help in 2021 and resolve to be a better consumer. Look at your habits and just make one change. See reading list below.

One of the most important forms of power we have is our ability to decide where and how we spend our money. When you pump LESS gas, and purchase less meat you’re saying something. When you contact businesses about their extreme plastic packaging, you’re doing something. When you shop local, support local farms and climate-smart brands, you’re making a difference by revealing a growing market for whom business as usual will not cut it. At our house we only make purchases at places that pay a minimum wage. If we can use our dollars to shop for quality, support local, green, and homegrown businesses. We can keep dollars in our own communities and make a statement. Buying less makes a statement too.

The thought of having plastic microfibers in the food I consume stirs me to reduce my plastic consumption and motivates me to become aware of my plastic and other unsustainable purchases.

glass
Reuse containers
Where can you start? First work to stop purchasing single-use plastic. Shop with your reusable bags, use a reusable water bottle, refuse straws/plastic utensils, and find an alternative to baggies. Maybe stop using sauce packets. Become aware of all the  packaging that can’t be recycled.

Start working on one thing and go from there. You will not be perfect, but you can make a difference! Maybe you can start with an alternative to dryer sheets and hand wipes. I just discovered somethings I purchased during the pandemic are in #7 plastic(not recyclable). I’m contacting these companies, and ending my #7 plastic purchases! Education and awareness make such a difference. I hope the reading list below will heighten your awareness also!

Reading list:

Say no to fast fashion and purchase items that will last a long time

Toxic chemicals in single-use plastics are harming human health | U.S. PIRG   

Do You Want to Buy Less Stuff? Three People Tell Us How – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

https://bigthink.com/personal-growth/buy-less-stuff

Beginner’s Guide to Minimalism – Going Zero Waste

Six Eco-Friendly Pledges for 2021​ – EcoWatch 

New Year’s Resolutions for the Planet – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

9 New Years’ Climate Resolutions To Keep For 2021, According To Experts (forbes.com)

In Focus: We know the real cost of fast fashion, so why do we buy it? | Metro News

Lake Michigan plastic pollution poses ecological and social threats (https_dailynorthwestern.com)  

Substitutes For Dryer Sheets | Cleancult

My ten tips for Health4earth holiday shopping: 

 

Purchase clothing made from natural fibers – synthetic fibers like polyester are made from plastic. Opt for alternatives to dryer sheets for your laundry.

The Hill We Climb

Amanda Gorman

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be—a country that is bruised, but whole, benevolent, but bold, fierce, and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.” Amanda Gorman

And more:

Madam Vice President Harris

We, the successors of a country and a time,

Where a skinny black girl,

Descended from slaves and raised by a single mother,

Can dream of becoming president

                                                                                        Amanda Gorman

We will rebuild, reconcile and recover. … The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”