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

Three Simple Things

What Can I Do?

If you breathe air or drink water, you should care about the health of our Earth.

We all know the Earth is suffering. What we fail to recognize is that a sick planet leads to unhealthy sick people and for long-term consequences for our children. 

We must hold business accountable for the plastic they produce, and they must be held accountable if they pollute our air and water. Our elected officials need to be held accountable to hold oil companies and plastic producers to rigorous standards. Most important, we also have to hold ourselves accountable for how we pollute our air and water. Holding ourselves personally responsible is what we can control!

Even little things can make a huge difference if we work together. On Earth Day recalibrate your life to do three simple things a week to lighten our Earth’s load:

Choose one day to eat meatless, choose one day to not drive, and choose one day to be plastic-free. On plastic-free day don’t purchase or use anything plastic, and don’t or eat or drink food from plastic containers.

Don’t eat or drink from plastic

Every Day do something kind, and please take three breaths for peace in Ukraine.

Peace For Ukraine!

This reading list is too long, but I hope you can read at least one of these excellent articles:

On Earth Day ‘the world is not on track’ | Opinion – Minnesota Reformer 

Opinion | Enough About Climate Change. Air Pollution Is Killing Us Now. – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

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

U.S. Has Highest Percentage of People Who Aren’t Worried About Climate Change in Survey of 31 Countries – EcoWatch 

Report lists Mississippi as one of ‘most endangered’ U.S. rivers | MPR News

‘Breakthrough’ Study Finds Microplastics in Human Blood – EcoWatch   

And from my city: Kick single use plastics. In Minneapolis, less than half of plastics are recycled. Most plastics are made from oil and gas. About 4% to 8% of the world’s oil product is for plastics, and most plastics are thrown away after a single use. Plastics collect in our lakes and rivers and break down into micro and nanoplastics. One way to help is to bring your own bag to grocery and convenience stores.

Coca-Cola produces 200,000 new plastic bottles a minute and sells 112 billion plastic beverage bottles worldwide every year for a total of roughly 3 million metric tons of plastic packaging. The majority of Coca-Cola’s plastic bottles are not recycled and only 11.5% are made from recycled material. Many of Coca-Cola’s plastic bottles end up littered in the world’s rivers and ocean.

New Day, Victory Over Darkness

Happy spring, the sun has returned

peace on earth

It’s a beautiful world. Spring is a gift.

March 20 is the first day of spring, International Day of Happiness and Nowruz. Nature has given us the beauty of spring. Be sure you spend time outside every day to appreciate our beautiful Earth. Ancient people celebrated the first day of spring thousands of years ago!

For the Northern Hemisphere, March 20 is the first day of spring. But for 300 million people around the world, it’s the beginning of a new year, too. Nowruz—which means “new day”—is a holiday marking the arrival of spring and the first day of the year in Iran, whose solar calendar begins with the vernal equinox. Nowruz has been celebrated in Iran and the Persian diaspora for more than 3,000 years. Its roots are as a feast day in Zoroastrianism, a religion practiced in ancient Persia that viewed the arrival of spring as a victory over darkness. The holiday survived the Islamic conquest of Persia in the seventh century and the decline of Zoroastrianism’s popularity, and it spread across the globe through the diaspora of Persian people throughout history. (Here’s how Persia became the world’s first true empire.

It is hard to celebrate much happiness with such an awful war going on. Instead, spring clean your brain, and think about mental health for yourself and those you love. It has been a difficult two years for the entire world, so be good to yourself and be good to the entire world.

How do you spring clean your brain?

5 Ways to Calm Your Anxious Brain – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

The author suggests practicing mindfulness, declutter your surroundings, reconnect with people, reduce news bombardment by reading or watching only two trusted sources for information, and finally keeping a journal. Read the article in the above link.

To truly clean your brain, you need to spend time outside. Let the wind blow through your hair, absorb some sun and breathe deeply. Find beauty in the outdoors and in nature and go for a walk. Write is your journal about what you observe. I saw my first junco and noisy robins today. Time in Nature Can Now Be Prescribed as Health Care Treatment in Canada – EcoWatch 

Give yourself some purpose, be kind, smile and do something good for the earth and your brain will be spring cleaned!

Wishing victory over darkness for Ukraine. Take 3 deep breaths for peace in Ukraine.

Hope for Ukraine!

The Earth gives us spring,

Enjoy!

The Actions for Happiness have created a website for International Day of Happiness and things we can all do to make the world a kinder place:

https://www.dayofhappiness.net

  1. SHARE POSITIVE MESSAGES: Spread ideas that promote peace, kindness and understanding, online and in real life. 
     
  2. CONNECT WITH PEOPLE: Reach out to people who you know are connected to a crisis and offer your care and support.
     
  3. GIVE DIRECTLY: Donate to causes working on the front line of a crisis or find a way to help with local efforts.

The site also offers a number of places you can donate to that help with the current crises in our world.
 

https://www.dayofhappiness.net

Finland continues to be the happiest country on Earth. I wonder if that can continue? They share a border with Russia.

kindness

Three breaths for peace!

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 

February Fun

We all are in need of some serious fun! Isolation and this pandemic have gone on for too long. What can we do to help our mental attitude? Every day when you wake up smile and make a simple plan for something that you find to be fun, play a game, play with your children or pets and laugh. Or spend time outside and enjoy the beauty of nature, breathe and smile. Or call or text someone, and laugh, but never make fun of anyone but yourself!

The Actions for Happiness calendar has ideas for connecting. Make it fun!

red heart

Being kind will make you happy!

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