Plastics are common because they are cheap, lightweight, and versatile. More than one-third of plastics are used for packaging, including food packaging, grocery bags, and straws, which are all items that get tossed after one use. Plastic use has increased 20 times since the 1960s and will continue to increase if changes aren’t made.
The amount of plastic we use is problematic because:
Most plastics are made from oil. About 4% to 8% of the world’s oil production is for plastics.
Many plastics can’t be recycled. In Hennepin County, less than half of the total plastic generated is recycled.
Plastics collect in our lakes and rivers and break down into micro and nanoplastics. These are threats for birds and wildlife and have known and unknown concerns for human health.
Micro and nanoplastics have been found in our soil, water, and food. About 60% of microplastics come from high-income countries in the form of tire dust, pellets, textiles, and personal care products.
Your plastic footprint
When you’re starting a journey to use less plastic, a good first step is to quantify your personal impact. By estimating the waste you create, you can decide what to focus on during these four weeks. The Omni Calculator plastic footprint calculator is one such calculator that you could use.
Replacing disposables with reusables
Once you have a better idea how much plastic you use, get started today with these five simple swaps for single-use items:
Plastic bags: Start using your reusable bags for groceries, produce, and more, including clothing, shoes, gifts, or whatever you buy. Keep some bags near your door or in the car for easy access.Plastic storage baggies: Plenty of alternatives for plastic zip bags exist. Use reusable containers in glass, ceramic, metal, or choose reusable snack bags.Plastic utensils: Start by bringing your own reusable utensils for your home packed meals, then start refusing disposable utensils when they are offered in restaurants or to-go. Find a few reusable utensils at a thrift store if you don’t want to risk losing pieces of your regular set.Plastic wrap: Use reusable containers with lids for storing foods, place a plate over a bowl in the refrigerator, or try an option like beeswax cloth to wrap over the top of your containers.Straws: Cut back your use or eliminate plastic straws by using a reusable straw instead. Request no straw when you place orders in person or online.
3M contines to argue their chemicals are not harmful. The evidence shows a different story.
3M — the Scotch tape company — is a huge producer of PFAS, which it began manufacturing in Minnesota in the 1950s. By the 1960s, that work was generating 4 million gallons of wet chemical waste each year. 3M disposed of that waste by dumping it in unlined pits in the ground, even after officials allegedly knew it was polluting the groundwater.
Internal 3M documents show that company officials were warned repeatedly that the chemicals were toxic, and that they were accumulating in the environment and in blood samples from both humans and animals. Those conversations, which began in the 1950s and continued for nearly 50 years, included details about two internal studies — one on fish, another on monkeys — that had to be abandoned because the subjects kept dying after being exposed to the (purportedly nontoxic) chemicals. By 1983, 3M’s own scientists had concluded that concerns about its chemicals “give rise to legitimate questions about the persistence, accumulation potential, and ecotoxicity of fluorochemicals in the environment.”
The story does not end here. these chemicals exist everywhere. Who is responsible for cleaning them up? Who is responsible for the medical bills of the people and children with health issues from these chemicals? Clean-up of chemicals
Clean water and air are important to our survival!
“Air, water and plastic pollution is a chronic challenge. Microplastics have been found worldwide, and the risk to human health is an open question.
New research as Stockholm University suggests that rainwater isn’t safe to drink anywhere on Earth, due to the presence of PFAS or forever chemicals found in food packaging, electronics, cosmetics and cookware.” Paul Douglas, Meteorologist
While the EPA, state/local agencies, and the environmental industry at-large work to eliminate PFAS exposure risk, there are a few simple steps anyone can take to reduce exposure to these harmful chemicals.
Start with awareness. Become aware of PFAS, the potential risk of chemical exposure, and spread the news. Reading this article is a good place to start.
Research your local water utility to learn if the water supply has been sampled for PFAS. If they are detected, ask what is being done about it. Most water utilities provide periodic reports on water quality and can be found through the tap water database tool published by the Environmental Working Group.
Look for PFAS-free alternatives in your consumer purchases. Inquire about everyday consumer products that may contain PFAS, including food wrappers, cosmetics, dental floss, and weather-resistant clothing. Look for safer alternatives. Although you will likely not be at significant risk by continuing to wear your PFAS-treated shoes and boots, the continued manufacturing usage of PFAS leads to the contamination of groundwater and drinking water, and the risk of health effects.
I would add: Reduce the plastic you use for food storage, and the plastic you purchase. Also, don’t use non-stick pans.
June is Clean a Storm Drain month. It is also World Oceans Month. Keeping storm drains clean keeps trash and pollutants from entering our oceans and waterways that drain into the oceans.
If everyone does a little it adds up to a lot! Collective action matters.
Storm drains feed directly into our local lakes and rivers, unfiltered, so it’s important to keep them clear for cleaner and healthier waterways. June is an important time to keep the seeds, grass and sticks that are collecting on our streets and sidewalks out of our storm drains. While they might be “natural” debris they become pollution when large quantities hit the water, break down, and become food for algae.
Sweep Up and Clean Up. Be part of a community effort for clean water! Thank you.
Native plants and trees create their own living ecosystem. The plants, wildlife, birds and 🦋 butterflies all work together to support a thriving environment.
The fall and winter seasons are no different . Birds eat the seeds off my native plants all fall and winter. Leaf litter contains habit and hiding for moths, butterflies and other wildlife. So what do we do with all this leaf litter?
These are my leaf litter suggestions:
— keep your sidewalks, driveways, and streets free from leaves. Lakes and rivers are polluted by too many leaves flowing into storm drains which drain into Lakes and streams.
–Leave you plants standing until spring, they also add food and habitat.
–Never use a leaf blower, they are too hard on everything your ecosystem is creating.
–Gently rake leaves into your gardens. This is wonderful mulch and plant protection. Leaves nurture the soil.
–Winter and spring garden surprises will create joy. Watch for birds, wildlife, and early insects.
–Cut plants off in the spring and work the leaves into your soil.
The official Adopt-a-Drain Fall Leaf Cleanup Week kicks off Monday, October 11th, and runs through Sunday, October 17th.
Leaves in the street plug storm drains and pollute our waterways.
Storm drains feed directly into our local lakes and rivers, unfiltered, so it’s important to keep them clear for cleaner and healthier waterways. Fall is an especially important time to keep the leaves that are collecting on our streets and sidewalks out of our storm drains. While they might be “natural” debris they become pollution when large quantities hit the water, break down, and become food for algae.
World Cleanup Day addresses the issue of waste and litter across the globe. On September 18, the international day of service gets communities involved to keep their own neighborhoods clean and sustainable.
We are all in this together. Let’s keep her clean!
So much of litter is plastic waste that easily flows into our rivers and streams, and then all the way to the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.
Plastic litter is harmful to wildlife!
This is an productive day to get out and pick up trash. Wear gloves, bring a bag and get outside to pick up the trash in your neighborhood or choose an area you know needs to be picked up.
Good luck, be safe, watch for traffic, and enjoy your outside time! Thank You!
“Climate change will affect the availability, quality and quantity of water needed for basic human needs, thus undermining enjoyment of the basic rights to safe drinking water and sanitation for billions of people, warns the latest UN World Water Development Report.” United Nations
Today as we are all advised to wash our hands because of our world crisis, please take a moment to pause and think about our water. On World Water Day become mindful of your relationship to water on our planet. How do you use water? How many times during the day do you turn on the water faucet? Who keeps the water we drink and use safe? How does the water get to our houses? What can we do to conserve and keep our fresh water clean and safe?
The water we have on Earth is the only water we will ever have. It is used and reused as part of the water cycle. Please be mindful how you use it.
As we enter March the world is gripped with a great uncertainty. The Coronavirus is creeping up on us, and in the United States we have a government that is more interested in their image than actually dealing with the Coronavirus crisis. This administration is good at one thing, blaming everyone else for their problems. We can’t trust what they say because they lie constantly, don’t believe in, or understand science, nor the experts. Gut feelings will not solve a health pandemic.
More uncertainity is brought about by the primary elections being held. The public is uncertain as to who has the energy and ability to take on and lead the United States with integrity. Please vote for science and honesty in your primary election.
And more evidence the Trump administration is not honest with us.
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” Carl Sagan
This March search out truth, share ideas that only have reliable sources, wash your hands, find beauty everyday, and practice mindfulness! The Actions for Happiness mindfulness calendar below:
Dear Target. Please ban plastic bags, or charge 25 cents per bag. Putting a cost on bags would make individuals value them, and hopefully reuse them, not just let them fly onto the streets and landscapes.
I get so tired of seeing plastic bags blowing on the street and fields, hanging from trees, left in bus shelters, and stuck in street gutters. These bags can last for hundreds of years, and then might only break into tiny pieces of plastic. They are made to last! It is time corporate America, Target and others, to step up and take leadership on our plastic problem. Also, each of us needs to take responsibility and always bring reusable bags shopping.
Retailers think they are doing enough by offering recycling of plastic bags. In fact only 5% of plastic bags are recycled, but according to my local recycler there isn’t much of a market for the recycling of plastic bags.
The best thing you can do is bring your own reusable bags!
Some states and cities have banned single-use plastic. Read more here