Twelve Rs for December

Happy December! Being kind is so easy, and December should be a month of kindness. The Actions for Happiness Calendar is below. Earth kindness is also so important.

During December plastic waste and food waste increases. This December see how you can apply the some of the twelve Rs to reduce your plastic waste footprint. Start by banning all glitter from your home and always bringing your reusable shopping bags.

REMEMBER

REKIND

REDUCE  

REUSE  

REFUSE  

REFILL 

REPAIR  

REPURPOSE 

RETHINK  

REGIFT  

RESEARCH 

RECYCLE 

Plastic-Free Presents: Mindful Gifting for Healthier Holidays – YouTube 

Another video from Plastic Pollution Coalition:

Kindness creates a ripple, spread it every day, and everyday do something kind for the planet by reducing your plastic consumption!

Tips to use less plastic: https://health4earth.com/2022/02/27/tips-to-use-less-plastic/

Buy Nothing Day

Use your power as a consumer to create a better world!

Today is Buy Nothing Day, it is a day to turn our back on the awful obsession with consumerism we have in the United States. The things we purchase put stress on all our resources, water, air, time, energy, and landfills. All the stuff we buy contributes to the climate crisis! Do you really need more junk? Give thanks for what you have and all the people in your life. Be grateful for our beautiful planet, and for all you have. Instead of shopping spend your day outdoors or spend time doing something creative. Instead of shopping for happiness take deep breaths and do something you love. All the state parks in my state are free today, and I’m off for a long walk!

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

The Story of Stuff – Story of Stuff  

 A consumer is powerful. The choices we make, and what we purchase changes marketing and products, and as consumers we can make a big difference by the choices we make.  These choices can make a positive change on the environment creating a more sustainable world. 

  • Heighten your awareness of packaging and waste, choosing products with minimal or no wasteful plastic packaging. 
  • Always shop with reusable bags. 
  • Never purchase products with glitter or Styrofoam. They can’t be recycled and are harmful to wildlife.
  • Shop reuse stores. Some of my favorite clothes and items come from consignment stores. 
  • Shop bulk items. 
  • Shop in bulkBuying in bulk is a good way to manage food waste, and plastic waste. Bring your own bags or containers. 
  • Shop retailers that pay living wages and are local over big box stores. 
  •  Buy nothing and reuse what you have! 
  •  Purchase items that will last instead of cheap junk. 
  •  Avoid all single-use plastic 
  • Make your own choices and be creative, don’t be owned by corporations like Apple, Target, Amazon etc. 

A Plastic-Free Thanksgiving

These ideas are from Beyond Plastic:

Happy Thanksgiving! Remember your reusable shopping bags and reusable containers!

  1. Choose Scratch Over Store-Bought

Most store-bought dishes from supermarkets and restaurants will be packaged in plastic containers. To avoid the unnecessary plastic, focus on cooking from scratch. Ingredients like vegetables, flour, butter, and nuts can be commonly found in non-plastic packaging. For items like nuts and dried fruits, see if your local market, co-op or health food store has a bulk section and bring your own bags to fill up! When faced with a choice of packaging, choose glass or paper over plastic. If you’re looking for inspiration, see our recipe suggestions below.

  • Shop Local

Shopping locally not only reduces your meal’s carbon footprint, but you can bring your own bags and containers and you’re less likely to encounter plastic packaging than at your grocery store. Small businesses also need our support more than ever during the pandemic. Give your community your thanks by supporting each other!

If you don’t have the time or inclination to make pumpkin, pecan, or apple pie from scratch, check your local bakery.  While you’re there, pick up the bread you’ll need to make your stuffing and bring it all home in your reusable bags. Visit your local farmers market to pick up potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, greens, and more. If your farmers market is closed for the season, many CSAs (community supported agriculture) also offer a special one-time Thanksgiving share of goodies to anyone, even if you’re not a subscriber. 

  • Use Sustainable Decor

Forget the dollar store, make the perfect fall decor for your table setting with things from your backyard and local farm stand. Pressed leaves and pumpkins make for great wall and table adornments! Check out some DIY ideas here. And don’t forget to get the kids involved!

  • Serve on Reusable Dishes & Dinnerware 

Plastic utensils and cups end up in landfills, incinerators, or waterways where they can pose a threat to wildlife. Set your table with reusable plates, cups, serving platters, utensils and napkins. This can also include glass pitchers or bottles for drinks. If your family enjoys seltzer, consider investing in a SodaStream or other carbonation machine (tip: choose the model that comes with glass bottles over plastic). If you have kids, assign them the task of polishing silver—they may find it deeply satisfying. Sticking to reusables only will not only reduce your waste but also save you money.

  • Provide or Bring Reusable Containers for Leftovers

Going to family or friend’s home for dinner? Bring your own glass or metal containers to cart home some delicious leftovers. There are also some great beeswax-coated fabric wraps out there these days that can take the place of plastic wrap or tinfoil. If you are hosting the dinner, remind guests to bring reusable containers with them. If you have extras to spare (say from all those take-out containers you’ve saved since the lockdown started), you can offer them to guests who’ve forgotten to bring their own. Please remember to take the necessary precautions when interacting with others to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

  • Compost!

Compost any scraps from cooking or leftovers that aren’t being saved, as well as any compostable decor you’ve put up (once you tire of it). Reminder, if your Thanksgiving dinner includes a turkey, make stock out of the carcass before you compost it—you can make a very flavorful turkey soup or freeze it for months. If you’re not sure what can and can’t be composted, check out this helpful list. If you don’t have a backyard compost, see if your city or town has a local composting system. If they don’t, look into how to start one!

RECIPE SUGGESTIONS

6 Steps To a Plastic-Free Thanksgiving — Beyond Plastics – Working To End Single-Use Plastic Pollution

Recycle or Landfill?

It is America Recycles Day. Is it a joke or is it real?

Producers of plastic need to be held responsible for the environmental disaster they have created! What do all those recycling numbers (1-7) mean?

Are we living in a fantasy world about recycling? For many years I have been so hopeful and happy as recycling has become the norm, but now new studies show it is not as wonderful as we had hoped. Only 5 to 9 percent of plastic produced has ever been recycled. The fact is, a lot of plastic packaging, even with those silly 1-7 numbers, is NOT recyclable! Companies and plastic producers **greenwash by claiming to recycle more than they do, and they greenwash by claiming their product is recyclable.

What about recycling paper, metal and glass? Are these recyclables? Paper, metal, and glass are valuable to recyclers, and do have a new life when recycled. Paper, glass and metal all have markets for their recycled material and can be recycled over and over.

Plastic is another issue. Markets for plastic are scarce. Also, plastic is loaded with harmful chemicals, and after being recycled the toxics become more concentrated. Even though the plastic chemical industry says they are recycling their products, the reality is very different. It makes me very sad, but I’m afraid the recycling of plastic is becoming a myth

“There’s a long history of corporations, and especially plastic makers, touting their products as recyclable to prevent regulation and public backlash. Many plastic items in the grocery store have a set of three arrows forming a triangle with a number in the middle—but it’s not a recycling symbol. It’s a resin stamp indicating roughly the type of plastic it is. The petrochemical industry created it to make consumers think the item is recyclable.” Greenpeace Report: ‘Most Plastic Is Just Not Recyclable’

Landfill or recycle: Working to recycle is still better than sending the packaging to the landfill. The plastic will sit in the landfill 5oo or longer years, where at least with recycling there is a chance, maybe someday, it will be turned into something new. Officials where I live claim collected plastic is turned into decking, siding, and lawn chairs. I still hope that is the case!

As a society we need to hold the producers of plastic accountable to create a product that can be recycled, a product that doesn’t contain toxic chemicals. Producers of plastic need to be held accountable for their product’s end of life.

Please recycle as much as you can, but also reduce the plastic that you use and plastic. Our planet and your health will be better for it! Thank you.

**What is Greenwashing? Pretending to be greener than in reality you are.

TerraCycle Collects Plastic Waste. Does It Really Get Recycled?

(bloomberg.com)   Greenpeace report finds most plastic goes to landfills as production ramps up : NPR

Plastic is not Recyclable

If plastic were a country, it would be the fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Plastic is stuffed with harmful chemicals, and even though we are told it is recyclable this report shows how plastic recycling is NOT working!

Greenpeace report finds most plastic goes to landfills as production ramps up : NPR 

“More plastic is being produced, and an even smaller percentage of it is being recycled,” says Lisa Ramsden, senior plastic campaigner for Greenpeace USA. “The crisis just gets worse and worse, and without drastic change will continue to worsen as the industry plans to triple plastic production by 2050.”  

Coca Cola produces 3 million tons of plastic packaging a year – equivalent to 200,000 bottles a minute. That needs to change.

Halloween Creativity

Halloween is a great time to be creative. I love the original costumes that parade to my front door. For me the challenge is how to be plastic-free? I don’t like candy packaging that can’t be recycled and will lie in a garbage dump for 5oo years and struggle every year to find a sustainable treat. Beyond Plastic has some terrific decorating, costume and treat suggestions for a plastic-free Halloween:

First, create a reusable bag to carry with you. turn a washable shopping bag inside and decorate your bag. A perfect way to have your original candy collection bag!

health4earth

Turn your clean reusable bag inside out and decorate.

Plastic-free ideas from Beyond Plastic:

Pick plastic-free packages. If you need to stick to packaged candies, there are some options that come wrapped in foil or small thin cardboard boxes. Candies like Dots, Milk Duds, and Junior Mints come in small cardboard boxes, Tootsie Rolls and other fruit chews and Dubble Bubble come wrapped in paper, and there are many small Halloween-themed chocolates that come wrapped in foil that, at least in theory, could be collected and recycled

Costumes

Try to avoid buying new costumes in one of those desperate last-minute trips to the seasonal Halloween Stores that pop up like mushrooms in October because they are cheaply made and are almost always made entirely from plastic.

Instead, plan ahead and visit your local thrift store to find they key elements you need to make your own costumes. Most thrift stores also have pre-loved costumes for sale and you may find a great ready-made costume that way if you start looking early enough. You can also try to borrow either a whole costume or the key elements you need to create your own from a friend or family member. I’ve found that social media can be a big help in crowdsourcing costume ideas, entire costumes, or just certain “ingredients” for them.

Likewise, if you have costumes your kids have outgrown or that you’ve grown tired of, snap a few photos of them and invite your friends to use them this year. Hopefully, they’ll return the favor and you can all save some time, money, and material from the landfill this way.

Decorations

If you want to deck out your house, go for it! But do your best to steer clear of single-use and cheap plastic items that are likely to end up in the trash after a single use. Fortunately, nature makes a gorgeous line of non-toxic, fully compostable Halloween decorations in the form of pumpkins and other decorative gourds along with hay bales, reeds, and ornamental corn.

Here are a few ideas to try, all of which are great activities to do with kids:

  • Carve pumpkins (this one goes without saying!)
    • Consider inviting some friends to join you outside on a sunny weekend day and serve (reusable) mugs of mulled cider and donuts to make it a party.
    • After you’ve scooped out the seeds from your pumpkins, assign someone to clean the goop off them and then roast them for a nutritious and tasty fall snack. Scroll down to the end of this post for the simple directions to make roasted pumpkin seeds.
    • Click here for some great jack-o-lantern ideas. One fun switch can be to cut the bottom of the pumpkin off rather than the top and rest it on a plate with the cut side down. This allows you to retain the stem which you can turn into an interesting hairdo feature. We also love the “puking” pumpkin concept in which you use the “guts” of the pumpkin.
    • Help younger kids to draw their designs on and make sure to handle any tricky knife-work.
    • Provide candles or LED lights for each pumpkin and light them up when night falls for all to enjoy.
  • Make your own scarecrows. Dig through your ragbag to find some old clothes, buy a bale of hay, stuff the clothes with with hay, and top with a pumpkin head or a burlap or paper grocery bag on which you’ve drawn a funny face. When you’re through with the scarecrows, remove the hay, wash the old clothes and either return them to the rag bag or donate them if there’s still life in them, and compost the rest of the materials. If you live near a farm, note that many farm animals love to eat discarded pumpkins.
  • Choose LEDs. If you want to light your house up at night beyond the jack-o-lanterns, make sure you purchase LED string lights as they use significantly less energy (hence lower carbon emissions) and will also last longer than incandescent bulbs will.
  • Make “Halloween Trees”. This idea comes from a project that our digital director grew up doing and that she now does with her own kids. Search outside for fallen branches that mimic the look of gnarled spooky old trees. “Plant” the tree branch in a pot of dirt. Then let the fun begin! Make decorations by cutting bats, black cats and witches out of construction paper and hanging them from the branches with string. Search for small rounded or rectangular stones to serve as gravestones that you can write or paint on “RIP So and So”, “Here Lies…”, and half bury them in the dirt. If you feel like getting really creative, bust out the clay and sculpt some pumpkins, a witch or a skeleton to sprinkle around the ground below the tree. This can keep kids entertained for hours and you can save the best decorations for years to come and continue building on your spooky scenes. Beyond Plastic
  • Make Halloween Plastic-Free! — Beyond Plastics – Working To End Single-Use Plastic Pollution
  • More plastic-free Halloween ideas.

Too Much, Not Enough

Drought, famine, flooding, storms, hurricanes. We are living at a time of extremes. There is either not enough water or too much water? Is our beautiful fragile planet paying us back for all the abuse it takes? I think the warming of the oceans has a lot to do with our extremes. Our oceans absorb the carbon dioxide and pollution causing them to warm and oceans have a lot to do with weather systems. Climate change also impacts the intensity of Hurricanes. In recent years, a higher proportion fell into Category 4 and 5, a trend that is expected to continue.

We aren’t doing enough to stop polluting our air. I love this climate poster but it is missing one crucial aspect: Use less plastic! Plastic production is a big contributor to more air pollution. Plastic is made from fossil fuels and contains many harmful chemicals. Also, there is new evidence that plastic pollution is making our oceans more acidic. https://health4earth.com/2022/07/26/how-about-a-dose-of-chemicals/

Our planet needs everyone to do their part. Start by driving less and buying less, and many of the others will fall into line! Individual action is a powerful tool for reversing the climate crisis, especially when millions of us unite together.

Reading list:

Amid a massive American clean energy shift, grid operators play catch-up – Minnesota Reformer 

House Committee Investigates the Role of PR Firms in Spreading Climate Disinformation | Sierra Club

Dutch City Is World’s First to Ban Meat Advertising – EcoWatch

Climate Change Leaves Flood Maps Outdated, FEMA Says – EcoWatch  

Pakistan Floods: What Role Did Climate Change Play? – EcoWatch

Tell President Biden and U.S. climate negotiators: The world must address climate losses and damages (sierraclub.org) 

The Planet | Alexander Verbeek 🌍 | Substack 

World Clean up Week!

Everyday work for a waste-free world

https://www.worldcleanupday.org/

World Cleanup Day is the world’s largest one-day civic action engaging more than 191 countries to tackle the global waste crisis.
World Cleanup Day is not just about cleanups. It’s a strong and unique movement that shares the dream of a waste-free world.
Join World Cleanup Day on 17th September 2022!

100 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet | Sierra Club 

17 Ridiculously Easy Things You Can Do To Help Save The Earth Every Day | HuffPost Impact

EcoWatch  10 Things You Can Do to Help Save the Earth | HowStuffWorks

Back To School September

September is a month of change. Many are going back to school, the weather is changing, days are shorter, and the monarch butterflies and hummingbirds in my yard are refueling for migration. May you take a lesson from the monarch butterflies to be energetic, happy and kind. What can we all do in our little piece of this vast planet to make the world and others happier and more kind?

Monarch butterflies bring joy

We all want our children to be safe, happy and kind. We want them to live in a healthy safe world. Some of this is hard to control, but we expect them to be safe while outside playing, walking to school, taking the bus, in their schools, and in in all aspects of their lives.

Have you thought of the unhealthy plastic children come in contact with daily? Plastic is loaded with unhealthy chemicals, and there are things you can do to reduce plastic exposure. Manufacturers use chemicals to make plastic soft and other chemicals to make it hard. We shouldn’t expose children to unhealthy materials especially when we have no idea what the long-term effects will be on them.

If you have children I would make an effort to reduce their plastic exposure.

Below are some ideas to reduce back to school plastic exposure. I am not recommending you go out and purchase new items, but hoping this list will give you ideas to reduce your plastic consumption, and reuse items you have within your household to keep children safe.

Go Back to School Plastic Free | (plasticpollutioncoalition.org)

1. Stainless steel food containers

Lunchtime is a common culprit for plastic pollution in a student’s school day. If your student brings their lunch to school, there are many ways to keep the plastic out. Replace the typical plastic zip-top bag, plastic wrap, with aluminum foil, stainless steel food containers, or paper or cloth bags

2. Cotton and wool lunch bags 

Once you’ve eliminated plastic from the inside of your student’s lunchbox, it’s time to tackle the lunchbox itself. Washable lunch sacks are a good option, and they are widely available at most secondhand shops. Look for plastic-free options such as old-school aluminum lunch boxes, or a lunch bag made from natural materials like this cotton and wool one from Life Without Plastic

3. Plastic-free school supply essentials 

Many back-to-school supply lists are unfortunately filled with plastic items (which, even worse, are often sold wrapped in plastic packaging). Shop for an excellent selection of plastic-free back-to-school essentials like notebooks, pencils, markers, papers, planners. Look for options that have less plastic!

4. Stainless steel water bottle

Studies show that there is 50% more microplastic in (plastic) bottled water than tap water. And plastic bottles—like all plastics—contain chemicals that harm human health. In addition to being healthy, plastic-free, stainless steel reusable water bottles are long-lasting, economical, and easy to use and clean. 

Finally, have a new school year filled with happiness, kindness, and lots of new learning and ideas.

Reading List;

One out of six children in the United States suffer from a neurodevelopmental disability, and there is strong evidence that links chemical exposures to neurodevelopmental delays.”

https://www.hbbf.org/blog/2022-07/six-new-cities-will-reduce-neurotoxic-exposures-babies-air-food-and-environments

The Ugly Face of Plastic – Health4earth

Plastics & Health – Are Phthalates Making Us Infertile? Plastic “Tox” Episode 1 with Dr. Shanna Swan – Plastic Pollution Coalition

Many of the world’s plastic containers and bottles are contaminated with toxic PFAS, and new data suggests that it’s probably leaching into food, drinks, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, cleaning products and other items at potentially high levels.

15 List of Chemicals in Plastic – Properties – Dangers – AZ Chemistry  Meanwhile, there are many list of chemicals in plastic are harmful for our body, and also bad for our Earth. To be wise, it’s better to at least reduce the use of plastic in our daily life. Thus, we may replace plastic with more friendly product.

The first list of chemicals in plastic is Phthalate, the esters of phthalic acid. The main use of phthalate is as plasticizers, to increase flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity. Factories made phthalate by reacting phthalic anhydride with alcohols.

What Is Plastic Made Of? (reference.com)

How about a dose of chemicals?

The accumulation of plastic in our bodies can be dangerous, especially for our children.

Plastic is everywhere and new and current research is showing it is not a healthy product for us to be using. Not only are our bodies contaminated by plastic microfibers, but also toxic chemicals such as forever chemicals (PFAS) and Phthalates. These chemicals accumulate and builds up in our bodies over time, which causes me to worry about the future of our children. See my ideas for reducing plastic at the bottom of this post.

“Every type of plastic contains unknown chemicals, and many of those chemicals may well be unsafe,” says Jane Muncke, Ph.D., an environmental toxicologist Plastic Products Contain Toxic Chemicals – Consumer Reports

There are of chemicals in plastic that are harmful for our body, and also bad for earth effect. To be wise, it’s better to at least reduce the use of plastic in our daily life. 15 List of Chemicals in Plastic – Properties – Dangers – AZ Chemistry

The first list of chemicals in plastic is Phthalate, the esters of phthalic acid. The main use of phthalate is as plasticizers, to increase flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity. Factories made phthalate by reacting phthalic anhydride with alcohols. What Is Plastic Made Of? (reference.com)

Reading list:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/09/toxic-forever-chemicals-plastic-food-containers

Toxic Chemicals used in Plastic Manufacturing and Their Safer Alternatives (thomasnet.com)

Plastic Products Contain Toxic Chemicals – Consumer Reports

What can you do? Start the change to a plastic-free life now, but it takes years. Please don’t go buy all new things, just start replacing items as they are needed.

– Don’t eat on plastic or Styrofoam plates or use plastic utensils, and don’t drink out of plastic bottles.

-Always purchase bulk fresh fruits and vegetables and never in plastic containers or plastic bags.

-Choose glass over plastic, and transition to storing food in glass or metal containers.

-Never purchase # 7 plastic products. They are a mixture of different plastics.

-It is possible to live a good life without Baggies!

-Transition your clothes to natural fibers like cotton and wool.