Plastic Free July

Welcome to Plastic Free July

Be healthier and avoid the chemicals contained in plastic!

Plastic Free July is about creating awareness about our plastic problem and to encourage individuals to move to a plastic-free lifestyle. Working together we can make a difference to reduce our plastic use and create a world free of plastic pollution.

Other than being light weight, plastic is not a good product. It is made of fossil fuels, and the production of plastic creates air pollution. It pollutes our waterways and land. Plastic also contains toxic chemicals which can poison our food and health. https://azchemistry.com/list-of-chemicals-in-plastic

Plastic particles have been found in the air we breathe and the water we drink. Plastic has been found in our blood, lungs, and the clothes we wear and food we eat. A study says we eat a credit card of plastic a week. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/study-finds-we-eat-a-credit-card-worth-of-plastic-every-week/ Doesn’t this make you want to reduce your plastic?

Plastic reduction is not easy, start small with one thing to eliminate. I have 4 ideas for your #plasticfreeJuly: Start your #plasticfree month by deciding to bring your own bags and decide “no plastic bags” or use a reusable water bottle and choose not to purchase bottled water or soda. Or decide every bit of plastic you purchase must be recyclable (a lot is not), and then make sure it is recycled. Maybe, bare purchase your produce or meat without plastic. You know what plastic you use. Look at the plastic waste you create, what can you eliminate? Good Luck!

I challenge you to a July without plastic bags or plastic bottles.

States and Countries are changing the discussion on plastic:

Maine shifts the cost of recycling and trash to the manufacturers. Shifting the Costs of Recycling to Manufacturers, Not Consumers | Sierra Club

Landmark legislation in California will reduce single-use plastic by 25% over the next ten years. The ambitious law requires at least 30% of plastic items sold or bought in California are recyclable by 2028 and economic responsibility falls to producers. It’s the first state in the US to approve such sweeping restrictions. Guardian

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-59357222  Ban on single-use moves forward in England

London theatre to ban visitors from bringing single-use plastic bottles | Royal Court theatre | The Guardian

Recycling Myth of the Month: Those numbered symbols on single-use plastics do not mean ‘you can recycle me’ – Oceana   

2022-tips-to-use-less-plastic | Choose to Reuse (hennepin.us) 

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.

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)

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

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

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!

 

The Cost of Bottled Water

We are at the end of World Clean Up Month. As we pick up trash and works to keep our Earth clean, I always wonder, “What can we all do to keep the Earth cleaner and healthier?”

Bring your reusable water container.

reusable containers

My reuseable lunch containers

Today I walked by a car that had it’s back seat full of bottled water, and too often I see people with grocery carts full of bottled water. Why not purchase a large reusable container and fill that at a store? You could save hundreds of plastic bottles from ending in the landfill and live a more sustainable life.

I have confidence in our public water supply. I know where I live it is safe!

What are the costs of bottles water to our environment? A study done in Spain answers this question. Recycling and water in every community is different so we can’t make big generalizations, but in the United States recycling of plastic is only 9 tp 11% which makes bottled water awful for the environment. Also, the production of plastic uses fossil fuels and pollutes our air.

The study found that the environmental toll of bottled water was 1,400 to 3,500 times higher than that of tap water.

Another problem with bottled water is that companies like Nestle take free public water from aquifers to bottle and sell to the public. This is happening on Lake Superior right now (Lake Superior is not for sale). What a racket! Maine has passed a law to make companies responsible for recycling their products instead of the taxpayers. Read about it here Maine Will Make Companies Pay for Recycling. Here’s How It Works. – The New York Times (nytimes.com) 

Read the Spain study here:

What Is the Environmental Cost of Bottled Water? – EcoWatch  

https://www.lakesuperiornotforsale.com/home

https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/blog/2021/9/10/watch-story-of-plastic Watch the excellent documentary, The Story of Plastic.