Try a Low Salt Diet

I am working on this neighborhood campaign.

It’s winter, and in the United States and Canada we are caught between the cold Arctic, and warmer Gulf moisture. All of this causing our snow, cold and winter thaws. This also produces icy sidewalks and icy roads. For many of us the ice is the hardest part of winter to deal with, but what are the best practices in dealing with winter ice?

Using salt on roads, sidewalks and driveways permanently pollutes our lakes and streams. With rain and snow melt his salt washes into our water, it never leaves, harming pets and wildlife. Once salt gets in our water bodies it’s there for good.

Control ice, but also protect our lakes and streams, best practices:

1. Shovel. Clearing walkways before snow turns to ice will reduce the need for salt.
2. Select the right product for the right temperature. Sodium chloride (salt)doesn’t melt snow below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, so use sand for traction in colder weather.  Many products are marketed as environmentally friendly, but read the label, they still contain chloride (salt).
3. Scatter. Use salt sparingly and only where it’s necessary, and use only on ice. Shovel instead of spreading salt!
4. Sweep up  leftover salt and sand to prevent it from running off into water bodies.                                                                                                                                                5. Rearrange downspouts so they don’t drain on to sidewalks causing sidewalk ice.

It takes only one teaspoon of road salt to permanently pollute 5 gallons of water. Once salt is in the water, there is no way to remove it. Salt harms fish, plant life, and the over all quality of lakes and streams.

Be winter safe, but be a friend of our lakes and streams!

Using Food a WIN-WIN

 

 Cook it,   Soup it,   Taco it,    Stir fry it,   Eat it,   Freeze it,   Share it 

                             Be creative

How did you manage your Thanksgiving left overs? 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

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, soups, tacos, enchiladas, salads, fried rice, and many other things lend themselves to create special meals of uneaten foods.

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.
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)

Have a fun holiday month, but make a creative difference by reusing, planning, seriously cutting waste, and saving food from your garbage!

The story of a strawberry here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WREXBUZBrS8

Too Much Water, Too Much Sediment

Lake Superior and all lakes are precious, protect them!

This summer I wished I could have given some of our rain to drought stricken North or South Dakota. Everyday on Lake Superior seemed to sprout a rain shower.  When I read the water quality of Lake Superior wasn’t superior to other Great Lakes anymore, my first thought was of this summer’s rain. Because of the rainy summer, the lake level became very high, and this high water caused some of the soft lake banks to erode into the lake causing lake sediment.  The streams running into the lake bring more sediment into the lake.

An unusual fact about Lake Superior: Many streams and rivers drain into the big lake, but only one river drains out of the lake, the St. Mary’s River, and that is regulated at Sault Ste. Marie. I know the water that flows out through the St. Mary’s River is complicated with many factors, but releasing more water from the lake could probably help water quality of Lake Superior. Read at St. Mary’s River.

We can all do better to protect the water quality this magnificent lake, and other lakes also.

Buffer strips along lakes protect water quality.

Slowing down the water flow can help. Buffer strips of deep-rooted plants along streams and along the lake can reduce sediment run-off, and putting in rain gardens and rain barrels can also slow the water.

The below ideas for protecting our lakes is from the Superiorforum.org , Sigurd Olson Institute, Northland college, the EPA, and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:
1 .Be conservative with your water use.
2. Recycle as much as you can with the 4 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and repair. And….NEVER burn trash.
3. Curb Yard Pollution. Put your lawn on a chemical-free diet!!
4. Stop aquatic invasives by cleaning plants and animals off your boat.
5. Plant native plants, and reduce turf grass.
6. Plant native trees According to Audubon, oak trees are the best for attracting insects and birds.
7. Install a rain barrel
8. Create an energy-efficient home.
9. Bring hazardous waste to waste collection sites.
10. Love our lakes!

I would add a few more:

  1. Plastics have become a big problem for our waterways.  Reduce plastic use and be sure any plastic-use is recycled. Also remember to say, “No straw please!”
  2. Micro-fibers in our clothes also are polluting our waterways. As of yet there isn’t a good solution. Read about micro-fibers here.
  3. Always pick up litter.

The water we have on earth is the only water we will ever have, we must take care of it!

Voters for Dirty Air And Water?

Do we want lakes that look like this?
Do we want lakes that look like this?

Did voters on November 8, vote for dirty water and dirty air?  I know one Trump voter who is totally against the Dakota Access Pipeline. I can’t believe that November’s vote was to trash our water and air! Please call your senators.

No matter where you live, call your senator and tell them to oppose Scott Pruitt’s confirmation as EPA Administrator: (202) 224-3121
You can use this tool to quickly find your senator and click to call them: http://on.nrdc.org/2kkFfOL

Below is from the NRDC, Natural Resources Defense Council:

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is the worst, most extreme nominee ever tapped to lead the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. We must stop him! As Oklahoma Attorney General, he has sued the EPA 18 times to fight clean air and water rules. Seventeen of these 18 he joined with fossil fuel companies in suing the EPA. Pruitt has gone to court to fight rules that would save up to 45,000 lives, and avoid hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks and heart attacks every year.. More than 1 in 10 children in Oklahoma have asthma, which is one of highest rates of asthma in United States.

He routinely allies with big polluters to promote prioritize their profits over the health and safety of ordinary people. How could he possibly be qualified to protect our air and water?

Bottom line: he is unfit to serve as the nation’s top environmental steward. We only need 3 senators to swing their votes the right way to stop him! CALL RIGHT NOW.

No matter where you live, call your senator and tell them to oppose Scott Pruitt’s confirmation as EPA Administrator: (202) 224-3121
You can use this tool to quickly find your senator and click to call them: http://on.nrdc.org/2kkFfOL

And if you live in one of the following states, it is particularly important to call these senators:
Sen. Joe Donnelly (Indiana) 202-224-4814                             wp-image-1471591845jpeg.jpeg
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota) 202-224-2043
Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) 202-224-2523
Sen. Dean Heller (Nevada) 202- 224-6244
Sen. Jeff Flake (Arizona) (202) 224-4521
Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) (202) 224-3353
Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tennessee) (202) 224-4944
Sen. Joe Manchin (West Virginia) (202) 224-3954

 

Protecting our Waterways

Keep our lakes and rivers clean
Keep our lakes and rivers clean

The leaves are falling, and it is raking season.  What does this have to do with water quality?

The substances that turn our lakes and rivers green each summer come from our lawns and yards. We think of leaves as waste, but to a lake they are food. The algae in lakes love leaves, and when we feed lakes too many leaves, algal blooms turn our lakes and rivers green and smelly. Protecting water is everyone’s job What can you do? Simple–remember the land/water connection! What we do to the land we do to the water. Clean your streets when the leaves fall from the trees, and when you mow the grass clean your streets, also. Keep our lakes and rivers clean.

The Mighty Mississippi

Leaves pollute our waterways!
Leaves pollute our waterways!

What we do to our land, we do to our river”  John Stein MPCA Commissioner

The Mississippi River, one of the longest rivers in the world begins in Minnesota and flows south into the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi River cuts the United States in half, into the east and the west.  An investigative report by the Minneapolis Startribune.com. reveals the environmental threats to the Mississippi River caused by agricultural pollution  and urban run-off. Many communities use the Mississippi River as their source of drinking water.  If we are polluting this great river at the head waters what is the future for all of us, and for the wildlife that also uses this river?  What is the future of the Gulf of Mexico as the Mississippi River carries pollution during its journey south?  What will be the state of drinking water through the middle of the United States?

 We all need to do better.
We all need to do better.

The storm drains on my street drain into the Mississippi. What we do on the land affects the Mississippi River.  As a trained water steward, I am encouraging urban dwellers to manage the run-off from their yards in a smarter way.  There is a new paradigm. Instead of getting the water off our land we are looking for ways to use water run-off by redirecting our gutters and down-spouts, and building rain gardens to capture the rainfall.

Not using chemicals, sweeping our sidewalks and streets, re-directing our down-spouts, building rain gardens, picking up trash, and recycling are just a few things the urban dweller can do to help the Mississippi River.  Agricultural interests are another thing, and they need to do their part. Part 3 of this series focuses on farmers along the Chippewa River giving hope:

“Raising the amount of land planted in such perennials by just 10 percentage points — from 24 percent to 34 percent of the Chippewa watershed’s 1.3 million acres — would be enough to tip the river from polluted to clean.

Some 25 landowners now participate, and if they can prove its premise — that a farmer can make money without polluting the Chippewa — they could be a model for protecting threatened rivers all across the Midwest.” Read part 3 report here.

A fun video on building a rain garden: