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) 

July Choice

July should be one of the best times of the year. Make a choice to have outdoor time, listen to the birds and look for butterflies. Turn off phones and your TV and make a choice to enjoy your environment.

swallow tail butterfly

Enjoy the beauty of July!

Make a choice to be kind and work to be resilient. Make a choice for clean air by buying and driving less, and you will be doing something good for the earth. Make a choice to use less plastic and eat healthier. Wise choices will help you be happier. The Actions for Happiness group have lots of good choices for a happier July. Good luck!

Chin up, chin up
Put a little laughter in your eyes
Brave it, save it
Even though you’re feeling otherwise
Rise up, wise up
Make a little smile begin
You’ll be happy hearted
Once you get it started
Up with your chinny chin chin!

~ E.B. White

Clean a Storm Drain

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.

poster for clean water

Adopt a storm drain at https://adopt-a-drain.org/

June Justice

Do something kind!

We live in an unjust world. Children are shot for being at school, shoppers are shot buying groceries, and whole countries are under siege because leaders are full of lies and visions of power. Poor countries are suffering from climate change created by wealthy countries. We live in an unjust world

Justice and Truth!

We must work for justice and truth. As a civilization we will not survive if we don’t work harder for justice and electing leaders who speak the truth and do not spew hate.

We must do more to keep our children safe, and gun violence should be an issue Americans vote on, only then things will change!

Gun violence in America kills more children than any other cause. This is not a civilized society! All countries have mental health issues, but the United States needs the gun restrictions that other countries have managed to pass. See information from John’s Hopkins below.

Be kind

Make an effort to spread kindness every day! Kindness creates a ripple for more kindness!

From John’s Hopkins University:

“Ten people shopping for groceries in Buffalo were killed in a racist act of gun violence. The next day, worshippers at a California church were shot in another racist incident. Last week, tragedy struck again, but this time in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where 21 people, including 19 students and 2 teachers were killed in a mass shooting.

All are tragic reminders of why we need lawmakers to implement gun violence prevention policies that can prevent this needless loss of life.

As the new Center for Gun Violence Solutions – formed from the recent merger of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence and the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy – we are continuing to fight for evidence-based policies to reduce mass shootings including firearm purchaser licensing, firearm removal laws such as extreme risk protection orders, and bans on large capacity magazines.” John’s Hopkins University

https://www.everytown.org/

This is an excellent speech: https://www.nbcnews.com/now/video/watch-president-biden-s-full-speech-addressing-gun-control-after-recent-mass-shootings-141353029701

Good suggestions for working for community health and a kinder world:

Leave Those Violets

Beautiful violets are popping up all over our yards, and gardeners either love or hate them. I am a lover of violets. My love affair started when I learned they were the host plant to the fritillary butterfly. How could violets be a fritillary host plant? The timing of these butterflies and the blooming violets were so mismatched. This post is to try to explain how important violets are to the fritillary butterfly.

Violets are the only host plant for the fritillary butterfly.

During the past month millions of blue violets have been pulled out of gardens and lawns. It is unfortunate because the overwintering caterpillar of the fritillary butterfly is just climbing out of its winter leaf letter hiding place looking for violets to sustain their life cycle. The fritillary caterpillar will eat only one thing, its host plant—violets.

The fritillary caterpillars emerge out of the leaf litter where they have wintered, into a few weeks of munching on violets. The caterpillars eat at night so we don’t see them. Next, the caterpillar forms a secretive well-hidden chrysalis, and a few weeks later a beautiful fritillary will evolve from its chrysalis.

Fritillary on thistle

What do these beautiful butterflies’ nectar on? Not violets, but the fritillary’s preferred native nectar plants include milkweeds, Joe Pyes, native thistles, coneflowers, and wild bergamot (bee balm) Plant these native plants to keep the new butterflies in your yard!

After mating, the female fritillary looks for violets to lay her eggs on or near. These eggs grow into caterpillars that will overwinter in the leaf litter surrounding the violet. The caterpillar wakes up around the time the spring violets emerge and the cycle begins again.

I think the best way to create fritillary habitat is to have a dedicated spot in your yard where violets can thrive. Maybe a place where you can allow the leaf litter to stay. Also, creating a bee lawn is a wonderful way to sustain these pleasant violets and the fritillary butterflies too. https://extension.umn.edu/landscape-design/planting-and-maintaining-bee-lawn

A Resting Place for Migrants

Spring arrives and shakes us out of all the darkness in our world! After a violent storm last night, I was worried about migrating birds and butterflies.  Somehow, they manage to arrive and today I was treated to my first Painted Lady butterfly, a hummingbird, wrens and a Swainson’s Thrush.

Native plants create healthy food, homes and a resting spot for birds and butterflies.

It’s World Migration Week! On this big week of migration what can you do to create a healthier and friendlier environment? Find the migration happening in your county here: BirdCast – Bird migration forecasts in real-time 

Would you like your yard to be a resting spot for nature? My yard is for the birds. First, we never use chemicals as we try to create bee, butterfly and bird habitat.  Lawn chemicals aren’t healthy for people and they sure aren’t healthy for wildlife either. Native plants do not need chemicals so they are a win-win. Start small, with easy to grow wild geraniums, bee balm and asters. These three plants will get you blooms in the spring, summer and fall, and they will bring joy to you and wildlife.

Bee balm is a magnet for birds, bees and butterflies!

Here are some other ideas to get you started:

Plants for Birds (audubon.org)

How you can help North American birds during migration : Life Kit : NPR

For Earth Day, plant native plants, practice benign neglect (newstimes.com) 

Why Native Plants Are Better for Birds and People | Audubon

BirdCast – Bird migration forecasts in real-time 

Buying Bee-Safe Plants – Make a Commitment to Talk to Your Nursery! (google.com) 

“We can no longer simply “let nature take its course” and expect the return of productive ecosystems. Humans have meddled in too many ways that prevent nature from healing itself. We have introduced over 3,400 species of invasive plants to which local wildlife is not adapted, and we have eliminated the top predators that used to keep deer, raccoon, skunk, and possum populations in check. If we remove an essential part of an ecological community, we must replace it through active management or the system will collapse.” Doug Tallamy

Foreword by Doug Tallamy: The Woods in Your Backyard preview (instructure.com)

An easier way to welcome migrants and create habitat for them is to NO Mow May

No Mow May Affiliate Spotlights: Appleton, WI and Lawrence University – Bee City USA 

No Mow May: 8 Reasons to Let Your Lawn Grow This Month – Bob VIla 

My third idea for a healthy yard is creating a bee yard, and they are beautiful right now. The flowers of a bee lawn provide food (nectar and pollen) for pollinators. Bee lawns are environmentally friendly because they are managed using low-input methods that generally use less fertilizer and pesticides. Bee lawns can still be used recreationally by your household like a regular lawn. A bee lawn can attract over 50 species of native bees.

https://extension.umn.edu/landscape-design/planting-and-maintaining-bee-lawn

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.