As our planet continues to warm, we are facing many consequences. California is facing incredible rains, Europe has unheard of winter warmth, and where I live, we have smelly bad air warnings. We cannot throw up our hands and claim there is nothing we can do. Every activity we participate in affects our warming planet. Can we buy less, drive less, eat less meat and use less plastic? Little things make a big difference.
If you can, stay off the road two days a week or more. You’ll reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,590 pounds (721 kilograms) per year [source: EPA]. It’s easier than you think. You can combine your errands — hit the school, grocery store and dog daycare in one trip. And talk to your boss about teleworking. It’s a boon for you and your company. But being car conscious also means maintaining your car on a regular basis. You can improve your gas mileage by 0.6 percent to 3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure, and be sure to make necessary repairs if your car fails emission [source: EPA].
Give Up Plastics
The statistics are shocking: People around the world buy 1 million plastic drinking bottlesevery minute, and use up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags every year. Humans are addicted to plastic, and hardly any of it — about 9 percent — gets recycled. A staggering 8 million tons (7.25 metric tons) ends up in the ocean every year. Break the cycle. Stop buying bottled water. Say no to plastic shopping bags and use cloth bags instead. Don’t use plastic straws. Drink from a reuseable cup instead of a plastic one. Avoiding plastic can divert a ton of waste from the oceans and landfill.
Clean air and clean water are better for all of us. Buy less and drive less.
How can you turn food waste into a game! ideas for frittas, soup, rice bowls, wraps and grain bowls below.
We have a crisis of food waste in the United States. Households account too much wasted food. 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.
Melissa Clark for the New York Times is writing about ideas to deal with food waste
“Susan Shain’s recent article for The New York Times has jolted me back into my composting groove. She wrote about how an Ohio community substantially reduced its food waste, which is a huge contributor to greenhouse gases and responsible for twice as many emissions as commercial aviation in the United States. That’s a lot of emissions.
Households, she writes, “account for 39 percent of food waste in the United States, more than restaurants, grocery stores or farms. Change, then, means tackling the hard-wired habits of hundreds of millions of individuals, community by community, home by home.”
The statistics left me nowhere to hide. What we do in the kitchen can make a difference: creating meal plans, shopping with a list, composting and using up the leftovers.
This last one is my happy place. I turn it into a game, saving bits of this and that in little containers, then puzzling out how to use them to seed future meals.
That handful of sautéed kale, those roasted vegetables, a tranche of salmon fillet? Chop it all up and fold it into a creamy risotto for color and flavor, or make a base for a loaded frittata.
If you have a motley band of root vegetables softening in your produce drawer, perhaps from an overenthusiastic spree at the farmers’ market or a surprise bonanza from your CSA box, you can upcycle them into a warming, adaptable vegetable soup. Enlist your wilted or leftover greens; rutabagas, turnips and kohlrabi, come on in!
As for leftover dessert, a batch of brookies or bread pudding (made from stale bread). Let’s just say this is never an issue in my sweet-toothed family. We gleefully finish every crumb.
What’s better than to end 2022 with stories of good news from the past year. For me the 2022 elections were good news, election deniers lost, and most voters weren’t fooled by poor candidates, and Democracy survived.
Parks are for everyone!
Future Crunch does their annual list of 99 of the best news stories. The reduction of world poverty, protection of land, oceans and the creation of parks made me happy. A decline in smoking and of course increased solar and increased use of electric vehicles all are important good stories.
From the New York Times: Murders in large U.S. cities are down more than 5 percent so far in 2022 compared to the same time last year, according to the research firm AH Datalytics. Gun deaths, injuries and mass shootings are also down this year.
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
Looking for the perfect practical gift? Reusable metal, glass, or ceramic water bottles and travel mugs are plastic-free gifts that will also help the recipient to reduce future waste! Other zero-waste gifts include bamboo utensil sets, stainless steel straws, loose tea and tea strainers, beeswax food wrap, Swedish reusable cloths, a stainless steel tiffin (perfect for bringing lunch or keeping in your car to have handy if you go out to eat to bring leftovers home in), reusable bowl covers, reusable cotton tote bags, stainless steel or ceramic compost bins for your kitchen, and so much more.
2. Give a Gift Subscription or Certificate To A Zero-Waste Service
Purchasing a gift certificate or subscription to one of the many excellent zero-plastic and low or zero-waste products, stores, and services out there can be a great way to bring a family member or friend into the fold. A few to consider include Plaine Products, Blueland, HumanKind, Package-Free Shop, Superzero, and Loop Store but there are more and more out there to choose from and you might enjoy the research.
3. Support a Local Farm & Feed a Loved One
Consider buying a friend or family member a share (or a half share) in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Are you new to the concept of a CSA? Click here for more info on what a CSA is and how it works. You can look for farms that offer winter CSA shares or purchase one that begins in the spring. This is a great way to support a local farm while also helping the lucky recipient feed themselves and their family with fresh, nutritious goodies. Consider providing some of your favorite recipes along with the CSA share to round out the package. If you don’t know where to start, you can do a search for CSAs through Local Harvest or the USDA’s database.
4. Support Democracy & Your Community With A Newspaper Subscription
Independent media is crucial to a functioning democracy. Whether it is online or paper, for you or for a friend, subscribe to your local newspaper whether it’s a monthly, weekly, or daily.
5. Give an Experience
Gifting experiences is a great way to reduce waste and create lasting memories. Whether it’s a membership to a nature preserve or a local museum or a lift ticket for a near by ski mountain that can be used now or the promise of a long-anticipated trip to Paris, this could be a hit.
6. Choose Plastic-Free Clothing
Everyone loves a comfy pair of PJs or some new socks for the holidays. Unfortunately, most of our clothing is made from synthetic materials like polyester and nylon which contain plastic fibers. But there are plenty of fun and affordable brands that use materials like recycled cotton, linen, and wool. Need somewhere to get started? The free app GoodOnYou can help you find the best brands to buy from this season. Or consider buying a gently used item of clothing from thredUp, Poshmark, or good old eBay.
7. Give the Gift of Giving to Others in Need
For that person who already “has it all,” the gift of giving could be a great choice. Make a donation in their honor to a charity you think they’d appreciate (hint: Beyond Plastics is a great option!) and send them a card sharing the gift. Or, if you think they’d prefer to be more hands-on, consider setting them up with a pre-paid micro-lender account through an organization like Kiva to allow them to choose the recipients of their microloans. This could be a particularly good way to help a young person experience philanthropy directly. Other places with great meaningful virtual gifts that give back include Oxfam America and Heifer International and many environmental nonprofits offer symbolic wildlife adoption programs.
8. Make Your Own Gifts
Homemade items are the way to go for truly unique and special presents. DIY candles, baked goods, bath salts, tea mixes, brownie mix, vanilla extract, spices, and even games can be easy and customizable gifts! Click here for some DIY gift ideas.
9. Buy From Your Local Bookstore
Resist the temptation to buy from Amazon and visit your local bookstore. Wear your mask and spend some time browsing the shelves to see what books might delight a loved one. Many bookstores also sell toys and cards if you’re looking for more than books.
10. Entertain With an Online or Streaming Subscription
Winter is long and entertainment really helps. A subscription or gift certificate to a streaming platform, an audiobook platform, an online music service, or an online newspaper or magazine could help your loved ones stay entertained and informed without requiring any new plastic or disposable items.
11. Choose Plastic-Free Gift Cards Only! Gift cards can be a handy, popular, and sustainable choice if you opt for either an electronic or paper gift card. Gift cards made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic must be avoided at all costs. Learn more in our fact sheet and opt for a digital or paper card when you shop.
12. Give An Old Item New Life
Re-gifting is great! If you own an item that you’re ready to part with and think someone else would enjoy, wrap it up (see tips below), and pass it along. Vintage and used items also make excellent holiday gifts. There are so many wonderful books, household items, pieces of clothing and jewelry, tools, and more that deserve a second (or third or fourth) chance to be useful and provide joy waiting to be discovered. You can browse eBay or Etsy to find special gifts. Or grab your mask and visit your local antiques shop, second-hand bookstore, thrift store, or auction to look for finds.
13. Wrap It Up Right
Much wrapping paper is non-recyclable (anything glittery, sparkly, etc, won’t be accepted). The good thing is that wrapping paper is not a necessity. This year, look around your home for alternatives. Newspapers and paper grocery bags work really well. If you have kids, drawing, painting or stamping a pattern on a used grocery bag can be a fun activity, too. If you want to go the extra mile, old book pages, tote bags, and scrap fabric make for cute and unique wrapping. In fact, there is a Japanese tradition of wrapping gifts in attractive pieces of cloth called furoshiki. And when you’re unwrapping gifts, save the wrapping paper (or fabric) and ribbons to use them again. If your family enjoys a little friendly competition, you can even keep score to see who can reuse a given piece of paper the most times —warning, this could stretch on for years!
The first round of negotiations on a global treaty to halt plastic pollution has ended in a split on whether goals and efforts should be global and mandatory, or voluntary and country-led.
More than 2,000 delegates from 160 countries met in Uruguay for the first of a planned five sessions of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), a UN negotiating body aimed at crafting the first legally binding agreement by the end of 2024.
The world desperately need a plastics treaty and it will be a long process to agree to something. The chemical industry that produces plastic plans to make more and more plastic, and controlling a strong industry is difficult! They argue recycling is the answer, but they have done a terrible job making plastic recyclable and safe for the public. Recycling is not the answer, less than 9 percent has been recycled since plastic’s creation.
If there is one thing you do for your health, don’t drink bottled water!
Plastic particles are in our organs and blood streams. Plastic particles are in our babies when they are born. Plastic contains lots of toxics, I would avoid eating and drinking from plastic containers!
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.
Wasting food is an enormous waste of valuable resources!
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)