The Challenge of Plastic

Do the best you can until you know better, then do better” Maya Angelou

 

Covid-19 has been a plastic disaster. As we climb out of this abyss we must take single-use plastic seriously. We also need to hold companies accountable for bad packaging.

Why as taxpayers and citizens are we paying the price of this environmental disaster of plastic while the creators of this packaging have no responsibility? The landfills in the county where I live are full, and plastic trash can last for hundreds of years, maybe forever!  What are the manufacturers of this plastic thinking other than profit? As consumers we are also at fault. If we keep buying this plastic packaging they will keep making it!

July is plastic-free month
Work to reduce your plastic footprint

How can we all reduce our landfill trash? Surveying my garbage I find I have way too much plastic that cannot be recycled, and most of it is # 7 plastic that cannot be recycled.   Why would companies use plastic that can’t be recycled? I decided to ask them. I sent an emails or telephoned Wyman’s Blueberries, Bob’s Red Mill, Morning Star and Gardein.  A few companies admitted they wished their  packaging was better, but it was a freshness and a cost issue to stay competitive. What about the costs to the environment and our health? 

#7 plastic is a mixture of different plastics and it is designed to make it hard to know what it contains. It can contain harmful chemicals like BPA. Don’t purchase it, and don’t purchase any plastic that can’t be recycled!

Model a new way forward: “When we use disposable items, we send a message: this is what we want, keep it up, make more of this. When we refuse, and choose reusable, we model another way forward. Our choices can make a difference. Let’s make them count!” PlasticfreeTuesday 

Also choose reusable masks and gloves!

Bob’s Red Mill was the most disappointing of the companies I contacted. They sell lots of products, many that are hard to find, and have a monopoly on some products. Bob’s has a trusted reputation of being  healthy and sustainable. I am sad they use awful  # 7 packaging, and at our house we won’t purchase their products or any #7 plastic until their packaging improves.

Please recycle plastic bags at grocery stores!

The good news is that by being a smarter shopper it is possible to find items that are packaged in recyclable #4 plastic. These #4 bags need to be dropped off at grocery stores for store recycling. They should not be placed with your normal plastic recycling because they disable the sorting machines.

health4earth
Bring your own reusable bags.

Lets hold plastic producers accountable and avoid harmful plastic. It is always best to reuse bags and containers when possible, but sadly that often is not an option. However, with new awareness we can do better, one plastic item at a time.

Reading list:

Tips & tricks for grocery shopping with less waste (plasticfreetuesday.com)

Solving Packaging

Virginia moves closer to ban plastic foam containers | Environment | rappnews.com 

Action item: Can you join me and take action demanding President Biden act on plastics? Click here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/president-biden-be-a-plasticfreepresident?source=email&

 

 

Resolve to be a Better Consumer

Consumption is a big challenge for us as humans–we need, we want lots of things…The vast majority of products end up in landfills, and over 60 % of fabric fibers are synthetics derived from fossils fuels so they don’t decay.” Designer  Christian Siriano

SO, How can we become better consumers?  We have incredible power with our consumer dollars.  How can we use that power wisely? Why would you reinforce corporate greed with your purchases? Everyone wants to save money, but you are not saving money when you purchase lots of cheap things that will end up in the land fill next year!  

Lots of environmental repair is needed, and I hope you will join me to help in 2021 and resolve to be a better consumer. Look at your habits and just make one change. See reading list below.

One of the most important forms of power we have is our ability to decide where and how we spend our money. When you pump LESS gas, and purchase less meat you’re saying something. When you contact businesses about their extreme plastic packaging, you’re doing something. When you shop local, support local farms and climate-smart brands, you’re making a difference by revealing a growing market for whom business as usual will not cut it. At our house we only make purchases at places that pay a minimum wage. If we can use our dollars to shop for quality, support local, green, and homegrown businesses. We can keep dollars in our own communities and make a statement. Buying less makes a statement too.

The thought of having plastic microfibers in the food I consume stirs me to reduce my plastic consumption and motivates me to become aware of my plastic and other unsustainable purchases.

glass
Reuse containers
Where can you start? First work to stop purchasing single-use plastic. Shop with your reusable bags, use a reusable water bottle, refuse straws/plastic utensils, and find an alternative to baggies. Maybe stop using sauce packets. Become aware of all the  packaging that can’t be recycled.

Start working on one thing and go from there. You will not be perfect, but you can make a difference! Maybe you can start with an alternative to dryer sheets and hand wipes. I just discovered somethings I purchased during the pandemic are in #7 plastic(not recyclable). I’m contacting these companies, and ending my #7 plastic purchases! Education and awareness make such a difference. I hope the reading list below will heighten your awareness also!

Reading list:

Say no to fast fashion and purchase items that will last a long time

Toxic chemicals in single-use plastics are harming human health | U.S. PIRG   

Do You Want to Buy Less Stuff? Three People Tell Us How – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

https://bigthink.com/personal-growth/buy-less-stuff

Beginner’s Guide to Minimalism – Going Zero Waste

Six Eco-Friendly Pledges for 2021​ – EcoWatch 

New Year’s Resolutions for the Planet – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

9 New Years’ Climate Resolutions To Keep For 2021, According To Experts (forbes.com)

In Focus: We know the real cost of fast fashion, so why do we buy it? | Metro News

Lake Michigan plastic pollution poses ecological and social threats (https_dailynorthwestern.com)  

Substitutes For Dryer Sheets | Cleancult

My ten tips for Health4earth holiday shopping: 

 

Purchase clothing made from natural fibers – synthetic fibers like polyester are made from plastic. Opt for alternatives to dryer sheets for your laundry.

February Challenges

The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humor and style and generosity and kindness.”
— Maya Angelou

red heart
Listen to people, smile and connect

Happy February, the days are longer, it will warm up this month and the celebration of Valentines Day! It is exciting that after almost a year some schools are going back to in-person learning. The challenge of many this month is to get vaccinated from COVID, and I wish you luck!

February is also important for Black History Month. How can we all work for a more just and equitable world?

The Action For Happiness calendar follows with ideas to challenge you to stay connected. Lets all renew some friendships, and challenge ourselves to spend more healthy time outside.

February
Make February a good month, and live it with passion!

The Hill We Climb

Amanda Gorman

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be—a country that is bruised, but whole, benevolent, but bold, fierce, and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.” Amanda Gorman

And more:

Madam Vice President Harris

We, the successors of a country and a time,

Where a skinny black girl,

Descended from slaves and raised by a single mother,

Can dream of becoming president

                                                                                        Amanda Gorman

We will rebuild, reconcile and recover. … The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

A Plastic-free President, sign petition

Please sign the petition below asking President Biden to help stop the plastic crisis facing the world.

Plastic will soon outweigh all the fish in the sea, and it’s in our drinking water and on our plates. Yet industry plans to increase plastic production by 40% over the next decade.

President Biden can, and must, act on plastic pollution. We must stop producing more plastic and transform our throwaway economy to a regenerative one.

We demand President Biden take bold actions on plastic pollution and be a #PlasticFreePresident.

550+ organizations recently launched a plan outlining eight actions President Biden can take without Congress to fight the plastic pollution crisis. President Biden must take all eight actions.

Can you join me and take action demanding President Biden act on plastics? Click here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/president-biden-be-a-plasticfreepresident?source=email&

Thanks!

We all must do everything we can to reduce plastic pollution.

Below are the eight important actions that need to be immediately taken:

  1. Use the purchasing power of the Federal government to eliminate single-use plastics and replace them with reusable products.
  2. Deny permits for new or expanded plastic production facilities associated with infrastructure projects.
  3. Make corporate polluters pay and reject false solutions.
  4. Advance environmental justice in petrochemical corridors.
  5. Update existing federal regulations to curtail pollution from plastics facilities by using the best available science and technology.
  6. Stop subsidizing plastic producers.
  7. Join international efforts to address the global plastic pollution crisis through new and strengthened multilateral agreements.
  8. Reduce and mitigate the impacts of discarded and lost fishing gear.

Actions For Happiness!

 

And kindness, too!

“If we can’t change the circumstances, perhaps we can alter our attitudes.” Dr. Dale Anderson

The events of the last few weeks in the U.S. Capitol are depressing. This doctor was in the Startribune this week, I hope you can find a way to brighten your day. The Actions For Happiness calendar follows.

Upbeat techniques

Dr. Anderson outlines ideas to be happy in his book, “Never Act Your Age.” They include:

• Maintain good posture in order to present yourself in an upbeat matter. There are lots of techniques for practicing good posture — including the classic book on the head — but Anderson suggests that whenever you feel yourself slumping, take three steps backward. Your body will instinctively adjust its alignment, raising your head, neck and shoulders.

• Keep your eyes wide open. Be aware of what’s going on around you, searching, exploring and connecting. Mindfulness!

• Smile, even if you’re wearing a mask. Keep your forehead and cheeks up. Strive to appear radiant and alert.

• Do something that makes you feel better. Go for a walk. Call an old friend. Turn on upbeat music. Surround yourself with pleasing aromas. I would add, find beauty in your day!

• Shake up your routine. Sit in a different chair at the dinner table. Brush your teeth with the opposite hand. “Welcome new, novel and challenging encounters.”

January Hope

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”
― Abraham Lincoln

“Our democracy isn’t about any individual, even a president—it’s about you”  Barack Obama

Special days in January: It is a historic month for the United States, giving us all hope! Let’s start by telling the truth, being kind, and working for justice.

January 5, Senate elections in Georgia

January 6, Congress meets to certify votes for the new U. S. president

January 7, 1789, The first U.S. election for president was held

January 8, Clean off your desk day!

January 14, Bald Eagle Day

Bald Eagle
Symbol of the United States

January 15, Martin Luther King’s Birthday

January 18, MLK Holiday

January 20, Inauguration Day, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in as president and vice president of the United States.

From the Actions for Happiness group ideas for January 2021:

How can we be happier in 2021? Things have been really tough over the last year and we’re still in difficult and uncertain times. This January, we’re encouraging everyone to focus on small daily actions to create more happiness for ourselves and others. We can’t change the situation, but we can choose to show kindness and respond positively whenever possible.

 

What have we learned?

After all the loss of life, sadness, loneliness, lies and chaos of 2020 lets hope we have learned some thing from the disfunction and poor leadership we have faced. I thought this letter to the editor had a lot to say:

Can we understand that if we can apply these lessons to the climate crisis, we’ve taken the most pro-life action possible?


As the pandemic year of 2020 comes to a close, we need to ask if we’ve learned from it, or whether we are doomed to repeat what we did not learn. Did we learn that there are serious personal and global consequences from destroying nature and the web of life that we’re part of? Did we learn that truth matters, not only as an ethical imperative, but as a requisite for a successful democracy? Did we learn that science matters and that disregard for the lessons of science robs humanity of tools that sustain life? Did we learn how countries that were united by common purpose and mutual trust were more successful in combating the pandemic than countries without unity and trust? That there is a critical role for leadership and democratic governance? That in this interdependent, globalized world, our health and future are bound together across national boundaries? That our future depends on putting cooperation above national interest?


Can we imagine how these lessons apply to the climate crisis? Can we understand that if we don’t apply these lessons to the climate crisis, the systems that support all life on our planet cannot be sustained, and COVID-19 will seem like child’s play by comparison? And finally, can we understand that if we can apply these lessons to the climate crisis, we’ve taken the most pro-life action possible?  Lyndon Torstenson,   Startribune.com 

3 things to do this week!

 

If everyone does a little, it adds up to a lot!

I have three things I think everyone should do this week. Happy holidays!

1.Wrapping gifts (Ideas from MPR)

My husband’s wrapping

Despite its name, you actually can’t recycle most wrapping paper.  It contains too much foil and glitter.

The only types of wrapping paper that are recyclable are the ones that are one hundred percent made out of paper. This will most likely be the plain brown paper you’ve seen packages wrapped in. You can get creative and decorate the paper with drawings to spruce up the present.

Gifts in reusable cloth bags

You can get even more creative by using materials that you already have to wrap your presents. You could use old newspapers and compost them or cloth bags and ribbon and reuse them next year. 

Gifts

You can give gifts to your friends, family and the environment all at once. You could give to a cause the person is passionate about, or plan a clothing swap all while creating zero waste.  

You also may want to consider supporting small businesses this year by shopping locally rather than getting things delivered. 

2. Don’t Waste food. 

Food waste picture
Wasting food wastes water, energy and labor!

Wasted food is a huge contributor to global warming and climate change. It is a waste of energy, labor, and water, often contributing to air and water pollution. Rotting food in landfills contributes more air and water pollution.  In the United States we waste 40% of our food, and we can all do better. Read about it at Save The Food 

Cook only what you need and have a plan for using leftovers.

3. Take an AWE walk

Find beauty in your neighborhood!

Take a healthy mindful walk and pay attention! Leave your phone and headphones at home. Look at the beauty of the trees, the sunshine and landscape. Listen for the wind and birds.  Find something you love and something that surprises you. Unwind and enjoy!

Glitter is a Microplastic

 

ban glitter
Glitter does more harm than good.

My least favorite thing about the December holidays is glitter! How many of the holiday cards will you receive that contain glitter? TOO MANY! Please do not purchase cards wrapping paper or anything containing glitter. Some spread it everywhere by putting it in their hair or in their make-up.

I know some think glitter is festive, but glitter is something we can live without! We know what a mess glitter is to clean up and it creates the same problem in our waterways. It’s impossible to manage and I am sure we ingest some of it also. It is not healthy and some scientists are calling for it to be banned.

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

3 Major UK Retailers Are Banning Glitter This Christmas Over Environmental Concerns – EcoWatch