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) 

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

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

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

An Amazing Ecosystem

Native plants and trees create their own living ecosystem. The plants, wildlife, birds and 🦋 butterflies all work together to support a thriving environment.

The fall and winter seasons are no different . Birds eat the seeds off my native plants all fall and winter. Leaf litter contains habit and hiding for moths, butterflies and other wildlife. So what do we do with all this leaf litter?

These are my leaf litter suggestions:

— keep your sidewalks, driveways, and streets free from leaves. Lakes and rivers are polluted by too many leaves flowing into storm drains which drain into Lakes and streams.

–Leave you plants standing until spring, they also add food and habitat.

–Never use a leaf blower, they are too hard on everything your ecosystem is creating.

–Gently rake leaves into your gardens. This is wonderful mulch and plant protection. Leaves nurture the soil.

–Winter and spring garden surprises will create joy. Watch for birds, wildlife, and early insects.

–Cut plants off in the spring and work the leaves into your soil.

Superior Views, October 2021

Ruffed grouse scare me as they fly up as I walk into my yard.   A flock of juncos fly into our yard, robins are devouring the Mt. Ash berries, yellow-rumped warblers are diving to eat flies off our house. The nuthatch and blue jays are emptying the feeder, the goldfinch are munching on something in a dead white pine, and woodpeckers are busy making their marks on trees. Yes, it is October on the big lake and we are all getting ready for the winter months ahead. All the energy and activity makes us happy.

For many days thick Fog hung thick over the lake signaling the drought has subsided and rain is again common. After many dark days the sun is welcome

It has been an unusual Superior Views summer with a sun that seemed more intense than usual, and winds off the lake that were calmer than most summers. Sadly, wild fires from Canada and Northern Minnesota polluted the air quality for weeks at a time.

The warmer than normal summer changed the pattern of the plants and trees. The leaves turned earlier than normal and the flowers bloomed weeks earlier than usual. Actually, I think the native plants and flowers enjoyed the warm temperatures and milder winds, but the trees suffered with the heat and drought.

Lake Superior is not for sale! A local resident is trying to sell ground water for profit.

Pollinator Passion

“Nature is a way to escape to a healing place!” John Caddy

First there were four, then there were seven, now there are over ten monarch butterflies playing tag in my yard. This has been going on for two months. Monarchs are passionate for meadow blazing star (Liatris), and they get excited when the blazing star is blooming.  Watching them makes one happy.

Monarch butterflies love blazing star!

Our world is in crisis and we need to find ways to lessen stress on our Earth.  We know droughts, incredible heat, fires, floods, and smoky air are causing people, trees and wildlife to move to safer places or even die. Human behavior has helped to create this awful situation, and new paradigms are needed to lessen our carbon footprint. We already know that the world needs us to drive less, use less water, eat less meat, buy less, and reduce our plastic footprint.

What can we do more of that is actually good? Making a healthy change to your yard by planting native plants is a positive action you can take. Deep-rooted native plants are a win-win for our earth! They do not need chemicals and they do not need watering.

The native plants growing in my yard have produced way beyond my expectations during this harsh summer environment. Because deep-rooted plants don’t need to be watered and don’t use chemicals they create a healthier environment, and an important way to help our Earth.  Planting earth friendly plants will bring more birds and butterflies to visit your yard.  A pollinator garden brings joy many months of the year, but especially in July and August when the pollinators are crazy over nectaring plants.

How do you create this healing place for yourself and the birds and butterflies in your neighborhood? Remove some hostas and turf grass and replace them with native deep-rooted plants. You can create your own eco-system of life in your own yard. Start simple!

milkweed

Start by planting some milkweek and bee balm

and purple cone flowers.

Every yard should have purple cone flowers

Native gardens are an eco-system of their own creating food and joy for pollinators and humans alike! Create your own escape from the world by using deep-rooted plants to invite birds, butterflies and other wildlife into your space. Many birds raise their babies on the insects and caterpillars they find in the pollinator garden. Birds eat seed from the native plants all year. The goldfinch are already eating away on the bee balm, cone flowers and brown eye Susan.

hummingbirds love cardinal flowers

Cardinal flowers will bring humming-birds to your yard, but cardinal flower is not drought tolerant.

Reading list:

Study: Birds Are Linked to Happiness Levels – EcoWatch 

Wild Ones Introduces Free, Native Garden Designs – Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes

Earth Overshoot Day Moves Forward By Nearly a Month – EcoWatch

How Non-Native Plants Are Contributing to a Global Insect Decline – Yale E360 

Could Las Vegas’s Grass Removal Policies Alter the Western US Drought-Scape? | Sierra Club

Pollinator-Friendly Alternative to Hosta and Daylily – Monarch GardensCornus alternifolia Pagoda Dogwood | Prairie Moon Nursery

Weed garden wins RHS gold at Tatton Park flower show – BBC News 

Soft Landings – Bee and Pollinator Books by Heather Holm (pollinatorsnativeplants.com)

Top US scientist on melting glaciers: ‘I’ve gone from being an ecologist to a coroner’ | Climate change | The Guardian    

A Lot to Celebrate!

A Juneteenth holiday weekend, pollinator week, the longest day/summer, and Father’s Day, a lot to celebrate! Enjoy this historic weekend by planting a native tree or plant in honor of the slaves that helped build our country, the beginning of summer, and your dad. Happy Pollinator Week! Happy Juneteenth!

Plant native plants and trees.

This is National Pollinator Week.

What are pollinators? Pollination occurs when pollen is moved within flowers or carried from flower to flower by pollinating animals such as birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles, or other animals, or by the wind.

Pollinators are essential to our environment.  They are necessary for most of the world’s flowering plants and crops. Habitat loss, pesticide use, and introduced diseases are taking an enormous toll on our pollinators.

Agriculture, land development, mowing and chemicals to reduce weed and insects have resulted in loss of habitat loss for our pollinators. These essential pollinators are necessary for most of the world’s flowering plants and crops.

Urban areas are food desserts for pollinators. Turf lawns and hostas contribute to these urban food desserts. My yard is full of plants for bees, birds and butterflies, but I’m surrounded by too much treated turf grass.  I encourage everyone to help pollinators by creating and maintaining native habitat to help bees, birds and butterflies. Native plants and native trees are excellent choices for pollinators. Their deep roots keep them surviving during droughts and heavy rains. Dig out some hostas or grass and plant something helpful to our earth. See suggestion in reading list.

This is an exciting new holiday weekend, in recognition of the day 156 years ago when the enslaved people of Texas were finally met with the far overdue promise of freedom. Juneteenth | History, Meaning, Flag, Importance, & Facts | Britannica

Our new United States holiday!

Reading List:

https://www.ecowatch.com/lawns-must-die-2653462778.html

Pollinator Supportive Trees – Michigan Pollinator Initiative (msu.edu)  

TreesShrubsPoster.indd (msu.edu) 

Trees for Bees and Other Pollinatorss – The Arbor Day Foundation

Pollinator Conservation Resource Center | Xerces Society

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation 

Some Minnesota dragonflies are peaking – StarTribune.com 

Attract Birds: A Dozen Native Trees and Shrubs that Birds Love (abcbirds.org) “Every single person who owns a piece of property of any size can make a difference. They can begin by removing non-native plant species on their land and replacing them with natives. Why native plants? Native plants are important for many reasons, but they are essential as virtually the only hosts for many native insects. Insects are essential food for many birds, particularly nesting songbirds. … A small yard, even in the heart of a city, can provide these crucial sites.”

Twelve spotted skimmer

Marvelous May

Marvelous May

Cheers for May! May is the queen of months. We celebrate mothers, observe baby wildlife, outdoor time and new beginnings.

I challenge you to spend a minimum of 10 minutes outside everyday during May. Take deep breaths and look for amazing changes in nature. Watch the trees change, listen and watch for birds, and look for new butterflies. Sit in the sun, go for a walk, turn off your phone and listen for the sounds of May. Appreciate the intense beauty of our Earth. Search for peace, smile and enjoy.

Don’t miss a minute of May flowers

Write a poem:

Cheers for new May life

Watch for blooms and butterflies

A black cloud rumbles

Actions for Happiness Calendar for May

Make your May Meaningful

Happy Arbor Day

Trees are strength and beauty, resilience and change

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Snags, or dead trees, also give life to wildlife and landscapes. Don’t cut them down unless they are a danger to humans or buildings.

Trees can be dead but full of life and survival. Snags are home to many plants and animals

Fungi growing on a dead tree

Birds love dead trees, and many animals rely on dead, dying or hollow-rotted trees. Woodpeckers, bats, ants and caterpillars live in snags. Woodpeckers nest in cavities excavated in snags (or dead parts of living trees) while using those same dead trees to drill for food.

Trees offer shelter and safe places to perch and watch and rest. Trees, dead and live are complete neighborhoods. Dead trees are actually teeming with life! Fallen logs and snags play a vital role in the lifecycles of hundreds of species of wildlife, providing a place to nest, rest, eat and grow. Before you cut or burn logs and trees realize it is a vital part of the neighborhood!

Many birds rest and watch in this tree

Before you cut a leafless tree. Remember it is a friend to lots of birds and wildlife.