Shopping at a grocery store or drug store is one of the most frustrating things I do, everything is packaged in plastic. Luckily, I have some excellent food coops a bus ride away from my house. I save containers and refill them with bulk items. A local meat department in a local grocery store will even refill my containers with meat purchases, which even my coops won’t refill. Science 101 has one of the best articles on reducing plastic that I have ever read, and I learned things from them. Start with a few items to refill. When you get the idea and feel comfortable move to add more plastic-free items. Here is Science 101’s article, on easy ways to reduce plastic. Refilling containers can be fun and satisfying.
Only 9 percent of the plastic every produced has been recycled, and no one knows how many hundreds of years it will pollute our environment. It breaks into tiny pieces, ends up in our water sources, is in our food and kills wildlife! Why is plastic harmful? Read here.
Coops will help you get started refilling containers, and I am willing to help if you ask. Let’s all work to reduce our plastic foot-print.
Get ready for Monday, the best day of the week to plan for sustainable food. Instead of trying this diet and that diet, how about considering the Planet Earth Diet when you choose your meals and purchase groceries. Monday is the best day to start! An international panel of scientists has just finished their study on what is needed for health and sustainable diets. We need to change our eating habits, reduce food waste and improve the way we produce food. “The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are currently getting this seriously wrong,” said Tim Lang, a food scientist at the City University of London, and one of the authors.
For some of their thoughts on how we can be healthier and more sustainable. the researchers have prescribed a new diet for the planet: more vegetables, less meat, fresh fruit, whole grains, give up sugar, and waste less.
Reduce meat and dairy. Reduce doesn’t have to mean eliminate. Meat and dairy are excellent sources of protein and essential nutrients, so if you enjoy these foods and feel good when you eat them, continue to include them in your diet. But many people eat more red meat than is recommended for good health. If all — or most — typical eaters reduced their meat and dairy intake by swapping a few servings a week for plant-based protein foods with low-carbon footprints — like beans, lentils and soy foods — we could have a large collective impact. So if you’ve been meaning to observe “Meatless Monday” but never quite followed through, there’s no time like the present.
Eat more fruits and vegetables. Local is best, but not the easiest in the winter.
Reduce packaging. Broccoli has a small carbon footprint, but broccoli florets packaged in a bag or plastic container have a much larger footprint than a whole head of broccoli. It’s the packaging that makes a difference.
Yikes, it’s cold where I live! The high today is -15 F, and with the wind it feels colder. Please don’t feel sorry for us. It is just another extreme, and we are all living in a time of extremes. We have extreme droughts, extreme rains and storms, and extreme heat. Minnesota might be back to 40 degrees in just a few days, a 70 degree high temperature change in a few days! Yes, extreme!
Most of us would rather be here in the cold than in the extreme heat and drought Australia is experiencing. While our cold weather is a short blip, they are experiencing a long-term extreme. Read about it here.
There are some advantages to a short cold snap like this. We can hope that some of the invasive bugs that are unchecked because of our warmer winters will be stopped or slowed down. The cold will completely freeze over the lakes which make them safer for winter activities, and can also lessen summer algae. My favorite thing about the cold is that the sun often shines making for beautiful bright days.
Is this part of climate change? Why does this Arctic air escape the Arctic? The Arctic has warmed faster than the 1.8 degrees the Earth has recently warmed. This warming has weakened the jet stream winds that would normally stay north, but this climate warming has caused these winds to seep south. Our warming planet has confused the jet stream causing them to rush where they normally don’t blow, bringing the Arctic winter cold with them. The extreme heat in Australia is a more serious problem that isn’t a passing scenario like our short-lived northern cold. Yes, our changing climate is real and we are experiencing it every day.
A new year brings new energy, new projects and hope into our lives. May we move on to a positive new beginning for us all. One thing that 2018 told us is that our Earth is struggling with harmful human activity. Our warming climate and our dependence on single-use plastic can have tragic implications as we move into the future. We can’t predict the future, but plastic waste and climate change are not going away.
If everyone does a small amount it can make a big difference! I have two things you can do to make a big difference on the Earth this new year. Even if you change one thing you do, and focus on that one thing in 2019 you will be making a difference!
When I started this blog years ago, I was trying to get people to recycle. While I hope you will still recycle what needs to be recycled, it has become harder and harder to recycle that pesky plastic. Glass, aluminum and paper have markets, but we just use so much single-use plastic and there aren’t enough markets for plastic. Plastic can’t be recycled over and over like glass and aluminum.
We need to reduce our plastic footprint. Start by changing one thing you purchase in plastic. At our house we refill bottles/containers with bulk at our local coop: soaps, lotions, teas, nuts, rice and almost every dry product we eat. We make our own yogurt, humus and cashew milk. Even as hard as we work on this we can’t avoid all packaging, it is too ubiquitous. As human beings we haven’t figured out our complicated relationship with plastic. The best thing is to avoid it.
Tackling food waste is another way we can all make a difference. If you purchase in bulk you can get just the amount you need. Forty percent of our food in the USA goes to waste, I mourn the valuable water and energy wasted on uneaten food! How have you done on your holiday leftovers? Freeze, cook, eat that food! Be vigilant. I make it into game with myself to be creative making new items from left-overs to keep from wasting food. Just think of the water and energy that we could save! Also, rotting food waste in landfills creates methane contributing to warming the planet.
Some other ideas to make a difference: Make changes in your kitchen and 10 green resolutions from Earth911. PBS offers three science based ideas here.
Some inspiration from Dan Rather: ” I stand at the precipice of 2019, alongside all of you, and breath deep a spirit of empathy and a determination to do our part to help make this world a better place.”