New Day, Victory Over Darkness

Happy spring, the sun has returned

peace on earth

It’s a beautiful world. Spring is a gift.

March 20 is the first day of spring, International Day of Happiness and Nowruz. Nature has given us the beauty of spring. Be sure you spend time outside every day to appreciate our beautiful Earth. Ancient people celebrated the first day of spring thousands of years ago!

For the Northern Hemisphere, March 20 is the first day of spring. But for 300 million people around the world, it’s the beginning of a new year, too. Nowruz—which means “new day”—is a holiday marking the arrival of spring and the first day of the year in Iran, whose solar calendar begins with the vernal equinox. Nowruz has been celebrated in Iran and the Persian diaspora for more than 3,000 years. Its roots are as a feast day in Zoroastrianism, a religion practiced in ancient Persia that viewed the arrival of spring as a victory over darkness. The holiday survived the Islamic conquest of Persia in the seventh century and the decline of Zoroastrianism’s popularity, and it spread across the globe through the diaspora of Persian people throughout history. (Here’s how Persia became the world’s first true empire.

It is hard to celebrate much happiness with such an awful war going on. Instead, spring clean your brain, and think about mental health for yourself and those you love. It has been a difficult two years for the entire world, so be good to yourself and be good to the entire world.

How do you spring clean your brain?

5 Ways to Calm Your Anxious Brain – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

The author suggests practicing mindfulness, declutter your surroundings, reconnect with people, reduce news bombardment by reading or watching only two trusted sources for information, and finally keeping a journal. Read the article in the above link.

To truly clean your brain, you need to spend time outside. Let the wind blow through your hair, absorb some sun and breathe deeply. Find beauty in the outdoors and in nature and go for a walk. Write is your journal about what you observe. I saw my first junco and noisy robins today. Time in Nature Can Now Be Prescribed as Health Care Treatment in Canada – EcoWatch 

Give yourself some purpose, be kind, smile and do something good for the earth and your brain will be spring cleaned!

Wishing victory over darkness for Ukraine. Take 3 deep breaths for peace in Ukraine.

Hope for Ukraine!

The Earth gives us spring,

Enjoy!

The Actions for Happiness have created a website for International Day of Happiness and things we can all do to make the world a kinder place:

https://www.dayofhappiness.net

  1. SHARE POSITIVE MESSAGES: Spread ideas that promote peace, kindness and understanding, online and in real life. 
     
  2. CONNECT WITH PEOPLE: Reach out to people who you know are connected to a crisis and offer your care and support.
     
  3. GIVE DIRECTLY: Donate to causes working on the front line of a crisis or find a way to help with local efforts.

The site also offers a number of places you can donate to that help with the current crises in our world.
 

https://www.dayofhappiness.net

Finland continues to be the happiest country on Earth. I wonder if that can continue? They share a border with Russia.

kindness

Three breaths for peace!

March for Ukraine

Buy less, waste less and use less energy!

Two bad things are happening in the world. Europe is at war in Ukraine, and a new UN report says climate change is going to cause many future problems. UN climate report: ‘Atlas of human suffering’ worse, bigger – StarTribune.com 

Support for the Ukrainian People

We know the drill to help ward off climate problems, drive less, use less plastic, eat less meat, and reduce food waste. Buy less, waste less, and use less energy!

Every day I take three breaths for peace to help Ukraine. Here is a list of organizations to support and help Ukraine: See below and Donate to the fund of the National Bank of Ukraine – Official website of Ukraine 

I was in Ukraine in 2013. The people were very kind, helping us get around, take public transportation, and order food. My husband and I loved the beautiful country and kind people!

Yes, we are under stress worrying about Ukraine and climate change. Below is the mindful calendar for March to help maintain our mental health.

Medical supplies from the United States and Europe because Ukrainian suppliers ran out of gear and medical supplies. For more information go to razomforukraine.org.

United Help Ukraine is providing lifesaving first-aid kits to the front lines. The organization also helps the families of those wounded or killed in war and gives support to displaced people from Crimea and eastern Ukraine. For more information go to unitedhelpukraine.org.

Sunflower of Peace is raising funds for first-aid medical backpacks for paramedics and doctors on the front lines. Each backpack has the ability to save up to 10 lives, according to the organization. For more information go to facebook.com/sunflowerofpeace.

Ukrainian Red Cross Society: Volunteers and staff provide first aid in areas where medical access is limited. Funds will be used to support those in need, blood collection, mobilization of volunteers and resources and emergency activities. For more information go to redcross.org.ua/en.

Help for children: UNICEF is ensuring Ukrainian children have access to safe water, nutrition, health care, education and protection during the invasion. For more information go to www.unicef.org/ukraine/en.

Voices of Children provides psychological and psychosocial support for children caught in the middle of the armed conflict. For more information go to voices.org.ua/en/.

Journalism: The Kyiv Independent, a Ukrainian-English news site, provides up-to-date information of Russia’s invasion. Its fundraising site can be found on GoFundMe.

Tips To Use Less Plastic

There is always something you can do to use less Plastic!

Hennepin County is challenging people to use less plastic. These ideas are from them:

Why should we reduce plastic?

Plastic has many functions and benefits, and it has been very helpful to society. However, the growth of plastic use and plastic waste is unsustainable for our health and for the environment. Today we are using twenty times more plastic than we did in the 1960s. Plastic is hard to collect for recycling, is usually made from petroleum, and causes substantial litter that contaminates soil, water, food, and our bodies. We need our systems to change, but we can also be more careful about how and when we choose to use plastic in our daily lives.

Choose Glass!

Tips to use less plastic

Because plastic is everywhere, it feels hard to use less. Start with products that are easier for you to avoid, and slowly reduce plastic in other areas of your life. Replace the durable plastic items you own only when they are used up or broken, unless they are hazardous to your health. Here are more tips to get started:

  • Learn to refuse single-use plastics you don’t need, such as plastic water bottles and cups, straws, plastic bags and plastic utensils.
  • When you must buy plastic products, choose ones that you can recycle rather than ones you must put in the trash.
  • Instead of single-use plastic items, choose ones you replace less frequently or not at all, such as steel shaving razors, permanent soap dispensers or refillable beauty or personal product packaging.
  • Buy foods in family sizes or in bulk, then repackage them into smaller portions instead of purchasing individually wrapped items.
  • Try to DIY a few things like condiments, cleaners, and meals made from scratch. Or learn a food preservation method that doesn’t require plastic.
  • Shop bulk items

Shop bulk and fill your own containers

bulk produce
Avoid plastic, purchase produce in bulk without plastic

Easy tips to use less plastic and create less waste

We can make choices with our wallets and our lifestyles that create less demand for new plastic, even if we can’t avoid plastic every day. Be thoughtful about where you shop and how to reduce your plastic footprint.

  • Buy secondhand reusable items to replace single-use plastics, from water bottles and utensils to reusable bags.
  • Look for whatever it is you need secondhand; it reduces the need for new plastics, and it reduces the amount of plastic used for product packaging.
  • Look for reusable, non-plastic items in secondhand stores, such as dishware, wood furniture or home décor.
  • Rent things such as tools or specialty clothing instead of buying them, since most tools have at least some plastic components and clothes are often plastic fiber blends.
  • Take care of the things you own so they need to be replaced less often, from mending clothing to repairing electronics and keeping your cell phone longer between upgrades.

No matter how much time or money you may think you need to spend on avoiding plastic, there is always something you can do to use less.

Honor Our Earth

Honor the Earth through the food we love!

Within a few weeks scientists will be out with new data on our warming planet and how this warming is affecting all of us. By news accounts, it will not be good news. The study is out: climate study

There is no planet B!

 Many have of us have experienced the storms, floods and fires of the past few years. These will only get worst if we don’t stop the warming of our planet and find an equilibrium of Earth stability. Everybody has a part to play, and if everyone does just a little, it adds up to a lot!

There is no planet B and we all need to do better so our future generations can have a livable planet.

This week I attended a virtual workshop honoring the Earth through food.  Two big changes we can make to our lives to honor the earth and help reduce climate warming are to eat meatless one or more days a week, and really get serious about reducing food waste. 

We all know ways we can eat healthier. Reducing beef and pork in your diet is a win- win for the planet and can also makes enormous changes to better your health. Changing your diet could add up to 13 years to your life, study says | CNN

Eating for Health® : Bauman College | Berkeley, California

Shopping in bulk will reduce plastic in your diet!

I think a good way to eat healthier and eat less meat is to reduce your plastic packaging! Microplastics Could Harm Humans by Acting as Toxin ‘Magnet,’ Study Finds – EcoWatch  

Wasting food is a waste of our time, water and lots of energy.  It is something we all need to work on harder. In the United States 30-40% of our food is wasted. We can do better.

These were excellent suggestions from my workshop to reduce food waste:

1. Prepare meals with waste in mind. Work new meals around leftovers like into wraps, soups or rice bowls. 2. Plan meals ahead  3. Be mindful of the food you waste. How can you do better? 4. Optimize storage and maximize shelf -life. Check out storage options at savethefood.org  5. Shop more often and with a list  6. Be mindful of the food we eat and love.

Save The Food

 https://www.ecowatch.com/how-to-store-produce.html

‘Love Letter to Food’ Video Shows How Much Food We Waste (nationswell.com)

Love Food Hate Waste – Dianne – Bing video 

Plastic In Our Food and Air

Do we have too much plastic in our world?

Do we really want to ingest plastic microbeads every time we eat and drink?

Currently I am participating in a community plastic challenge working to reduce the plastic we send to landfills. I’m challenging myself to think of new ways I can reduce plastic in my home and for my family. It is impossible to eliminate all plastic, but we can be healthier by reducing plastic’s impact in our homes and lives.

These are the things I am working on to reduce plastic in my home:

1. Purchase fresh unpackaged produce. Always travel with reusable bags and reusable bottles and containers.

2. Store leftovers in glass containers and jars.

3. Never purchase take-out unless their containers are reusable or compostable.

4. Only cook in glass or metal pans

5. Purchase glass containers over plastic containers. Good examples are mustard, honey, and vinegar.

6. Make a conscious effort to purchase clothes, towels and sheets made of organic cotton and wool, and keeping our surroundings dusted and vacuumed will eliminate some of the microplastics we breathe.

What are the facts we know about plastic?

-Plastic production pollutes our water and air

-Plastic microfibers have been found in the food we eat.

-Micro fibers of plastic are in the clothes we wear and therefore in the air we breathe.

­-Plastic is the most common litter found in the oceans.

-Studies are just beginning on how harmful plastic is to our health.

Using glass containers gives me confidence we are reducing our plastic contamination

Reading list:

Plastics in our Food? – FOOD, FACTS and FADS (foodfactsandfads.com)

8 Everyday Foods That Contain Plastic and Safe Alternatives (nestandglow.com)

Toxic Nanoplastics Found at North and South Poles – EcoWatch 

Industrial plastics found in some fast food, researchers say | TheHill

UN to Create Global Treaty on Plastic Pollution – EcoWatch  

We Have Breached the Planetary Boundary for Plastics and Other Chemical Pollutants, Scientists Say – EcoWatch

U.S. Is World’s Biggest Producer of Plastic Waste, Report Finds – EcoWatch

California Just Passed 5 Mega Laws to Fight the Plastic Crisis – EcoWatch 

February Fun

We all are in need of some serious fun! Isolation and this pandemic have gone on for too long. What can we do to help our mental attitude? Every day when you wake up smile and make a simple plan for something that you find to be fun, play a game, play with your children or pets and laugh. Or spend time outside and enjoy the beauty of nature, breathe and smile. Or call or text someone, and laugh, but never make fun of anyone but yourself!

The Actions for Happiness calendar has ideas for connecting. Make it fun!

red heart

Being kind will make you happy!

What is Zero-Waste?

Refuse, Reuse, Recycle

I use the term zero waste often. It is a daily goal in my household, a goal we work for every day.  Everything we purchase has an impact on our environment from our use of materials and natural resources to the emissions created for manufacturing. Then there is the end of life of a product. Will it sit in a landfill for 500 years polluting the ground and air surrounding it, can it be reused many times, or can it be turned into a new product?

Manufacturing, landfills, garbage burning, and hazardous waste contribute enormously to our warming planet. We need to take all our trash and waste seriously. Remember food waste is waste too!

Unfortunately, we have a long way to go to reach a zero-waste future.  Walking through a grocery or drugstore highlights how far we still have to go. Almost everything is packaged in plastic. Plastic that can’t be recycled!  As consumers we can try to purchase products with a minimum of packaging or refuse to purchase them completely. I often call manufacturers like Field Roast, Morningstar and Bob’s Redmill to request they start to use recyclable packaging.  Currently, in the United States only 9 to 10% of our plastic is recycled. We have a long way to go and need to begin to hold producers of plastic responsible so they produce packaging that can be recycled or reused.

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is how we need to live. Every product we purchase affects our environment; So, before you buy, ask yourself if you really need it? If you do, consider buying gently used instead of new, and look for minimal packaging and shipping.

My county, Hennepin, is creating plans for a zero-waste future:

Hennepin County’s zero-waste vision is a waste management system where all materials are designed to become resources for others to use to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. The key performance measure is diverting 90% or more of all discarded materials from landfills and incinerators.” Hennepin County

Zero waste is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean. Currently, only 9% of plastic is actually recycled. In a zero waste system, material will be reused until the optimum level of consumption.” The definition adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA)

Watch The Story of Stuff and learn more about the zero waste movement.

In the United States 30% of our food is wasted. A huge waste of energy, labor and resources. https://www.usda.gov/foodlossandwaste

This is excellent! https://www.ecowatch.com/how-to-store-produce.html

3 Sustainable Choices

A new year, new habits!

“Small acts when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world!” Greenpeace

The new year has arrived, and we all have the best intentions to have a fresh beginning. With all the uncertainty and discord around us, focusing on something bigger than ourselves helps to rise above all the confusion. Choose to do things that are fun and make you feel better about your place in society.

New goals and new ideas help stimulate new interests and are good for our mental health.  First of all, don’t worry about being perfect, just do something different. No one is perfect, but if everyone does something it adds up to big things for us and our community.

Millions of people around the world have been harmed by storms and our warming world during the past year. With all the harm humans have done to our planet the last hundreds of years, our warming Earth is struggling to find some equilibrium, and we can all lessen our negative impact. By reducing our consumption of the Earth’s resources, we can help our corner of the world and make a big difference. My ideas are to help you think of ways you can make a positive difference and hopefully have fun!

Every day my household works on three big things to reduce our consumption of the Earth’s resources:

Reduce meat consumption

1. Cutting meat consumption and always celebrating meatless Mondays. There are so many meatless options in the frozen food section of grocery stores it can be easy and fun. The hard part is finding meatless options without increasing plastic pollution. Here are some ideas to get you started. Vegan Recipes To Help You Eat Less Meat : Life Kit : NPR  

Quick & Easy Vegetarian Recipes | EatingWell

Vegan Recipes To Help You Eat Less Meat : Life Kit : NPR 

How is plastic in our food affecting our health?

2. Reducing plastic is paramount.  Plastic creates waste and litter, it contributes to climate change, pollutes our water and is harmful to wildlife.  It is concerning how plastic affects our health and what it’s impacts might be for us. We have a lot to learn about how plastic is harming our health. Please reduce your consumption of plastic. Start by using reusable bags, cups and bottles, and then you will slowly learn new ways to reduce plastic in your environment. So much plastic can’t be recycled, but if you must purchase items in plastic, make sure it can be recycled.

Irritable bowel syndrome linked to more microplastics in gut (nypost.com)

end food waste

30 to 40% of food in the USA is wasted!

3. Reduce Food waste.  Food waste is a total waste of water, labor, time and energy. First start with your shopping, don’t buy more than you can use. Buying in bulk is a good way to regulate how much you purchase (bulk can reduce plastic waste also). Second, staying on top of what items are in your refrigerator/freezer is extremely important. Maybe have an “eat first shelf.” I keep a container in my refrigerator to accumulate celery tops and other vegetable scraps for weekly soup making or stir fry.  Finally, turning leftovers into a new meal is one of the best things about cooking. Make it fun and challenging! Wraps and rice bowls are winners!

How to Reduce Food Waste | Sierra Club

Below are many ways you can help our planet and also your soul:

Opinion | 10 New Year’s Resolutions That Are Good for the Soul – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

7 Ways to Make 2022 More Sustainable – Plastic Free Home – Environmental and Zero Waste Blog (theplasticfreehome.com)  

13 sustainable choices for your green life | Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (state.mn.us)  

3 eye-opening, science-based New Year’s resolutions that could help everyone | PBS NewsHour

12 Ways to Live More Sustainably (biologicaldiversity.org)

Do Good January

Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Desmond Tutu

Yahoo, a new month and a new year, and another month of uncertainty. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but every day is a gift, and we can create new intentions and new good and joy in our lives. The Actions for Happiness calendar below has many ideas to put little bits of good together!

As we enter a new year let’s turn to the beauty and natural wonder of our Earth. Every day is unique. Spend time outside or look out the window and create your own joy. It doesn’t cost money or take much effort to enjoy the beauty of each day.

View today outside my window.

Enjoy the natural wonders

Have fun and do good for yourself, your community and our world. Start each day with hope and kindness.