April is Earth Month
April is a month of challenges. Challenges of 30 days of biking or running, 30 days of plastic-free, 30 days of watching birds. 30 days of taking a daily picture, or thirty days of writing a poem for poetry month. The thirty-day challenges are endless.
My April challenge is 30 days of picking up trash. The snow has melted and the swollen rivers are subsiding but our beautiful Earth is covered with litter. It is embarrassing to see so much trash and blowing pieces of plastic. Everyday on my walk in April I carry a bag and collect litter, and actually I started my challenge a few days ago. This year I’m looking extra hard for the small plastic scraps like cigarette butts and Styrofoam pieces. This challenge is easier than some of the other 30 day challenges, but this challenge gets you outside, and it really makes a difference for our Earth. Please join me.
April 22 is Earth Day and April 26 is Arbor Day. Please make everyday April day Earth Day.
Have a fun Earth Month, and remember to enjoy our beautiful our Earth.
Get your 30 days of Active April calendar from Actions For Happiness here.
We love lakes, we love rivers and streams, and we love our oceans. March 22, is World Water Day. Clean water is a human right and should be available to every human being. Unfortunately, some of us have too much water, but many don’t have enough water, and the water they have is polluted. I am lucky to live in a place with lots of water, but it is a struggle to keep it clean. Many live with polluted wells and water from farm pollution. Why they have allowed farm run-off to pollute their wells is beyond me??? The farming industry has gotten away with polluting our water, and for some reason they now think they have that right. Where I live, farm run-off is the number one cause for the pollution of our water ways and ground water. Lack of regulation on agriculture can harm water resources when raising pork, beef and other livestock, along with sugar beets, corn and soy beans.
There are industrial cities like Houston, Texas, that allow industry to pollute air and water. Stronger regulation is needed to stop water and air pollution, but that is not happening in the United States anytime soon.
Agriculture and industry are major water pollutants, but so is plastic. As the spring flooding overflows the banks of creeks and rivers the winter trash is getting washed off the land, into our waterways, then into our oceans. With some personal responsibility we all can make a difference with our behavior to water.
On this World Water Day weekend I challenge you to go meatless, I challenge you to go plastic-free, and I challenge you to get outside and pick up trash.
Imagine eating or drinking your coffee/tea or dinner out of a Styrofoam container. ICK! I can’t imagine, but many people do??? Styrofoam makes food taste terrible, and it is made from cancer causing material. Why would you eat/drink from it?
I am on a road trip through the southern part of the United States. Styrofoam is just the normal at many food establishments. Places I refuse to patronize.
Not only is Styrofoam unhealthy to eat on,
it is awful for the environment. It breaks down into tiny pieces harmful to oceans/lakes, water animals and fish that think it is food.
Unfortunately, Styrofoam has powerful lobbying interests behind it, people who don’t care about your health or the health of our waterways.
Beth Terry, author of My Plastic-Free Life, wrote this terrific guide explaining how producing and using plastic pollutes the air. When it comes to the foamy Styrofoam in particular, here are some other objections to using it:
It does not biodegrade. It may break into small pieces, even minuscule pieces. But the smaller EPS gets, the harder it is to clean up.
It is made of fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals. Those chemicals may leach if they come in contact with hot, greasy or acidic food. Yes, they keep your coffee hot – but they may also add an unwanted dose of toxins to your drink.
Animals sometimes eat it. Turtles and fish seem to mistake EPS for food, and that can kill them. Not only can they not digest it, but the foam could be full of poisons that it has absorbed from contaminants floating in the water.
It can’t be recycled. Some commercial mailing houses may accept packing peanuts, but for the most part community recycling centers do not accept throwaway foam food containers.
Evidence regarding the sustainability and toxicity of expanded Styrofoam/polystyrene (EPS) single-use containers supports replacing them with a more sustainable and safe material. EPS food and beverage containers are single-use, yet persistent and not economically feasible to recycle. Thus, millions of single-use EPS items are sent to a landfill each day, where they will remain for hundreds to thousands of years. Moreover, its lightweight makes it difficult to manage which is one reason EPS is one of the top litter items found on beaches and in the environment. Lastly, EPS containers may pose a hazard. Some studies have found they can leach chemicals into our food and others have demonstrated that their leachate is toxic to laboratory animals. Replacing EPS with a more sustainable material supports a healthy environment for both wildlife and people.
So what can you do?
I boycott places that use Styrofoam, but that might not be possible for you. 1.Bring your own container, or ask for a real plate, many places can provide that for you! 2. Tell establishments how awful their packaging is. 3. Work to get Styrofoam bans in your community 4. Pick up Styrofoam litter so it doesn’t end up in our waterways.
If everyone does a small part, it can add up to a lot! Speak out.
We now have plastic in our water and in the fish we eat. Do we really want to put plastic fibers into our bodies every time we eat and drink?
I have three simple thoughts about litter and recycling today: First, countries that have less plastic have less litter. Second and third, if everyone would recycle more, and change the plastic bag habit, it would make a big difference on our planet.
Here is an interesting plastic comparison for you. This is based on observation during the past month while I have been travelling through Central Asia and Iran. Central Asia uses very little plastic except for black plastic bags for purchases and plastic bottles for soda. Iran by contrast uses lots of plastic. Beside plastic bottles, restaurant food, hotel towels, and many things that don’t need to be, are wrapped in plastic. Plastic cups and straws are used in Iran, but I saw none in Central Asia. Where would you guess there is a terrible litter problem? The contrast was enormous. I brought Iranian plastic home to recycle.
Governments clearly need to become aware of the problem, and businesses like Coca Cola need to take more responsibility for the plastic they produce.
While I was thinking about this I came across an excellent essay by ECOwatch with great suggestions for everyone (see below) But keep it simple and by recycling and reducing plastic bags you can make a big difference on our earth!
Complain to retailers. Pressure retailers to do away with over-packaging.
Support plastic bag bans, polystyrene foam bans and bottle recycling bills.
Use natural clothing fiber rather than synthetic clothing, as synthetic cloth releases plastic fiber in every wash cycle.
Choose to reuse. Neither plastic shopping bags nor plastic water bottles can be easily recycled.
Deposit return schemes are highly effective ways to reduce plastic bottle waste. In Germany, where a bottle-return program is in place, nearly 98 percent of plastic bottles are returned.
Recycle. If you must use plastic, try to choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE), which are the most commonly recycled plastics.
Avoid plastic bags and polystyrene foam as both typically have very low recycling rates.
Seek out alternatives to the plastic items that you rely on.
Pressure politicians. Governments should be funding research into microplastics and regulating and incentivizing changes in plastic production and consumption.
Yesterday I was at the public library in Superior, Wisconsin. I was impressed with an educational display by Wisconsin Coastal Management . They had a large display of trash that a student group had picked up from a one day beach trash pick-up from a local Lake Superior beach. Ideas from the trash collected created an educational poster for the public. Plastic breaks into tiny bits, is eaten by our fish, and probably will last hundreds of years, maybe forever!
I was traveling through Eastern Europe when I read on Ecowatch.com that Macedonia had banned plastic bags. Macedonia was our next stop and I couldn’t wait to see if it made a litter difference.
As we took the bus into Skopje, Macedonia we saw people carrying purchases in plastic. We were disappointed. I interviewed 3 people that could speak English. They claim an effort had been made to ban plastic bags, but “It didn’t work !’ They say the bags they now use are eco friendly. They couldn’t explain what that meant. No one was paying a fee for the plastic bags, and I never saw a paper bag. Macedonia is a poor country with high unemployment and a terrible litter problem. Before a bag ban could work an enormous amount of public education would be needed. I don’t think the economics of store owners nor the public is ready for such a big project to be successful .
Thousands of plastic bottles were floating down the Vardar River to the Aegean Sea.
Could this be an eco bag ?
As I have said before on these pages, the manufacturers of plastic need to be responsible for the recycling and clean up of their products. Many countries don’t have the resources to do what is right for our earth, even though it should be a top priority.
Bottled in Macedonia I hope environmental groups will take Macedonia off their bag ban list. Being accurate is so important.