What happened to our “Sky Blue” waters?

Is this how lakes should look? We all need to do better.
Is this how lakes should look? We all need to do better.

Minnesota, the land of “Sky Blue Waters” is adding more than 300 lakes, rivers and streams to its list of lakes and streams that are impaired. The story from MPR is here.

About two-thirds of Minnesota watersheds have been tested and 40 percent of Minnesota rivers and lakes have been found to be impaired by farm runoff, bacteria, mercury or other pollutants.

 

The below ideas for protecting our lakes is from the Superiorforum.org , Sigurd Olson Institute, Northland college, and the EPA, and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:
1 .Be conservative with your water use.
2. Recycle as much as you can with the 4 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and repair. And….NEVER burn trash.
3. Curb Yard Pollution. Put your lawn on a chemical-free diet!!
4. Stop aquatic invasives by cleaning plants and animals off your boat.
5. Plant native plants, and reduce turf grass.
6. Plant native trees According to Audubon, oak trees are the best for attracting insects and birds.
7. Install a rain barrel
8. Create an energy-efficient home.
9. Bring hazardous waste to waste collection sites.
10. Love our lakes!

I would add several more:
1. Rain gardens are excellent for capturing harmful water runoff.
2. Keep leaves and trash out of streets and storm drains-Adopt a storm drain!

Love our lakes, rivers and streams. Take care of them!

Love our lakes, rivers and streams. Take care of them!

3. Never use cleaning products or hand sanitizer with triclosan.
4. Reduce all plastic use–If you must use plastic bags and bottles, be sure you recycle them.                                                  5. Pick up all liter.

 

 

 

Add Biodiversity, from MPCA

Header May 2016

Planting natives for beauty & biodiversity

If each of us does a little bit, we can make a BIG difference!

Below is from the Minnesota Pollution control. View on their website here

Turf grass lawns require lots of maintenance—watering, the burning of fossil fuels for mowing and other upkeep, pesticides, and fertilizers—which impact water quality and can contribute to climate change.

Many of the non-native, ornamental plants we plant in our gardens have little value to wildlife. Some of these flowering ornamental plants produce no nectar or pollen for bees or butterflies.

You can play an important role in helping to preserve species and biodiversity in your own yard by landscaping and gardening with native plants. Replacing turf grass and non-native plants with natives—even in small sections of your yard or garden—pays big environmental dividends!

Monarch

Some of the many benefits of native plants

  • Planting a variety of native plants increases biodiversity. We need biodiversity—it runs the ecosystem on which we depend.
  • Native plants provide food and shelter for wildlife. Many insects require a specific host plant to lay their eggs on and the young to feed on (e.g. monarchs and milkweeds). Animals require many different plants throughout their life cycles to remain healthy and robust.
  • Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions where they occur naturally. Many native plants have deep roots, and require little to no watering once established. These deep roots decrease erosion and filter stormwater, nutrients, and pollutants that would otherwise end up in our lakes, ponds, wetlands and streams.
Mailbox garden

Tips to get you started

Learn what you have. This will save you time and energy later on. Learn to distinguish non-native weeds from native plants. Manage the aggressive, perennial invasive plants that will compete with the native plants for space, water and nutrients. Leave or transplant any native plants you might already have in your yard.

Start small. Perhaps you have an area of your lawn or garden that needs a re-do. Areas of lawn where grass doesn’t grow well or that you are tired of mowing are perfect candidates to get you started. Reduce some areas of turf and add a pollinator garden or a raingarden.

Pick the right plants for the right place. Native plants come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Some plants grow well in full sun with sandy soils, others prefer wet soils or shady areas.

Variety is the spice of life. Try to have plants that flower in succession—different plants that bloom from early spring all the way through to the fall. Plant a variety of different types of plants—flowers, grasses, sedges, shrubs and trees. The larger variety of plants you have will support a larger variety of life.

Avoid neonics. Neonicitinoid pesticides are systemic pesticides that are taken up within the plant. There is mounting evidence that neonics are harmful to pollinators and other beneficial insects. To avoid harming beneficial insects, ask the retailer before purchase if plants have been treated with systemic pesticides.

Shoreline planting

Native landscaping doesn’t have to look “wild.” You may prefer a wild look. If you want a more manicured garden, plant selection is important. You can also utilize mulch, spacing, strips of grass, paths, and attractive fencing for a more formal look.

Support local native plant nurseries and companies. There are many great companies in Minnesota that specialize in growing or managing native plants/invasive plants. They have the expertise to give you some ideas of what plants might work for your situation. Native plant nurseries in your area will have grown local ecotype native plants—ones that came from your region that are adapted to local conditions.

Soldier beetle

Be okay with bugs!  Only a small percentage of insects are pests, and the damage they do is aesthetic and oftentimes tolerable. Insects form the base of the food web. Without insects, there can be no mammals, birds, reptiles, or other forms of “higher” life.

“Free” money. Many Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Watershed Districts, and cities provide cost-share money for people who want to help the environment by planting native plants in their yards. See http://www.bwsr.state.mn.us/native_vegetation for more helpful resources.

Don’t have a yard? Consider adopting a local park or open space for planting natives. Be sure to ask for permission first. Or support non-profits and other organizations that are doing this type of work.

If each of us does a little bit, we can make a BIG difference!

 

 

 

Trash is a Terrible Thing To Waste

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The MPCA study says recycling pumps billions of dollars into the Minnesota economy. The 60,000 jobs and the new products created from recycling are worth billions to Minnesotans. Products created from recycled materials are the most exciting! When you purchase products from recycled materials, you are closing the recycling loop.

What happens when you close the recycling loop? The first arrow

recycle, manufacture, purchaserepresents the first step of recycling, Collection of materials for recycling. Arrow two represents the manufacture of new products from the recyclables.  Arrow three is the purchase of the products made from recycled items. This is “Closing the loop” or a circular economy.  A win- win!

Why do we recycle? It saves valuable resources, keeps material from the landfills, reduces polluted landfills and as this report (below) shows produces economic opportunity and jobs!

http://www.startribune.com/recycling-s-rise-creates-bigger-economic-effect-for-minnesota-state-pollution-agency-says/367302641/

The unfortunate thing is that so much still doesn’t get recycled.  So get serious and RECYCLE MORE!  Garbage is too valuable to waste!

https://health4earth.com/recycling-garbage-is-a-terrrible-thing-to-waste/

Purchasing recycled products saves raw materials and adds valuable jobs
Purchasing recycled products saves raw materials and creates valuable jobs

 

Simple Ways to Cut Food Waste, Day 1

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons all adds up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills. (Source: EPA)

We can all do something about this tremendous influx of trash and I will be posting ideas for 31 days on how to reduce trash and waste:

I have a refrigerator full of leftovers, and I am determined to creatively use everything in the next few days.  I have made enchiladas, burritos, and soup today. Luckily, I have drop off compost available near my house where I can bring bones and food that can’t be back yard composted.  Below is from the Minnesota Pollution Control:

Simple ways to cut food waste

thanksgiving tableOf all the stuff we throw away in Minnesota almost 18 percent is food.

Wasted food represents wasted demand for water, land, and fuel. A more concrete way of thinking about this, however, is money: A family of four can save more than $30 a week by making changes in how they shop, prepare, and store food.

What would you do with $30 a week?

Whatever your answer, here is the how-to, with extra tips for holiday parties and meal planning. Most importantly, make a commitment–right now–to try one of these techniques in the kitchen this year. Which one will it be?

Before the meal

1.   Make a list with meals in mind. Create a shopping list based on specific meals. Choose recipes based on what you already have at home. Try out this Meals in Mind shopping list template from the Food: Too Good to Waste toolkit.

2.   Get help with portion planning. The fear of not providing enough to eat often causes hosts to cook too much. A handy tool for party planning is the “Perfect portions” planner from Love Food Hate Waste, a U.K. nonprofit that focuses on sharing convenient food reduction and reuse tips.

3.   Keep fruits and vegetables fresh by prepping ingredients for the week as soon as you get back from the store. Use both this fridge-friendly smart storage guide and A-Z storage guide from Eureka Recycling to extend the life of produce.

During the meal

4.   Use small plates and utensils. Simple tricks of using smaller serving utensils or plates can encourage smaller portions, reducing the amount left on plates. It is much easier and more hygienic to use leftovers from serving platters than from individuals’ plates.

5.   Allow guests to serve themselves, choosing what and how much they would like to eat. This also reduces the amount of unwanted food left on plates.

Eat me first

After the meal

6.   Refrigerate leftovers promptly.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that hot foods be refrigerated within two hours after cooking. Store leftovers in smaller, individually sized containers, making them more convenient to grab for a quick meal.

7.   Designate foods to eat first. Download and print this Eat First sign so that everyone knows and remembers.

8.   Create new meals. Check out Love Food Hate Waste’s creative recipes for using your food scraps to create new meals. Boil vegetable scraps and turkey carcasses for stock and soups, and use bread crusts and ends to make tasty homemade croutons.

9.   Compost food scraps. If you have access to a yard, you can start composting in your backyard (even in the winter!). Apartment and condo residents can consider composting indoors using red worms. Better yet, some Minnesota communities offer curbside pick up or drop sites for food waste–see the list of communities here. If you see your area listed, contact your city, county or garbage hauler to see what’s available.

10.   Donate extras. Food banks and shelters welcome donations of canned and dried foods, especially during the holiday season and colder months.

http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/

http://www.pca.state.mn.us/