Plastic Free July

July is plastic-free month
Work to reduce your plastic footprint

It is hopeful that some states and countries have made important laws on the regulation of single-use plastic in the past six months. Where I live the corporations and lobbyists have so much power over the decisions and law making that plastic pollution continues. The first committee where I worked on plastic bag legislation was over 25 years ago!! But I am thrilled with the legislation of other places.
We are living in a time when people don’t want regulation, OK then, take personal responsibility, and reduce your plastic footprint by reusing washable containers, bags and water bottles.

As I write this I am traveling in Ontario, Canada. I was at the grocery store and everyone had their reusable bags. At a restaurant I said, “No straw please!” the waiter response was, “Our straws are made of paper!” WOW! Also, Canada has passed legislation to ban single-use plastic in a few years.

Other places have recently passed single use plastic bans. Read about it at: Maine and Vermont, and California works to regulate all types of plastic packaging. Oregon has bans on plastic bags, and New Zealand has began their bag ban. The European Union is working on single-use plastic bans, and even Thailand is trying to make a positive difference. Maine has passed a Styrofoam container ban that I think is huge!

Bring your own reusable bags.

We can all take personal responsibility and reduce our plastic footprint. Always bring your shopping bags and eliminate those take-out containers unless they are compostable. Everyone making a small effort adds up to an enormous difference!

Here is the Dorset family and their effort to be plastic-free https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2150414795256894

Erase Plastic Pollution

Do we want water that looks like this?
Do we want waterways that looks like this?

My series on less waste continues:

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:

Plastic, what an amazing and awful product at the same time.! It is cheap and it is light.  Unfortunately, it has become an enormous environmental problem.  Many lack the personal responsibility to get single-use plastic bottles and bags to the recycle bin.  Many developing nations I visit seem oblivious to it, except in tourist areas! Days 6 through 11 of #31daysofreducingwaste are going to focus on how we can have less plastic pollution.

So what is the problem with plastic? Many say the materials in plastic cause cancer. Plastic will never dissolve, but will break into thousands of pieces of litter. The plastic in the oceans will be here on earth for hundreds of years and it will be found in the intestines of many fish, turtles and birds.  Plastic creates a terrible waste and litter problem.  According to the http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/tag/plastic/   If left unchecked, there could be 250 million tons of plastic in the ocean by 2025 — about one pound of plastic for every three pounds of fish. We can’t let this happen.

Avoid plastic, fill your glass or metal bottles with liquid

Avoid plastic, fill your glass or metal bottles with liquid

** The best way to reduce plastic trash is NOT to drink bottled water. Bring a reusable water bottle to work, school, and for all your adventures.

**Avoid plastic bags. Always bring your reusable shopping bags.

Shopping bags made from recycled plasstic
Shop with reusable bags

** How can you avoid baggies?  I love these wpid-wp-1418350258136.jpegcompostable wax paper bags

** Reuse and recycle all plastic bags.

Please recycle plastic bags at grocery stores!
Please recycle plastic bags at grocery stores!

* Reduce packaging: Try to purchase items with no packaging or packaging that can be recycled.

 

 

** Never purchase items that contain microbeads :  https://health4earth.com/2014/07/16/what-products-contain-microbeads/

 

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)

http://washburn.mpls.k12.mn.us/washburn_green_team_video.html  This is a great video made by my local high school students on reducing trash.

 

Sick, Unhealthy Lakes

Buffer strips along lakes protect water quality.
Buffer strips along lakes protect water quality.

Minnesota is home to over 10,000 lakes. We love our lakes. Unfortunately, we don’t take personal responsibility for protecting the beauty and health of our precious lakes. One of the most popular lakes is covered with trash, and it has become impossible to educate anglers (Are they listening?) of the invasive species their boats carry from lake to lake.
In late June, I was biking through southern Minnesota and was appalled to see algae and milfoil covered lakes. Sometimes they look weedy in August, but this was June?

The largest Minnesota newspaper published an opinion piece about what is happening to our lakes. The authors think the lakes of southern Minnesota are a lost cause, but they think more should be done to keep northern lakes clean.  I think with tougher rules and strict enforcement all lakes can be kept healthy and usable. It is a matter of political will and setting priorities. With tougher rules and strict enforcement all lakes can be kept healthy and usable. At the bottom of this post there is a list of things I do on my lake property to protect water quality.

Unfortunately, agriculture was given a pass on the Clean Water Act and they should be better regulated.  Agricultural run off is a real problem, but everyone needs to do better.  This is the only water we will ever have and we should respect and value every water body.

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Brian Peterson • Star Tribune If 75 percent of lakeshore remains mainly forested, the chance of maintaining lake quality is good, said Peter Jacobson of the state’s Department of Natural Resources. But when natural cover falls below 60 percent, lakes begin to deteriorate.

The opinion article:  “There is no mystery about what is needed: a built environment that harmonize with nature rather than defying it”  http://www.startribune.com/from-runoff-to-ruin-the-undoing-of-minnesota-s-lakes/321099071/

Is this how lakes should look?
Is this how lakes should look?

Requirements all lake shore/stream property owners should follow:

*Buffer strips of plants and trees along the shoreline. Absolutely no mowing down to the water.

*If there is no sewer available, lake shore properties should be required to maintain a sewage holding tank.

*Wash boats and equipment with hot water before entering a new lake with your boat.

*Reduce or eliminate the chemicals you use in your home, yard and water.

*Recycle, pick up trash and never litter.

*Never never burn garbage.

Two letters from the editor on the same topic: http://www.startribune.com/readers-write-aug-16-minnesota-s-lakes-planned-parenthood-payday-lending/321926671/