Three Simple Things

What Can I Do?

If you breathe air or drink water, you should care about the health of our Earth.

We all know the Earth is suffering. What we fail to recognize is that a sick planet leads to unhealthy sick people and for long-term consequences for our children. 

We must hold business accountable for the plastic they produce, and they must be held accountable if they pollute our air and water. Our elected officials need to be held accountable to hold oil companies and plastic producers to rigorous standards. Most important, we also have to hold ourselves accountable for how we pollute our air and water. Holding ourselves personally responsible is what we can control!

Even little things can make a huge difference if we work together. On Earth Day recalibrate your life to do three simple things a week to lighten our Earth’s load:

Choose one day to eat meatless, choose one day to not drive, and choose one day to be plastic-free. On plastic-free day don’t purchase or use anything plastic, and don’t or eat or drink food from plastic containers.

Don’t eat or drink from plastic

Every Day do something kind, and please take three breaths for peace in Ukraine.

Peace For Ukraine!

This reading list is too long, but I hope you can read at least one of these excellent articles:

On Earth Day ‘the world is not on track’ | Opinion – Minnesota Reformer 

Opinion | Enough About Climate Change. Air Pollution Is Killing Us Now. – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

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

U.S. Has Highest Percentage of People Who Aren’t Worried About Climate Change in Survey of 31 Countries – EcoWatch 

Report lists Mississippi as one of ‘most endangered’ U.S. rivers | MPR News

‘Breakthrough’ Study Finds Microplastics in Human Blood – EcoWatch   

And from my city: Kick single use plastics. In Minneapolis, less than half of plastics are recycled. Most plastics are made from oil and gas. About 4% to 8% of the world’s oil product is for plastics, and most plastics are thrown away after a single use. Plastics collect in our lakes and rivers and break down into micro and nanoplastics. One way to help is to bring your own bag to grocery and convenience stores.

Coca-Cola produces 200,000 new plastic bottles a minute and sells 112 billion plastic beverage bottles worldwide every year for a total of roughly 3 million metric tons of plastic packaging. The majority of Coca-Cola’s plastic bottles are not recycled and only 11.5% are made from recycled material. Many of Coca-Cola’s plastic bottles end up littered in the world’s rivers and ocean.

Reuse on America Recycles Day

November 15, is America Recycles Day.  After so many years I am still surprised how hard it is to recycle in the United States. In my travels across America I can go weeks without seeing a recycle bin. In Europe often recycling is front and center, not perfect but it is seems a priority.

I have been surprised to learn this doesn’t always mean the product is recyclable????

Unfortunately it is still very hard to recycle plastic correctly in America. Paper/cardboard, glass and metal cans work well, but plastic, please read on.

Plastic recycling is very challenging. There is very little regulation of plastic in the United States. Plastic producers claim recycling is the answer to their products, but they don’t want any responsibility to pay for recycling or disposal of their products. They often they say their plastic is recyclable, when in fact it might be just one per cent recyclable or not at all.

Why is plastic recycling so hard? First there are those recycle 1-7 numbers. For something to be recycled it first needs to be collected, and then sorted into those  numbers. Next, it needs a market, or someone to buy it. All this makes plastic recycling expensive for communities (tax payers) and it is labor intensive.

 I am fortunate to live in a county (Hennepin) that makes this a priority, and I can’t express my gratitude to them enough!

Both Maine and Oregon have passed legislation to hold producers responsible for recycling and disposing of their products. This is a beginning and it is hopeful that more regulation of plastic could happen. As consumers we also have responsibility, when we purchase plastic we reinforce the idea that this is OK, and more of it is produced. The plastic chemical companies are gearing up to produce more plastic for the future, lets work to hold them accountable! Talk to your elected officials about how plastic producers should be held responsible for what happens to long lived plastics after disposal. Manufacturers also need more integrity in labeling what is in their plastic products.

On America Recycles Day recycle more of your paper/cardboard, glass and tin cans, and recycle plastic bottles and containers, but also begin to REDUCE your PLASTIC consumption.  Always bring your reusable cups/bottles, and bags for a start.

Big new goals on America Recycles Day https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/581578-epa-issues-national-recyling-plan-with-goal-of-50-percent-recycling

Make it a plastic-free day!

buy in bulk

Buying in bulk and refilling your bottles is the next step in reducing plastic.

Reading and watching list:

Maine Will Make Companies Pay for Recycling. Here’s How It Works. – The New York Times (nytimes.com) 

John Oliver Takes on the Plastics Industry – EcoWatch

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

Plastics recycling is 90 percent garbage, John Oliver says, but that’s not your fault and there is a fix (yahoo.com) 

Watch Story of the Bottle! – Greenpeace

Virginia Governor Takes Action on Single-Use Plastics – EcoWatchBreak Free From Plastic Pollution Act Receives National Support – Center for Biological Diversity

August Challenge

 

“Being kind and warm-hearted is the secret to a happier life and a better world for everyone.” Dalai Lama

Last night as I was purchasing groceries, the young clerk said to me, “I have had such a good day, all the customers have been so nice!”

August is here, and this month subscribes to a kindness challenge.

The Actions for Happiness group has a calendar for Altruistic August with lots of ideas. See their ideas below.

If you still haven’t Your first action a kindness is to get vaccinated from Covid The collective health of all our communities is important. Get vaccinated!

Then…Our Earth needs kindness too. During August I challenge you to drive less, recycle more, buy less, and reuse more.

Make your August into double challenge days! If everyone does a little, it adds up to a lot. Thank you.

Here’s my list of things to do:

Meatless Monday, Plastic-free Tuesday, Walking Wednesday, Transit Thursday, Zero food-waste Friday, litter pick-up Saturday, and finally, Smiling Sunday.

Have a Fun and thoughtful August, Actions for Happiness calendar follows:

Make it Plastic Free

The best time to start Plastic Free July was on July 1, but the second best time is today. Become aware of the plastic you use everyday all year! Plastic Free July is a world wide movement to become aware of the amount of plastic we use in our lives. It is about finding alternatives to the tons of plastic the world uses everyday. We are filling our bodies, our oceans, rivers and land with plastic. Plastic that will survive hundreds of years. Reducing our single-use consumption can make a big difference.

Reuse and Refuse plastic!

So what are single use plastics? Single-use plastics are items meant to be trashed after use. Single-use plastics are used for packaging and items such as bottles, wrappers, straws, and bags.

Survey your garbage, what plastic does it contain? Can you recycle any of it? What does it tell you about your choices and purchases? What plastic items do you think you could do without? Is there someway you can have less plastic garbage?

Don’t try to go plastic free to start, it’s close to impossible in the world we are living, but awareness and one item at a time is success!

July is plastic-free month

“Please, No straw!”

What is one plastic item you can give up? Baggies? Produce bags? Bottled water? Plastic straws? Plastic utensils? Styrofoam? For the next two weeks, don’t purchase or use that item. Hopefully, you can live without that product, and then choose another plastic item you can also end using. Keep it simple, don’t try to do too much. Simple steps will lead to more success and less frustration. There is nothing easy reducing plastic in our plastic world. Good luck as you begin a new journey of more sustainable and healthy living.

reuse

Reusable cloth produce bags

Ask me if you need help, I have been on this plastic free journey for years, and constantly learn new ways to reduce plastic. It is rewarding to know you have lightened your plastic footprint. Good luck!

Model a new way forward: “When we use disposable items, we send a message: this is what we want, keep it up, make more of this. When we refuse, and choose reusable, we model another way forward. Our choices can make a difference. Let’s make them count!” PlasticfreeTuesday 

Many ideas to reduce plastic use:

How to Get Rid of Throwaway Culture – YES! Magazine (yesmagazine.org)

Getting started – Plastic Free JulyGetting started – Plastic Free July 

Plastic Free July – Be Part of the Solution   

New Zealand to Ban Most Single-Use Plastics by 2025 – EcoWatch

Here’s What Happens When You Eat From Plastic Containers – EcoWatch 

How Plant-Based Packaging Can Solve the Plastic Crisis – Business and Tech (futureofbusinessandtech.com)  


The Story of Plastic (animated short) – Story of Stuff

Pandemic pollution: Disposable masks, gloves are saving lives but ruining the environment | PBS NewsHour

Seven ways to go plastic free for Plastic Free July – Greenpeace Aotearoa

Norwex Movement  10 ways to be plastic-free

The Challenge of Plastic

Do the best you can until you know better, then do better” Maya Angelou

 

Covid-19 has been a plastic disaster. As we climb out of this abyss we must take single-use plastic seriously. We also need to hold companies accountable for bad packaging.

Why as taxpayers and citizens are we paying the price of this environmental disaster of plastic while the creators of this packaging have no responsibility? The landfills in the county where I live are full, and plastic trash can last for hundreds of years, maybe forever!  What are the manufacturers of this plastic thinking other than profit? As consumers we are also at fault. If we keep buying this plastic packaging they will keep making it!

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

How can we all reduce our landfill trash? Surveying my garbage I find I have way too much plastic that cannot be recycled, and most of it is # 7 plastic that cannot be recycled.   Why would companies use plastic that can’t be recycled? I decided to ask them. I sent an emails or telephoned Wyman’s Blueberries, Bob’s Red Mill, Morning Star and Gardein.  A few companies admitted they wished their  packaging was better, but it was a freshness and a cost issue to stay competitive. What about the costs to the environment and our health? 

#7 plastic is a mixture of different plastics and it is designed to make it hard to know what it contains. It can contain harmful chemicals like BPA. Don’t purchase it, and don’t purchase any plastic that can’t be recycled!

Model a new way forward: “When we use disposable items, we send a message: this is what we want, keep it up, make more of this. When we refuse, and choose reusable, we model another way forward. Our choices can make a difference. Let’s make them count!” PlasticfreeTuesday 

Also choose reusable masks and gloves!

Bob’s Red Mill was the most disappointing of the companies I contacted. They sell lots of products, many that are hard to find, and have a monopoly on some products. Bob’s has a trusted reputation of being  healthy and sustainable. I am sad they use awful  # 7 packaging, and at our house we won’t purchase their products or any #7 plastic until their packaging improves.

Please recycle plastic bags at grocery stores!

The good news is that by being a smarter shopper it is possible to find items that are packaged in recyclable #4 plastic. These #4 bags need to be dropped off at grocery stores for store recycling. They should not be placed with your normal plastic recycling because they disable the sorting machines.

health4earth
Bring your own reusable bags.

Lets hold plastic producers accountable and avoid harmful plastic. It is always best to reuse bags and containers when possible, but sadly that often is not an option. However, with new awareness we can do better, one plastic item at a time.

Reading list:

Tips & tricks for grocery shopping with less waste (plasticfreetuesday.com)

Solving Packaging

Virginia moves closer to ban plastic foam containers | Environment | rappnews.com 

Action item: Can you join me and take action demanding President Biden act on plastics? Click here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/president-biden-be-a-plasticfreepresident?source=email&

 

 

A Plastic-free President, sign petition

Please sign the petition below asking President Biden to help stop the plastic crisis facing the world.

Plastic will soon outweigh all the fish in the sea, and it’s in our drinking water and on our plates. Yet industry plans to increase plastic production by 40% over the next decade.

President Biden can, and must, act on plastic pollution. We must stop producing more plastic and transform our throwaway economy to a regenerative one.

We demand President Biden take bold actions on plastic pollution and be a #PlasticFreePresident.

550+ organizations recently launched a plan outlining eight actions President Biden can take without Congress to fight the plastic pollution crisis. President Biden must take all eight actions.

Can you join me and take action demanding President Biden act on plastics? Click here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/president-biden-be-a-plasticfreepresident?source=email&

Thanks!

We all must do everything we can to reduce plastic pollution.

Below are the eight important actions that need to be immediately taken:

  1. Use the purchasing power of the Federal government to eliminate single-use plastics and replace them with reusable products.
  2. Deny permits for new or expanded plastic production facilities associated with infrastructure projects.
  3. Make corporate polluters pay and reject false solutions.
  4. Advance environmental justice in petrochemical corridors.
  5. Update existing federal regulations to curtail pollution from plastics facilities by using the best available science and technology.
  6. Stop subsidizing plastic producers.
  7. Join international efforts to address the global plastic pollution crisis through new and strengthened multilateral agreements.
  8. Reduce and mitigate the impacts of discarded and lost fishing gear.

Plastic-free/Zerowaste Tuesday

Sadly all the shopping restrictions have made plastic-free shopping more difficult. Even my food coop won’t allow me to fill my own containers, but as we shop we can still work to purchase items with a minimum of packaging and strive for less waste.  Hopefully, in a few months things can safely start to get back to normal.

real plates
Always use real dishes, utensils, and glasses.

Spending the day at home makes it easy to be plastic-free. Always use real dishes, utensils and glasses/cups. Read about my plastic-free day here.

Too much food is waste!
How can you use those leftovers?

Make Tuesday the day to use up food left-overs from the week. Create wraps, soups or a stew from your left overs. Before the Coronavirus  40% of food was wasted in the United States. With so many hanging out at home I suspect that number is now lower. Let’s save water, labor and energy, and continue to reduce our food waste.

Food waste picture
Wasting food wastes water, energy and labor!

“Learn strategies to reduce food waste at Save the Food, (www.savethefood.com) and commit to taking action. Some ideas: improve your meal planning and stick to your grocery list, store food to make it last, reorganize and inventory your refrigerator or pantry, and keep track of perishable items and use them up before they spoil.” Hennepin County

Save 100%

Climate march in New York City
Fridays for our Future

How can we be sustainable consumers? We have another die warning from the UN on the climate crisis we are experiencing. Buying more stuff does not help the earth. If you need to purchase items,  do it in a more sustainable manner. See below.

We don’t need to purchase to be happy.  I went to see the new Fred Rogers movie. The messages are subtle, but say a lot. Rogers was a master at helping children to feel important. and to feel good about themselves. He thought television was an excellent educational tool, but had been ruined because it tried to turn children into consumers demanding things they didn’t need. As we enter the holiday season and a time of extreme consumerism read more about Fred and his philosophy here

Consumerism and saving money is on our minds. Unfortunately, we have become a throwaway society. Do you use an item for a short time then throw it away, and even worse we raise our children to get bored quickly from that item they just had to have. Again, we don’t need to purchase to be happy. This holiday, how can we be more sustainable and honor the season at the same time?

  •  Join or create your own Friday climate march #FridayforFuture
  •  Always shop with a reusable bag and avoid all plastic.
  •  Shop reuse stores. Some of my favorite clothes come from consignment stores.
  •  Give gifts of help, time and outside events.
  •  Shop retailers that pay living wages, and are local over big box stores.
  •  Buy nothing and save 100%. Reuse what you have!
  •  Purchase items that will last instead of cheap junk.
  •  Plan a day outside instead of shopping, REI.

Happy Holidays! Pause, Enjoy, Reuse

 

Does Black Friday promote “resource waste and overconsumption?”  Read at France.

 

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