Massive Threats to Our Oceans

Minnehaha Creek drains into the Mississippi River which runs to the Gulf of Mexico

I’ve pledged to reduce single-use plastic in my life, Refuse plastic straws & cutlery, use refillable water bottles, coffee cups, & bring my own bag to the store. Together we can do this! Join me & take the challenge  Mick Jagger

Two thirds of our earth is covered by ocean, and our oceans are paying a price for our behavior on land.

The Mississippi River water shed drains much of the United States.

This afternoon I walked over the Minnehaha Creek, and saw plastic bags stuck in the ice. I live 1,500 miles from an ocean, but this creek, a few blocks from my house, drains into the Mississippi River which runs into the Gulf of Mexico over a thousand miles away.  When the ice melts, this plastic will probably take a long journey down the Mississippi River and end up in our oceans.What we do to the land, we do to our water.  Most ocean pollution starts out on land and is carried by wind and rain to the sea. Plastic from the land ends up in the ocean and plastic is so durable that the EPA reports “every bit of plastic ever made still exists.” Even the pristine Arctic Ocean is being inundated with plastic. Read at Arctic. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy5c-BZUjHQ  See this video how Norway recycles plastic.

The second threat to oceans is our warming planet. Oceans in 2017 were warmer than they have ever been.  Most of the heat from our warming planet is absorbed by the oceans. More than 90 percent of the Earth’s heat related to global warming is absorbed by the ocean.  Read at ocean heat.

What are the consequences of warming oceans?  Warmer oceans could bring storms, rain droughts and winds like we have never seen.  The hurricanes in Houston and Puerto Rico are just examples of what could come. The warming ocean melts the glaciers faster causing sea rise.   Cities and countries will be under water if this trend continues, and many people will become refugees having to move inland causing refugee crisis to get worse and worse. Unfortunately, this is only going to continue with extreme drought in some places and too much water in others!

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-42947155

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ocean_plastics/

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Simple things You can Do

Find a place to recycle your bottles, cans and paper.
Say “No” to plastic bags!
Bring you own shopping bag

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!

From Ecowatch:

  • 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.

Too Much Water, Too Much Sediment

Lake Superior and all lakes are precious, protect them!

This summer I wished I could have given some of our rain to drought stricken North or South Dakota. Everyday on Lake Superior seemed to sprout a rain shower.  When I read the water quality of Lake Superior wasn’t superior to other Great Lakes anymore, my first thought was of this summer’s rain. Because of the rainy summer, the lake level became very high, and this high water caused some of the soft lake banks to erode into the lake causing lake sediment.  The streams running into the lake bring more sediment into the lake.

An unusual fact about Lake Superior: Many streams and rivers drain into the big lake, but only one river drains out of the lake, the St. Mary’s River, and that is regulated at Sault Ste. Marie. I know the water that flows out through the St. Mary’s River is complicated with many factors, but releasing more water from the lake could probably help water quality of Lake Superior. Read at St. Mary’s River.

We can all do better to protect the water quality this magnificent lake, and other lakes also.

Buffer strips along lakes protect water quality.

Slowing down the water flow can help. Buffer strips of deep-rooted plants along streams and along the lake can reduce sediment run-off, and putting in rain gardens and rain barrels can also slow the water.

The below ideas for protecting our lakes is from the Superiorforum.org , Sigurd Olson Institute, Northland college, 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 a few more:

  1. Plastics have become a big problem for our waterways.  Reduce plastic use and be sure any plastic-use is recycled. Also remember to say, “No straw please!”
  2. Micro-fibers in our clothes also are polluting our waterways. As of yet there isn’t a good solution. Read about micro-fibers here.
  3. Always pick up litter.

The water we have on earth is the only water we will ever have, we must take care of it!

Exciting Good News

This is my occasional series on Good News.  I love the leadership from Costa Rica, Seattle, Australia, Kenya and South Miami, places that are taking us into a sustainable future.

** Amazing Costa Rica will be the first country to ban all single-use plastics. They are working with businesses to create and use biodegradable plastic products.  By 2021 Costa Rica hopes be using plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, containers and plastic cutlery that will break down in water.  Read about it at Costa Rica 

** Also amazing, in 2018 the city of Seattle is banning straws and plastic utensils in restaurants! Read about it here.

Car of the future!

** Australia going to build the world’s longest electric vehicle highway. They will build a 1,118 mile highway with free and fast electric charging stations. Read about it at EVhighway 

** A new local law will require all new homes built in South Miami to install solar panels. The idea was pushed by a teenage climate activist, and will began this September. Read more about it at South Miami.

These bags will dissolve in a few months. We should all be using them!

** Yay, Kenya is enforcing a tough plastic bag-ban. Read at Kenya. 

Currently these biodegradable products are available in the USA, and can be purchased at food-coops and some grocery stores.

Filling the Swamp with Plastic

Plastic breaks into tiny pieces, wildlife thinks it’s food, and it might last forever!

Humans have created 9 billion tons of plastic since 1950 and most of this plastic still exists on earth. Only 9 percent has been recycled, and 11 percent incinerated. That leaves 80 percent of the plastic ever produced floating around in our waterways, poisoning fish, or releasing chemicals in landfills. As citizens of this planet we should be doing everything we can to reduce the amount of plastic we use.

There were two sad set-backs for plastic in our environment this past week, and both were pandering to big business and lobbyists, or “filling the swamp”.

First, our national parks had made an effort to begin banning plastic water bottles, but the new deputy secretary of the interior, with ties to the plastic bottle industry, changed the policy. Read about it here.

Second, on what should have been an easy issue, the Minneapolis City Council tabled a five-cent fee to be placed on plastic bags. The lobbyists and the plastic industry wins over our lakes and streams.

Never should plastic have been allowed to be produced without a plan to dispose of it. Sixty-seven years later plastic manufacturers and lobbyists are thriving, and elected officials continue to “fill the swamp” taking campaign money from them.  If our parks and cities don’t lead by example our environment lacks places it can turn for leadership!

Please do what you can to reduce your plastic foot-print!

Simple ways to reduce your plastic pollution:

Bring you own bag
Bring your own bag
  1. Start simple and add one idea at a time
  2. Bring your own shopping bags
  3. Buy bulk and refill your own containers
  4. Don’t purchase bottled water
  5. Say “No” to straws, plastic spoons, forks, and knives
  6. Always choose glass containers over plastic!
  7. Never purchase products packaged in Styrofoam (Be aware of meat and produce trays)
  8. Recycle, recycle, recycle and reuse.

 

The Ugly Face of Plastic

Bring your own shopping bag

Plastic came into being about 1950. It is lightweight and easy to make into many things. Unfortunately, plastic is awful for our wildlife and waterways. Both are choking on this ubiquitous plastic pollution.
What are microplastics? They are tiny pieces of plastic that come from our clothes, plastic litter, and synthetic fibers. Read or listen to the entire story at MPR.
At the present these plastic particles are too small to be strained out of our water treatment plants so they end up polluting our waterways, lakes and oceans. There is a new laundry bag you can purchase (see below) that will filter the microfiber when you wash your clothes.

I love this list from MPR:

5 things you can do to reduce microplastic pollution

  1. Cut back on consuming single-use plastic products such as shopping bags, Starbucks cups and plastic utensils. Replace them with reusable items like travel mugs, silverware
    Microplastic in fleece is causing water pollution!

    and cloth bags.

  2. Buy only facial scrubs, toothpaste and other personal care products made with natural exfoliants, such as oatmeal and salt.
  3. Buy clothing made of organic or natural materials rather than synthetic fibers. Buy only what you need, and invest in higher-quality items so you don’t need to replace them as often.
  4. Don’t wash your clothes as often, especially items made from synthetic fabrics like fleece jackets.
  5. Invest in a mesh laundry bag, guppy friend, designed to capture shedding fibers during the washing cycle. Read about guppy friend here.

 

 

 

Dear Gov. Dayton

This is a message to Minnesota Governor Dayton asking him to veto the legislation that takes away Minneapolis’s plastic bag ban.

Below is my letter to the Minneapolis http://www.startribune.com/ It was published a few months ago. It is ridiculous the Minnesota legislature is trying to take away Minneapolis’ right to ban plastic bags. Why should the plastic industry have the right to say which rules the city of Minneapolis should enact???
To the editor,
Today as I drove north out of Minneapolis on 35W, I was sad to see waste plastic bags hanging from fences and decorating plants and trees. I thought of the op-ed by the manufacturer of plastic bags telling us how wonderful his bags were. (Facts Don’t Support Columns Call for Ban on Plastic Retail Bags)
We all observe many bags with purchases leaving our stores, but only .06 percent are recycled. Plastic poses a serious threat to our wildlife that eat and become tangled in this trash. Plastic takes many years to decompose and releases toxins into our soil and water during this long process.
The Minnesota Legislature is trying to ban Minneapolis’s hope to reduce plastic bag use which goes into effect later this year. Governor Dayton should veto this silly legislation, and all Minnesotans should take personal responsibility to recycle clean plastic bags at grocery stores, and reduce their use of this harmful litter.

Health4earth

Call Governor Mark Dayton (651-201-3400) and tell him cities should have the right to ban plastic bags. VETO SF 1456!