What is Zero-Waste?

Refuse, Reuse, Recycle

I use the term zero waste often. It is a daily goal in my household, a goal we work for every day.  Everything we purchase has an impact on our environment from our use of materials and natural resources to the emissions created for manufacturing. Then there is the end of life of a product. Will it sit in a landfill for 500 years polluting the ground and air surrounding it, can it be reused many times, or can it be turned into a new product?

Manufacturing, landfills, garbage burning, and hazardous waste contribute enormously to our warming planet. We need to take all our trash and waste seriously. Remember food waste is waste too!

Unfortunately, we have a long way to go to reach a zero-waste future.  Walking through a grocery or drugstore highlights how far we still have to go. Almost everything is packaged in plastic. Plastic that can’t be recycled!  As consumers we can try to purchase products with a minimum of packaging or refuse to purchase them completely. I often call manufacturers like Field Roast, Morningstar and Bob’s Redmill to request they start to use recyclable packaging.  Currently, in the United States only 9 to 10% of our plastic is recycled. We have a long way to go and need to begin to hold producers of plastic responsible so they produce packaging that can be recycled or reused.

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is how we need to live. Every product we purchase affects our environment; So, before you buy, ask yourself if you really need it? If you do, consider buying gently used instead of new, and look for minimal packaging and shipping.

My county, Hennepin, is creating plans for a zero-waste future:

Hennepin County’s zero-waste vision is a waste management system where all materials are designed to become resources for others to use to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. The key performance measure is diverting 90% or more of all discarded materials from landfills and incinerators.” Hennepin County

Zero waste is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean. Currently, only 9% of plastic is actually recycled. In a zero waste system, material will be reused until the optimum level of consumption.” The definition adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA)

Watch The Story of Stuff and learn more about the zero waste movement.

In the United States 30% of our food is wasted. A huge waste of energy, labor and resources. https://www.usda.gov/foodlossandwaste

This is excellent! https://www.ecowatch.com/how-to-store-produce.html

3 Sustainable Choices

A new year, new habits!

“Small acts when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world!” Greenpeace

The new year has arrived, and we all have the best intentions to have a fresh beginning. With all the uncertainty and discord around us, focusing on something bigger than ourselves helps to rise above all the confusion. Choose to do things that are fun and make you feel better about your place in society.

New goals and new ideas help stimulate new interests and are good for our mental health.  First of all, don’t worry about being perfect, just do something different. No one is perfect, but if everyone does something it adds up to big things for us and our community.

Millions of people around the world have been harmed by storms and our warming world during the past year. With all the harm humans have done to our planet the last hundreds of years, our warming Earth is struggling to find some equilibrium, and we can all lessen our negative impact. By reducing our consumption of the Earth’s resources, we can help our corner of the world and make a big difference. My ideas are to help you think of ways you can make a positive difference and hopefully have fun!

Every day my household works on three big things to reduce our consumption of the Earth’s resources:

Reduce meat consumption

1. Cutting meat consumption and always celebrating meatless Mondays. There are so many meatless options in the frozen food section of grocery stores it can be easy and fun. The hard part is finding meatless options without increasing plastic pollution. Here are some ideas to get you started. Vegan Recipes To Help You Eat Less Meat : Life Kit : NPR  

Quick & Easy Vegetarian Recipes | EatingWell

Vegan Recipes To Help You Eat Less Meat : Life Kit : NPR 

How is plastic in our food affecting our health?

2. Reducing plastic is paramount.  Plastic creates waste and litter, it contributes to climate change, pollutes our water and is harmful to wildlife.  It is concerning how plastic affects our health and what it’s impacts might be for us. We have a lot to learn about how plastic is harming our health. Please reduce your consumption of plastic. Start by using reusable bags, cups and bottles, and then you will slowly learn new ways to reduce plastic in your environment. So much plastic can’t be recycled, but if you must purchase items in plastic, make sure it can be recycled.

Irritable bowel syndrome linked to more microplastics in gut (nypost.com)

end food waste

30 to 40% of food in the USA is wasted!

3. Reduce Food waste.  Food waste is a total waste of water, labor, time and energy. First start with your shopping, don’t buy more than you can use. Buying in bulk is a good way to regulate how much you purchase (bulk can reduce plastic waste also). Second, staying on top of what items are in your refrigerator/freezer is extremely important. Maybe have an “eat first shelf.” I keep a container in my refrigerator to accumulate celery tops and other vegetable scraps for weekly soup making or stir fry.  Finally, turning leftovers into a new meal is one of the best things about cooking. Make it fun and challenging! Wraps and rice bowls are winners!

How to Reduce Food Waste | Sierra Club

Below are many ways you can help our planet and also your soul:

Opinion | 10 New Year’s Resolutions That Are Good for the Soul – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

7 Ways to Make 2022 More Sustainable – Plastic Free Home – Environmental and Zero Waste Blog (theplasticfreehome.com)  

13 sustainable choices for your green life | Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (state.mn.us)  

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

12 Ways to Live More Sustainably (biologicaldiversity.org)

Action Needed! Blah, Blah!

Much Much more is needed!

Love the Earth and Protect it!

The world climate summit is taking place in Glascow, Scotland. The world has known for a long time it needs to do something about our warming earth. There has been such a lack of leadership to get something done, and now we have reached a point where it has become hard to ignore. During the first week some important promises to protect forests, reduce methane and reduce coal. Will it be enough? No, but the conversation has begun. Russia and China didn’t attend so continued efforts are needed to keep them moving forward and integrate them into the discussion

In the United States the powerful lobbyists and oil industry have been able to control and stop action, and it is still happening with Joe Manchin as he hauls in the cash to resist a move away from fossil fuels.

Strong leadership and a desire to work together needs to come out of this important conference. Together everyone is the solution to our climate, We must all set this as a priority over greed, lies and waste.

Everyday we make an impact, make it positive!

Speak out for change! Work for a healthy future!

During the pandemic 2020 carbon emissions were reduced and we can do it again. Everyday with just a little effort, we can make an impact, and move to a new future of sustainability  Let’s start now by buying less junk, reduce our plastic use**, stop idling our engines, and a couple days a week eat meatless. Try walking and riding public transportation, you might like it!

There are some hopeful things happening in the world:

From Future Crunch:    Future Crunch Good – Bing News

 Amazing: Cars powered by combustion engines now make up less than 10% of sales in Norway, and forecasts suggest the country’s last sale of a new petrol or diesel car will come in April 2022, three years ahead of what was already the world’s most ambitious target.  Drive

 Russia has committed to carbon neutrality by 2060, Turkey has finally ratified the Paris Agreement, and the UAE has become the first petro-state to commit to net zero by 2050. Critics say these pledges aren’t enough, but they’re missing the point. They’re not promises. They’re ratchets – once announced, they only increase in ambition.

China has begun construction on the largest and most ambitious clean energy project of all time, 100GW of wind and solar in its western desert. That’s more than the entire existing wind and solar capacity of India, and will be able to generate four times as much power as the Three Gorges Dam. Bloomberg

The important question is what happens after the summit? Countries should be meeting yearly to report their progress and set new goals. Also, continued work needs to be done getting all countries involved.

Reading/listening list:

Report warns of climate change’s ‘code red’ impact on health – CNNReport warns of climate change’s ‘code red’ impact on health – CNN  

Jane Goodall: Every day you live, you impact the planet | TED Talk  

Could climate change lead to war? It’s a growing geopolitical threat | Star Tribune     

Plastics Could Release More Emissions Than Coal by 2030, Study Finds – EcoWatch 

‘Last, best hope:’ Leaders launch crucial UN climate summit – ABC News (go.com) 

Climate summit sees new pledges on cutting methane, saving forests (yahoo.com)

Financial Industry, With $130 Trillion, to Pursue Climate Goals – The New York Times (nytimes.com)   http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/nationworld/report/110521_cop_26_action/cop-26-doesnt-look-so-hopeful-countries-living-climate-emergency/

**Why we need to reduce our use of plastic:  Plastics are on track to contribute more climate-change-causing emissions (to the tune of at least 232 million tons of greenhouse gases annually) than coal plants by 2030, according to a new report out of Bennington College. The reason? As fossil fuel companies seek to recoup falling profits, they’re increasing plastics production.    REPORT: The New Coal: Plastics & Climate Change — Beyond Plastics – Working To End Single-Use Plastic Pollution  

Resolve to be a Better Consumer

Consumption is a big challenge for us as humans–we need, we want lots of things…The vast majority of products end up in landfills, and over 60 % of fabric fibers are synthetics derived from fossils fuels so they don’t decay.” Designer  Christian Siriano

SO, How can we become better consumers?  We have incredible power with our consumer dollars.  How can we use that power wisely? Why would you reinforce corporate greed with your purchases? Everyone wants to save money, but you are not saving money when you purchase lots of cheap things that will end up in the land fill next year!  

Lots of environmental repair is needed, and I hope you will join me to help in 2021 and resolve to be a better consumer. Look at your habits and just make one change. See reading list below.

One of the most important forms of power we have is our ability to decide where and how we spend our money. When you pump LESS gas, and purchase less meat you’re saying something. When you contact businesses about their extreme plastic packaging, you’re doing something. When you shop local, support local farms and climate-smart brands, you’re making a difference by revealing a growing market for whom business as usual will not cut it. At our house we only make purchases at places that pay a minimum wage. If we can use our dollars to shop for quality, support local, green, and homegrown businesses. We can keep dollars in our own communities and make a statement. Buying less makes a statement too.

The thought of having plastic microfibers in the food I consume stirs me to reduce my plastic consumption and motivates me to become aware of my plastic and other unsustainable purchases.

glass
Reuse containers
Where can you start? First work to stop purchasing single-use plastic. Shop with your reusable bags, use a reusable water bottle, refuse straws/plastic utensils, and find an alternative to baggies. Maybe stop using sauce packets. Become aware of all the  packaging that can’t be recycled.

Start working on one thing and go from there. You will not be perfect, but you can make a difference! Maybe you can start with an alternative to dryer sheets and hand wipes. I just discovered somethings I purchased during the pandemic are in #7 plastic(not recyclable). I’m contacting these companies, and ending my #7 plastic purchases! Education and awareness make such a difference. I hope the reading list below will heighten your awareness also!

Reading list:

Say no to fast fashion and purchase items that will last a long time

Toxic chemicals in single-use plastics are harming human health | U.S. PIRG   

Do You Want to Buy Less Stuff? Three People Tell Us How – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

https://bigthink.com/personal-growth/buy-less-stuff

Beginner’s Guide to Minimalism – Going Zero Waste

Six Eco-Friendly Pledges for 2021​ – EcoWatch 

New Year’s Resolutions for the Planet – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

9 New Years’ Climate Resolutions To Keep For 2021, According To Experts (forbes.com)

In Focus: We know the real cost of fast fashion, so why do we buy it? | Metro News

Lake Michigan plastic pollution poses ecological and social threats (https_dailynorthwestern.com)  

Substitutes For Dryer Sheets | Cleancult

My ten tips for Health4earth holiday shopping: 

 

Purchase clothing made from natural fibers – synthetic fibers like polyester are made from plastic. Opt for alternatives to dryer sheets for your laundry.

Our Actions Matter

What kind of world do we want to live in?

I think most of us would agree we don’t want polluted air and water, or a world without interesting animals, birds, and butterflies. Can we accept a world where people are staving to death? Do we want to live without diversity, in a mono-culture where we can’t accept anything different from how we live? Do we want a world where disrespect is accepted?

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

Several recent studies and events should wake us up and shake us to action. First a study from the United Nations that says we are going to have a food crisis if we don’t change our land use. We just aren’t going to have food for everyone if we continue on our path of land use and wasting food. The study encourages a reduction in our meat consumption. The raising of meat, especially beef and lamb takes an enormous amount of energy, land, and water resources. It also states we must stop wasting so much food. Read the study comprised by over a hundred scientists here.

Microplastic in Lake Superior
Lake Superior

Second, how about some plastic in your drink? Plastic is everywhere, and it might never break down. The amount of plastic microfibers in our water and air is troubling. Read about it at Plastic. Read about the plastic in the big lake at Lake Superior.

Bald Eagle
Smart environmental policy brought back the bald eagle

Finally, the  quality of life will decline if we don’t have song birds and crickets singing, if we don’t have eagles, hummingbirds or happy chickadees to entertain us.  We all want a world with penguins, giraffes and elephants. Our changing climate makes it necessary that we protect and support animals that will take longer to adjust to this change. Protecting some animals might be as simple as keeping oil and gas companies from drilling in certain areas. Read at Endangered Species Act . The Trump administration intends to end special protections of some of our most cherished animals.

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

What actions matter? These are the things my household tries to do everyday. If everyone does a little, it adds up to a lot!   1. Reduce food waste. This is the hardest, but the most important!  https://savethefood.com/  2. Eat less meat, https://damndelicious.net/2014/12/02/15-best-quick-easy-meatless-recipes/  3. Reduce our plastic foot-print and work for zero waste 4. Buy less stuff, and purchase items that will last, not junk! 5. Be kind. It would be a boring world if everyone had blue eyes, blond hair, tiny noses, and a perfect weight. Be respectful of our differences.

Everyone can help
Thanks for making a difference!

If everyone does a little, it adds up to a lot! Our warming planet is real, and we need to find ways use our land more efficiently, and to slow down our warming planet. What do you think? What kind of world do you want to live in?

 

The Problem With Plastic

How are you reducing your plastic footprint?

Plastic lasts more than a lifetime! 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 much 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.

The PBS NewsHour is doing an interesting series on plastic this week. I hope you will watch.  See below:

 

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/plastic-lasts-more-than-a-lifetime-and-thats-the-problem

Earth Day 2018

My message for you on this Earth Day is, “Young people want a livable future!” All of us can make a difference for that future. Not just on Earth Day, but everyday!

The theme for Earth Day 2018 is, “End Plastic Pollution” Here is an interview with the founder of the original Earth Day.

If we continue the path we are on with plastic pollution, we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. Business lobbyists are working hard to make sure we use plastic products. Laws are being passed to stop cities and counties from banning plastic bags and plastic/Styrofoam containers. We are in a sad place when the lobbyists have more power than the common good of everyone. These lobbyists make me more determined than ever to boycott their awful plastic products.

Nice screw-top glass bottles that I can reuse forever! #reusable

What are some ideas to reduce your plastic use? Here is an excellent article from Minnesota Public Radio(MPR) on what you can do about plastic pollution When a plastic product comes your way, ask yourself: Do I really need this, or can I use something else? Chances are you can say no, and yes. 

Each one of us can make a huge difference.  On Earth Day 2018 set a simple goal for yourself, something that is easy to do. Maybe just keeping your reusable bags in the trunk of your car, or refilling olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottles at your local grocery. Maybe refusing to purchase anything in Styrofoam or never again using a plastic straw.  You know your situation, what works for you?

Make sure your environmental goal is easy to accomplish, and something you have a passion or interest to accomplish. Remember, our youth want a livable future.

There are always new things you can purchase in bulk, instead of plastic. My newest way to avoid plastic using bulk hemp seeds to make hemp milk . Trying to reduce one plastic container at a time!

https://health4earth.com/2015/04/20/happy-earth-day/

https://health4earth.com/2016/04/22/everyday-earth-day/

Earth Day tips from Ecowatch