Everything Is Connected

The Mississippi Watershed by Jon Platek This how trash can reach the ocean.

This morning while walking around the lake by my house, I was sad to see plastic bottles bobbing around in the lake. The amazing thing is that those plastic bottles from a lake in land-locked Minnesota could end up in the Gulf of Mexico. 80% of marine litter originates from land. The Minnehaha Creek drains this lake into the Mississippi River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Plastic in a Minneapolis lake, could float the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico, these plastic bottles and bags are a dangerous threat to marine life, and they are unpleasant to water recreation.

I am sure you know most of the ways to avoid plastic, but you might learn something from this list on reducing plastic use. The excellent list below is from the NRDC https://www.nrdc.org/:

“Plastic, of course, is uniquely problematic because it’s nonbiodegradable and therefore sticks around for a lot longer (like up to 1,000 years longer) than other forms of trash. And we’re not just talking about people dumping their garbage overboard. Around 80 percent of marine litter actually originates on land—either swept in from the coastline or carried to rivers from the streets during heavy rain via storm drains and sewer overflows.

So the best thing we can do to protect our waterways is trying to keep as much plastic as possible out of the waste stream in the first place. The good news? There are many small ways you can have a big impact.

1. Wean yourself off disposable plastics.

Ninety percent of the plastic items in our daily lives are used once and then chucked: grocery bags, plastic wrap, disposable cutlery, straws, coffee-cup lids. Take note of how often you rely on these products and replace them with reusable versions. It only takes a few times of bringing your own bags to the store, silverware to the office, or travel mug to Starbucks before it becomes habit.

2. Stop buying water.

Each year, close to 20 billion plastic bottles are tossed in the trash. Carry a reusable bottle in your bag, and you’ll never be caught having to resort to a Poland Spring or Evian again. If you’re nervous about the quality of your local tap water, look for a model with a built-in filter.

3. Boycott microbeads.

Those little plastic scrubbers found in so many beauty products—facial scrubs, toothpaste, body washes—might look harmless, but their tiny size allows them to slip through water-treatment plants. Unfortunately, they also look just like food to some marine animals. Opt for products with natural exfoliants, like oatmeal or salt, instead.

4. Cook more.

Not only is it healthier, but making your own meals doesn’t involve takeout containers or doggy bags. For those times when you do order in or eat out, tell the establishment you don’t need any plastic cutlery or, for some serious extra credit, bring your own food-storage containers to restaurants for leftovers.

5. Purchase items secondhand.

New toys and electronic gadgets, especially, come with all kinds of plastic packaging—from those frustrating hard-to-crack shells to twisty ties. Search the shelves of thrift stores, neighborhood garage sales, or online postings for items that are just as good when previously used. You’ll save yourself a few bucks, too.

6. Recycle (duh).

It seems obvious, but we’re not doing a great job of it. For example, less than 14 percent of plastic packaging is recycled. Confused about what can and can’t go in the bin? Check out the number on the bottom of the container. Most beverage and liquid cleaner bottles will be #1 (PET), which is commonly accepted by most curbside recycling companies. Containers marked #2 (HDPE; typically slightly heavier-duty bottles for milk, juice, and laundry detergent) and #5 (PP; plastic cutlery, yogurt and margarine tubs, ketchup bottles) are also recyclable in some areas. For the specifics on your area, check out Earth911.org’s recycling directory.

7. Support a bag tax or ban.

Urge your elected officials to follow the lead of those in San Francisco, Chicago, and close to 150 other cities and counties by introducing or supporting legislation that would make plastic-bag use less desirable.

8. Buy in bulk.

Single-serving yogurts, travel-size toiletries, tiny packages of nuts—consider the product-to-packaging ratio of items you tend to buy often and select the bigger container instead of buying several smaller ones over time.

9. Bring your own garment bag to the dry cleaner.

Invest in a zippered fabric bag and request that your cleaned items be returned in it instead of sheathed in plastic. (And while you’re at it, make sure you’re frequenting a dry cleaner that skips the perc, a toxic chemical found in some cleaning solvents.)

10. Put pressure on manufacturers.

Though we can make a difference through our own habits, corporations obviously have a much bigger footprint. If you believe a company could be smarter about its packaging, make your voice heard. Write a letter, send a tweet, or hit them where it really hurts: Give your money to a more sustainable competitor.” NRDC

I would add one thing to the list. Never use Styrofoam! Some stores package fruits and vegetables on Styrofoam trays! Awful.

Finally, current status of the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities from Friends of the Mississippi.

The Arctic and Whales Collecting Our Plastic

Do we want waterways that look like this?

This shouldn’t surprise me, but I am upset to read about the plastic trash in the Arctic Ocean.   Plastic trash is now so ubiquitous that researchers have found hundreds of tons of it floating in the Arctic Ocean.  Read the whole story here.

Why shouldn’t I be surprised by this?  The “local control” advocates, in the Minnesota legislature are trying to derail Minneapolis’ plastic bag ban from happening later this year. I have just returned from a road trip to Washington, D.C. and I found only a few places to recycle along the way, most on college campuses. I could go on and on about what I see throughout the world in regards to plastic trash. A sad story about a whale collecting all this plastic . Our earth has a massive problem!

Plastic breaks into tiny pieces and wildlife eats it!

Where are the companies that manufacture and make a profit on this plastic and Styrofoam when it comes to clean-up?

Styrofoam I pulled from Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. It is breaking into small pieces and could last forever!

The oceans belong to all of us.  No one has the right to pollute and trash the ocean or the rivers or lakes.

What can you do? Have plastic-free shopping trips by bringing your own containers, and never purchase products on Styrofoam trays.  2. Encourage your community to put up and maintain recycling containers.  3. Pick up trash on your walks. 4. Recycle everything you can. 5. Always bring your reusable bags shopping.

Last, a remote Pacific island has become a reservoir for the waste of the world as it piles onto this pristine island.

Bring you own bag

 

 

 

 

How Can You Reduce Holiday Waste?

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Last year I did a series on reducing waste over the holidays. Read it here  Maybe just do one thing different this year.

Below is from the Minnesota Pollution Control:

Holiday waste

The presents have been opened and the festivities are over. What’s to be done with all the stuff and waste that’s left? Are there eco-friendly ways to keep it out of the trash?

A lot, and you bet!

The EPA reports that garbage increases 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and it’s not hard to see why. Drive down any street or alley in late December or early January and you’re likely to see trash bins and bags overflowing with holiday waste. Some of these materials have potential value, which can be lost when they hit the waste stream.

Even if your holidays weren’t  the “greenest” on the block, there’s still time afterwards to engage the 5 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle, and Rethink.

https://www.pca.state.mn.us/ Living Green 365

Before you toss, ask yourself these questions:
•If broken, can it be fixed?

•Is it reusable or recyclable?
•Can it be upcycled into something of value?

America Recycles Day

Recycle More!
Recycle More!

Garbage is a terrible thing to waste!

On America Recycles Day, what commitment can you make to recycle more?  I live in a community where my one-sort recycle bin is picked up bi-weekly and compost every week.  It is easy!!  However, every community has their own rules on recycling and composting. Find recycling information for your community  http://earth911.com/

It is a horrible to waste valuable resources by putting recyclables in the landfill where they might sit for hundreds of years(We don’t know how long plastic will last, maybe forever in tiny pieces!)

http://earth911.com/  has a great article on the mistakes we make in recycling. Read it here

Some ideas to help you recycle more:

  1. Bottle caps should stay on bottles.
  2. Magazines and glossy paper can be recycled!
  3. Shredded paper is hard to recycle, it flies around.  Compost shredded paper.
  4. Food stained cardboard(pizza boxes) should not be recycled.  Again, they can be composted along with paper egg cartons.
  5. Do not put plastic bags in your compost bin.  They jam the machines!  Bring all plastic bags back to the grocery store for recycling, and reuse them over and over before you recycle them.
  6. Choose glass or aluminum over plastic.  Glass and aluminum are easier to recycle.
  7. More ideas
  8. Get into the recycle mindset
  9. Good Luck!

 

 

 

When It Comes To Plastic

Lake Superior and all lakes are precious, protect them!
Lake Superior and all lakes are precious, protect them!

Yesterday I was at the public library in Superior, Wisconsin.  I was impressed with an educational display by Wisconsin Coastal Management . They had a large display of trash that a student group had picked up from a one day beach trash pick-up from a local Lake Superior beach.  Ideas from the trash collected created an educational poster for the public. Plastic breaks into tiny bits, is eaten by our fish, and probably will last hundreds of years, maybe forever!

This is their excellent education piece:wp-image-493016558jpeg.jpeg

 

A Man Wears His Trash

Avoid plastic, fill your glass or metal bottles with water or other liquid
Avoid plastic, fill your glass or metal bottles with water or other liquid.
Bring you own bag
Bring you own bag

Enjoy this video, as an individual makes a statement on our consumerism. Each American(USA) consumes 4 1/2 pounds of trash a day.  As I shop at grocery stores and Menards, I am overwhelmed by the amount of packaging and waste that goes into our purchases.

What can you do to reduce that 4 1/2 pounds a day?   I have just returned from a bus zero waste food coop shopping trip, filling my own bottles, and using only packaging that can be composted(paper not plastic).  I work everyday to be a climatarian. You don’t need to be as extreme as I am, just become aware! How can we consume less?

Use reusable cotton sacks or paper bags
Use reusable cotton sacks or paper bags
Please recycle plastic bags at grocery stores!
Please recycle plastic bags at grocery stores!

 

Backyard Compost Collection
Backyard Compost Collection