“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a Conspiracy of Love” Hamilton Mable
After nine months of a pandemic everyone needs extra attention! December is a month of Kindness and the Actions for Happiness have many good ideas below. It is a time to reach out and spread good will!
Spread good will and kindness to the Earth also! December is a time that we generate of lots of landfill waste. Too many Amazon and UPS trucks rumble on my street. Use some of your “at home time” to see how you can reuse what you have, simplify your shopping, and generate less garbage by buying less.
December days to celebrate:
December 1, AIDs Awareness Day and National Giving Day
December 2, Pollution Control Day
December 7, Pearl Harbor Day
December 8, Bodhi Day
December 10, Hanukkah, and Human Rights Day
December 15, National Tea Day
December 21, Winter Solstice and the first day of winter
A new year brings new energy, new projects and hope into our lives. May we move on to a positive new beginning for us all. One thing that 2018 told us is that our Earth is struggling with harmful human activity. Our warming climate and our dependence on single-use plastic can have tragic implications as we move into the future. We can’t predict the future, but plastic waste and climate change are not going away.
If everyone does a small amount it can make a big difference! I have two things you can do to make a big difference on the Earth this new year. Even if you change one thing you do, and focus on that one thing in 2019 you will be making a difference!
When I started this blog years ago, I was trying to get people to recycle. While I hope you will still recycle what needs to be recycled, it has become harder and harder to recycle that pesky plastic. Glass, aluminum and paper have markets, but we just use so much single-use plastic and there aren’t enough markets for plastic. Plastic can’t be recycled over and over like glass and aluminum.
We need to reduce our plastic footprint. Start by changing one thing you purchase in plastic. At our house we refill bottles/containers with bulk at our local coop: soaps, lotions, teas, nuts, rice and almost every dry product we eat. We make our own yogurt, humus and cashew milk. Even as hard as we work on this we can’t avoid all packaging, it is too ubiquitous. As human beings we haven’t figured out our complicated relationship with plastic. The best thing is to avoid it.
Tackling food waste is another way we can all make a difference. If you purchase in bulk you can get just the amount you need. Forty percent of our food in the USA goes to waste, I mourn the valuable water and energy wasted on uneaten food! How have you done on your holiday leftovers? Freeze, cook, eat that food! Be vigilant. I make it into game with myself to be creative making new items from left-overs to keep from wasting food. Just think of the water and energy that we could save! Also, rotting food waste in landfills creates methane contributing to warming the planet.
Some other ideas to make a difference: Make changes in your kitchen and 10 green resolutions from Earth911. PBS offers three science based ideas here.
Some inspiration from Dan Rather: ” I stand at the precipice of 2019, alongside all of you, and breath deep a spirit of empathy and a determination to do our part to help make this world a better place.”
“Huge news out of the UK today that major supermarket chains and companies are committing to a five-year plan to eliminate plastic pollution, especially in packaging. The video in this article also contains some great tips for personally moving beyond plastics.” Earth911
The Minnesota Legislature is debating preemption laws to keep cities from banning plastic bags and Styrofoam containers. Other legislatures throughout the country are prohibiting cities from banning plastic. In the United States we can’t depend on lawmakers to do what is best for our earth, so we must responsibly choose to do the right thing ourselves. See poster below. I would add to this Bristle poster, Never purchase products in Styrofoam.
Can the Super Bowl go zero waste? If they can, so can you! Minneapolis, location of Super Bowl 52, is an incredible place to go waste-free. We have recycle containers everywhere, and we have weekly home compost pick-up. Hennepin County and Minneapolis are committed to less landfill waste.
I think the NFL is sending an important message, “It is important to reduce our waste!” Yes, one big event is important, and we all need to educate ourselves and try to reduce our own waste. Read about the Super Bowl at zero waste.
Most communities don’t make it as easy as Minneapolis, but in tiny steps, we can all do better. Everyday I think about how I can generate less waste, and I know for a zero waste mentality to be successful, it must be EASY!
An easy way to reduce waste is to think REUSE. Before you throw something away, buy something new, or recycle something, ask yourself, “How can I reuse this?” I purchase products in glass jars that I will reuse, and I do reuse them. I believe in real dishes, real silverware, and cloth napkins. My reusable water bottles travel with me, something the NFL doesn’t allow at games! I reuse my plastic produce bags over and over, and take my reusable containers to fill with bulk items weekly. Hennepin County has a good list of how to start reusing, read it here. Remember to start easy, and you will get better, as you learn more ways to reduce and reuse.
I would start with cloth napkins as the easiest. As you get into the reuse mindset you will see many things you can do to reuse and reduce on your own. Good Luck!
Get out those real dishes, glasses and silverware for your Super Bowl party and have fun.
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:
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.
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?
• Challenge yourself to focus on the first of the 3 R’s and REDUCE your consumption • To better visualize your efforts, use a glass jar or bowl to collect your waste for the day • Use cloth produce bags for buying in bulk • Visit a local farmer’s market for fresh produce, meats and cheeses. • Bring lunch in a glass container or jar. • Carry washable utensils and a cloth napkin in your lunch bag or purse. • Take this day to de-junk your mailbox by removing yourself from mailing lists of unwanted promotions and catalogs. Earth 911
This is a good list, but to be really zero waste you need to compost food
“If everyone does a little bit, it adds up to a whole lot!” health4earth
We all need to take some personal responsibility to make ourselves and our planet healthier. Below are some of the things I work for everyday, and I hope you will add a few of them to your 2016 agenda. Please respond with your clean climate ideas.
My series #31daysoflesswaste continues:
1. Buy less stuff, reuse, reuse and reuse the things you have.
2. Stop idling your car, bundle your car trips together to drive less, and carpool more! Or take the bus!
6. Recycle and donate your unwanted stuff “More and more people understand that there is no “away” in the finite system that is planet Earth and that we can’t keep using our precious air, water and land to dump the stuff we no longer want. If something can’t be reused, repaired, refurbished or otherwise repurposed, the next best thing is to recycle it.” David Suzuki www.earth911.com or donate to your local donation non-profit
7. How can I reduce single-use consumption of plastic bottles/containers, and reduce my consumption of plastic bags?
What do you do for our planet and yourself to be healthier?
I thank Pope Francis, along with millions throughout the world, for encouraging churches and all of us to discuss and think about our unsustainable habits. Pope Francis is concerned with the lack of fresh drinking water, the loss of bio-diversity, and the diminished quality of life many on our planet are experiencing. The Pope and I would disagree on birth control, and the sustainability large families, but I think his other ideas are right on! The list below is the best list I have seen on things we can all do to reduce our carbon use. Below is from Priest Father Rocky:
10 things you can do to implement “Laudato Si.”
1. Use 10% less air conditioning — in home and in car 2. Use 10% less fuel — at home and in car 3. Drive 10% slower 4. Use scrap paper for your first draft 5. Use natural light instead of electric whenever possible 6. Turn off the lights when you leave the room 7. Use real plates, napkins, and cups: not paper and plastic 8. Reduce water consumption (recycle shower water into the holding tanks for toilets) 9. Be respectful at home: “please and thank you” 10. Say Grace BEFORE and AFTER meals.
I continue to try to get everyone to think about the amount of plastic we use in our lives. Below are some ways we can reduce plastic. When I shop I constantly think how I can avoid products packed in plastic, and how to reuse any plastic I already have.
Below are some surprising facts about plastic from Thegreendivas.com and ecowatch.com
22 Preposterous Facts about Plastic Pollution.
• In the Los Angeles area alone, 10 metric tons of plastic fragments—like grocery bags, straws and soda bottles—are carried into the Pacific Ocean every day.
• Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
• 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away.
• Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times.
• We currently recover(recycle) only five percent of the plastics we produce.
• The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year.
• Plastic accounts for around 10 percent of the total waste we generate.
• The production of plastic uses around eight percent of the world’s oil production (bioplastics are not a good solution as they require food source crops).
• Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year (source: Brita)
• Plastic in the ocean breaks down into such small segments that pieces of plastic from a one liter bottle could end up on every mile of beach throughout the world.
• Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.
• 46 percent of plastics float (EPA 2006) and it can drift for years before eventually concentrating in the ocean gyres.
• It takes 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade.
• Billions of pounds of plastic can be found in swirling convergences in the oceans making up about 40 percent of the world’s ocean surfaces. 80 percent of pollution enters the ocean from the land.
• The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located in the North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California and is the largest ocean garbage site in the world. This floating mass of plastic is twice the size of Texas, with plastic pieces outnumbering sea life six to one.
• Plastic constitutes approximately 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile.
• One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.
• 44 percent of all seabird species, 22 percent of cetaceans, all sea turtle species and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies.
• In samples collected in Lake Erie, 85 percent of the plastic particles were smaller than two-tenths of an inch, and much of that was microscopic. Researchers found 1,500 and 1.7 million of these particles per square mile.
• Virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form (with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated).
• Plastic chemicals can be absorbed by the body—93 percent of Americans age six or older test positive for BPA (a plastic chemical).
• Some of these compounds found in plastic have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects.