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&

 

 

3 things to do this week!

 

If everyone does a little, it adds up to a lot!

I have three things I think everyone should do this week. Happy holidays!

1.Wrapping gifts (Ideas from MPR)

My husband’s wrapping

Despite its name, you actually can’t recycle most wrapping paper.  It contains too much foil and glitter.

The only types of wrapping paper that are recyclable are the ones that are one hundred percent made out of paper. This will most likely be the plain brown paper you’ve seen packages wrapped in. You can get creative and decorate the paper with drawings to spruce up the present.

Gifts in reusable cloth bags

You can get even more creative by using materials that you already have to wrap your presents. You could use old newspapers and compost them or cloth bags and ribbon and reuse them next year. 

Gifts

You can give gifts to your friends, family and the environment all at once. You could give to a cause the person is passionate about, or plan a clothing swap all while creating zero waste.  

You also may want to consider supporting small businesses this year by shopping locally rather than getting things delivered. 

2. Don’t Waste food. 

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

Wasted food is a huge contributor to global warming and climate change. It is a waste of energy, labor, and water, often contributing to air and water pollution. Rotting food in landfills contributes more air and water pollution.  In the United States we waste 40% of our food, and we can all do better. Read about it at Save The Food 

Cook only what you need and have a plan for using leftovers.

3. Take an AWE walk

Find beauty in your neighborhood!

Take a healthy mindful walk and pay attention! Leave your phone and headphones at home. Look at the beauty of the trees, the sunshine and landscape. Listen for the wind and birds.  Find something you love and something that surprises you. Unwind and enjoy!

December Good Will

kindness
Kindness creates a ripple, spread it now.

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

December 24. Christmas Eve

Christmas 25, Christmas

December 26, Kwanzaa

December 31, New Year’s Eve

kindness
Remember to be kind to the Earth!

 

My Plastic Free Day

reusable containers
With some planning you too can have a plastic-free day!

Join me for a plastic-free day. Reducing single-use plastic consumption is an important way we can make a positive difference for our earth. Start with one plastic-free day a week to change the way we live our lives. Join me for  a plastic-free day

With a little planning and organization the night before you can have a plastic free day.

First pack your lunch in a reusable plastic-free container, and bring your reusable cup and utensils.

bulk produce
Avoid plastic, purchase produce in bulk without plastic

Next bring your reusable shopping bags to shop for dinner. Making a sheet pan dinner is easier than take-out. Here is a list of sheet pan dinners to last you almost a month. Purchase produce items without plastic wrap and plastic bags. Choose a new grocery store if yours doesn’t offer bulk produce of carrots, onions, potatoes, apples and broccoli. For a protein source visit the meat counter to avoid plastic wrap and Styrofoam trays. Eggs can be purchased plastic-free.  Here is a sheet pan dinner using a can of garbanzo beans, and vegetarian sheet pan dinners here.

Why is it important we avoid plastic? Just a 9% of the single-use plastic in the United States is recycled. Plastic breaks into tiny particles, and is eaten by fish, turtles and other marine life. Plastic is made to last, and will stay on Earth hundred of years and maybe forever. I can’t imagine the future of our Earth if we don’t contain this harmful monster.

Less Waste, More Taste: 10 Mason Jar Recipes

Here are 10 plastic items you can easily give up.

 

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.

 

Reduce the waste you generate!

recycle
Purchasing recycled products saves raw materials and adds valuable jobs

“I only feel angry when I see waste, when I see people throwing away things we could use.” Mother Teresa        Only 9% of recyclables are recycled in the United States compared with Germany and Norway that recycle in the 60% range. Plastic manufacturers continue to create more plastic and push recycling. Unfortunately,  recycling is not a sustainable option. I hope you will work hard to recycle your bottles, containers and paper waste because making things from recycled material is awesome and saves lots of energy and natural resources, but as consumers we need to also purchase items made from recycled materials.

A new paradigm is needed, we all need to reduce the waste and recycling we generate. Wasteful packaging needs to stop! Make it a priority in your life to reduce the waste you generate. Here are some simple ideas to get you started:

First, cook at home instead of take-out. Yes, it is some work, but organizing to have a few meals made ahead or in crock pots can reduce lots of waste and be fun at the same time.

Always carry your reusable water bottle and reusable bags.

Be a smart shopper, always think how you can purchase less waste, especially plastic waste. Don’t purchase plastic or Styrofoam trayed produce. Many stores have cloth bags you can purchase for produce.

reuse
Use cotton or paper bags

Shop in bulk and refill any bottles your grocery store makes possible. Food coops have lots of refill options.

Choose products out of recycled material if you can find them.

Never put plastic bags in your recycling cart, recycle them at your local stores.

Please recycle plastic bags at grocery stores!

 

Plastic-Free Day

 

Plastic-free shopping by filling your own containers

Reducing single-use plastic consumption is an important way we can make a positive change for our earth. We can make a big difference, and change the way we live our lives. Let’s start with One Plastic-Free Day, June 6. It’s not easy reducing your plastic foot-print, but it is possible. Becoming aware of all the plastic we purchase helps to start making change.

This cup is made of commercially compostable material.

It is my hope that if we don’t purchase plastic items corporations will realize they need to make bottles and containers out of something that decomposes and can be composted. The plastic and oil industry will do everything they can to stop progress. That is why the consumer needs to speak!

Plastics are found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the fish we eat.  I think this raises the bar that we need to make changes to our plastic life-style and fast.

My plastic-free journey has taken several years, it has been challenging, but fun at the same time.  Filling bottles and containers with bulk item has just become habit. Food co-ops make it easy. It just takes a little organization to make a grocery list and figure which containers are needed for filling. I reuse the bottles and containers I have accumulated from earlier purchases. Also, we never eat at places that don’t use real dishes and utensils, but are still trying to remember to say, “No straw!” We never leave home without reusable water bottles and washable reusable bags. This past year we have begun making cookies, yogurt and humus with items from bulk shopping. Something I never wanted to take on, but now I make it fun, and zero waste cooking is healthy, rewarding and satisfying.

What are some items that are impossible to purchase in bulk and need to come in plastic?

Protein powder and vinegar need to be available in bulk

Here are a few quick easy zero waste ideas from my local county:  “There are many ways to avoid single-use items. Want a quick list? Pack your lunch in reusable containers. Forgo the straw in your drink. Bring your own mug to the coffee shop. Bring reusable bags, produce bags and containers to the grocery store. Support businesses that serve food on reusable dishes.” Hennepin County

Read Audubon’s easy ways to reduce plastic waste

https://health4earth.com/2019/04/18/boycott-plastic/

Target, Stop Single-use Plastic!

Recycling is important, but it just isn’t enough to solve our plastic problem. What is the solution?  Last week I had this letter (below) published in the http://www.startribune.com/  in response to Target rolling out their new “green” products:

Earth-friendly line is insufficient; stop stocking single-use plastic

Reuse and refill your own bottles

Plastic bottles, plastic bottles — Target must have missed the memo on how harmful single-use plastic is to our Earth (“Target rolls out earth-friendly household goods,” April 23). To be truly green, Target needs to offer consumers the ability to refill their own bottles with these new “green” products. Customers who care about all the plastic in our environment can now reuse and refill their bottles at Minnesota’s excellent food co-ops, or the new zero-waste Tare Market in Minneapolis where consumers can save money and help our environment at the same time. Many of these bulk products are even Minnesota-sourced. Let’s move to the paradigm of reusing instead of adding more single-use plastic to our landfills, and I’m encouraging Target to become the business leader in this reuse/refill movement.  health4earth

Why isn’t recycling enough?

  1. We should all be demanding a zero waste economy with fees and bans on plastic, but of course, the plastics industry is in control
  2. See what happens to some of the material we recycle  here

Boycott Plastic

Earth Day is Monday, April 22.

Paper wrapping on toilet paper

Glass yogurt jar, and making my own yogurt.

On this Earth Week, can you find ways to reduce your plastic footprint? I am happy with my recent efforts to reduce plastic:  Plastic wrapping on toilet paper is gone, milk for yogurt making comes from  a reusable bottle, and I refill body lotion jars with scent-free lotion from my local food coop.

Refilling bottles with body lotion reduces lots of plastic!

Plastic is very harmful to our Earth, but it is also harmful to our health. Read about the seven types of plastic and which ones are the most harmful to our human health here.  Also, a new study claims we are even inhaling microplastics. We need to become aware of the harm plastic is doing, and I hope you will start the effort to boycott plastic today.

Bring your own reusable bags.

Ideas from my county to reduce plastic. “There are many ways to avoid single-use items. Want a quick list? Pack your lunch in reusable containers. Forgo the straw in your drink. Bring your own mug to the coffee shop. Bring reusable bags, produce bags and containers to the grocery store. Support businesses that serve food on reusable dishes.” Hennepin County

Read about the ten companies that are flooding our planet with throw away plastic. They need to take responsibility for the harm they are doing!

Below is a video from Greenpeace:

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