Ban Styrofoam Cups and Containers

42nd day of my litter removal.  Lots of Styrofoam!
42nd day of my litter removal. Lots of Styrofoam!

I am encouraging Minneapolis and other city governments to ban Styrofoam.   The past 42 days I have done daily litter pick-ups on my walks in Minneapolis.  I was picking up Styrofoam along with wrappers, cans and plastic. Some of what was picked-up could be recycled, but Styrofoam, which is recyclable, is hard to find a place to recycle.  I think the Twin Cities area has one place to recycle Styrofoam which is miles from my home.

At an Earth Day pick up along the Minnehaha Creek .  I was surprised to notice how much the Styrofoam along the creek was breaking down into little pieces.  Pieces so small it was impossible to pick up.  Water and sun cause it to break up faster. The past few days I have been picking Styrofoam  out of Lake Harriet. It has broken into pieces that might never dissolve and survive in the lake for generations.  I wonder what harm this does to the birds and fish?

Banning restaurant containers is only a very small piece of this, but it is a start.  The best part of banning Styrofoam could be that it heightens awareness for individuals who never think about the consequences of Styrofoam.

Finally, I have never figured out why businesses that sell products that are so harmful to the environment are not held responsible for what they spew.  Why aren’t they at least required to offer recycling?

“People are already paying a price for allowing this packaging (styrofoam), noting the cost to remove the materials from the recycling stream, uncloging storm drains and picking up litter. You’re paying for it in so many different ways,”  Minneapolis Council Member Andrew Johnson  http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/258989321.html

My New Lawn Sign

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  • Rain and wind carry leaves and other pollutants into the storm drain.
  • Most of our storm drains empty directly into Minnehaha Creek or Lake Harriet; a few drain directly to the Mississippi River.
  • Leaves and grass clippings contain phosphorus.
  • Phosphorus is the main pollutant stimulating the growth of algae in the lakes and creek.
  • It is a violation of City ordinances to rake leaves into the street.
  • We are all part of the solution to preserving water quality.

Yikes, Too Many Chemicals in our Lakes

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It is August and August is the best month of the summer.  The air is dry, nights are cool, and daylight still dominates. Sunsets are magnificent.

It is disheartening to hear the discussion of all the nitrates that are being deposited in our Minnesota lakes including Lake Superior.  Nitrates poison the lake, and cause thick algae to grow choking out good plants and light for the fish and other aquatic animals. Nitrates in the lakes are caused by fertilizers on our lawns and fertilizers in the production of crops.  What we put on our lawns and fields ends up in our lakes and streams.  Is this why some call August the “Dog Days of summer” because we have spent the summer poisoning our lakes?

Those of us who live in the land of lakes forget how lucky we are to have our beautiful lakes, and we all need to work for good lake quality whether it is being careful not to spread invasives or being aware of the chemicals we use. With climate change Texas and the Southwest USA are dealing with severe water shortage(see articles below).  Let’s take care of our wonderful water resource!

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

  1. Rain gardens are excellent for capturing harmful water runoff.
  2. Keep leaves and trash out of streets and storm drains-Adopt a storm drain!
  3. Never use cleaning products or hand sanitizer with triclosan.
  4. Reduce all plastic use–If you must use plastic bags and bottles, be sure you recycle them.

    We love playing in our lakes
    We love playing in our lakes

http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/about-mpca/mpca-news/current-news-releases/mpca-study-confirms-suspicions-high-nitrate-levels-in-southern-minnesota.html

http://www.npr.org/2013/08/11/211130501/the-algae-is-coming-but-its-impact-is-felt-far-from-water?ft=1&f=1001&sc=tw&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/about-mpca/mpca-news/current-news-releases/mpca-study-confirms-suspicions-high-nitrate-levels-in-southern-minnesota.html

http://unconsumption.tumblr.com/post/58098198181/plastic-beads-are-the-latest-pollution-threat-to-great#

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/11/texas-tragedy-ample-oil-no-water

http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/35bdf2381af844658d7a5b5943ba38c5/NV–Western-Water-Colorado-River

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/editorials/219989751.html