Blog: 10 Facts You Need to Know About Plastic Bag Use Today.

My podcast guest this week, Nate Liebenberg, from South Africa reminded me how important our recycling efforts can be. They make an impact on so many lifeforms especially those in the ocean where the effects of our use of throwaway plastics are not so readily visible. So I am reposting the efforts two University of Connecticut students contributed to creating zero plastic waste on a college campus.

Students at the University of Connecticut are making a difference one issue at a time. Over this past year, the PIRG chapter volunteers got plastic bags banned from dining services. It’s all part of UConn PIRG’s zero waste campaign. Can we make a difference by decreasing plastic bag usage? These students, 2 of whom are my podcast guests this week and next, said yes. They researched the issue, offered education, got students and faculty to sign petitions, and basically got the job done. I’m proud of them for their efforts, their enthusiasm, and their willingness to create change, one that promotes sustainability and takes care of the earth for the future.

However, I wondered about the facts around our use of plastic bags today? So, I decided to look into the issue more deeply. It’s simply astounding. And I feel saddened to think we have waited so long to take action over a serious problem that has shown us the error of our ways so graphically. Why are we taking so long to make a difference for us and all species?

Let’s look at the UK: Anna Schavorion who writes in Forbes magazine:

England’s single-plastic bag use before 2015

“The use of plastic bags in England’s supermarkets was out of control in 2014. More than 7.6 billion carrier bags were handed out to customers that year and that figure had been on the rise for the previous four years.

England was the last country in the U.K. to introduce a charge for single-use plastic bags. Wales was the first to do so, in 2011, followed by Northern Ireland in 2013 and Scotland in 2014. All saw plastic bag use decreased by 70-80% year-on-year.”

That translates into a huge decrease in personal usage of plastic bags which means a huge decrease in production. Let’s look at more facts:

10 Facts About Plastic Bag Usage

    1. Ireland alone reduced plastic bag consumption by 1 Billion bags between 2001 and 2011 by imposing a bag tax of $.37
    2. We use 1 trillion plastic bags worldwide, a product that consumes resources, contributions to species deaths, adds to pollution.
    3. The European Union is beginning to get behind promoting a decrease in plastic bags due to the great harm seen in our oceans and other waterways.
    4. Plastic bags contribute to malaria in Kenya.
    5. Camels and other animals such as cows and sheep die from plastic bag ingestion.
    6. 100,000 marine creatures a year die from plastic entanglement and these are the ones found. Approximately 1 million sea birds also die from plastic. A plastic bag can kill numerous animals because they take so long to disintegrate.”
    7. “There are 5 ocean gyres in the world where plastic gathers due to the current circulation. These gyres contain millions of pieces of plastic and our wildlife feed in these grounds.”
    8. According to National Geographic: 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flows into the ocean every year from coastal regions. That’s the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic trash sitting on every foot of coastline around the world. And 40% of plastic produced is packaging, used just once and then discarded.
    9. How does the US rate in recycling plastics? We recycle 9% compared to Europe at 30%. Here in the Us, we throw away 100 billion plastic bags annually. That’s about 307 bags per person.
    10. If a ton of plastic bottles is recycled, the energy that is saved is the same as the amount of energy used yearly by a two-person household.

 

5 Simple Ways to Reduce Using Plastic Usage

  1. Simply stop using plastic bags and get reusable grocery bags,
  2. Stop using straws and be mindful of packaging.
  3. Put all items into your cart, take to your car and bag them there when you forget to bring your reusable bags into the store.
  4. Bring your own coffee mug to the coffee shop and have them fill it up without using their cups.
  5. Ask the coffee shop not use the little plastic stopper (the coffee will stay warm for a while)

Got any great ideas for zero waste? Let me know. Thanks. Judith

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Ayana Young

Description: Ayana Young is deeply concerned about environmental issues, including social justice, ecology, and land-based restoration. She has been the force behind a native species nursery and research center, including the establishment of the 1 Million Redwoods Project, and the film when When Old Growth Ends. Ayana is a podcast host on “For the Wild,” a weekly show featuring thought-leaders at the forefront of an environmental, artistic, scientific, political, and cultural shift.
Join us for discussions about her projects and how nature is teaching her and her team to have patience, slow down, and immerse within the community of plants.

About My Guest: Ayana Young is a podcast and radio personality specializing in intersectional environmental and social justice, deep ecology, and land-based restoration. With an academic background at the intersections of ecology, culture, and spirituality, Young was studying at Columbia when the Occupy Wall Street movement began and amid the burgeoning resistance in Zuccotti Park, she co-created the Environmental Working Group. Since then Ayana has been the force behind a native species nursery and research center, including the establishment of the 1 Million Redwoods Project, which was acclaimed as the most-backed farm project in Kickstarter history, the film When Old Growth Endsan ode to the complex interweaving of the irreplaceable Tongass National Forest during its last stand as a distinctly wild place in Southeast Alaska and the For The Wild podcast a weekly show featuring thought-leaders at the forefront of an environmental, artistic, scientific, political and cultural shift.

Transcript: Ayana Young 

Earth Day: A Personal Reflection: Seeds of Abundance

Seeds of Abundance:

 

 

Spring is a time of planting, of sowing seeds. As a noun, which is defined as an entity or a concept, for example, we can hold a seed in our hands and marvel at how something so tiny contains the entire structure of its future form and its essence. Whether a species in all its complexity or a food with all its nourishing properties, we marvel at the creative source contained within the seed.

Lao Tzu says:  “To see things in the seed that is genius.”

As a verb, we use the word to describe something that causes or stimulates growth or development. We “can seed clouds with solid particles to convert water droplets into ice crystals in an attempt to produce precipitation.” Some plants will seed late in the fall.

Earth Day started as the seed of an idea back in 1970. It was planted at the right time, the soil of our collective need. The watery nature of emotions, whether civil rights, women’s rights, the Vietnam war, environmental pollution, all helped this seed take root and grow. The winds of change were perfect too. Not too strong to uproot it but just right to foster growth.

Together the climate of those early years and a deep need to create awareness that our Earth is valuable was renewed, was born into our consciousness. Earth Day has blossomed so strongly like the “tree of peace” into our national awareness.

It’s the seed though, that inspires me today. Seeds, precious containers of a life force, some tinier than the head of a pin and some like sunflower seeds easy to hold, will be planted in our gardens soon.

“At the ecological level, we know that in a small seed lies the potential for producing thousands and millions of seed. And in each of those seeds lies the potential for thousand and million more such seeds. This is abundance.”

Vandana Shiva is my earth day heroine. She has started seed banks in her country and continues to inspire the world on the value of our seeds. She says her farmers when planting a seed pray: “May this seed be exhaustless.

A single seed reminds me that the Earth, this place we call home, is abundant. And in sowing a single seed we plant immeasurable possibility and unlimited potential.

( I gave this speech at the UUFSB fellowship, Stony Brook, NY on April 13, 2014)

May you feel the bounty and abundance of our earth not just today but every day. In gratitude,  Judith

This article is copyrighted, but you have my permission to share it through any medium as long as it is offered for FREE, it is not altered, and the proper credit line is included. Please contact me if you choose to use this:  atthegardensgate@gmail.com. Thank You.
© 2014 Judith Dreyer. All Rights Reserved.

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Doug Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home

 

Description: Gardening for Life:  “Chances are, you have never thought of our garden – indeed, of all the space on your property, as a wildlife preserve that represents the last chance we have for sustaining plants and animals that were once common throughout the U.S. But that is exactly the role our suburban landscapes are now playing and will play even more in the near future.”

Meet Doug Tallamy, who shares his research and extensive knowledge concerning the rapid decline of invaluable species due to our development practices. Can we do something today? Yes. He gives us practical tips for practical sustaining action. Join us for a timely and meaningful discussion.

About My Guest: Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 89 research publications and has taught Insect Taxonomy, Behavioral Ecology, Humans and Nature, Insect Ecology, and other courses for 36 years. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. His book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens was published by Timber Press in 2007 and was awarded the 2008 Silver Medal by the Garden Writers’ Association. The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke, was published in 2014. Doug is also a regular columnist for Garden Design magazine. Doug is a Lifetime Honorary Director of Wild Ones and has won the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation, the Tom Dodd, Jr. Award of Excellence, and the 2018 AHS 2018 B.Y. Morrison Communication Award.

Podcast Transcript: Transcript Tallamy.

Clean Solutions for Spring Cleaning

 

 

Dear readers, This article is too good to not pass along. Short and helpful it gives us practical items to use for cleaning home and office.

Many of us choose to use safe cleaning products.  We want our homes to be toxic free not only for ourselves and children but for our pets too.

Dr. Mercola’s site: mercola.com has a great article today offering:

How to Clean and Sanitize Without Harmful Chemicals

Some common household items, such as vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice can get the job done just as well — sometimes even better — than their toxic counterparts. Here’s a simple starter list of what you need to make your own natural cleaning products:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Liquid castile soap
  • Organic essential oils (optional)
  • Mixing bowls
  • Spray bottles
  • Micro fiber cloths

For a great video on how to use these ingredients and other tips for cleaning your home without hazardous chemicals, please review the article: How to Keep Your Home Clean Naturally. For example, vinegar combined with hydrogen peroxide works exceptionally well as both a disinfectant and sanitizer.

Cleaning mirrors and windows is as easy as adding a quarter-cup of white vinegar per quart of water. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap to the mixture if windows or mirrors are really dirty, but be very careful not to use any that contain harmful antibacterial substances.

Most people know that baking soda is an ideal means to absorb odors in your refrigerator, but did you know it’s also a real powerhouse when it comes to cleaning?

Half-a-Dozen Uses for Baking Soda

Here are half a dozen examples of how plain and simple baking soda can replace dangerous commercial cleaning products in your home:

  1. Use as a safe non-scratch scrub — for metals and porcelain.
  2. To clean your oven — simply sprinkle a cup or more of baking soda over the bottom of the oven, then cover the baking soda with enough water to make a thick paste. Let the mixture set overnight. The next morning the grease will be easy to wipe up because the grime will have loosened. When you have cleaned up the worst of the mess, dab a bit of liquid detergent or soap on a sponge, and wash the remaining residue from the oven.
  3. To unclog a drain — pour 1/2 – 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, then slowly pour 1/2 – 1 cup of vinegar in after it. Cover the drain and let it sit for 15 minutes. If it bubbles like a volcano, it means it’s working as planned. Flush with a gallon of boiling water.
  4. Deodorize dry carpets — by sprinkling liberally with baking soda. Wait at least 15 minutes, then vacuum.
  5. To rid your garbage disposal of foul smells — add vinegar to water for ice cubes, then let a few of them get chopped by your disposal.
  6. To clean your silver — boil 2-3 inches of water in a shallow pan with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and a sheet of aluminum foil. Totally submerge silver and boil for 2-3 minutes more. Remove silver from the pan and wipe away the tarnish with a clean cotton cloth.
Lemon juice or lemon essential oil are two of my favorite cleaning products that I keep handy in the kitchen.  A few drops on a sponge  leaves a refreshing smell to any kitchen counter or sink. Lemon oil or juice also deodorizes  a sponge. These products are safe to clean a pets cage or litter box.

Spring cleaning happens indoors and out. The above offers great advice. Dr. Mercola’s list of products to keep in our homes are easy to obtain and easy to use. So grab your your shopping list, add what you need and know you are protecting your family’s health. Here’s to spring cleaning….

Enjoy this beautiful day. Judith

 

Earth Day: Precious Water, Symbol of Life

 

My podcast guest this week, Grandmother Nancy Andry, shared her story, her wisdom and spoke about women as caretakers of the water. She is one of the singers, sharers, and promoters of the Algonquin Water Song. This incredible gift, the Algonquin Water Song is for us. Please listen to the recording and sing the song every day. We have misused our water, shown great disrespect for water as evidenced by the level of pollution that exists on our planet.
In the past 12 years, drinking water used by 49 million residents of the United States has been contaminated with bacteria, radioactive materials, and arsenic in levels that are both illegal and incredibly unsafe. 

Water, a powerful symbol in every culture, is our lifeblood. Water is connected to healing, cleansing, and renewal. I ask that you remember to give thanks for every drop of water you drink, bath in, wash in not just during Earth Day Celebrations but every day. Today I am adding the River Song sung by Brooke Medicine Eagle, and, a song for and with the creatures of the Oceans by Dr. Leesa Sklover, also a podcast guest.

Water is crucial to our existence on this planet. Please share these beautiful songs and sing the water song every day. Did you enjoy these songs? I hope so. We’d like to hear from you. Enjoy. Judith