Environment

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Cousins participating in a Huntington Beach, CA cleanup

Plastic waste, especially from single-use plastics, has become a world-wide crisis. Single-use items like straws, water bottles and plastic bags make up more than 40 percent of plastic waste, and each year about 8.8 million tons of plastic trash flows into the ocean. (Source: National Geographic) This plastic waste will never completely go away. It endangers wildlife, pollutes our waterways and puts our health at risk.

WE MADE PLASTIC. WE DEPEND ON IT. NOW WE’RE DROWNING IN IT.
The miracle material has made modern life possible. But more than 40 percent of it is used just once, and it’s choking our waterways. [read the article]

The fact of the matter is that the large majority of plastics are not being recycled. We need to change our mindset… be thoughtful about our purchases and avoid plastic whenever possible, especially single-use items.

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Here’s a really easy way to reduce some single-use plastic in your everyday life… stop chewing (plastic) gum. Did you know that the vast majority of gum manufactured today is made of plastic? Frankly, when I found out, I was shocked! I discovered this disturbing information when I read this well sourced article from My Plastic Free Life. What I discovered was that after World War II chemists formulated a plastic that replaced the natural rubber in most chewing gum.

Read Chewing on Plastic? Yum! here. At the end of the post, Ms. Terry lists the chewing gum companies that still do it the old fashioned way and do not include plastic in their product.

For more information about Plastic Free July, visit http://www.plasticfreejuly.org/.

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Plastic Free July 2018 – Paper Straws

Throughout the year, I do my best to keep myself and my family relatively plastic free. Sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I fail miserably. But it’s important to me to continually find ways to reduce waste (especially single-use plastic waste) and teach my girls (and anyone else who’ll listen) about the whys and hows of living waste-free. For Plastic Free July, I intensify my efforts.

Unfortunately, plastic waste has become a site that is visible almost everywhere.

Anne-Marie Bonneau is one of my go-to zero waste gurus. Her site, The Zero-Waste Chef, has so many great tips and information on how to live waste-free. She recently wrote A Brief History of Recycling (read it here). It’s an extremely eye-opening look at recycling, especially as it related to plastics. You can also follow her on Instagram at @zerowastechef.

During the month of July, I will post simple tips for reducing plastic in your everyday life – here and on Instragam at @mygreenside.

You can also take an active role this month by registering for the Plastic Free July Challenge. Join with over two million concerned people world-wide who are trying to make it a Plastic Free July in 2018. Click here to join the challenge.

About Plastic Free July

The Plastic Free July organization has grown from a handful of participants in Western Australia in 2011, to millions of people joining in from more than 150 countries worldwide today. The success of this movement has led them to recently become an independent, not-for-profit charitable Foundation. Their vision is a world without plastic waste.

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Earth Day is April 22nd and the theme this year is “End Plastic Pollution.” According to Denis Hayes, the national organizer of the first Earth Day, in an interview with EcoWatch,  “Until ending “one-way” plastics becomes a political priority around the world, [their manufacture] will continue unabated. Meanwhile, we nevertheless each should “be the change we want to see.” The world produces at least a trillion plastic bags each year. Don’t be part of this gigantic waste stream that makes a one-way trip from the oil well to the dump.”

Earth Day Network has put together “Plastic Pollution Primer and Action Toolkit” a  free downloadable information kit about plastic pollution and what people can do about it as well as a “plastic footprint” calculator.

For more information, visit Earth Day Network here.

Check out this infographic from Printwand for an eye-opening look at plastic water bottles:

Plastic Water Bottle Pollution [Infographic]
SOURCE: https://www.printwand.com/blog/plastic-water-bottle-pollution-effects-facts

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We recently spent some fun family time at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, California. There is something so sweet and nostalgic about beach boardwalks. One of my favorite dating-my-now-husband memories was a trip we took to Ocean City’s Boardwalk in New Jersey early in our relationship. We also lived as a newly married couple in Rye, New York where we had our own beach boardwalk and Rye Playland. Rye Playland was the amusement park featured at the end of the movie Big starring Tom Hanks.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk | photo: Christopher Gabriel

While we were enjoying the sun and sand at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, I was impressed with the commitment that was shown to the environment. From well placed recycling bins to prohibiting Styrofoam from all the food venues, the thoughtfulness that they put into keeping their environmental impact small was evident.

To read my article about HOW THE SANTA CRUZ BEACH BOARDWALK PRESERVES THE ENVIRONMENT, visit http://earth911.com/living-well-being/travel-living/santa-cruz-beach-boardwalk/.

Plinko at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk | photo: Wendy Gabriel

The Sky Glider at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk | photo: Wendy Gabriel

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Plastic Free July is a movement designed to raise awareness of the problems with single-use disposable plastic and challenges people to do something about it. Over a million people around the world participate in Plastic Free July, a challenge to refuse single-use plastics for one month.

Join me and take the challenge! It’s easy… just choose to refuse single-use plastic during the month of July.

 

Visit Plastic Free July here to learn more.

 

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During summer vacation I’m always looking for fun, healthy ways to get outdoors with my family. We all enjoy hiking, walks to get frozen yogurt and trips to the beach.

On one of our hikes,we thought it would be fun to create a Nature Scavenger Hunt. Here’s what I came up with:

Click on link to print: Nature Scavenger Hunt

What you’ll need:

  • Print out the Nature Scavenger Hunt or make your own
  • Colored pencils or crayons
  • Bucket or bag (in case you find some nature “collectibles”)

Be sure to customize your scavenger hunt to your local surroundings. Especially for younger children who will get tired quicker, suggest ideas of items that you know will be easy to find in your area. For older kids, to increase the difficultly, have a timed scavenger hunt.

Now get outdoors and have some fun!

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I’m always looking for practical ways for my family to reduce waste – especially plastic waste. Looking at the big picture and stepping outside what’s convenient is important when trying to reduce our family’s impact on the environment.

The Girls

From Earth911.com:

“Traveling from land to sea in the wind or through waterways, plastic pollution is causing extensive damage to our marine life and giving life to one of the greatest ecological disasters of our times.”

I send my girls to school each day with a homemade lunch. They have reusable lunch bags and reusable containers in multiple sizes. Now, thanks to the amazing folks at StrawSleeves, we have some new additions to the lunchbox.

 StrawSleeves Multi-utensil Pack

This multi-utensil pack is not just handy for tucking in a lunchbox, it can be popped into your purse or tucked in the car for road trips. Bottom line, it’s a convenient way to carry reusable utensils so you don’t have to accept disposable plastic ones.

Lunchbox essentials

StrawSleeves Straw Sleeve

This handy reusable straw holder is made from reclaimed denim. Pictured below with a bamboo and a reed straw from StrawSleeves.

StrawSleeves with lunchbox

From StrawSleeves:

“Bring your own reusable straw in this Cloth Sleeve made to hold and carry almost any design of reusable straws in 8 to 9 inch length. This light denim straw sleeve is made of reclaimed denim in a cotton blend. The design is self lined and triple stitched to ensure durability and stand up to frequent washings. It is machine washable and can also be hand washed. The invisible ‘inner cuff’ holds the straw securely and requires no fasteners. You can easily access and replace your straw in the pocket with each use allowing you to refuse disposable options when offered a single use plastic straw.”

The StrawSleeves site also carries reusable straws, straw cleaning brushes and stainless steel spoon straws. To find out more and purchase your own StrawSleeves products, visit https://www.etsy.com/shop/StrawSleeves/.

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I love making to-do lists. Mostly because if I don’t write it down, it usually doesn’t happen. My sister joked recently that her boys call her notebook her “brain.” Maybe it’s hereditary. And since I relish writing things down, I really enjoy a good list of New Year’s Resolutions.

Here’s one of mine for 2017:

Limit screen time for myself and the girls (for real this time)

I’m constantly trying to figure out ways to limit screen time but it always seems to end up back where we started… waaay too much screen time. And, since it seems like all my oldest daughter’s friends have the latest iPhone and all of them participate on all the social media platforms they possibly can, limiting her screen time has gotten harder and harder. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) estimates that our kids “are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices.” Yikes!

There are plenty of studies showing a link between too much screen time or poor quality screen time and:

  • Obesity
  • Irregular sleep schedules and shorter duration of sleep
  • Behavioral problems
  • Loss of social skills
  • Violence
  • Less time for play

And while researching an article I’m writing for Earth911, I learned a lot of disturbing information about those volatile rechargeable lithium ion batteries that are inside those devices that provide all that screen time…

According to Dr. Yolanda Reid Chassiakos, lead author of the “Children and Adolescents and Digital Media Technical Report” and assistant professor at UCLA, an average day includes “school, homework time, at least one hour of physical activity, social contact and sleep — which is anywhere from eight to 12 hours for kids. Whatever’s left over can be screen time.” Source: CNN.com

Instead of taking away screen time, I’m going to try to make ways to encourage non-screen time activities. For example, instead of interacting with a screen, we are going to find more outside activities to do as a family.

Hiking at Shaver Lake

 

Make more trips to our local library… we have one so close, we can walk to it which is an added bonus.

Visiting the library with cousins

To find out more about Media and Young Minds, visit http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162591. You can also make a Family Media Use Plan with this helpful tool at www.healthychildren.org/MediaUsePlan.

 

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GREEN TIP: When the little trick-or-treaters knock on your door this Halloween, give them healthy treats that also treat the environment kindly.

Before you head out the door with your own little trick-or-treaters, make sure you’ve feed them a healthy and hearty dinner. This way, they’ll be less likely to fill up on sugary treats during your walk around the neighborhood.

Eco-friendly Candy

There are a number of different eco-friendly candies now available at your local grocery stop, health food stores or co-ops. These organic candies can provide Halloween treats that are a little friendlier for your trick-or-treaters and are produced using methods that are gentler on the environment.

My favorite find: Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop. Not only are they a Minnesota company and the official kettle corn (just one of their awesome flavors) of the Minnesota Vikings, the products are whole grain, vegan, Og trans fats, non-GMO, certified Kosher and certified gluten-free. This is one of my girls’ favorite snacks and a great Halloween treat option.

Non-GMO candy

Or Avoid Candy Altogether

Another option is to avoid candy altogether and to give your trick-or-treaters useful treats, such as colorful pencils, small boxes of crayons, or erasers in fun shapes.

Other ideas:

  • Fun magnets
  • Seed paper/bookmarks for planting or reading
  • Wash off tattoos
  • Stickers
  • Craft kits (Michael’s has fun craft kits for $1.00)
  • Adhesive bandages with fun themes
  • Barrettes or other hair things
  • Mini pumpkins or gourds
  • Fun toothbrushes
  • Unfinished wood items
  • Decorated pencils
  • Polished stones

Be Sure to Reuse and Recycle

If you don’t already compost, Halloween is a great time to start. You can add post-Halloween jack-o-lanterns to your compost bin, along with fallen leaves, food scraps, and other organic, biodegradable yard and household waste.

Compost creates excellent soil for your garden. You might even use the compost from your backyard bin to help grow the pumpkins that will become next year’s jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pies.

If you are interested in composting, your local hardware store, garden center, county extension service, or waste disposal agency should be able to help you get started.

Instead of throwing away your Halloween decorations each year, store and reuse them year after year, just as you do decorations for many other holidays. Source: About.com, Environmental Issues

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