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you recycle. now what?

you recycle. now what?

you’re a good steward of the earth: you recycle what you can and send it on its way when the truck comes round to pick it up. but then what happens?

well, first, let’s look at what the recycling center actually takes versus what is marked as recyclable content, and what those numbers actually mean.

aluminum, glass, tin, and paper all get recycled as is. there’s nothing weird about them, unless there is plastic involved (like your to-go paper cups for hot beverages; they are no recyclable).

as for plastic, let’s have a look.

1: polyethylene terephthalate. this is your common drink bottles and food packaging. this is generally recycled into bottles and poly fibers. this is the easiest to recycle!

2: high density polyethylene. this is the heavier duty bottles, like laundry soap bottles, shampoo bottles, etc. this is also easily recycled.

3: polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC. this is what toys, piping, furniture, etc. is all made of. it’s hard to recycle and turnes out PVC is a huge environmental and health threat! 33 million tons is produced every year and it keeps going up. it’s made from oil and chlorine, both of which aren’t necessarily green, and PVC is not easily recyclable because heavy metals are added to it, like lead and cadmium. less than 1% of PVC is recycled, and the dang things aren’t biodegradable at all. plus, when you want some flexibility, phthalates are added to it, which may cause cancer and kidney, and reproductive damage. (think about how many plastic toys go into your kids’ mouths.) ps: this really shouldn’t even have a recycle triangle on it. just a skull and crossbones with a 3 next to it.

(i think i’ll propose this to the EPA.)

4: low-density polyethylene. this is your sandwich bags, grocery bags that float in the wind and catch on trees, plastic wrapping. these can generally be recycled into more of the same.

5: polypropylene. this is your clothes. yep, your tri-blend tshirts or your poly running shorts are just plastic. also, some bottles, tubs, and the plasticky ropes. these can be recycled into fibers.

6: polystyrene. styrofoam! this is difficult to recycle because it’s lightweight so not a lot to reclaim (the transport of styrofoam to recycle it would probably cause more pollution). it can be reused, though!

your recycling company probably very easily takes 1 & 2 plastics to recycle. there are several 4 places to recycle that are generally in places of business (when i lived in st. charles, they took plastic bags in the single-sort curbside bin). everything else on the plastic side? a pain in the butt.

farewell, recycle bin! off to never-never land where i don’t have to think about you again!

but wait! let’s see what happens.

according to the minnesota pollution agency, here’s what happens to your recyclables:

  • paper and cardboard: half of the paper recycled in MN goes to st. paul, where it’s made into liner board. liberty paper in becker recycles cardboard boxes into new paper. and a duluth company uses recycled paper fiber to make new educational books and business documents. how wholesome! make sure to recycle your paper! (but also make sure that there is no cross-contamination from your bottle of oil you just threw in the bin. wash your oil bottle so it doesn’t get your comingled items a mess!)
  • plastic bottles (1 & 2): they get chipped, shredded, and cleand and then sent to a manufacturer. (hmm….. more to this, methinks.) so your #1 plastic gets sent to rogers where it’s made into food and consumer packaging. your #2 bottles get made into composite decking, lawn and garden furniture, and plastic lumber (all #3 plastic, i do believe). so, something that has stuck with me since my hippie environmental class during a J-term at st. ben’s was that plastic is not a pure recyclable. it always has to get made into something a little worse, unlike aluminum cans or glass bottles, which can be recycled over and over into aluminum cans or glass bottles. and remember, #4 plastic – PVC – is awful and can never break down. it just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces that fish and birds and even humans eat and can’t digest.
  • cars, cans, appliances: aluminum is smelted and turned into ingots for a bunch of stuf like new cans, cars, and signs. aluminum is a very nice recyclable, and it’s lightweight. i’m not sure why more companies don’t use aluminum packaging.
  • glass: guess what! more glass. over the past 20 years, i’ve noticed more and more food manufacturers moving to plastic over glass (mayonnaise jars, peanut butter jars, etc.). glass is heavy, so i get that they want to save money on transport, but is it worth the tradeoff? maybe we need to move to the old model of returning your pop bottles to the grocery store to get a deposit back.

(i have fond memories of glass bottle returns at the red owl in austin!)

a few months ago china said “hey, we’re done taking your recyclables.” which got me wondering – are we REALLY recycling our stuff? or are we sending our garbage to china, where it sits in another landfill?

well, actually, china said “hey no thanks; we don’t want your dirty recyclables” because they were all contaminated. there’s a documentary about it that i want to watch called “plastic china.” people pick through huge amounts of waste coming from us and europe, shredding and melting plastic they can find and then burning the rest into the open air. ugh. it’s on amazon prime, so i’m planning on watching that VERY soon.

plastic recyclable prices have plummeted. it’s not even worth recycling. and they can’t even give away paper recyclables. what’s going on? can’t we take that paper and cardboard and create better packaging for mailers, instead of those awful plastic bubble wrap things that have to go in the trash? so now, countries have these recyclables piling up because china isn’t taking them – but was it even worth it then? if they were just burning it anyway?

what’s a person to do? of all the plastic produced, only 9% has been recycled. about this time, we’re sitting about about 20% recycled each year (for this point in time). this is not good news. because plastic is made from oil, which is a finite product. (and if you really are concerned about gas prices and oil prices, maybe you should be taking a good hard look at HOW MUCH plastic is sitting on the shelves at your local grocery store. It’s mind boggling. and the food giants seem to keep converting more and more packaging to … plastic.)

and the recycling itself isn’t necessarily environmentally friendly, when it DOES happen. it needs to be shipped, it needs to be sorted, it needs to be washed, it needs to be chopped up, it needs to be melted, and then it needs to be manufactured into something else. that process isn’t carbon-free these days.

BUT, that all needs to happen with glass and aluminum/metal, too, doesn’t it? you bet. extracting the raw material for aluminum is not very kind to the earth. glass is pretty easy to make but has a heavier footprint for transport (and they break). but think about it though: glass, aluminum, and metal are all 100% recyclable back into their original forms. plastic is not; it’s the most difficult to recycle AND it’s the least recycled product.

let me insert here that i KNOW plastic has a place, especially in health care [even though we somehow lived without it for a while] and i KNOW that we won’t get rid of it overnight. but let’s try to figure this out – no one wants to live in a dump. no one can say they think landfills full of garbage and animals eating plastic and plastic floating around in the ocean and people picking through our waste in a burning dump are good things.

so what can be done?

  1. contact big offenders: food companies are huge single-use plastic offenders. i signed this petition. you should too. or find a different petition to sign. i’m also going to work on contacting the big ones (coke, pepsi, nestle, etc.) directly, too.
  2. buy food items that don’t come in plastic. i’m awful at this because it’s incredibly difficult. buy in bulk using your own containers or visit a farmers market and refuse the bag. even if you go to the food co-op, if you don’t buy in bulk, chances are the item is going to come in plastic. but, sometimes there are choices on the shelf. if you see a glass or tin or aluminum option, buy that instead. and then clean it and RECYCLE IT!
  3. push amazon to continue to use cardboard and paper packaging vs. plastic. we get a lot of items in the good ol’ cardboard amazon box, but sometimes the packaging inside is plastic bubble wrap. contact them and tell them you want them to use paper-only packing.
  4. maybe it’s time to check your convenience. i like convenience. you like convenience. the less work people have to do, the happier we are. i get it. but maybe we don’t need to have a stockpile of styrofoam plates in the cupboard because you don’t want to do dishes. just a thought.
  5. invest in reusables. instead of taking the plastic set of silverware, keep a set with you to reuse. try out some silicon bag-like containers. get some beeswax compostable wrap instead of plastic wrap. there are options.
  6. remember your reusable bags that you keep leaving in the backseat when you go to the grocery store!!!!

sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/17/plastic-recycling-myth-what-really-happens-your-rubbish

PVC plastic’s environmental impact

https://www.pca.state.mn.us/waste/where-does-our-recycling-go

Beverage Container Showdown: Plastic vs. Glass vs. Aluminum

Recycling plastics – what the numbers mean + cheat sheet

 

two topics for today

two topics for today

i have two topics to touch on today! (alliteration for the win.)

first topic: environmental junk

one of my goals for the year was to be a little more conscientious when it came to the environment, and i’m hoping i’ve already sort of started down the path. i still buy a lot of plastic, but i do recycle it. (on a related note, one of the things i want to research in the very near future is what exactly happens with our recycling?) but, the first two items in the three Rs are reduce and reuse, so i think it’s time to do that. i am going to try to buy more bulk items, items in better-recyclable or reusable packaging (aka NOT plastic), or buy from companies that are more eco-conscious.

today i ordered some dishwasher pods from dropps (don’t worry – both environmentally and septic safe!). the pod itself is made from polyvinyl alcohol which film dissolves in the washer and enters the water stream as micro-organisms (including bacteria, yeasts, and fungi) that commonly exist in water treatment plants are capable of breaking down polyvinyl alcohol to water and carbon dioxide. they’ve got quite a mission. so i’m hoping they work well – a 4 months’ supply was $17.

as i was thinking about what else i could do, i realized there are some things that i just. won’t. compromise. like my running gear. i’m always going to through a couple pairs of shoes a year and they will always be asics. i will buy headbands and wear shorts that are comfortable (though two of my pair are from tasc, which is bamboo fabric); i will buy single-use energy gel packs that are pretty wasteful; my socks and underwear will always be some sort of poly blend.*

which brings me to point two! i start half marathon training in a couple weeks, and the plan i’m trying out this year really ramps up the mileage compared to my last four halfs. i know in the past i’ve sort of blogged about training and all that, but i’m wondering if my readers would like to see more in depth running posts – maybe even some video? i could be one of those annoying runner youtubers, but only on my blog, and, unlike the other vloggers, i won’t be racing at unattainable speeds and looking like a graceful gazelle on camera. instead, i’ll be plugging along at 5 mph and gallumping over the pavement like a super sweaty rhino on a mission. i could review the stuff i wear and use. maybe someone will pay me to wear their stuff HAHAHAHA.

here’s a link to the video. can confirm: look like a gallumping sweaty rhino. (liz looks like a graceful gazelle.)

*check out my awesome segue

not the barbie we want

not the barbie we want

let’s chat about the australian bushfires because it seems to be underplayed a lot. the current fires are bigger than both the california fires of a couple years ago and the amazon fires of last year.

so bushfire season is a relatively regular event in australia, and since 1851, they’ve accounted for 800 people dying and millions of animals.  the current fires are in southeast australia, where bushfire season stretches from december to march. yes, we’ve just begun.

so far, the fires have burned about 24,000 square miles. 2500 buildings have been destroyed, 1300 homes, and 25 people have died (6 still missing). half a billion animals have been impacted so far.

how did this start? in early november, a catastrophic fire danger was declared (this level was just introduced in 2009 – this was the first time using it). a total fire ban was put in place for seven regions, including sydney. remember: it’s mid-summer down there, and new south wales is reaching temperatures upwards of 110º and HIGHER. the heat, combined with recent drought made the area one big piece of kindling for any sort of arsonists, despite the fire ban. (a few people have been charged with arson).

in addition to the fires causing havoc on the area they’re burning, pushing people out of homes, and causing species to possibly go extinct, the fires are also billowing 250 million tonnes of CO2 into the air (as of jan. 2). new zealand, 1000 miles away, is getting smoke effects. glaciers in new zealand got a brown tint due to the smoke. two of the world’s worst air pollution days were during these fires. usually, new forest regrowth would absorb any CO2, but this amount would take decades, and experts aren’t even sure if forests are able to fully regrow due to the drought that’s been going on.

the government has gotten some severe pushback – the PM was in hawaii while the fires were happening and some firefighters died, and new south wales cut funding on fire services. 100,000 residents have been evacuated, and tourists were told to get out – access and supply routes could be cut off by fire. people are taking shelter and evacuating to beaches in areas where it is too late to leave. in victoria, people are evacuating to navy ships to sail toward melbourne. electricity and communications are down in several small towns along the coast.

today it rained in a couple locations, so that’s good news, but temps are set to rise later in the week. there are also two huge fires that could meet and create some sort of megablaze.

*****************

this is the part where i talk about climate change. about how it means extreme weather (while we’re getting a polar vortex in november, australia’s seeing record heat and super-drought conditions). about how all this smoke in the air is not good for anyone. about how extinct species is not cool. (well, unless it’s a jumping spider that can kill you with a look, like they have in australia.)

but you know all this.

so here’s how you can help:

NSW Rural Fire Service

Queensland Fire Service

Red Cross Disaster

WIRES Wildlife Rescue

i donated to WIRES just now. $1 AUD is about 70¢ USD.

sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019%E2%80%9320_Australian_bushfire_season

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-51003504

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/01/mass-evacuation-catastrophic-bushfires-worsen-australia-200104100926275.html

2020 not impressed so far!

2020 not impressed so far!

happy…?…. new year!

so far 2020 has not impressed.

  1. australia’s burning. excellent.
  2. a top iranian military leader was killed in a US airstrike. i haven’t done a ton of research, so i don’t know if it was intentional or accidental that this specific dude died, but DT may have inadvertently started WWIII. excellent.
  3. as a result, twitter’s atwit about the FAFSA and its selective service question and the military’s recruiting efforts (poor are usually targeted to become national guard members, etc to help pay for college).  excellent.
  4. north korea has announced it’s no longer under a nuclear weapons testing moratorium. excellent.
  5. i have had a cold for the extent of 2020. excellent.

some good things!

  1. oregon banned single-use plastic bags starting with the new year. excellent!
  2. i bought my HARRY POTTER WORLD tix for march last night. excellent!
  3. caribou brought back the cabin bar (butterscotchish) flavor. excellent!

i wanted to start off my blogging with some good news about how i went to the food co-op and brought my reusables to reduce the plastic in the world, but instead i bring you this list and the knowledge that i went to costco last night and bought a bunch of stuff in plastic. *smh*

some info on the green new deal and a video for you

some info on the green new deal and a video for you

if you, like me, are somewhat concerned about the climate and how humans are shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to that, you may have heard some rumblings about the green new deal. and you, like me, may want to know more but haven’t really dug deep into it.

well, this post is for you! i’m going to read about it and summarize what we know.

the green new deal isn’t new. it’s been thrown around since 2006 to move the US toward 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 (solar, wind, geothermal, etc). how to do this? carbon taxes, jobs guarantees, free college, single-payer healthcare, and utilizing public programs.

(before you get all in a huff about the social programs part of this, please for a moment think about how social security is socialism. it’s even in the name *shocker* [yes, you pay into it. so does everyone else. and it gets distributed. that’s how socialism works. roads, police, schools, libraries, firefighters. all socialism. embrace it.])

it’s recently gotten a resurgence from the current congress, after AOC assembled a committee to nail this down. the committee was tasked with providing a “’detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan’ capable of making the U.S. economy ‘carbon neutral’ while promoting ‘economic and environmental justice and equality.'”

what does this mean? well, after working on a resolution, here’s what will happen over a 10-year national mobilization:

  1. guaranteeing jobs with sustainable wages, vacation, retirement security, medical leave
  2. providing all peeps with health care, adequate housing, access to clean water, clean air, food, nature
  3. providing post-secondary training (whether college, trade school, etc) to all people
  4. 100% of power demand is through clean, renewable, zero-emission energy
  5. repair and upgrade to the US infrastructure (eliminating pollution and emissions from these )
  6. building upgraded, efficient power grids
  7. new building would be energy efficient
  8. invest in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing, clean and accessible public transportation
  9. spurring growth in clean manufacturing
  10. working with farmers and ranchers to eliminate pollution as much as feasible

why is health care and wage info in there? well, i guess it would gain more support if those are included, but i think separating them out would help this gain more traction. i do think the social aspects of this are important, but i don’t think they should be a part of a green initiative. it needs to be able to stand on its own.

so in march, republicans in the senate called for an early vote on the GND without discussion or expert testimony. so that was great. it failed 100% (dems voted no in a protest i guess).

will this go anywhere? i’m not sure. i think we are at a crossroads. on the one hand, people would love it if coal came back, because it means jobs. but those jobs are dwindling even with a return of coal. instead of wallowing in self pity about a loss of an industry, how about celebrating and learning how to have a career in the new industries of renewable energy? we have a robotics/energy program at my college where students graduate directly into a $35/hr job. learning is cool.

more and more energy companies are using renewable energy options. i actually get 100% wind energy through excel, and i’m working on being a part of a solar farm.

new homes ARE more energy efficient. windows are triple paned or have insulating gas in between the panes. more homes use geothermal energy. people don’t want to spend a lot of money on their utilities.

and that’s the rub: if the public starts to DEMAND the items on this list, it will happen. if we start to notice that the coral reefs are dying, that our weather in MN is probably at the forefront of climate change in this country (i wish i could find this article), the extreme weather we have is a result, the drought in the west, the hurricanes in the south. pay attention to something, and the public outcry usually results in a change in business practices.

[case in point: check out the current organic/gluten free/healthy foods front compared to even 10 years ago. people demand things and companies respond.]

the thing is, we’re so short sighted. if americans don’t see something in front of our face, it’s out of sight out of mind. i’m not sure if this is due to our constant, inexplicable need for 100% autonomy on everything, or that our history only goes back 225 years (compared to europe, africa, asia, that’s not long), or that we’re just stupid. but if it’s not a problem now, then it’s not a problem.

i think that this needs to become a more pressing global issue with leaders and people earthwide becoming involved and loud about how we’re just plotting our own demise if we do nothing.

so, i leave you with this video about a very scary graph and the hope that some semblance of a green new deal, even just environment related, is pushed forward.

 

sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_New_Deal

a tidy home

a tidy home

take a moment, today, and step outside. really pause and notice: the greening grass underneath your feet, the trees overhead, the pit-pat of rain falling on your outstretched hand; the smell of dampness on a chilly spring day, the increasing chirp of birds that have made their way north after the calm silence of winter; how the wind whips around you and the dead leaves and seed pods in the trees rattle against the cold in their hopeful knowledge that spring is right around the corner.

welcome home. this is it, earth-dweller. this pale blue dot is ours to call ours. it is our only.

somewhere along the way, a smart person decided to declare that earth day would happen on an annual basis. that we would learn about the three Rs in gradeschool. that we would encourage our parents to recycle and not focus too much on the reuse and reduce (arguably more productive than the recycle R). that we would plant trees on one day. that we would paint pictures and draw with our colored pencils and create art of the earth, our home, on this one day. somewhere along the way, the earth was reduced to one day.

you don’t think about home just one day a year. home is year round. home is always. home is where you are. earth day is every day.

and then it has become pressing. the science is resounding. the knowledge is there. and ignored, because why would you fix something that’s worked for the last couple centuries? why should you be inconvenienced? why would you need to change what you’ve been doing when you can’t see that anything’s wrong? why should the disposable lifestyle you’ve become accustomed to be taken away? you’re burnt out; why make things harder?

but: you don’t need to see the fire in order to know what to do when the fire alarm goes off.

and here’s what we need to know: the earth will prevail. the precipice we stand upon is not one of “will the earth survive;” it’s one of “will humans survive.” water shortages hurt people. flooding forces relocation. dying coral reduces species, which flows right up the food chain. after we’ve annihilated ourselves and several animal species, the climate will eventually equalize and the earth will be happy again.

our home is ours. we are not its responsibility. it is our responsibility.

this edge we are standing at is what future generations will notice and look back at. it will be the turning point of either something good or something bad. and whether or not you believe climate change is caused by humans, one thing i think we can all agree on: we don’t want to mess up our home. if cleaning the rivers and lakes, making sure the air is clear enough to breath, watching the crops we plant so we build sustainable agriculture and profitable agriculture, seeing that clearcutting trees is not just poor stewardship of the earth they grow from but also aesthetically displeasing, preserving natural areas not just for preservation’s sake but for our sake, is not going to combat climate change, then at least we can agree that keeping a tidy, clean home is good for the human spirit.

what is wrong with making the earth a better place to live in, even if human-caused climate change is a hoax?

i like my house. i like cooking in my kitchen, sleeping in my bed, hot showers, sitting in my faux-cabin living room; i enjoy the amenities that life in this era has given me. but where i truly feel at home and at peace and alive? in the woods. at the lake. under the milky way. standing in just-tilled dirt. pushing fingers through sand on a beach. listening to the frogs croak in the evenings. watching the gloaming fade into dark. feeling the sun on a warm-ish february day. hearing thunder in the distance. kicking through autumn leaves. standing in falling snow on a moonlit december night in a silence so complete.

this is the home i love. i would bet it’s the one you love too. let’s do what we can to make ourselves hospitable earth-dwellers.

monday musings

monday musings

  1. i am most aware of how quickly time is passing by how seasons ebb and flow, ebb and flow. our everyday routines tend to lull us into a sense of complacency about time: how it passes and how much is left.
  2. speaking of seasons, i think spring is sort of here. the light lasts past 8 p.m. now, and the birds sing a cacophony every morning. there’s still snow on the ground from last week’s snowstorm, but i have a feeling it’s going to be gone tomorrow with 60º weather.
  3. …which is good news. liz and i have the earth day half marathon on saturday, and i have been feverishly watching the long-term forecast. not even 4 days ago, i was expecting to start that run off in 30º, which is pretty awful. now it’s up to starting in mid-40s and ending in mid-50s with minimal wind and no clouds. fantastic. here’s hoping the weather holds and my feet hold up.
  4. earth day is almost here. i remember earth being a big deal in gradeschool. maybe it was of the era where the gas shortages of the 70s were still fresh in people’s minds and they needed to make sure to catch impressionable young minds. or maybe the catholic gradeschool i went to was progressive on that front. either way, it was a big deal. i’m hoping the green new deal catches fire and spreads, putting out the naysayers and fools who think we can do nothing to prevent climate change. and so what if we can’t prevent it even after changes are made? we made a better, cleaner world. no one likes garbage in the street, dirty air, and gross water. what’s wrong with making them better just for the sake of making them better?

    i have got to be better at using less wasteful items. it’s doubtful that i would ever go 100% waste free, but it’s a nice goal to aspire toward: more trips to the food coop and getting better at bringing my own containers. the amount of garbage we create is pretty awful, and it’s almost all plastic. i knew that the reckoning was upon us when i saw totino’s party pizzas in plastic packaging. i’m not sure why companies can’t use recycled paper (which apparently recycling centers can’t give away) to use for packaging. that’s a future fight.

  5. i was out on my run yesterday and i ran past lower spunk lake, which has probably half its ice gone. there were two loons hanging out. there’s hope!

 

give me some blogging topics 🙂 i’ve been really slacking lately. in good news, i have been doing really well at my yoga resolution of yoga-ing every day. at least there’s that!

bug out

bug out

brrr it’s been cold! i mean, what good is it when it gets this cold?

LET ME TELL YOU.

with the extended cold we had, it’s possible that those invasive insects could’ve been wiped out.

but first, a list of invasive terrestrial “animals” in minnesota:

Asian-Long horned beetle*

Brown marmorated stink bug*

Earthworms (!!!)

Emerald ash borer

Eurasian swine*

European Starling

Gypsy moth

Japanese beetle

Jumping worm

Mute swan*

Sirex wood wasp*

Walnut twig beetle*

first, let’s talk about the emerald ash borer, since it seems to be one of the big bad bugs i keep hearing about. it’s the reason you can’t bring firewood with you to campgrounds and have to pay $5 for 3 logs.

temps need to get to -20º to begin to kill the borer, and at that point, about 50% of them die. around -30º is when 90% of them will die. i think we can safely say sayanora to at least 50% of the EAB larvae in the state, more like 90%.

another bug that i would probably run away from, the gypsy moth, would suffer from some cold. temps of -20º that lasts 48-72 hours kills exposed eggs, and alternate freezing and thawing in springtime can prevent hatching. i think we may have hit that -20 (or close to it).

in other entomological news, the beetle epidemic that was sweeping the black hills is over!

and while the bugs won’t be gone forever – they will eventually migrate back – this summer will give the people who manage invasive species time to implement a containment plan and basically start with a clean slate.

and since we’re talking entomology, let’s end with some etymology.

the word bug was formed in the early 1600s from the word bugge (beetle) which grew from two words: bugge/bugja/bogge and budde/budda/buddo.

bugge was a word for a hogoblin, bugja meant swolen up, and bogge meant snot. budde was beetle, budda was a dung beetle, and buddo means a louse/grub. sounds like they just took a bunch of gross things and smashed them into one word.

#notjuststraws

#notjuststraws

today i bought popsicles because the popsicle brand came out with a cane sugar, real fruit kind of pop. yum!

imagine my dismay when i opened the (cardboard) box and found that the traditional paper wrappers had been replaced with …

PLASTIC WRAPPERS.

today we get news that china is no longer buying our recyclables (a former large market).

there’s been a recent brouhaha over plastic straws and how mcdonalds and starbucks plan to eliminate plastic straws, either replacing them with paper straws or no straws. this begs the question: WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THAT PLASTIC GLASS?

manufacturers continue to plasticize everything, and most if it isn’t recyclable plastic. my waste service only takes bottles for recyclable plastic. what does that mean for the rest of my plastic? it goes in the trash, which means it goes in the landfill, which means it sits there for thousands of years.

i’ve been really aware of my plastic usage lately. i haven’t done much about it yet, but i plan to crack down on myself in the upcoming months. i need to do some research on how to reduce my plastic usage, where i’ll need to shop, what brands to look out for. i’ve already prepped for my next batch of laundry soap, which i will make with borax, soda, and bar soap.

as our landfills fill and we see photos like below making more waves, what is it going to take besides some people clucking their tongues about plastic usage and very few actually doing what they can to reduce their plastic footprint? even with some chain stores eliminating plastic bags, i still watch people go through a checkout with one item, then leave with that item they carried up to the lane in a plastic bag (WHYYYYYY).

i know i can do better; i fail over and over on the reusable bag front, but when i forget them, i make sure to stuff my plastic bags to the brim. when the checkout dude tries to put my 4 items in three bags, i say uh-uh, you put that all in one bag. at coborn’s, i request a paper bag after they ask “is plastic ok?” NO IT’S NOT WHEN HAS PLASTIC EVER BEEN OK

this is not just about straws. this is about putting the burden of plastic consumption on the consumer. this has got to start with manufacturers and them realizing that plastic isn’t the answer, even if it’s the cheaper option.* as a consumer, i will gladly pay a little more for an item encased in glass, tin, aluminum, or paper over plastic.

i know this can be done on that level because i saw it with HFCS. in 2010 when i became hyper aware of eating devil’s syrup, it was everywhere. now, about half the products that i avoided in 2010 use sugar in their ingredients instead of corn syrup. if people start demanding that less plastic be used, i bet it will make a difference.

next year my goals will include using less waste. whether that means purchasing more items in bulk, bringing in my containers to the food coop, or even making sure i really do put my reusable bags in the car.

and until popsicle brand starts to wrap their pops in paper again, no more popsicles for me, even with the revised ingredients list.

*i never understood how plastic can be so cheap when gas is so expensive. they are both made from oil. ALSO, recycled paper is basically worth nothing right now. companies could grab up that recyclable paper for $ZERO and create recycled paper packaging.

oui oui

oui oui

i did some research on the paris agreement/accord/whatever since i wanted to know more and figured you might too! 
the most incredible thing about the PA is that every country is taking care of its own business of its own accord and is actually doing it, with 202o as the goal start date. each country sets goals to combat climate change, and all countries except three have signed on of their own volition because IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
for the record, nicaragua at first decided not to sign the agreement because it wasn’t RADICAL ENOUGH. the president said 90% of its energy will be renewable by 2020, and they wanted countries to be punished for not meeting goals. (they’ve since are considering reconsidering because they don’t want to be lumped in the same category as the ridiculous US.) the US, of course, is out because trump. and syria isn’t a part of it because syria’s a war zone. 
so.
(i mean, even north korea’s on board. really, DT?)
the countries that are a part of the PA have agreed to some stipulations:

  1. they want to hold the increase in global average temp to below (like, way below) 2ºC above pre-industrial levels. ideally, the limit would be 1.5ºC pre-industrial levels. (pre-industrial means pre-1750.) for the record, pre-industrial average world temp was 13.8ºC (56.84F) and in 2014, average world temp was about 0.8 C warmer than that. so, the world’s countries want to keep that at 1.5º or less, with AT MOST, 2º.  (remember average world temp does not mean average MN temp. when idiots huurrr durrr about global warming when it’s -15ºF, please just roll your eyes so hard they end up in the snowbank across the street.)*
  2. they want to make sure that climate change does not affect food production. there are a lot of people on the planet, and we need to feed them (preferably NOT corn, but we’re using that as an example ugh). think about the impact of a global increase in temperature on the US bread basket – all those plains may just end up being desert that doesn’t support food production. insane weather patterns also affect food stores, as there may be droughts or floods.
  3. and finally, the first-world countries recognize the benefits they had with the industrial revolution and how coal and other polluting methods to create the standard of living they now have. through this agreement, the countries that had that benefit will help out the developing countries to make sure their paths to development is a greener one. 

witheartha couple important points:
this is completely voluntary.
and there is no repercussions if a country drops out or doesn’t meet its goals. 
THAT’S how serious the world is taking this. 
so, here’s DT’s quote on why he decided to leave the PA:
“The agreement is a massive redistribution of United States’ wealth to other countries,” Trump said. “It’s to give their country an economic edge over the United States. That’s not going to happen while I’m president. I’m sorry.”
let’s talk about that massive redistribution of US wealth. that’s how point 3 above is handled. the developed countries that had the advantage of early development are going to commit $100billion a year to help the developing countries and overall greenification of the earth. in march last year, the US gave $3billion to the green climate fund, and as of now, there is $10billion in it. i believe it works as a grant system. it will also directly help countries most affected by climate change, like small island countries.  
now, here’s a wrench i’m going to throw in the system. heard of the international monetary fund (IMF)? i feel like this is a perfect thing for the IMF to jump into. the IMF is “189 countries working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.”
if there’s ever a time to use the money in the IMF to do all those things, i think this is it. as of 2016, the IMF had about $668billion in it. 
anyway, that’s an argument for another day. 
so, once DT announced the US withdrawal from the PA, it’s not like we suddenly aren’t in it. part of the provisions, even though it’s voluntary, is that it will take a good four years for the US to get out of it. a country can’t even begin withdrawal proceedings until it’s been in the agreement for three years, and after the withdrawal has been sent, it will be active one year after it’s been filed. the earliest the US can get out of the PA? Nov. 4, 2020…the day after the next presidential election
(seriously, all this brouhaha may be for naught.)
so, that’s a lot of political information on the PA and doesn’t really go into what countries are actually planning on doing as far as greenification. i was listening to “pod save america” this afternoon, and it already looks like china and india are well on their way to exceeding their goals, and china’s on its way to becoming a global leader (bye bye US as a global leader). but that’s another post. meanwhile, 400 new coal jobs were added in may in the US. we’re nowhere near 2011 levels of coal employment, and i doubt we ever will be. laid off from a coal job? time to go back to school and learn a new trade. like solar panel installation and upkeep. and that’s also another post.
REMEMBER: this is the only earth we’ve got. if the earth goes to pot and is inhabitable for humans, WHAT ELSE MATTERS**? who cares about the economy, refugees, travel bans, and especially transgender people in bathrooms. GET IT TOGETHER, PEOPLE.
*do you NEED a post about the science behind climate change? i mean, there are a TON of peer-reviewed sciencey environmental studies out there you can look at. and 97% of scientists agree that it’s human-made. that’s the same effectiveness as a condom when used correctly. you take those chances, so why not these? (also, you’re making cleaner air and water and a better place to live – is that REALLY so bad, even if climate change isn’t human-made?)
**in all seriousness, the earth don’t care. we’ll get wiped out and the earth will live on for millions more years and not give two hoots about people. but i’m sure you care, at least for the next 50 years or so. #humansnowhereearthdontcare
Sources: wikipedia, wikipedia, and pod save america.