Keeping Soil Healthy is Key to a Healthy Planet

Day 339World Soil Day (WSD) is held annually on December 5, as a means to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.”United Nations

One way to keep soil healthy is the use of regenerative agriculture practices. There doesn’t seem to be a very specific definition to describe this practice. However, there are certain methods that can be seen as “regenerative”.

  • Incorporating crop rotation and cover cropping
  • Increasing plant and crop diversity
  • Practicing conservative tillage to prevent erosion and increase soil health
  • Animal integration, managed grazing and pasturing
  • Composting and waste reduction
  • and more

Whether regenerative agriculture ends up being a scientifically-proven way to fight climate change or not, its methods still offer many benefits to the ecosystem, producers and consumers alike.” – Sustainable America

Half of the topsoil on the planet has been lost in the last 150 years. In addition to erosion, soil quality is affected by other aspects of agriculture. The need for farming practices that will address these issues is critical to a healthy planet.

“The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself”​ – President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tomorrow, a look at what Taiwan is doing.

Indoor Vertical Crops, the Future of Farming

Day 338 – Traditional farming takes can take up a great deal of space and require a lot of water. Sadly, our planet is running out of space and fresh water. To help alleviate the problem, companies are creating vertical farms. One such company is Plenty, located in San Francisco, California.

Vertical farms provide numerous advantages over traditional farming.

  1. A perfect environment is offered, avoiding the unpredictability of changing climates.
  2. No bleach or pesticides used on plants. No GMOs.
  3. Crop yields are increased over 350x compared to traditional farming.
  4. Hundreds of acres of farmland are compacted into the size of a big box retail store.

Plenty offers a variety of different greens.

There is no denying that the planet is changing and that climates around the globe will begin to undergo major changes. Many have already started the transformation. Vertical gardens will be key in providing people with fresh produce.

Tomorrow, celebrating World Soil Day.

Give an Upcycled Gift this Holiday Season

Day 337 – Back on Day 240, I wrote about Looptworks. They take material destined for the landfill and create items for reuse. They have bags of every kind, aprons, clothes and face masks. I thought I would share even more suggestion for upcycled gifts.

Nowhere Collective – This gift guide lists numerous artists using recycled materials to create their upcycled items. Amazing one-of-a-kind gifts to give to friends and family.

Upcycle It Now – A mother-daughter company that has a three-pronged mission: give materials a second life, create useful and beautiful goods, and provide skilled jobs for their community.

Upcycled – Based in Missoula, Montana, this shop features arts and crafts from local Montana artisans. 

Upcycle That – Not only do they sell upcycled items, but also give a wide range of ideas and tutorials for upcycling different materials and making unique items.

Etsy – There is a plethora of artists on Etsy selling their upcycled gifts.

Uncommon Goods – They are known for their unique gifts, but they also have numerous upcycled gifts, as well.

Rareform – Bags made from billboard signs.

A few other great posts to check out:

23 Practical Upcycled Gift Ideas For Him & Her

21 Upcycled Gift Ideas

Give the gift of something old becoming something new this holiday season.

Tomorrow, indoor vertical farms.

Consider a Donation this Holiday Season

Day 336 – Finding the perfect gift during the holiday season can be a challenging task. Being able to help a worthy cause would make a great gift. Here are some amazing organizations in the world that will take your donation dollars and do the most good.

Here is a list of 10 organizations, along with their Charity Navigator rating and mission statement.

  1. The Conservation Fund (90.94/100) – The Conservation Fund, working with public, private and nonprofit partners, protects America’s legacy of land and water resources through land acquisition, sustainable community and economic development, and leadership training, emphasizing the integration of economic and environmental goals.
  2. Waterkeeper Alliance (92.61/100) – Waterkeeper Alliance holds polluters accountable. We’re the largest and fastest-growing nonprofit solely focused on clean water. We preserve and protect water by connecting and mobilizing more than 300 local Waterkeeper groups worldwide.
  3. Ocean Conservancy (94.13/100) – Ocean Conservancy is working with you to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it.
  4. Amazon Conservation Association (95.14/100) – Our Mission is to unite science, innovation, and people to protect the western Amazon – the greatest wild forest on Earth.
  5. Wildlife Conservation Society (94.50/100) – WCS uses science to discover and understand the natural world. This knowledge helps us engage and inspire decision-makers, communities, and millions of supporters to take action with us to protect the wildlife and wild places we all care about.
  6. American Bird Conservancy (94.26/100) – American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.
  7. Natural Resource Defense Council (96.11/100) – We combine the power of more than three million members and online activists with the expertise of some 700 scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates across the globe to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild.
  8. The Sierra Club Foundation (95.87/100) – The Sierra Club Foundation promotes climate solutions, conservation, and movement building through a powerful combination of strategic philanthropy and grassroots advocacy. The Foundation is the independent fiscal sponsor of Sierra Club’s charitable environmental programs.
  9. Environmental Defense Fund (86.78/100) – We take on climate change and other grave threats by identifying what’s most urgent and where we can make the most difference.
  10. National Park Conservation Association (85.62/100) – We’re protecting and enhancing America’s National Park System for present and future generations.

So many options to give a gift that helps the planet.

Tomorrow. ideas for upcycled gifts.

Sustainable Holiday Gift Guide

Day 335 – You may be already done with your holiday shopping. Or you haven’t even started. Whatever the case may be, it’s always a great idea to purchase gifts that will help people and the environment. Not only will you feel good giving special gifts to family and friends, but you can feel good that your gift will have a positive impact on the planet.

Here are 15 ideas from posts that I have written this year.

  1. Day 21Blueland – eco-friendly cleaning products
  2. Day 152 – Eco-friendly Toys
  3. Day 164 – Sustainable Phone Cases
  4. Day 178 – Eco-friendly Sunglasses
  5. Day 193 – Clothing made from recycled plastic
  6. Day 199 – Zero Waste Makeup Brands
  7. Day 205Igloo EcoCoolers
  8. Day 237 – Eco-friendly Yoga Mats
  9. Day 240Looptworks – Upcycled gifts
  10. Day 257Lost Golf Balls – used and recycled golf balls
  11. Day 272 – Sustainable Pet Products
  12. Day 293Green Goo – Skin care derived from plants
  13. Day 300EcoSports – Eco-friendly sporting equipment
  14. Day 324Rumpl – Eco-friendly blankets
  15. Day 327MC Squares – reusable sticky notes

Other great options include:

  1. Earth Hero – variety of Earth-friendly gifts
  2. UNICEF Market
  3. Certified B Corporation gift guide
  4. Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange – gifts for the artists in your life
  5. 4Ocean – gifts that help clean the oceans
  6. Gift card to commercial composting service
  7. Climate Pledge Products on Amazon

One more list to help you out:

20 Awesome Holiday Gifts that Help the Planet

Tomorrow, giving a gift donation.

Flooding Reduced with the Help of Playgrounds

Day 334 – It brings joy to my heart when I read about innovative ideas that are being implemented in Chicago. More times than not, when it comes to the environment, Chicago is behind in making efforts to be more sustainable and eco-friendly. There are organizations and companies doing their part, but as a whole, Chicago is trailing behind other big cities.

So, I was happy to read about new playgrounds being built at five Chicago elementary schools this fall. The schools are O’Keeffe School of Excellence in South Shore, Arnold Mireles Academy and Horace Mann Elementary in South Chicago, Daniel Wentworth Elementary in West Englewood and John Whistler Elementary in West Pullman.

The playgrounds were built with the help of the Space to Grow program. The program is a joint effort between Healthy Schools Campaign, Openlands, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Department of Water Management, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Loyola University, Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California, and United States Geological Survey. Together they have transformed a total of 30 playgrounds (including these last five).

“Space to Grow transforms Chicago schoolyards into beautiful and functional spaces to play, learn, garden and be outside. The schoolyards also use special design elements to help reduce neighborhood flooding. Schoolyard transformations prioritize physical activity, outdoor learning and community engagement. The green schoolyards incorporate landscape features that capture a significant amount of rainfall, helping keep the city’s water resources clean and resulting in less neighborhood flooding.” – Space to Grow

Providing children a space to learn and play, while helping the environment is truly a win for everyone.

Tomorrow, some sustainable holiday gift ideas.

The Zero Waste Center We All Need

Day 333 – Kamikatsu, Japan is a beautiful mountain region that has a total population of 1,500. In 2003, Kamikatsu became the first in Japan to issue a “Zero Waste Declaration.” The idea is to prevent the waste from happening at it’s origin. Making changes to manufacturing, logistics, and consumption systems is key to reducing waste.

The town residents held many discussions and decided to have each household compost kitchen scraps and bring other wastes to the town’s waste station. Waste was initially separated into nine different categories, eventually increasing to 34 categories with the start of the Zero Waste Declaration and then 45 categories today. The recycling rate surpasses 80%.

Kamikatsu Zero Waste Center embodies the principle of Zero Waste as an earth-friendly complex facility that adds the functions of education, research, and communication to a waste-sorting treatment plant, aiming to recreate community and develop the region.” – nakam.info

The Zero Waste Center not only collects 45 different categories for recycling or reuse, but it also has a hotel, a community hall, a laboratory, and a resell shop. It is truly the blueprint for sustainability. Every town needs a Zero Waste Center. It may not be located in a lush mountain region, but it will make an immense positive impact on the planet.

Tomorrow, a playground that helps flooding issues.

SeaStraws Company: Helping to Keep Plastic Out of Our Oceans

Day 332 – Over the year, I have mentioned a couple companies that make compostable straws and recyclable plasticware (made from recycled plastic). Well, I wanted to add one more company to the list of sustainable options when it comes to straws and cutlery.

The SeaStraw Company offers straws and cutlery that are made from renewable forestry and backyard compostable, or contribute to a circular economy through reusability. They offer paper straws, steel straws, silicone straws and cutlery made from Birch wood. They provide these sustainable options for at home use or for businesses.

The materials used are:

  1. SF Certified Paper & FSC Certified from renewable forestry
  2. Vegan wax and ink
  3. Certified gluten free
  4. BPA free – silicone and stainless steel straws

The folks at SeaStraw started the company because they believe that small actions add up and inspire wide-spread impact. Just starting with a sustainable straw, or spoon, or fork, can lead to bigger and better decisions that will help the planet.

Tomorrow, a zero waste center every needs in their neighborhood.

Repurposing Turbine Blades into Bike Shelters

Day 331 – Back on Day 167, I wrote about the waste related to wind energy. I mentioned a study by University of Cambridge (2017) that stated that turbine blades are set to account for 43 million tons of waste by 2050. Most blades end up in landfills, because they are hard to recycle. The article went on to say that there are companies coming out with 100% recyclable blades.

However, what do we do with all the ones currently being used today that are not recyclable?

Well, Denmark has figured out a way to deal with the waste produced by wind energy.

Wind energy makes up 40% of the energy in Denmark and they hope to increase that to 70% by 2030. With the lifespan of a non-biodegradable wind turbine blade around 20 years, the Danish government assigned the recycling task to several companies. They have come up with some very creative ways to deal with these giant structures and keep them out of the landfill.

Two ideas that have been discussed in Denmark are using the blades as bike shelters and footbridges. You can already find bike shelters in parts of the country. Considering there are 675,000 bicycles and just 120,000 cars in just Copenhagen alone (bikes outnumber cars by more than five-to-one), you can imagine there is great need to keep all those bikes protected from the elements.

In Ireland, they are working to reuse old blades in skate parks, stadium bleachers, sound barriers and electric towers.

Every country needs to take a look at the waste they are producing and devise a plan to both reduce and reuse what they have. Dumping it in a whole in the ground, in our waterways or incinerating it, is no longer an option.

Tomorrow, another great option for sustainable straws and cutlery.

Less Stuff, More Experiences this Holiday Season

Day 330 – The holidays are a wonderful time of year. However, it’s also the time of year, where we produce the most waste. Between, the extra food, the wrapping paper and the need to make room for more stuff, we find ourselves tossing more in the trash.

I had an idea to help alleviate the amount of waste my family produced this holiday season by asking them to come up with gift ideas that involved more experiences than stuff. I even came up with a list to help inspire them.

A few of the suggestions included:

  1. The Movies
  2. Trampoline Park
  3. Escape Room
  4. Cooking Class
  5. A Play/Musical
  6. Golf Outing
  7. Nail Salon
  8. Sporting Event
  9. Museum Admission
  10. Amusement Park Pass

The kids used a website called So Kind Registry, to share their gift ideas with family. The site was created to encourages the giving of homemade gifts, charitable donations, secondhand
goods, experiences and more. My kids definitely need to work on the concept of less stuff and more fun, as I found items on the list along with a few experiences. The hope is that with each year, we can increase the requests for more experiences and less stuff.

Tomorrow, a cool way to protect your bike from the elements.