Day 364 – Last year when I decided to write a daily post involving the environment, I wasn’t sure if I would stick with it the entire year. I can’t even tell you how many New Year Resolutions have been abandoned over the years. Now this particular idea was more of a project than a resolution, but nonetheless, something I wanted to do the entire year. I’m pretty happy that by tomorrow, I can say that I was able to follow through with my goal.
So, in today’s post I thought I would encourage you to start your own project or New Year’s resolution. It doesn’t matter what you call it, just try your best to see it through until the end. And maybe it leads to the next year and the next, and so on and so on. Maybe you decide to do something to benefit the planet every month. It could maybe look like this:
January – Start composting, at home or with a commercial composter.
February – Make an effort to do a better job recycling. Keep recyclables out of the trash and keep trash out of the recycle bin.
March – Replace your single-use plastics with reusables. For example, stop using plastic water bottles and start using a reusable water bottle.
April – Replace those single-use plastic bags with reusables. Switch out the plastic shopping bags, produce bags and Ziploc bags, with reusable bags.
May – Avoid extra food packaging by avoiding individually wrapped items. For example, instead of buying individual bags of chips, buy a large bag and use reusable containers to create individual portions.
June – Start cutting out meat once a week, maybe even twice a week.
July – Avoid packaging by using reusable containers. Our hand soap and laundry detergent use reusable containers.
August – Start looking at labels and seek out companies that are doing good for the planet.
September – Exchange your throwaways with reusables. Swap your paper napkins for cloth napkins. Swap your alkaline batteries with rechargeable batteries.
October – Turn down the extras. Say no thank you to the small packets of condiments. So no thank you to the complimentary items you know you don’t need or will not use.
November – Put a sweater on and turn down the heat a few degrees.
December – Consider sustainable gift giving and reusable or recyclable gift wrap.
If implementing a change every monthly seems too easy and not much of a challenge, then consider doing something every two weeks or even once a week. The more you can do the better off the planet will be.
Day 343 – I have said it before and I will say it again, there is nothing better then finding an eco-friendly company and discovering that company is located in Chicago. I was thrilled when I found Meliora cleaning products and now I am elated to have found Elevate Packaging.
“Elevate Packaging is the leading provider of compostable packaging and labels. Our exclusive PURE Labels™ are the first and only certified compostable label in North America. With our bags, pouches, and labels, we offer a complete one-stop compostable packaging solution for sustainable business.
Serving industries such as natural food, institutional food service, coffee, tea, cannabis, apparel, body care, and more, Elevate Packaging offers high quality compostable packaging solutions with excellent performance that will help your business eliminate landfill waste and build reputable eco brand value.” – Elevate Packaging
I recently purchased compostable bags to hold my photography prints. It feels so good to offer customers eco-friendly packaging.
If you need packaging for your business, using a compostable options shows your customers that you care about the planet.
Day 339 – “World 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
“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.
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.
A perfect environment is offered, avoiding the unpredictability of changing climates.
No bleach or pesticides used on plants. No GMOs.
Crop yields are increased over 350x compared to traditional farming.
Hundreds of acres of farmland are compacted into the size of a big box retail store.
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.
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.
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:
SF Certified Paper & FSC Certified from renewable forestry
Vegan wax and ink
Certified gluten free
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.
Day 307 – After China banned the import of recycled material from the U.S., our rates have declined. Many municipalities have been struggling to meet demand due to the sheer weight of material that needs to be processed and the labor-intensive need to separate clean from “contaminated” recyclables, due to Americans’ imperfect recycling habits. However, there are some cities that are doing something right and have seen their recycling rates increase over the years.
Here is the list shared by rts.com, along with a brief summary of their efforts (shared on the rts.com website)
Phoenix, Arizona – Phoenix is promoting real change both by setting realistic diversion rates that encourage accurate measurement – unlike some cities and companies that set unrealistically high goals – and by acknowledging and budgeting in for recycling and compost market realities to ensure that materials are actually recovered. Phoenix does this by forging creative outside partnerships, including with Arizona State University (ASU) and the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network incubator (RISN). To date, RSIN has incubated 16 companies and created 74 jobs with a total of $5.17 million in revenue generated.
New York, New York – Developed through a collaborative process in 2016, the zero waste guidelines encourage architects, planners, developers, city officials, waste haulers, recycling experts, building managers, business owners, and the general public to work together to refine existing systems and build new ones.
Los Angeles, California – LA’s Solid Waste Integrated Resources Plan (better known as the Zero Waste Plan) aims to achieve the goal of 90% waste diversion by 2025, rising to 97% by 2030. Introduced in 2013, the plan highlights both manufacturer and consumer responsibilities in the fight for a cleaner city. Resources for businesses and private citizens are available at the Rethink LA portal, where advice and guidance on waste reduction and recycling can be downloaded. Additionally, the CalRecycle website offers further information on wider state policies and programs.
San Francisco, California – The city introduced one of the first composting collection programs in the US, as well as a plastic bag ban in 2013. Numerous programs and laws now exist to reduce waste and increase recycling, including; the Zero Waste Textile Initiative, the Cigarette Litter Abatement Ordinance, and the Construction and Demolition Ordinance.
Seattle, Washington – Seattle’s commercial recycling program was made mandatory in 2013, and in 2010 it adopted a zero-waste policy that aimed to design and manage products and processes to eliminate landfill and incineration. In addition to this, the city provides numerous resources to help both businesses and citizens recycle more efficiently.
Boise, Idaho – Among Boise’s numerous recycling initiatives, the Hefty® EnergyBag® stands out as particularly innovative, allowing residents to recycle previously non-recyclable plastics by collecting them in an orange bag. Over 550,000 bags have been collected so far.
Portland, Oregon – The City of Portland aims to increase material recovery rates to 90% by 2030, engaging citizens and businesses in a range of initiatives including a comprehensive youth education program. Available free of charge to schools and young adult groups, it includes a broad range of resources designed to raise awareness of recycling, composting, and climate change as a whole aim to ensure that future generations have the tools and skills required to achieve truly zero waste.
San Diego, California – Its Zero Waste Plan is now aiming for “zero” by 2040, with the city heavily investing in new technologies and promoting awareness throughout its communities. This also includes a Resource Recovery Center at the Miramar Landfill to maximize diversion, even at the final stages of the waste management journey.
Boston, Massachusetts – Boston’s Zero Waste initiative was introduced in 2018 and is striving to achieve 80% diversion by 2030. Offering residents and businesses a wealth of information alongside a range of practical toolkits designed to help residents reduce, repair, and recycle materials effectively and efficiently, the city has drastically improved its recycling and material recovery reputation in recent years.
Denver, Colorado – Its recent collaboration with The Recycling Partnership is helping to raise awareness through a range of pilot routes designed to increase the types of materials residents can add to their purple recycling carts. One of these pilots encourages increased aluminum and steel can diversion – with on-the-ground experts assigned to routes, guiding residents by providing information cards detailing how to properly recycle these materials. This information will also be available in mailers, signs, and social media.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, Chicago is not on the list. We are the 3rd largest city in the country, but have still not figured out how to become a leader when it comes to zero waste initiatives and programs that would educate residents and businesses. There is much work to be done.
Day 304 – Every year, more than 1 billion pounds of pumpkin get tossed out and left to rot in America’s landfills. As mentioned in yesterday’s post that waste releases methane gas which contributes to greenhouse gases. You can keep that pumpkin out of the landfill and help the planet, all by attending a Pumpkin Smash event. On November 6thfrom 9am-12pm (at all locations) you can compost your pumpkin at one of several locations in the Chicago area.
Find a location near you!
SCARCE – 800 S. Rohlwing Rd. (Rt. 53) Unit D, Addison IL 60101
Itasca Public Works – 411 N. Prospect Ave., Itasca, Illinois 60143
Day 302 – I grew up with cats and I had my share of litter cleaning duties. I never gave any thought as to what was in the cat litter and if it was healthy or unhealthy for me or the cats. Turns out that many brands are made from clay and contain silica. The dust created by the silica can get into the lungs and could eventually create health problems. The best option for the environment and your health is a biodegradable cat litter.
Littermaid is made of discarded walnut shells. As a nut product, though, this product is not suitable for those with nut allergies.
Okocat is made from sustainably-sourced wood fibers that are biodegradable and compostable.
Arm & Hammer litter is a plant-based blend of corn, mineral oil, and baking soda.
There are plenty of eco-friendly cat litter option out there. Many more than what is listed here. So, on this National Cat Day make the change to a healthier cat litter for your health and the health of the planet.