New Year’s Resolutions that will Help the Planet

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:

  1. January – Start composting, at home or with a commercial composter.
  2. February – Make an effort to do a better job recycling. Keep recyclables out of the trash and keep trash out of the recycle bin.
  3. March – Replace your single-use plastics with reusables. For example, stop using plastic water bottles and start using a reusable water bottle.
  4. April – Replace those single-use plastic bags with reusables. Switch out the plastic shopping bags, produce bags and Ziploc bags, with reusable bags.
  5. 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.
  6. June – Start cutting out meat once a week, maybe even twice a week.
  7. July – Avoid packaging by using reusable containers. Our hand soap and laundry detergent use reusable containers.
  8. August – Start looking at labels and seek out companies that are doing good for the planet.
  9. September – Exchange your throwaways with reusables. Swap your paper napkins for cloth napkins. Swap your alkaline batteries with rechargeable batteries.
  10. 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.
  11. November – Put a sweater on and turn down the heat a few degrees.
  12. 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.

Tomorrow, a look back at the year.

Elevate Packaging: Compostable Packaging Solutions

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.

Tomorrow, green apps.

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.

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.” –

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.

How Much Trash Does One Person Make in a Year?

Day 326 – An unlikely source, TitleMax, looked at some gross data to calculate what one person produces in garbage in one year by type of waste.

Here’s what they found.

  1. Mail – 23.06 pounds per person
  2. Toilet Paper & Paper Towels – 22.36 pounds per person
  3. Paper plates and cups – 8.22 pounds per person
  4. Cardboard boxes – 187.77 pounds per person
  5. Cartons – 34.97 pounds per person
  6. Glass beer and soft drink bottles – 12.74 pounds per person
  7. Other bottles and jars – 24.52 pounds per person
  8. Metal durable goods – 92.80 pounds per person
  9. Aluminum goods – 10.89 pounds per person
  10. Steel cans – 11.78 pounds per person
  11. Aluminum cans – 9.04 pounds per person
  12. Durable plastics – 72.99 pounds per person
  13. Plastic plates and cups – 6.75 pounds per person
  14. Plastic trash bags – 6.50 pounds per person
  15. Plastic bottles and jars – 17.77 pounds per person
  16. Plastic bags and wraps – 24.27 pounds per person
  17. Clothing and footwear – 70 pounds per person
  18. Food waste – 220.96 pounds per person
  19. Yard trimmings – 91.53 pounds per person
  20. Wood – 854.20 pounds per person

That’s a grand total of 1,803.12 pounds per person

We can help reduce our waste by refusing, recycling, reusing and composting items off the list.

Tomorrow, reusable sticky notes.

Top Cities with Successful Recycling Programs

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, along with a brief summary of their efforts (shared on the website)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Tomorrow, the crisis in Madagascar.

Keep Your Pumpkin Out of the Landfill

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 6th from 9am-12pm (at all locations) you can compost your pumpkin at one of several locations in the Chicago area. 

Find a location near you!

  1. SCARCE – 800 S. Rohlwing Rd. (Rt. 53) Unit D, Addison IL 60101
  2. Itasca Public Works – 411 N. Prospect Ave., Itasca, Illinois 60143
  3. Villa Park Village Hall (back)20 S. Ardmore, Villa Park, Illinois 60181
  4. Lombard Common (East Parking Lot) – 433 E St Charles Rd., Lombard, Illinois 60148
  5. Bensenville – Village Hall Parking Lot – 12 S. Center St., Bensenville, Illinois 60106
  6. Elmhurst – Public Works Facility – 985 S Riverside Dr., Elmhurst, Illinois 60126
  7. Glen Ellyn – St. Mark’s Church Hillside Parking Lot – 393 N. Main St.(Hillside parking lot east of Main St.), Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
  8. Village Green Park: Garden Plots Glen Ellyn – 130 S. Lambert Road, Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
  9. Westchester Community Church – 10201 Bond Street, Westchester, Illinois 60154
  10. Carol Stream – Water Reclamation Center – 245 Kuhn Rd., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188
  11. Wheaton – Commuter Parking Lot #9 – Corner of W Liberty Dr. & Carlton Ave., Wheaton, Illinois 60187
  12. Westmont Public Library – 428 N. Cass Ave., Westmont, Illinois 60559
  13. La Grange Park Public Works – 937 Barnsdale Road, La Grange Park, Illinois 60526
  14. Roosevelt Middle School River Forest – 7560 Oak Avenue, River Forest, Illinois 60305
  15. Park Ridge Public Works – 400 Busse Hwy, Park Ridge, Illinois 60068
  16. Lisle Village Hall – Commuter Lot C – 925 Burlington Avenue, Lisle, Illinois 60540
  17. Western Springs – St. John of the Cross Catholic Church – 5005 Wolf Road, Western Springs, Illinois 60558
  18. Bartlett METRA Parking Lot (Near Water Tower) – E Bartlett Avenue, Bartlett, Illinois 60103
  19. First United Methodist Church of West Chicago – 643 E. Washington St., (West side of Parking Lot along Washington St., Driveway Entrance Eastside along Washington St.), West Chicago, Illinois 60185
  20. Downers Grove South High School – 1436 Norfolk Avenue, Downers Grove, Illinois 60195
  21. Hoffman Estates Public Works – 2305 Pembroke Avenue, Hoffman Estates, Illinois 60169
  22. Warrenville Park District (Lower Level Parking Lot) – 3S260 Warren Ave., Warrenville, Illinois 60185
  23. Hinsdale South High School – 7401 Clarendon Hill Road, Darien, Illinois 60561
  24. Naperville – Camp Greene Wood – 3155 71st Street, Naperville, Illinois 60540
  25. Morton Grove – North End of Harrer Park – 6200 Lake Street, Morton Grove, Illinois 60053
  26. Skokie Farmers Market – Oakton Street and Floral Avenue, Skokie, Illinois 60077
  27. Naperville – Ron Ory Community Garden Plots – 811 S. West St., Naperville, Illinois 60540
  28. Geneva – Pushing the Envelope Farm – 1700 Averill Road, Geneva, Illinois 60134
  29. Chicago – Guild Row – 3130 N Rockwell St., Chicago, Illinois 60618
  30. St. Charles Public Works Parking Lot – 1405 S. 7th Ave., St. Charles, Illinois 60174
  31. Wilmette Village Hall & Centennial Park – 1200 Wilmette Ave & 2300 Old Glenview Rd., Wilmette, Illinois 60091
  32. Wilmette – Centennial Recreation Complex & Gardens – 2300 Old Glenview Rd., Wilmette, Illinois 60091
  33. Lake View High School Parking Lot – 4015 N. Ashland Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60613
  34. Fire Station Engine 70 (Parking Lot) – 6040 N. Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60660
  35. Elgin – Parking lot at southwest corner of N Grove Avenue & Kimball Street – 250 N. Grove Ave., Elgin, Illinois 60120
  36. Chicago – Solorio Academy High School – 5400 S. St. Louis, Chicago, Illinois 60632
  37. Lorraine Morton Civic Center (Evanston) – 2100 Ridge Ave., Evanston, Illinois 60201
  38. Aurora – Meadowlakes Park – Birchdale Lane & Meadowbrook Drive, Aurora, Illinois 60504
  39. Glencoe Community Garden – 380 Old Green Bay Road, Glencoe, Illinois 60022
  40. Plant Chicago – 4459 S. Marshfield Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60609
  41. Elgin – Hawthorne Hill Nature Center – 28 Brookside Dr., Elgin, Illinois 60123
  42. Lake Barrington – Prairieland Disposal & Recycling – 21988 N. Pepper Road, Lake Barrington, Illinois 60010
  43. Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences Parking Lot – 3857 W. 111th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60655
  44. Vernon Hills Park District – Maintenance Building – 1400 Indianwood Drive, Vernon Hills, Illinois 60061
  45. Gary Comer Youth Center – The Urban Farm – 7200 S. Ingleside Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60619
  46. Romeoville – Lewis University – 1 University Parkway, Romeoville, Illinois 60446

46 places to drop off your pumpkin to be composted! There is really no excuse. Make sure you give yourself a little time on November 6th to do something good for the planet.

Tomorrow, tires that are not made of rubber.

Eco-friendly Cat Litter

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.

GreenMatters shared their picks for the Best Eco-Friendly Cat Litter:

  1. World’s Best Cat Litter is made of lumps of compressed and fully compostable corn kernels. 
  2. Littermaid is made of discarded walnut shells. As a nut product, though, this product is not suitable for those with nut allergies.
  3. Okocat is made from sustainably-sourced wood fibers that are biodegradable and compostable.
  4. 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.

Tomorrow, reducing methane emissions.