Did you know?
Every time you wash certain synthetic fabrics, millions of microfibers are released into the water.
Microfibers are too small to be filtered out by waste treatment plants, so they end up in our septic systems and our waterways and oceans, where they affect marine animals and the environment. Textiles used in the manufacturing of garments are often processed with hazardous chemicals throughout production and finishing. When the fibers from these garments are shed, these coatings are as well, and they both enter septic systems and wastewater treatment plants in large volumes.
A 2016 study commissioned by outdoor clothing company Patagonia with graduate students from the University of California Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management found that we are sending significant amounts into rivers and oceans every day.
Microplastics have been recovered from the gastrointestinal tracts and tissues of zooplankton, shrimp, mussels, many fish and whales. According to the research team, microfiber pollution is troubling on two levels.
When you do your laundry you can reduce microfiber pollution by:
There are a variety of products available on-line to help reduce microfiber pollution. I am going to try a Guppyfriend, a bag to hold synthetic garments, to trap microfibers which is touted to be 90% effective. I also saw filters for effluent from washing machines including the Lint LUV-R and Filtrol Lint Filter. Let us know what you find!
We would like to share a new resource we learned about this week. John Linden keeps a blog which offers updates and tips on better living and ways to help the environment. Most recently, he wrote about removing plastic packaging from Amazon boxes. Check out his blog here.
GREEN TEAM RECIPES
Reduce plastic, Reuse your containers,
Feel great and save money
Download the recipes.
Deodorizing Spray from Kathy O’Rourke
1 part vodka
1 part filtered water
Pour ingredients into a spray bottle and shake well. You don’t need full-strength vodka to get the job done, and you don’t need nice vodka. Go for the least expensive one in a glass bottle.
Citrus Vinegar Spray Cleaner from Carol Campbell
In the refrigerator, save up a quart jar full of citrus peels (oranges, lemons, grapefruit). Then fill the jar with cheap white vinegar, covering the peels. Let this sit in a cool place for about a week. Strain the peels and put the cleaner in a spray bottle. To use, spray directly on your countertop or spray onto a cloth and wipe the area.
Fabric Softener from Carol Campbell
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
⅛ cup vegetable glycerin
10-20 drops essential oil (optional)
Mix together. To use, pour ½ cup into the fabric softener dispenser of your washing machine.
Gardener’s Soap Scrub from Carol Campbell
Dawn Hand Renewing dishwashing soap
8 ounce glass jar with cover
Fill jar ⅔ full with sugar. Pour dish soap in to about 1/2“ from top rim. Stir to combine and screw on lid. To use, dampen hands and scoop out some soap. Rub vigorously and rinse.
Goo-B-Gone from Carol Campbell
¼ cup coconut oil melted
½ cup baking soda
2-3 teaspoons Dawn dishwashing soap
Jar with cover
Combine and mix all ingredients. To use, rub some Goo-B-Gone onto the sticky surface (sticker, glue, etc.). Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes, then rub with a cloth and rinse the sticky substance away!
Dishwasher Detergent from Heather Blais
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Baking Soda
1 cup citric acid
¾ cup table salt
Mix all ingredients together in your chosen container. To use, fill your dishwasher’s detergent cup. Heather recommends making one batch at a time. If stored too long, the mix clumps and loses its effectiveness.
Liquid Laundry Detergent from Ella Ingraham
3.1 ounce bar Ivory soap or other soap
1 cup Borax
½ cup Washing Soda
3 gallons hot water
Essential oil (optional)
5 gallon container
Pot to hold 5 cups water
Spouted cup to transfer the detergent into laundry soap containers
Laundry detergent containers
Grate Ivory soap and put it in the pot with 5 cups water. Bring the mixture almost to a boil and stir until the soap is completely melted. Grating makes smaller pieces that dissolve more quickly. Fill your 5 gallon container with 3 gallons of hot water. Pour the dissolved mix into the 5 gallon container and stir. When thoroughly mixed, add ½ cup Washing Soda and stir until dissolved. Then add Borax and stir again until dissolved. If you like fragrance add several drops of an essential oil.
Cover and let sit overnight. It gels on top. Mix well so that you get rid of large clumps of gel. Transfer into your empty detergent containers. Before I use it, I shake the container to really mix it up. Use ½ cup for front loading machines and 1 cup for top loaders.
Windshield Washer Fluid from Elise Schlaikjer
1.5 cup rubbing alcohol or vodka
2 tablespoons dish detergent
¼ cup white vinegar (optional)
Fill 1 gallon container ¾ full of distilled water. Add the alcohol, dish detergent and, if you choose, the white vinegar. Label the container. This is a nontoxic washer fluid. You may collect rainwater or melt snow for the water, but filter it through a cloth to remove any sediment before using it. Both are mineral free.
Wondering Where to Get Ingredients?
Borax and Washing Soda are available in cardboard boxes in the laundry aisle. Baking soda is available in a cardboard box in the baking aisle. Citric Acid is available online or near canning supplies.
Eating Well Magazine article by Lynne Curry.
THINK YOU’RE GREEN?
Go meatless more often. Drive less often. Switch to LED lightbulbs. Give up plastic straws. Give up plastic—-period. While there’s no simple solution to climate change, we constantly hear that if we all did even one of these things it could, collectively, make a difference for our planet. If 40% of the country gave up meat once a week for a year, for example, it would be the greenhouse gas equivalent to taking over 1.6 million cars oﬀ the road. Compelling right? But there’s a catch. The complexities of climate change can activate some strange psychology, turning our good intentions into stumbling blocks instead of building blocks.
HOW WE GET IN OUR OWN WAY
Research has found that, when it comes to this scary global subject the human brain responds in a more emotional way than a logical one. Hearing stories about starving polar bears, catastrophic wildfires and coastal flooding triggers anxiety. And when we feel overwhelmed, we subconsciously seek a single, quick fix - like bringing metal straws when you go out to eat - to help us feel better and get on with our lives, according to Princeton University psychology professor Elke Weber, Ph.D. Certainly doing something is better than doing nothing, but the problem is that once we check oﬀ one Earth-friendly to do, we may stop making other positive changes.
This once and done tendency is called “single-action bias.” Even though the action hasn’t solved the issue (because no one thing of climate change hinges on just giving up plastic straws), the mind feels relieved by taking that step. Once the fear is alleviated, we tend to stop going further because the motivation to act is gone.
Don’t beat yourself up if you realize that you’ve been stuck in this psychological rut. It’s only human! If you truly don’t have the bandwidth to do more than one thing, no judgment. But what you can do is focus on an eﬀort that has the biggest impact. According to the climate research group Project Drawdown, this includes reducing food waste, eating less meat, supporting organizations that fight deforestation and buying or voting for renewable energy measures (like wind and solar power). You can also vote with your wallet by purchasing items from ecologically minded companies, since their carbon footprint is larger than yours.
BEST YOUR BRAIN
But there are ways that you can work around-if not overcome- single-action bias.
First, try expanding on what you’re already doing. Consider Meatless Monday: “Surveys show that about half the people who have done Meatless Monday are able to reduce meat beyond that one day in one way or another.”says Becky Ramsing, M.P.H.,R.D.H., senior program oﬃcer with the John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. How can you put yourself in the group that keeps going, as opposed to those who don’t? The diﬀerence may be confidence. Research has found that a key component of building a habit, one that continues to grow, is feeling capable of actually doing it. “We hear people who started with Meatless Monday say, “Now that I know what this tempeh or tofu is and know how to prepare it, I’ll try in again,” says Ramsing. So take what you’ve learned by going meatless one day and carry it in the rest of your week. The more you do it, the easier it’ll become.
Also effective: adding other behaviors that are related to your current one. According to a review of studies published in the journal Global Environmental Change, humans innately want to be consistent, which may make us more likely to pick up other behaviors that are in the same pro-environmental view. If you’re a recycler, for instance, use those sorting skills to put coﬀee grounds and food scraps into the compost bin instead of your trash. The researchers say other behaviors that cluster with recycling are conserving energy and water, reducing the amount of packaging you buy and shopping with reusable bags.
Finally, try using a climate checklist. Columbia University’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions says that prominently posting a list of eco-friendly steps to take reminds you to go beyond a single thing. Better yet, jot down why each action is important to you. Studies show that personalized prompts help people stick to new habits. Check out the United Nations’ Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the Planet website for ideas (un.org/sustainabledevelopment/takeaction). Because while doing one thing can be a good thing, doing more to adopt a low-carbon lifestyle - to the best of our abilities - is worth striving for.
-Submitted by Carol Campbell for the Green Team
Plastic bags raise questions for the environmentally concerned consumer. First, we are trying to reduce using plastic bags. However, when we don’t have a choice we need to understand the finer points for recycling them. The basic rule is that plastic bags made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or 2 plastic or low-density polyethylene (LDPE) or 4 plastic are recyclable when they are empty, clean and dry with all receipts removed. These include the bags shown above, plastic dry cleaning bags with the staples and receipts removed, case wrapping from juice or canned dog food cases, stretch wrap from furniture or electronics and cereal or cracker bags that are opaque, but not silver. These bags are recyclable in grocery or retail stores and here they are made into TREX composite lumber. If put into general recyclables, the bags can damage machinery used to process other recyclables.
Some plastic bags are not recyclable. These include pet food bags, chip bags, prepackaged food or salad bags, garbage bags, saran or cling wrap, other retail bags, cat litter bags, potting soil or mulch bags and other plastic food packaging unless labelled 2 or 4. Cling wraps have added chemicals to make them cling that would contaminate the recyclable batch.
Interestingly, some manufacturers are developing recycling programs for their plastic packaging. See the Terracycle website https://www.terracycle.com/en-US . Terracycle develops and promotes programs with manufacturers to collect and reuse their specific packaging. For example, I just bought Open Farm dog food at the Greenfield Farmers Cooperative Exchange and checking on Terracycle found that Open Farm has a bag recycling program.
We’ve all seen plastic bags polluting our neighborhoods, rivers and ultimately the ocean. Greenfield’s ban on plastic grocery bags is a positive step to reduce this pollution. Our efforts to further reduce using plastic packaging and recycling packaging whenever possible will also help reduce pollution. As Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in his videotalk last year: “Love the world that God loves. ... Help God love God’s world.”
-Ella Ingraham, for the Green Team
Is zero waste a new idea and how does reducing trash relate to our climate crisis? Zero waste means reducing our final trash as much as possible. All the things we consume and then throw out as trash such as disposable straws, to-go coffee cups or, in this Christmas season, plastic packaging materials and sparkling papers are generally made with plastics made from fossil fuels. They are not recyclable. According to the Plastics Ocean Foundation, we are producing over 300 million tons of plastic every year. Fifty percent (50%) or 150 million tons is for single-use purposes, used for just a few moments, but on the planet for at least several hundred years. Even when burned plastics leave a toxic ash that has to be stored in our environment. Reducing trash is good for our environment and also good for our wallets. It may mean less direct cost to put out our trash and/or less cost for our towns for trash disposal. WIn Win!
Kathryn Kellogg in her book 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste recommends a simple process for reducing waste. The process is useful no matter where we are in our environmental journey. She says “Get to know your trash.” How often do you throw away single-use containers, paper towels, straws, cups, plastic food packaging? Say NO to plastic straws or paper straws coated with plastic, plastic cup lids for coffee or soda and plastic water bottles. Get reusable grocery bags and use them for other purchases, something we are very familiar with. When we evaluate what we throw away, we can look for alternatives that help our environment. Then before buying, evaluate whether you need it and will use it or perhaps just want it. Consider how and where its made and the resources required to make it. And the idea of reducing waste is not new. Calvin Coolidge, born in Vermont, Governor of Massachusetts and President of the United States, had a saying that is applicable now: “Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, do without!”
-Ella Ingraham, for the Green Team
We hope to help our community become stewards of creation.