Gift to the Planet

Posted Posted in Got Ocean?, TopStory

It’s the last week before Christmas – one of many holidays celebrated by people on Earth this time of year. There’s also Hanukkah, Kwanza, and 11 other multicultural celebrations in the month of December alone. With these holidays, many traditions are observed and practiced between family, friends and communities. Today, I’d like to focus on a few parts of a well-known tradition of gift-giving, and wrapping said gifts.

Who doesn’t love to open a gift? And, doesn’t it add that much more giddiness when the gift is disguised by wrapping, a box, or a bag? Unless you’re a toddler, you’re probably going to find much more joy in the gift under all the disguise. 

But, what about all that wrapping paper and ribbon – is it necessary to exhibit what our gift is about? Does the type or color or design of paper really add to the experience for the person we’re gifting? Maybe…but I lean towards no.

Could we challenge ourselves to find alternative, reusable wrapping and remove yet another single-use material from our lives? Can we make small changes that stack up to big change for our Planet, our environment, our Ocean? YES and YES.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, household waste can increase by as much as 25%.  Food scraps, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons all add up to 1 million tons per week to a landfill (EPA). Many of you are aware of what garbage looks like before, during, and after it goes to the landfill. Think overstuffed bins ready for curbside pickup with a wind gust blowing litter away and eventually into a storm drain which leads to the ocean.

About 38,000 miles of ribbon is used each year, and likely thrown out after a single-use. If this was saved, it would be enough ribbon to tie a bow around the Earth (CalRecycle)!

Ribbon around the Earth
Credit: EasyExpat Blog

The amount of waste we can avoid by making small changes is amazing to think about and act on. Below is a smorgasbord of ideas – pick one, pick many – you can try this holiday season, then work on making the idea a habit year-round. Isn’t generating less waste the least we can give back to the Planet this season and every season?

  • Look for alternative types of “wrapping” around your house – newspaper, magazines, brown paper bags, saved packaging from mail-order products, reusable bags, and baskets are all great ways to give a gift with an extra use on the side.
  • If you buy wrapping paper, please seek responsibly made material, such as paper from a sustainably managed forest, 100% recycled paper, or thicker/heavier gift wrap that is molded easily to be flattened and used again in the future. Cloth wrapping paper is also a great alternative! Don’t forget to recycle unwanted/unusable paper afterwards.
  • Invest in and collect gift bags and responsibly made, durable gift wrap ribbon. Then, make sure your family, friends, and guests know they can leave it with you if they don’t choose to save and use again for themselves.
  • Avoid using ribbon all together – get creative with a simple sprig of evergreen or berries, or snatch up a pinecone to use in your design.
  • As always, use your reusable shopping bags when you’re out and about looking for those special gifts. Many stores give you a small discount for providing your own bag, and depending where you live, this may already be a mandatory practice. Every time you refuse a single-use plastic bag at the store, you’re contributing one less that could eventually end up HERE.

Be kind to your wallets by reusing.

Be kind to each other by taking action.

Be kind to our Oceans on Planet Earth by changing your habits.

 

 

Written by Sarah Burgess. Sarah fervently supports many ideas to conserve our Planet and take care of the Oceans – the best way to do this is by adventuring. Read more at BurgessAdventures

Follow the Waterways

Posted Posted in TopStory, Watersheds

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A recap of my first week at the mountain research station includes the following:

  • Endless bottles of lake water, containing a variety of zooplankton and phytoplankton
  • Awareness of what I deposit into surrounding areas (trash, etc.)
  • A heightened sense of adventure
  • A conquered hike to Rollins/ Corona Pass and the Needle Eye Tunnel (which if you haven’t read about- you should)
  • A continuous love for the ocean- as well as lakes and streams
  • An increase in motivation to combine freshwater and marine science studies in graduate school

 

With that said, I have decided to show through pictures rather than text, the effects of alpine watersheds on the ocean, and why it is important to keep them clean!

 

Start:

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Finish!

Protecting the Oceans from Two Miles High

Posted Posted in TopStory

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Location: Niwot Ridge

 

For the next few weeks, I am able to have the opportunity to stay in the outskirts of Nederland, Colorado for a 3-week class on lake and stream ecology. How fitting it would be, I thought, to connect experiences from this class to oceanic issues.

 

            Within the first few hours of class we are welcomed by our professor, and continue into lecture for the first hour. Next stop: Niwot Ridge, elevation 3520 meters. An approximate 10 minute off-roading adventure, followed by a 25-30 minute steep, rocky hike, and we have arrived! While eating lunch and admiring the tree-less slopes of the mountains, we discuss groundwater and precipitation. Groundwater moves approximately a foot per day, but can move faster in more geological areas- such as high alpine environments. As it moves downhill toward the lake and stream systems, the water collects nutrients and minerals that it runs over. Therefore, by the time the groundwater gets to the oceanic waterways, it could have collected thousands of feet worth of particles, whether it is nutrients or pollutants. Even these high alpine areas have pollutants, through precipitation. For example, sodium chloride would not be abundant in mountain regions, although there are trace amounts of it found. Why would sodium chloride be present here? Well, precipitation in these areas comes from evaporation from the ocean, hence oceanic nutrients are cycled to the mountains, and vice versa. This enhances the importance of maintaining healthy oceanic and alpine ecosystems! Another nutrient that was found to be in these high elevations was ammonia. This was due to food plots, in which food for a desired animal is plotted on land in order for it to be easier to hunt. It is the same concept as planting crops in association with fertilizer runoff. There are many issues with runoff, mostly concluding that it will lead to eutrophication.

 

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Location: Left Hand Reservoir

 

 

Importance of a Mile High

Posted Posted in TopStory

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Many people wonder how inland states can be connected to the ocean environment. In an episode of Diving Deeper, hosted by NOAA, Jeff Adkins explains how the ocean economy is continental-wide. With that said, this week’s blog will consist of a compilation of reasons inland states are connected to the coastline.

 

  1. Our restaurants serve seafood- that inevitably, comes from the sea.
  2. Factor in transportation and CO2 emissions, and you could say we are definitely involved in ocean issues
  3. We buy products made in other countries- that export their goods via ships
  4. Our agricultural practices release pesticides into our waterways- and “all drains lead to the ocean”- take it from Nemo
  5. We pollute just as much driving to the mountains as we would driving to the ocean
  6. The filter feeders of the oceans take in the pollutants- and then we eat them- gross.
  7. Our activities result in nonpoint source pollution- rainfall and snowmelt moving over and through the ground collect pollutants and deliver them to the oceans- oil, grease, toxic chemicals from urban development, sediment from construction sites, eroding streambanks

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Watersheds include the boundaries of streams and moving waters that lead to the ocean. Therefore, the tiny streams you see on your beautiful hike up the mountains high above a mile are included in these watersheds. Streams are ordered numerically, starting with a first order stream, which is characterized as mountainous, tiny streams that include very few fish and many tiny organisms that scrape their food. Once a first order stream and another first order stream join together, they create a second order stream. These streams may seem pristine and beautiful far away from society, but at some point they will join with a polluted, urban river and continue down the pathway to the ocean.

 

How will you reduce your impact in an inland state? https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/V2NCJ5J