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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee

Letter from Publisher

In recent months, publications including The Guardian and National Geographic have reported on the research of Newcastle University’s Alan Jamieson, whose team found plastic in the guts of marine animals living in the Mariana Trench, a 1,500-mile-long, crescent-shaped trench in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean that extends nearly 36,000 feet deep. Microplastics have been discovered in the deepest parts of oceans from locations as geographically far apart as Japan, Peru and New Zealand.

This tragic destruction of our waterways and marine ecosystem seems senseless when we consider that less than 100 years ago, people functioned well in their daily lives without single-use plastic items, such as straws, food wraps and bags. The convenience and ubiquity of disposable items is normalized by a bombardment of marketing messages reinforcing our use of them. However, adopting some of the ways of our grandparents and great-grandparents, such as reusing items and conserving resources, can contribute toward habits that are better not only for the planet, but also for our health.

Choosing to bring our own reusable cloth shopping bags for each shopping visit, instead of accepting disposable paper or plastic ones, is a fairly simple habit to form. Replacing disposable plastic food storage bags and containers with repurposed glass jam or pickle jars saves not only resources, but also money, and we can bring them along when dining out to package our take-home leftovers. Stainless steel, bamboo or silicone reusable straws can easily replace single-use plastic straws, and travel sets of cutlery are an eco-friendly alternative to single-use disposable ones. Most coffee shops and convenience stores now offer discounts to those who bring refillable travel mugs. Avoiding single-serving condiment packets is another goal we can set.

Outdoors, let’s not forget the importance of supporting healthy pollinator habitats. We can incorporate milkweed to help hungry caterpillars in the process of becoming butterflies. Filling our yards with more low-maintenance, native flowering plants—many previously dismissed as unsightly weeds—and eliminating unsafe herbicides and pesticides will keep our bees happily pollinating. The experts at our local, ecologically minded and organic landscape companies can advise on native plantings to suit any environment and on the use of safe, chemical-free gardening strategies.

As the use of plastics, toxins and chemicals grows all around us, our time to act is now. Every action we take affects future generations—let’s make a difference for the better.

Honoring Mother Earth,

Gabriella Buchnik, Publisher

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