Category Archives: green living

Community Improvement: Styro-Free for You, Me & the Critters that Be, by Vicki Londerville

styro-free movement in marquette mi, green living in the U.P., sustainability in the U.P. U.P. wellness publication, U.P. eco-friendly improvements, eco-friendly U.P.

When I moved to the Upper Peninsula, one of my first excursions was to a Marquette bakery. Jubilant over finding a local supplier for my long-running pastry fixation, I ordered a croissant and a coffee to go. My heart sank when the barista handed me a piping hot Americano in a Styrofoam cup. I must’ve looked as though she’d fixed me a hemlock latte.

“Is something wrong? Did you need more room?” she asked.

“Umm… no…,” I trailed off, not wanting to make a fuss; there was a substantial queue of customers behind me. I walked out of the bakery feeling frustrated that I didn’t speak up.

A Greener Change

Enter Ron Carnell. He attended Northern Michigan University, followed by the University of Washington (BA), then earned a Master’s degree from Kansas State University. Carnell has a long history of activism, including field fundraising for Public Interest Research Group, Greenpeace Action, and the Northwest AIDS Foundation.

Upon moving back to Marquette from Seattle in July of 2018, Carnell noticed that most restaurants he visited were still using Styrofoam TM (expanded polystyrene, or EPS) containers for takeout items.

“I began talking about it and found there was enough interest to lay the groundwork for a campaign to urge the City of Marquette to get behind a resolution.” He started StyroFree Marquette, a grassroots group of local citizens and business owners promoting the benefits of replacing EPS take-out and beverage containers with healthier, environmentally safer options for Marquette and, maybe one day, all of the U.P.

That said, Carnell maintains that StyroFree Marquette is not out to ban anything. Rather, this group hopes to inspire restauranteurs and bakery and coffee shop owners to consider what can be better choices for their bottom line, the community’s image, and the environment.

The Problem with EPS

Pieces of EPS cups and food containers are a common choking and death hazard when birds, fish, and wildlife consume them. The more an EPS takeout container breaks into smaller pieces, the more difficult it is to clean up. EPS is also petroleum-based, is nearly impossible to recycle (there are no EPS recycling options in the U.P.), and is known to leech cancer-causing chemicals like toluene and benzene into hot foods. EPS is already banned in dozens of cities across the country, with many more considering joining the list. Recent big-city bans include New York City and San Diego.

We all know Marquette is growing. We offer so much as a place to live and as a tourist destination—lively arts and entertainment, wonderful winter and summer activities, and expanding culinary tastes. Offering consumers alternatives to EPS takeout containers and beverage cups is but one easy and cost-effective step toward strengthening what makes our town so appealing. With the support of citizens and city government, Marquette can be the first city in Michigan where restaurants and coffee shops actively use alternatives to EPS containers.

Feedback & Action

Since October 2018, the StyroFree Marquette citizen coalition has received virtually 100% positive responses from local restaurant owners, city officials, students, and residents. The coalition invites the public to share their questions, concerns, and input with members of StyroFree Marquette. The coalition’s next meeting will be held Wednesday, June 5 from 7:00-8:30 pm, at Peter White Public Library’s Heritage Room.

To learn more, call Ron Carnell at 206-227-0867 or visit http://www.styrofreemarquette.org or Facebook – Twitter/StyroFree Marquette.

Vicki Londerville is a Marquette artist/illustrator and an active member of the Marquette Artist Collective. She is currently writing and illustrating an environmentally-themed children’s book set in the Upper Peninsula. Vicki loves exploring the UP’s wild places on her horse or in her kayak.

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Click here for U.P. distribution locations.

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Summer 2019 Issue Preparing to Roll!

U.P. wellness publication, U.P. holistic health publication, holistic health in MI's Upper Peninsula, U.P. well-being publication

The printing press is preparing to roll and 10,000 copies will begin distribution this week!

Read all about “The UPsurge in the Arts, Acupuncture of Marquette, the Styro-Free movement and much more!

Click here for a pick-up point near you!

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More Info. from Steve Waller on “Wind Energy – Hot Air?”

Here’s the formula for relating turbines to trees:

A 2-megawatt turbine X 35% load factor outputs 700 kw X 8,760 hrs per year = 6,132,000 kWh per year X 650 g/kWh average intensity = 4,394 tons of CO2 / 2 tons CO2 absorbed per acre of trees = 2,196 equivalent acres of forest per 2-megawatt turbine

A single 2-megawatt turbine has the CO2 reducing effect of 2,196 acres of forest while generating $367,920 (@ $0.06 wholesale per kWh) of electricity per year.

One megawatt of turbine = roughly 1,000 equivalent forest acres. 

A higher turbine “load factor” (percent of maximum possible output actually generated) increases the forest equivalent. The newest turbines have higher load factors.

50 turbines in a wind farm (50 X 2,196) have the CO2 reducing effect of 109,840 acres of forest

Example:

Summit Lake wind farm’s 50 turbines utilize a footprint of only 560 acres (2%) of the 28,000 acres of wind farm forest. 98% of the forest remains forested.

219,700 turbine tons of CO2 + 54,880 unmodified forest tons of CO2 ((28,000 original acres – 560 turbine acres) X 2 tons CO2 per acre) = 274,580 tons of CO2 kept out of the air per year.

The wind farm increases the CO2 reduction of the original 28,000 acre Summit Lake forest from 56,000 tons of CO2 absorbed per year without the wind farm to the equivalent of 274,580 tons of CO2 absorbed per year with the wind farm.

Looks like we should REALLY encourage the Summit Wind Farm!

$ value of turbine power:

6,132,000 kWh X $0.06 wholesale (AKA “offset” price) price per kWh =

$367,920 annual wholesale value of electricity per turbine.

$367,920 X 50 turbines = $18,396,000 annual wholesale value of wind farm power.

6,132,000 kWh X $0.14 retail price per kWh = $858,480 annual retail value of electricity per turbine.

$858,480 X 50 turbines = $42,924,000 annual retail value of wind farm power.

Here are just a few of the sources I used for Wind Energy – Hot Air in the Spring 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine.

https://cleantechnica.com/2018/02/21/wind-power-results-bird-deaths-overall/

https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/co2_vol_mass.php

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1530-9290.2012.00464.x

https://www.nrdc.org/experts/arjun-krishnaswami/renewable-energy-brings-economic-boost-rural-communities

https://www.factcheck.org/2018/03/wind-energys-carbon-footprint/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140616093317.htm

https://www.awea.org/wind-101/benefits-of-wind/environmental-benefits

https://www.awea.org/wind-101/benefits-of-wind

https://www.awea.org/Awea/media/Resources/StateFactSheets/Michigan.pdf

https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/life-cycle-analysis-of-the-embodied-carbon-emissions-from-14-wind-turbines-with-rated-powers-between-50-kw-and-34-mw-2090-4541-1000211.php?aid=74577

https://www.awea.org/wind-101/benefits-of-wind/economic-development

https://www.aweablog.org/the-truth-about-wind-power/

https://www.aweablog.org/fact-check-really-causes-electricity-prices-rise/

http://www.windustry.org/how_much_do_farmers_get_paid_to_host_wind_turbines

https://www.landmarkdividend.com/wind-turbine-lease-rates/

https://cleantechnica.com/2014/05/07/wind-power/

https://www.nrdc.org/experts/arjun-krishnaswami/new-report-clean-energy-sweeps-across-rural-midwest

https://www.awea.org/Awea/media/Resources/StateFactSheets/Michigan.pdf

 

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Supercharge Your Holiday Shopping, by Steve Waller

This year, shop with a passion that does more than merely make your loved ones smile. Supercharged gifts make a difference in the world. Yep, you can help save the world by shopping!

Gift family and friends battery-powered appliances that replace as many gasoline engines as possible. Today’s lithium batteries are super-powerful, charge fast, and last a long time. Many simply have not tried the newest battery-powered products. Some gas guzzlers stubbornly refuse. In the old days, batteries were weak and unreliable, and those memories can prejudice fossil fuelers against batteries. But that’s changed. You can initiate change, and they will love the results.

Amazing battery-powered products step up modern living—more power, less weight, simple operation, reliable, convenient, great for the economy, quieter, less maintenance, lower operating cost, a healthier environment, and a brighter future. Wow!

Once you’ve committed to supercharged gifting, you can help those stuck in old fossil-fueled habits transition to newer, cleaner, easier, better ways to live. Your gifts cause the spark, but there is a specific strategy to follow.

Be smart about battery appliances. Learn if your giftee already has large battery powered appliances, such as walk-behind lawn mowers and/or snow blowers. If they do, and they are happy with them, go to Step 2 below. If not, opportunity awaits…

Step 1: Start with the biggest appliances. Quality walk-behind lawn mowers and/or snow blowers are more expensive, but they usually come with two batteries and a charger that you only need to buy once. The highest battery voltage is best. One battery charges while the other is working. The newest technologies should fully recharge a battery in about half an hour, faster than it takes to use up a charged battery, ensuring you’ll never run out of juice. And the same batteries can be used on other appliances.

Step 2 – If your giftee already has two batteries and a charger, shop for other gas replacing appliances that use the same batteries as those in Step 1 but this time, buy the appliance “tool only,” meaning without a battery/charger. New appliances without batteries are much cheaper. Objective – recycle all those gasoline engines.

If your giftee has no need for a mower or snow blower, consider any gasoline-powered product they might use regularly – leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, string trimmers, powered pole saws (for pruning trees), even chainsaws! Battery chain saws have amazing power, run quieter, and one battery lasts about as long as a tank of gasoline. Buy the first appliance with a battery (eventually two) and a charger, then add “tool only” items to the tool collection.

How do your gifts save the world? The International Panel for Climate Change, made up of thousands of the world’s climate change experts, published its most conclusive report last October (http://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15/) that finally specified the dire consequences from burning fossil fuels. It states what needs to change and how much time we have to succeed. The bottom line is we must transition away from fossil fuels ASAP, and the transition must be completed in only ten years (by 2030)! Problem is, the report was almost ignored (again), so many don’t or won’t realize the need to change (https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/full.html).

Hiking boots, skis, or snowshoes are healthier than gas-guzzling ATVs and snowmobiles. Swimming is healthier than a jet ski. Selling expensive recreational gas-guzzlers (and the truck that pulls them) frees cash for solar panels. In a household with two cars, one should be a plug-in electric. That is what has to happen. Supercharged shopping for a better future is the most admirable and valuable gift you can give. Do it.

Steve Waller’s family lives in a wind- and solar-powered home. He has been involved with conservation and energy issues since the 1970s and frequently teaches about energy. He and a partner own a U.P. wind/solar business called Lean Clean Energy. He can be reached at Steve@UPWallers.net.

Excerpted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Winter 2018-19 Issue, copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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Green Living: Time for a Happy Walk! by Steve Waller

Feeling stressed, tired, angry, lonely, or sleepless? Fighting weight gain or aging? The fountain of youth exists—only two feet away, literally. Look down and count. Two feet? You’re all set. Park the car. Start Happy Walking!

We are built to walk! Our ancient ancestors walked out of Africa to the ends of the earth – Europe, Asia, the Americas, the U.P! The average American spends nine to ten hours a day sitting or driving cars. We’re becoming wimps. If we were built to drive cars, we’d have only one foot!

Google “benefits of walking.” Walking helps you lose weight, reduces stress (lowering blood pressure), decreases anger and hostility (makes you nicer), and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. A regular 15-30-45 minute walk is one of the best (cheapest) and easiest things you can do for your health.

Walkers think more creatively than sitters. Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, increases metabolism by burning extra calories, and prevents muscle loss. Walking triggers your body to release natural pain-killing endorphins. A 10-minute walk may be as good as a 45-minute workout to relieve the symptoms of anxiety. You don’t need to slog it out on a treadmill at the gym for these benefits.

Walking in nature, specifically, reduces dwelling over negative experiences, which reduces the risk of depression. Walks with a partner, a neighbor, or a good friend help you feel connected, which boosts mood. Just twelve minutes of walking can increase joviality, vigor, attentiveness, and self-confidence versus the same time spent sitting. The more steps people take during a day, the better their mood tends to be. Walkers are happier!

Since walking doesn’t wear down your body much, it doesn’t require recovery time. For those who are fit, walking is a phenomenal maintenance activity, keeping you healthier into old age.

So, instead of driving to a gym to work out, walk to the gym’s front door. Do Not Enter. Shout out loud, “I walk!” Turn around. Walk home. Your workout is done. No monthly fee!

Start with a walk in the neighborhood. Take it easy at first. Bring the kids. Be neighborly. Walk to the local grocery. Why drag 4,000 lbs of automobile along to buy a 10 lb. bag of goodies? Grab a comfortable recycled bag or backpack or borrow a neighbor’s wagon or a stroller for strolling, and walk. Plan weekends exploring many of the local short or long foot trails awaiting your footprints. (https://www.traillink.com/state/mi-trails/.)

Ready for an adventure? The Iron Ore Heritage Trail traverses 47 miles across the Marquette Iron Range. It’s an outdoor linear mining history museum where you exercise your body and mind with interpretive signage, artwork and connections to museums along the way. http://ironoreheritage.com/

The North Country Trail (NCT) is a 4,600 mile footpath stretching from eastern New York to central North Dakota. As of early 2017, 3,009 miles of the trail are in place, passing through seven states. The longest stretch is 1,000+ miles split evenly between upper and lower Michigan.

In the beautiful Upper Peninsula, the NCT stretches 167 miles from the Mackinac Bridge to the Luce/Alger County border, just east of Grand Marais; 188 miles from Grand Marais through Marquette to the Marquette/Baraga County Line on the eastern border of Craig Lake State Park; then 192 more miles to the MI/WI border near Ironwood. (https://northcountrytrail.org/trail/michigan-upper/)

Do it all or maybe just a part, or just one part at a time. Walking outdoors exposes you to natural sunlight. Walking with groups of friends outdoors exposes you to fun and creative thought.

Buy less gasoline. Walk. You’ll be happier!

Steve Waller’s family lives in a wind- and solar-powered home. He has been involved with conservation and energy issues since the 1970s and frequently teaches about energy. He and a partner own a U.P. wind/solar business called Lean Clean Energy. He can be reached at Steve@UPWallers.net.

Excerpted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Summer 2018 Issue, copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

 

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Green Living: Answer the Call of the Wild with Your Phone! By Steve Waller

As spring springs, birds migrate, buds blossom, bees buzz, and green returns to the forests. That clean, earthy aroma blows your winter blues away. The temptation to get off the winter-slumber sofa and be there when spring happens is irresistible. Take your phone along, not just to tell your friends to get off their butts and meet you outside, but to help you find interesting living things to photograph with your phone and upload to iNaturalist.org.

I’ve been using iNaturalist.org (iNat) since last summer. It’s amazing. Download the free iNaturalist app (App Store or Google Play). Take a picture of any living thing with your phone through the app (no humans or pets). You get a personalized species life list in your phone and online of what you saw, when you saw it and where you saw it – anywhere in the world! Your phone’s time and GPS coordinates are automatically recorded in the photo.

Even if you can’t identify the flower or critter in your photo, iNat’s amazing artificial intelligence engine will quickly analyze your photo and find the name for you! If your photo is good, the artificial intelligence is really good at identification. Photos can also be imported into iNat from Facebook, Picasa, or Flicker.

But wait, there’s much more waiting online when you get home. Go to your free iNat account. Someone else, a naturalist, an actual human, another iNat user has probably viewed one or more of your online photos and either agrees with your ID or corrected it. I’ve had iNat users from all over the United States and Canada, Italy, Norway, even Australia help ID my photos! Many of them are experts in their fields.

If two or more people agree with the name of the thing in your photo, it moves from “Needs ID” to “Research Grade” and can be used by researchers and organizations around the world who scientifically monitor and study nature. Your phone photos can contribute to the world of citizen science!

My Painted Lady and Red Admiral butterfly photos from Marquette are migrants from Texas. I never knew that! Those observations were found in iNat and used by the Vanessa Migration Project and by eButterfly North America.

While online, view the iNat map to discover instantly a species’ range, who else found it, when and where. Or specify any map location and all the observations by all the observers in that location will appear. Go to Marquette County, MI, US (my area) and you’ll see my observations along with others. View the “People” tab. My avatar is “nonfictionsteve.” iNat built a fantastic 2017 Year in Review page for me featuring my photos: inaturalist.org/stats/2017/nonfictionsteve.

I strive for extra high-quality photos with a DSLR camera and lenses, but that’s just my choice. Many iNat observers just use a phone camera with great results. Just be sure your subject mostly fills the photo frame, is reasonably clear, and is well lit. Use the phone’s focus and flash when necessary for a good exposure. Remember, you are trying to upload an image that can be recognized from millions of life forms on this planet: bugs, plants, reptiles, amphibians, fish, etc., so details are important.

Once you’re familiar with iNat’s features and power, you could host a “BioBlitz” where a group of friends, children, or adults can iNat one location en masse and photograph 50 to 100 species in just an hour. It’s educational, amazing, and fun.

Grab your phone. Get outside. Connect with a community of over 500,000 scientists and naturalists worldwide who can help you learn more about nature. For details, visit inaturalist.org/pages/getting+started.

Steve Waller’s family lives in a wind and solar-powered home. He has been involved with conservation and energy issues since the 1970s and frequently teaches about energy. He and a partner own a U.P. wind/solar business called Lean Clean Energy. He can be reached at Steve@UPWallers.net

Reprinted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Spring 2018 Issue, copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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Going Green… Permanently, by Nicole Walton

You recycle. Every bit of plastic and paper you can find is collected and set aside on trash day because you can’t stand the thought of it sitting in a landfill for the next billion years. It just doesn’t sit right.

But have you ever considered what will happen when you shuffle off your mortal coil? How will your body or ashes commune with the earth when you’ve gone on to bigger and better things? Will your final disposition be environmentally sound?

The movement to be more earth-friendly is manifesting itself as “green burials” in today’s funeral homes. People are choosing alternatives to the traditional embalming process, caskets, and final resting place in an effort to be kinder to Mother Earth.

Mark Canale is the owner and director of Canale Funeral Homes in Marquette, Gwinn and Ishpeming. He says in a green burial the embalming fluid normally used would be replaced with one that degrades naturally. Traditional fluid contains formaldehyde, which is excellent for preservation but is also highly toxic. The casket would be made of plain wood, wicker, or bamboo, and would not be held together with any nails, bolts, or screws. It would be placed directly in the ground instead of in a concrete vault. Cremated remains would be put in some type of biodegradable urn.

Canale says he’s all for green burials, being a recycler himself. “Funeral directors sell burial vaults, but you’re putting a piece of concrete in the ground, and the concrete continues to cure for over 100 years and it will never, ever disintegrate,” he says. “So you’re putting all that stuff in the ground for what? The purpose of the burial vault was to prevent the ground from collapsing over a period of time, creating a sunken grave and additional cemetery maintenance, but I’m one for using wood caskets and putting them directly in the earth, or going the green burial route.”

Most people in the Upper Peninsula aren’t aware of the options they have when it comes to recycling their most precious possession. Canale says the green burial movement is growing in metropolitan areas, but not many of his clients in this region question him about it. He has, however, brought up the possibility of creating green spaces with local cemetery directors. “They all have plenty of acreage to set aside a little plot of land for green burial, which would mean that there may be walkways but there can be no bituminous or concrete, no roadways, no grass to mow,” he says. “So if you buy a little section of land for your eventual burial place, you receive a GPS coordinate.” Some green burial areas don’t allow any markings at all, but others will let people indicate the spot where the remains of their loved ones lie with a simple, natural stone.

As far as money is concerned, going green would cost less than a traditional burial. Canale says he doesn’t know exactly how much a lot would be since area cemeteries don’t offer green space as yet. He’s guessing it would range from $1,000 to $1,200. A traditional casket costs roughly $800, and dispensing with the vault is a $1,300 to $1,400 savings. Canale says some cemeteries may even allow a body to be placed directly into the earth without a casket; it depends on what the cemetery draws up in its bylaws for green burial.

If it’s not a traditional burial, is it any less sacred? Not according to Canale. “No. If anything, it’s probably a little bit more sacred and has every bit of meaning because that’s where your loved one is interred—their early remains—so whether it be in a fancy cemetery with a well-manicured lawn and a fancy granite marker, or whether it’s in an area where there are plenty of trees and the leaves fall and they’re never raked up, it’s still sacred ground,” he says.

Should you want something a bit larger than a stone for a marker, something that will contribute to the earth’s well-being, you now have the option of purchasing a biodegradable “egg” and planting a tree above it.

Capsula Mundi was created by two Italian designers who wanted to give people a different approach to the way they think about death. Their project focuses on the biological cycle of transformation. According to their website, “In a culture far removed from nature, overloaded with objects for the needs of daily life and focused on youth, death is often dealt with as a taboo. We believe that this unavoidable passage, so meaningful, is not the end, but the beginning of a way back to nature. Inspired by these reflections, we decided to redesign the coffin – an object entirely left out of the design world – using ecological materials, and [non-religious] and universal life symbols, such as the egg and the tree.”

A small, egg-shaped pod made from an organic plastic holds ashes of the deceased. It’s buried like a seed in the earth, and a tree of the person’s choice is planted above it to serve as a memorial. The pods’ designers envision cemeteries allowing space for “sacred forests” that connect the sky to the earth, where family and friends continue to care for the tree and honor the departed.

Capsula Mundi for the body is still in the beginning stages, as that type of burial isn’t legal in all countries. The body of the deceased is placed in the fetal position inside a large pod and is buried just like the urn. For more information, go to http://www.capsulamundi.it/en.

A funeral with all the traditional accoutrements may make us feel better, but if we want to help the earth as well as respect our bodies as our souls’ temples, green is the way to go.

Nicole Walton is the news director at Public Radio 90 in Marquette and a freelance writer. She loves to hug trees

Reprinted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Spring 2018 Issue, copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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