There Is an Easy Fix, but We're Not Doing it

After seeing the staggering numbers of homeless people on the streets and in shelters within the US, i'd like to think that most people's first reaction is What can we do to fix this problem?
Luckily, there are people out there working hard to come up with feasible solutions. After conducting some research myself, I found that there is a quick and easy fix.  

Three news sources - The Guardian,  Bloomberg.com, & The Week - all give comically simplistic solutions to this worldwide crisis. 

Dawn Foster gives her quick fix in The Guardian.  She claims "What is infuriating is that we know how to solve homelessness: by giving people affordable, secure homes." 

Over on Bloomberg.com, Noah Smith gives another astonishingly simple solution.  He writes "Homelessness is a tragedy the US can Afford to Fix".  His claim is that the US is spending money in all the wrong places.  He argues "If temporarily homeless people were housed in temporary housing, and if each temporary residence were occupied half the time, homelessness of all kinds could be eliminated for about $10 billion a year. That’s less than a seventh of what the government spends on food stamps."  

Finally, Ryan Cooper shares a similar plea in The Week: "Solving Homelessness is easy.  So why don't we just do it?".  Cooper cites "Utah tried just handing such people their own apartment in a program called Housing First and combined that with regular attention from social workers, hey presto — the state decreased chronic homelessness by 91 percent."

All of these solutions make perfect sense.  They are quick, easy, and seemingly cost friendly. What is the cause of homelessness?  People not having a home, of course.  So, why not start at the source of the problem? 

Read the full articles here: 









Homelessness: Still On the Rise

By Cole Gerig, July 12, 2018

(Photo Taken by George Hodan; Part of Public Domain)

When determining how much of a problem homelessness is for the United States in general, it's important to note that the amount of homeless in the U.S. is currently on the rise. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Annual Homeless Assessment Report in December of 2017 the total number of homeless people in the U.S. rose by .7% and the amount of un-sheltered homeless rose by 9%, both since 2016 (Benedict). Even more upsetting is that according to the same organization, in 2017, on a given night, around 554,000 people were homeless with around 193,000 un-sheltered, meaning "living on the streets", without any "emergency shelters, transitional housing, or Safe Havens" (Benedict). the surprising part is that this is all contrary with the growth in the U.S. economy during 2017 where during the third-quarter, "gross domestic product expanded at a 3.3 percent annual rate", being considered "the fastest pace since the third quarter of 2014" (Mutikani). In general, even if the U.S. is in a strong place economically, that doesn't mean that homeless numbers are going down and in fact, they are still going up. It makes one wonder if the problem with homelessness has very little to do with economics at all.

Sources:

Benedict, Kizley. "Estimating the Number of Homeless in America." The DataFace, 21 January          2018, http://thedataface.com/2018/01/public-health/american-homelessness. Accessed 12 July 2018.

Mutikani, Lucia. "U.S. third-quarter economic growth fastest in three years." Reuters, 29 Nov.  2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-gdp/u-s-third-quarter-economic-growth-fastest-in-three-years-idUSKBN1DT1W7. Accessed 12 July 2018.

Project 'Clean Slate'

By RACHEL BUTLER, July 11th, 2018

(Homeless man holding up a sign)

In the city of Fort Worth, Texas a program called ‘Clean Slate’ has been implemented in order to help get the homeless population back on their feet. The program is funded through the city but run by Presbyterian Night Shelter, it's goal is to provide jobs to those who are homeless by having them collect the mass amounts of litter around the city. Fort Worth spends about $48,00 a year on the program and has plans to increase the budget to employ more people and handle bigger tasks. Last year, the program was able to employ about 40 homeless citizens who then collected about 3,856 tons of trash from the streets. Those who become employed are able to work in the program as long as they wish but the main goal is to give them opportunities to slowly transition into the workforce. It creates a clean environment for both people and wildlife, along with helping the homeless population because less dense. Other major cities have slowly started to implement similar programs, such as Albuquerque, New Mexico, Los Angeles City, CA and Portland, Oregon.

If you wish to learn more about Clean Slate please visit: https://cleanslatedfw.org/

Sources:
https://www.dallasnews.com/news/fort-worth/2018/01/27/fort-worth-pays-homeless-help-clean-citys-streets
https://unitedwaytarrant.org/award-winning-program-helps-the-homeless/

Plastic Pollution vs. Animal Life

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/grey-seal-horsey-beach-norfolk-england-771362797
Today billions of pounds of plastic waste can be found in the ocean. About 40% of the oceans surfaces are covered by it. Scientists believe there is somewhere between 15 and 51 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the ocean, and have suggested that there is not an entire square mile of surface ocean on the planet that is free of plastic. Thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, and other marine animals are being killed due to ingestion or by becoming tangled in the plastic.
In the North Pacific 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic are consumed by fish which can cause injury or death, as well as be transferred up the food chain. One fourth of all fish caught in the California fish markets have been had plastic in their guts.

For birds the impact is a little different. They accidentally consume plastic, or feed it to their chicks which ultimately takes up capacity in their stomachs causing them to eat less and eventually starve. It is believed that about 60% of all species of seabird have ingested plastic, by 2050 this number is expected to reach 99%.

For larger marine life plastic pollution impacts them in much the same way as it does other marine life. One, it can ensnare them causing injury and strangulation. Two, it can be ingested causing injury, illness, and death. The plastic also can be ingested inadvertently by consuming other marine life that has eaten plastic. In this way plastic concentration in marine life compounds as it goes up the food chain.

Plastic Pollution doesn't just harm marine life, but also has a negative impact on land animals too. In a lot of the ways plastic impacts marine life it also impacts life on land. Plastic pollution is abundant and while land animals might be less likely to get tangled in plastic, except birds, animals are still getting stuck in buckets. Land animals are also accidentally consuming plastic and in a similar way to marine life this causes illness, death, and plastic concentrations being passed up the food chain.

Let us not forget plastic can is also be harmful to the environment and humans too. Hope is not lost. People need to come together and stop plastic pollution. Conscientiously avoid single use plastic packaging. Use reusable alternatives to plastic like metal water bottles. Make sure to properly dispose of plastic that you do use. Helping reduce the amount of outgoing plastic pollution is one step, the other is making concentrated clean up efforts. Doing these two things can reduce plastic waste and have a positive impact on the planet and its inhabitants.

For an opportunity to take action follow this link to a petition to protect wildlife from plastic pollution: https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ocean_plastics/

For stories of individual animals that have been negatively impacted by plastic pollution follow this link: http://www.prijatelji-zivotinja.hr/index.en.php?id=934

Sources:
https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ocean_plastics/
http://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/ways-plastic-pollution-impacts-animals-on-land/
http://www.prijatelji-zivotinja.hr/index.en.php?id=934

Tricky Plastic Items


By LENCIA HOLMES June, 13th 2018

Image Source

For the American, Canadian, and UK environmental advocates out there, it may come as a surprise that plastic recycling may not be a one stop, throw it in the bin experience. While plastic bottles and cartons can be recycled in your curbside recycle bin, plastic films are recycled differently. Many may not even know plastic bags, case films, produce bags, and other polyethylene (PE) materials can be recycled. They can! Yet, it may require drop off at a local grocery store or recycling center. Find many local drop off locations here – US/CA and UK. A short breakdown of what is and isn’t recyclable PE material is shown below. 
  


For more US/CA plastic recycling specifics, check out this page.
For more UK plastic recycling specifics, check out this page.

As we all try to expand our reach with plastic reduction, share your local resources in the comments below especially if you live outside the US and Canada. We know our Russian and Middle Eastern friends are eager to join the movement as well.

10 Things You Should Know about Lush Packaging

lush
1. Naked: Thirty-five percent of Lush products are sold naked, with no packaging, so zero-waste washing is absolutely possible.
2. Post-consumer plastic: Lush products in pots and bottles are sold in 100% post-consumer plastic. Their plastic bottles can be recycled through your city’s recycling program, but save and return your black pots to your local Lush store for…
3. Free face masks! Did you know you can return five clean black pots to any Lush store in exchange for a free fresh face mask? They chip them down and remold them into new black pots in a closed recycling loop.
4. Continuous improvements: In 2012, Lush made their clear bottles thinner by 10% to reduce our plastic usage. In 2016 alone, this saved almost 13,500 pounds of plastic!
Intergalactic in a plastic-free, compostable bag
Intergalactic in a plastic-free, compostable bag

5. Knot-wraps:
 In 2010, Lush phased out their gift wrapping service and introduced knot-wraps. These square scarves are made of organic cotton or a silky fabric made from recycled plastic bottles, and are a great green alternative to wrapping paper. (They make really cute accessories, too!)
6. Recyclable or reusable: Lush gifts come in fabric knot-wraps, recyclable cardboard boxes or reusable metal tins: no matter which one you receive, its packaging is recyclable or reusable. Lush mail order packages are also packed in 100% recycled (and recyclable) cardboard boxes.
7. Lush packing peanuts: Lush uses plant-based packing peanuts to protect the products in our gifts and mail order packages. Unlike Styrofoam, these are 100% biodegradable: to dispose of them, just toss them in your compost.
8. Nope, that’s not plastic: Naked products in Lush gifts and mail order packages come in bags that look like plastic, but are made of 100% biodegradable cellophane. You can toss these in your compost, too!
9. Ocean plastic: Lush is partnering with the Ocean Legacy Foundation to use recovered plastic from the oceans as a material in our bottles and pots.
10. Lush's catalog: Even Lush's catalog, which has information about all of our products and gifts, is printed on 100% recycled paper.

Tokyo's Way of Recycling its Waste

In Tokyo, the Minato Incineration Plant house a state-of-the-art recycling plant, playing a key role in efforts to promote sustainable living in the capital of Japan. Every week, thousands of plastic crates are placed along the streets of Tokyo to collect recyclable materials. These crates are organized and meticulously separated based on the appropriate receptacles.
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When crates full of glass containers enter the facility, they undergo a process where containers are sorted and organized until they are smashed into shards. The shards are collected by recycling companies and made into road paving material or bottles once again.
Image result for recycling japan glass

Aside from glass smashing, the plant's activities are mainly focused on compacting, crushing and washing. Cans and tins make their way through magnetized sorting to separate steel and aluminum and then compression. The metals are remade into cans, auto parts or construction materials.

Plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), are compacted into 17-kilogram bales holding the equivalent of 200 1.5 liter bottles. After processing, the PET can be used to make new bottles, fabrics and stationary goods.

The heaviest of the bales made at the Minato plant are fashioned from recyclable plastics such as food packaging, bento trays, shampoo bottles and cup noodle containers. After the items are sorted, they are put through a giant compacting machine and bundled into 280-kilogram bales wrapped in white vinyl. The bales are then shipped to companies that turn them into new plastic products or chemical resources.

Minato Ward currently recycles about 29.8% of its recyclable materials and the current goal is 42% by 2021. Some 26% of burnable garbage and 12% of nonburnable garbage can be recycled. Recycling is a massive industry in Tokyo. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government says it is promoting the '3R' strategy of reducing, reusing and recycling resources to continue to work with citizens and businesses to bring awareness.
Image result for recycling japan

Read more about recycling in Tokyo:
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2017/06/10/environment/plastic-fantastic-tokyo-recycle-waste/#.WyDB0zNKjGI
http://factsanddetails.com/japan/cat26/sub162/item869.html 
https://soranews24.com/2014/05/15/recycling-in-japan-or-reasons-to-get-it-right-and-avoid-eternal-shame/

Beat Plastic Beyond World Environment Day

By LENCIA HOLMES June, 13th 2018

Image Source

You may have seen tags like: #BeatPlasticPollution   #OnePlasticFreeDay   #PlasticFreeLiving   #PlanetOrPlastic around this month as June 5th is World Environment Day. Now is a good time to remember that we all have a part to play in reducing waste and securing resources for future generations. The short video below highlights how plastic pollution has and is projected to influence the world.   



Reducing single use plastic is a start to significantly reducing plastic pollution. You can begin making this change today! You don’t have to do it alone either. Be part of the movement and share your commitment with others. Lead with your actions, and use your voice to let your government know that environmental issues and legislative action can not wait.

Here’s some background about plastic’s history and steps you can take to reduce usage. There are worldwide events and initiates you can find too. Or if you want to begin an event yourself, here’s some downloadable event kits to get you started. Let’s make things better a day at a time everyone!