While visiting my parents in Michigan, we had been enjoying watching a pair of Canada geese and their five goslings. Each day the family of geese followed a simple routine, time for swimming, searching for food along the grass and water’s edge, resting in the cattails, all the while the parents were ever watchful for danger. One morning, though, we noticed something odd. With a pair of binoculars we could see that one of the adult geese had plastic rings from a six-pack of soda encircling its graceful neck.
Plastic. It’s everywhere in the news these days…Masses of plastic swirl in the ocean; micro plastics ingested by fish; plastic toothbrushes, plastic straws, plastic packaging, plastic bags, plastic bottles. Single-use plastic—a convenience that never disintegrates, just breaks down into tiny pieces. We use it, we toss it, and now we are literally swimming in a disaster of our own making.
Overwhelming? Absolutely. But in reality, every day we have the opportunity to begin to change the tide. It begins with choice. A clear message can be sent simply by the choices we make; the purchases made at the check-out counter; the emails sent to companies requesting non-plastic packaging; the contacts made with political representatives to let them know this issue is important to you.
This July, you can join a global effort that is going local in Grand Marais: Plastic-free July. The initiative began in Australia, and it has grown to include participants from over 140 countries. Folks from around the world are pledging to stop using single-use plastic for one month. The goal is to heighten awareness about the amount of plastic we each use, and to encourage individuals to start asking for alternative options, and maybe start a habit that will last a lifetime. To take the plastic-free pledge and to learn more, visit: plasticfreejuly.org.
As for the goose, it’s still raising its family, but the ring of plastic remains.—Jeanne Wright
TAKE THE PLASTIC-FREE JULY PLEDGE
Join a plastic-free activity happening throughout the month of July in Grand Marais. Learn about plastic alternatives, learn to make your own yogurt, sew your own sandwich bag. Look for these activities (some scheduled some just “pop-up” demos) around town. All activities are free and all are welcome.
July 8: 2-7 p.m. Community Sewing Bee—Sponsored by Northwoods Fiber Guild @ North House Folk School Blue Building. All welcome; no experience required. Help sew cloth bags for the Grand Marais Library. Drop-in to help or learn. On-going activities from creating your own bag from a t-shirt to sewing your own sandwich bag.
July 11: 4:30-6 p.m. Make your own Yogurt: Ditch the plastic container—Demonstration @ Local Food Market, Cook County Community Center.
Every Thursday (4, 11, 18, 25): 4:30-6 p.m. Local Food Market @ Cook County Community Center. Purchase local produce without the packaging.
July 13: 7:30 p.m. The Path from Practical Plastic to Plastic Pandemic—Sea Grant presentation by Cindy Hagley @ North House Folk School, Red Building. What we know and why we care about plastics in the greatest of the Great Lakes.
July 17: 10 a.m.-Noon Weaving with Plastic—Demonstration @ Harbor Park (Library, if inclement weather).
July 30: 10-11 a.m. Furoshiki: Art of wrapping with fabric—Demonstration @ Harbor Park (Library, if inclement weather).
Other Pop-up Events to happen at random.