Boats killed fewer manatees this year than last. That’s the good news. The bad: more than 800 of Florida’s manatees died in 2013, a record number. Everywhere, the environmental news is grim. And yes, governments, corporations, etc., must make the big fixes, but it’s time all of us did our part.
So here are five New Year’s resolutions you may wish to jot down.
*Learn to turn off your irrigation system after rain. Where I live (Coconut Grove), home sprinklers run no matter what. If you (and you know who you are) want to be environmentally and socially responsible, go to the computer-controlled irrigation system control box and learn how to turn the dial to “off.”
*For insect and disease problems: Turn to rubbing alcohol, Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap, Organocide (fish and sesame oil), and Volk oil for insect control. Hydrogen peroxide can be used against fungus. Vinegar kills weeds. Use a weed torch: attach it to a small tank of propane and flame them away (but do not use for weeds in mulch). This is especially effective for brick driveways and walkways. Hand pull!! Now there’s a novel idea.
*Take plastic bags and foam cartons (from eggs, for example) to Publix where bins are kept for them. They will be recycled. The City of Miami does not allow plastic bags in recycle bins. (Forward thinking, Miami.)
*If you don’t want to make the plastic run to Publix, then for heaven’s sake stop using plastic bags. Between 12,000 and 24,000 TONS of plastic is consumed each year by fish. Plastic and other marine debris are filling our oceans. The North Pacific garbage patch is twice the size of Texas. Plastic bags are killing sea turtles and sea birds. Visit the Turtle Hospital in Marathon in the Florida Keys and you will find heartache and heroics, with many turtles brought in because of ingested plastic, meaning gas builds up in their intestines and they cannot dive to eat sea grass. Take your own cloth bags to the grocery and quit the plastic habit.
* Read Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Sixth Extinction,” which will be published in February.