Wednesday, October 31, 2018

This Black Activist Was One of the Richest Men in Early America


This is a story that is fresh to me and it should not be.  Our collective amnesia needs to be challenged..

It is a remarkable tale how first two human beings dealt with each other as complete equals and how the  child who heard the Declaration of Independence read for the first time made its precepts his own life's work.

That is why the Declaration is joined at the hip with the end of slavery and Black civil rights.  And Black civil rights freed everyone else as well.  Today it is a battle well won regardless of liberal backsliders in particular pushing a power agenda.  In a few days we will see the emergence of the Black republican and the Hispanic republican factions of the united Republican party.

This could well be the most significant Midterm election in history and could bury racism forever.  This will be a global victory for a man named James Forten and that example alone is enough to change everything everywhere.
This Black Activist Was One of the Richest Men in Early America

Because a Black sailmaker was helping to lead the anti-slavery movement long before it was popular in America.

In the spring of 1842, several thousand Philadelphians poured into the streets for one of the largest funerals in the city’s history. It was a remarkable sight: An interracial procession that included everyone from poor Black laborers to wealthy White merchants to sea captains and shippers. On that March day in Philadelphia, one observer wrote, “complexional distinctions and prejudices seemed … forgotten.” One visitor from Great Britain, who happened to be in the city that day, was awestruck by the integrated funeral. He inquired of the deceased, “Who was this man?”

That man, James Forten, had lived a life in early America that was hard for many in his time, or even for us in retrospect, to imagine. In an era in which Black people in America were oppressed and many enslaved, Forten managed to beat the odds to become a rich sailmaker and amass a large personal fortune. But Forten’s story is not just one of a Black man who rose to be one of the wealthiest in Philadelphia, but of a devoted patriot who believed in making the ideals of his country a reality for all of its citizens — and, as we cover in this week’s episode of OZY’s hit podcast, The Thread, one who used his great wealth and privilege to help fuel a movement that would alter the course of his country’s future.
Forten enlisted to fight for a prospective country that did not even consider him one of its citizens.
Forten was born in Philadelphia in 1766 in modest circumstances, but legally free. It was a time of turbulence and revolution, and the young man witnessed a British occupation of his city and the buildup to war. The 10-year-old Forten even stood in the crowd on a hot day in July 1776 and heard the Declaration of Independence read to the public for the first time — an experience that remained with him his entire life. 

And when the American colonies went to war with the British, Forten enlisted to fight for a prospective country that, despite its “all men are created equal” rhetoric, did not even consider him one of its citizens. “He really does have to decide as a person of African-American descent where his loyalties are, and it would have been easy to say, ‘Just wake me up when the revolution is over,’” says Julie Winch, author of A Gentleman of Color: The Life of James Forten. But Forten joined the patriot cause, she explains, “convinced it will eventually bring about a fairer and more just society.”

Forten was just 14 years old when he signed up for the war effort as a sailor. After several years of fighting, including a stint as a prisoner of war aboard a British vessel, Forten returned to Philadelphia — where he would become one of the most successful Black businessmen in the new nation. Starting as an apprentice to a White sailmaker named Robert Bridges, Forten gradually won his mentor’s trust, which in turn helped him win the trust of the sea captains and ship owners who would turn to the young Black sailmaker for their sails once Bridges retired. Forten built a thriving business over the years, one with an interracial workforce and the goal of helping Black common laborers make the leap to skilled artisans the way he himself had once done.

But Forten didn’t stop there. “He could have simply taken the money and forgotten the fate of the majority of Black people in his hometown,” says Winch, “but that was not the belief system he subscribed to.” Forten pumped both his time and his money into the twin causes of abolitionism and civil rights, and his pursuit of these goals quickly made him into a leading spokesman in the Black community — and a major donor to those seeking to advance related causes. 

And so, when a 25-year-old editor and fervent abolitionist named William Lloyd Garrison approached Forten for help in starting an anti-slavery newspaper called The Liberator in 1830, Forten didn’t hesitate to back the effort. Forten and Garrison became close friends, and Forten, then in his 60s, helped provide the editor with not only money but also introductions to Philadelphia’s Black leaders and a steady stream of inside information. Forten even penned his own column for The Liberator, which would become the most important anti-slavery publication in America, under the pen name “A Colored Philadelphian.” 

When Forten died a decade later, praise and condolences came in from all across the country and the world. From Boston, it was Garrison who perhaps summed up his friend, patron and mentor best: “He was a man of rare qualities, and worthy to be held in veneration to the end of time.”

Study uncovers new link between neonicotinoid pesticide exposure and bumblebee decline

Oh jolly good.  This spells out the underlying mechanism driving pollinator collapse which was readily apparent through the meta stats.  Off course the peddlers changed the subject to ill defined specifics to avoid prosecution.
It is extremely annoying to see legal process built into a sucesfful business plan.  After all it worked rather well for the tobacco industry and showed everyone how to do it.

Roundup fell on its own sword last week and even that i suspect was Trump's doing as i am sure that the fix was in.  Yet they had a clean 55 year run at maximizing the damage. Now we will see years of adjustment and expensive lawsuits.  Sorry if i am not sympathetic.  This legal gag must end.
Study uncovers new link between neonicotinoid pesticide exposure and bumblebee decline
 Public Release: 17-Oct-2018
Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute show that queens and males are greatly affected by regular exposure to a low dose of a widely used pesticide, threatening the long-term stability and survival of wild bee populations

Worcester, Mass. - Adding to growing evidence that pesticide use may be contributing to the decline of many bumblebee species across North America, a new study reveals that daily consumption of even small doses of a widely used class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids reduces the survival of queen and male bees, which are critical to the survival of wild populations. The study also found that exposure to the chemicals alters the expression of genes regulating biological functions such as locomotion, reproduction, immunity, and learning and memory, suggesting that neonicotinoids may be having a greater negative impact on the viability of wild bumblebee populations than previously thought.

The study ("One size does not fit all: Caste and sex differences in the response of bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) to chronic oral neonicotinoid exposure"), by Robert J. Gegear, assistant professor of biology and biotechnology at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), and Melissa Mobley, who worked on the research as a PhD candidate at WPI (she received her degree in May 2017), was published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE. It is the first study to examine how oral exposure to field-realistic doses of neonicotinoids differentially affects queen, male, and worker bees at the individual level. Since each type of bee makes a separate, but vital, contribution to the stability of wild populations, understanding how each responds to neonicotinoids can help establish agricultural practices and regulations that can better protect native bees and other pollinators and preserve the critical role they play in maintaining ecosystem function and biodiversity, Gegear said.

"There are approximately 4,000 bee species native to North America," he noted, "and many are in rapid decline. For example two of the 10 bumblebee species that were historically present in Massachusetts are now gone and a few more are headed in the same direction. As our bumblebees and other native pollinators disappear, so too will our native flowering plants and the animals that use them for food, shelter, and nesting sites.

"We need to understand all the factors that are contributing to the decline of wild bees, but the evidence is mounting against neonicotinoids in agricultural and urban areas. Because neonicotinoids are readily translocated from the soil to the nectar and pollen of wildflowers growing in these areas and can persist in the environment for long periods of time, they pose a potential hazard to wild bumblebees at every stage of their annual life cycle."

Gegear said that previous studies of the effects of neonicotinoids on bumblebees have overwhelmingly focused on how they affect the day-to-day success of the colony. "Focusing on the colony stage makes sense when you are concerned about crop pollination," he said, "but does not provide a comprehensive view of neonicotinoid effects within an ecological context because it ignores other life stages that have a direct impact on the dynamics of wild populations."

For example, he said, focusing on the colony places the emphasis on the survival of worker bees, which account for the majority of the population at the colony stage. But important life cycle stages occur beyond the colony and involve only the queen and the males, which are responsible for mating, overwintering, and establishing new colonies in the spring. For this reason, Gegear and Mobley chose to use individual-based assays to measure and compare the chronic oral toxicity effects of field-realistic doses of neonicotinoids among queens, males, and workers.

They found that while exposure to the insecticide reduced the survival of queens and males over a seven-day period (with a larger fraction of males succumbing than queens), it had virtually no effect on the survival of workers at comparable doses. Gegear said that workers may have a greater ability to detoxify the chemical than males and queens. In fact, since the workers produce the honey that feeds the other bees, their ability to detoxify pesticides may shield the queens and males from exposure while they are in the hive. However, when the males and the queens leave the colony at the end of the cycle, they need to find food to prepare for mating and overwintering, and therefore can be directly exposed to the pesticide while visiting contaminated wildflowers.

To better understand how neonicotinoids affect bumblebees at the molecular level, Gegear and Mobley then fed workers and males sub-lethal doses of clothianidin and used RNA sequencing to determine how the chemical affected the expression of genes thought to be involved in detoxification and other major biological processes. They found that even at ultra-low doses, neonicotinoids can have profound effects on genes regulating important physiological and behavioral processes in bumblebees, a finding consistent with a growing body of studies at the organismal level.

Gegear says the study findings show, for the first time, that exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides at normal environmental levels has the potential to negatively impact wild bumblebees at every life stage, thus accelerating population decline. "Not only do neonicotinoids have the potential to reduce the number of queens establishing nests at the beginning of the cycle and the number of males and queens available to mate at the end of the cycle, our work shows that they also have the potential to reduce the ability of males to produce sperm, the ability of queens to acquire floral resources, and the ability of queens and males to fight off infection, all of which can compromise population stability."

He said the study also emphasizes the importance of expanding research on the impact of pesticides on bumblebees to include the effects of field-realistic exposures on all types of bees and at all stages of the life cycle. "For example," he said, "most regulatory decisions on neonicotinoids are based on acute toxicity levels in managed honeybee workers. We've shown that this approach misses critical impacts that can significantly affect the survival of wild bees, and by extension, the long-term viability of many natural ecosystems."

Tree rings show how the tropics shifted over time

This methodology needs to be expanded into all possible locations world wide.  We know that climate shifts and that it is most often shifted directly by volcanism.  
The tree ring data is able to reach back through bogs for thousands of years although correlation is always a difficulty.  Yet the resolution nor suggested can overcome this.  In the event this represents ample work for thousands of scientists and the payoff will be a high resolution global map that also tracks along the time dimension as well.
It is one thing to pin down 1159 BC as the year that the Atlantean world ended.  That was as big as it is possible to be.  Everything else is not so big and often leaves no footprint.  Even that does not confirm if both Atlantis ( Azores ) and Poseidia ( Bahama Bank ) and Lyonese sank at the same time.  It is easier to anticipate stages..
Tree rings show how the tropics shifted over time

October 17th, 2018 Posted by Mari

For the first time, scientists have traced the north-south shifts of the northern-most edge of the tropics dating back 800 years.

The movement of the tropical boundary affects the locations of Northern Hemisphere deserts including the Sonoran, Mohave, and Saharan. Those deserts sit just north of the tropical belt, which includes the subtropics.

Before now, scientists had information about the location of the tropical belt going back to around 1930, when reliable instrumental record-keeping began.

On a standard map, the tropical belt spans roughly 30 degrees north latitude to 30 degrees south latitude. However, the new research reveals that from the year 1203 to the year 2003, the northern edge of the tropics fluctuated up to 4 degrees north and south of the northern 30th parallel.

“Movement of the limit of the tropics is associated with changes in precipitation regimes,” says Raquel Alfaro Sánchez, who led the international research team while a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Arizona.

From 1568 to 1634, the tropics expanded to the north, the team found. That time period coincides with severe droughts and other disruptions of human societies, including the collapse of the Ottoman empire in Turkey, the end of the Ming Dynasty in China, and near abandonment of the Jamestown Colony in Virginia, says Alfaro Sánchez.

“Our results suggest that climate change was one of the contributing factors to those societal disruptions,” says coauthor Valerie Trouet, an associate professor of dendrochronology at the University of Arizona.

To track the northern boundary of the Earth’s tropical belt from 1203 to 2003, the team used the annual rings of trees from five different locations throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Researchers can figure out annual precipitation years into the past because each annual growth ring of a tree reflects the climate that year.

Having an 800-year history also allowed the researchers to connect rare events such as huge volcanic eruptions with subsequent changes in climate, says Trouet.

Massive volcanic eruptions cool the Earth because of all the fine particles and aerosols thrown into the atmosphere. The 1815 Tambora eruption in present-day Indonesia caused such cooling worldwide that 1816 was known in Europe as “the year without summer,” the team writes.

“We can see the contraction of the tropics after volcanic eruptions such as Tambora,” Trouet says.

Learning how aerosols affect climate is important because some researchers have proposed sending such particles into the atmosphere as a geoengineering solution to global warming.

Other researchers have documented that the tropics have been expanding northward since the 1970s, Alfaro Sánchez says. Because computer models of current and future climate models also show expansion of the tropical belt, but not as much as is actually occurring, the researchers wanted to develop a longer history of the movement of the tropical zone, Trouet says.

Researchers use tree rings to reconstruct past climate and climate changes for many locations around the globe. Those climate reconstructions extend hundreds of years into the past. To track past tropical belt movements, the researchers used existing tree-ring chronologies from five locations: 
The American West
The Tibetan Plateau
Northern Pakistan

To discern how the tree-ring records reflect changes in the tropical belt, the team looked at tree rings from 1930 to 2003 and compared the trees’ natural archive of climate to instrumental records of changes in the tropical belt.
Global climate in pre-industrial times

The researchers focused on recorded changes in Hadley cells, the huge atmospheric convective cells that circumnavigate the globe in the tropics. Trouet says Hadley cells are an important driver of atmospheric circulation.

Knowing how changes in Hadley cells correlated with changes in tree rings, the team then used multiple tree-ring chronologies to see how the tropics expanded and contracted as much as 800 years ago.

“This is the first reconstruction that went back to pre-industrial times,” Trouet says. “To know what the natural climate variability is, we need to go farther back in time than the last 150 years.”

The researchers found that the tropical belt has expanded and contracted on its own long before industrial times. Internal variability in the Earth’s climate system affects the movement of the tropics, Trouet says.

The current recorded expansion of the tropical belt since the 1970s is in part due to the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, other researchers report. This current expansion of the tropics may have important societal implications because the team found that past severe droughts were associated with persistent periods of tropical expansion, Alfaro Sánchez says.

The US National Science Foundation; the US Department of Agriculture; the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness; and the BNP-PARIBAS Foundation funded the research.

Additional coauthors are from the Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne, Australia; Istanbul University in Turkey; the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Honolulu; and the Instituto Argentino de Nivología, Glaciología y Ciencias Ambientales, Mendoza, Argentina.

3 Most Important Turning Points During Spiritual Awakening

This is worth reading through more than once.  Enlightenment is defined as detached contemplation.
It takes effort and practice to get there and been able to step away from your social net.  Meditation helps quell the mind and this allows directed contemplation.
It all gets easier with practice and support material such as scripture or problems in mathematics....

3 Most Important Turning Points During Spiritual Awakening

October 16th, 2018

By Frank M. Wanderer Ph.D.

Today, it is clear for almost every spiritual seeker that we live in the era of spiritual awakening. However, what is the awakening is often misinterpreted. Many people think that awakening and enlightenment are the same; a single-time event that happens once and you are done! On the contrary, the truth is that enlightenment is a process that is actually a series of awakenings.

Let’s take a look at three of the most important turning points during spiritual awakening:
Awakening from Identification

Every waking moment of our life fits a personal history with our own Self in its focus. Our life can only be interpreted within the framework of that history. The reason for that is that we identify with the voice of the Ego, the narrator of our own story, so closely that our personal history becomes the foundation of our entire life.

What does this identification mean? It means that we identify with a form (e. g. our name) that originally did not belong to us (we are all born without a name), but through identification this specific form has become a part of our existence.

A closer look at that personal history will, reveal that our internal story consists of a fabric of experiences and thoughts. Thoughts that explain our experiences, thoughts that we believe and with which we identified, thoughts that will thus provide the foundations of our self-determination.

Our personal history keeps us under its spell, in a hypnotic state in which all our attention is devoted to the inner voice and story it tells. In this way we give up our alertness, the world passes by us, because we only concentrate on the elements of reality that appear to confirm our personal history. We therefore lose our grip on the deeper dimensions of life. The deeper dimensions are present in our life, but we lose contact with them because of our lack of alertness.

The question may arise in us whether we are really identical with our own personal history, or perhaps we are more than that? Everybody has some vague suspicion that our personal history does not reflect reality, we are in fact at a deeper level than that.

When everything is apparently all right in our personal history, we achieve our goals, we are happy, and the vague suspicion vanishes entirely in us, and our identification with our personal history becomes more powerful. There are, however, moments in our life when nothing appears to succeed, so we are unhappy and we suffer. The suspicion then reinforces in us, and we tend to believe that we are more than the cluster of thoughts that constitute our personal history. We realize that we are more than mere thoughts.

If we become aware and conscious of our own personal history that we are telling ourselves, we have a chance to wake up from the hypnotic spell of our personal history. This is the first major turning point in the process of spiritual awakening.
Awakening from Ego

When the Consciousness identifies with a form, the Ego appears. The Ego always means some sort of an identification, self-determination (I am a man, I am a father, I am an Englishman, I am Christian etc.) The Ego therefore rests upon our identification with things that are important for us Ego.

The Ego is the central figure of our personal history, based upon the past and looking into the future. The components of the Ego are thoughts, emotions, memories (with which the person identifies as “my story”), fixed unconscious roles and collective identifications (nationality, religion, etc.). Most people completely identify with these components of the Ego, and for them no self “outside” of this exists.

The identification of the Ego with things (object, the person’s own body, way of thinking) creates the link of the individual to various things. The Ego (and thus the spiritually unconscious person) experiences his/her existence through the possession of various objects. The satisfaction provided by the sense of possession is, however, short, so the individual usually carries on the pursuit for new objects. There is a powerful motivation behind this activity of the individual, a psychological demand to obtain more, the unconscious sense of “not yet enough,” and this feeling surfaces in a want for more. This want is a more powerful driving force for the Ego than the desire to possess. The uneasy feelings, recklessness, boredom, stress and dissatisfaction are all largely the products of the dissatisfied longing for more.

The thoughts such as “it’s mine,” “I want it,” “I need it,” “it is not enough,” belong to the structure of the Ego. The content of the Ego changes with time; it is replaced with new contents. No content is, however, able to lastingly satisfy the Ego as long as the structure of the Ego remains in its place. The individual keeps looking for something different, something that promises a greater satisfaction, making the sense of self of the individual more complete.

The Ego intends to elevate the forms (including its own form) to eternity, which is impossible. This intention of the Ego will be the source of all sufferings, because its world of forms and shapes shall collapse like a sandcastle after a while, until death snatches away the last of the forms: its body from it. It came empty-handed from Nothing, and that is how it is going to return there.

The only treasure it could take along with it is its wakefulness, but the Ego considers that worthless in the world of forms and shapes, as it was not a means of increasing the power the Ego

The Ego is not bad, it is simply unconscious. Ego is the deepest dream of the Consciousness. If an individual is able to notice and observe the functions of the Ego, he or she will be able to transcend it. In that case, the individual who has been looking for a more complete perception of the self will recognize that it has always been there, but the functions of the Ego—identification with objects and thoughts—has pushed it into the background. One of the ways of transcending the Ego is not reacting wholeheartedly to the ever-changing kaleidoscope of thoughts and emotions, but concentrating on the alert Consciousness in the background instead.

In most people, the term “consciousness” identifies with that socially conditioned Ego. At a number of people this identification is so powerful that they are unaware that their life is governed by a socially conditioned mind.

Those who are able to go beyond that identification with the mind recognize this state of being socially conditioned, and are also able to leave the social conditioning behind. Such a person will not identify with the mind but, increasingly, with the Consciousness. The Alertness shall, therefore, control the mind to an increasing extent and will be manifested through the tranquilized mind

When our identification with a form ceases, a new space is generated between us and the form and we are able to see and recognize that we are not identical with that form. With the dissolution of the identification, the Ego also disappears. This is the second major turning point in the process of spiritual Awakening.
Awakening Into Alertness

The gateway leading us to the deeper dimensions of Life is Alertness, which appears as a result of the release of our attention from the hypnotic state of listening to our personal story. The new Alertness enables us to learn about ourselves without identifying with our thoughts and emotions.

What we first experience in this new, alert state beyond our thoughts and emotions is the completeness of existence. In that state all fragmentation disappears from our life, we recognize the inner spaciousness of our existence, our inner happiness and tranquility. We feel at home in our own skin, and we realize that our alert Consciousness is free from all kinds of thoughts and emotions.

In that state of Consciousness an entirely new dimension of existence opens up for us, showing us Existence from a completely new perspective. The unity behind the controversies is revealed in front of our eyes, and we no longer insist on looking on the sunny side of life, as we are able to discover beauty on the dark side, too.

We accept life as it is, and it is not done under pressure, since that acceptance is the result of our complete freedom. The freedom is, in turn, a fruit of our escape from the world of Shapes and Forms. We have understood and experienced the process of awakening. The time has come for us to take control over our mind whenever it is required by the circumstances. When we do not need the work of the mind directly, let us give it some rest.

Everything will be quiet and peaceful in us. We are beyond all good and evil, we are a mere Consciousness that does not analyze or judge, only contemplates. We realize that the same contemplating soul lives in everybody, so the differences between human beings are only superficial, and deep inside we are all the same. Experiencing that unity will bring us the ecstasy of Life, the perfect joy of Existence.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Beyond Psilocybin: Mushrooms Have Lots of Cool Compounds Scientists Should Study


One aspect of psychoactive chemistry that i wish to comment on is that all forms appear to positively affect all forms of mental illness in some way or the other. This is a broad generalization but nonetheless, it appears more true than false.  More specifically, we rarely see evidence of contraindication and this may well reflect a fast learning curve.

It may better reflect the benefit of fresh disturbance to an already disturbed brain.  A disturbed brain may be locked into flawed structure.  Shaking them up allows those connections to return to a more normal structure that uis also more stable.  What i am saying is that gentle repetition of disturbance through chemistry will lead to natural healing.  Thus the positive impact of CBD on PTSD which we know stems from physical damage.

This is a novel concept but it also reflect the known physical plasticity of the brain.
Beyond Psilocybin: Mushrooms Have Lots of Cool Compounds Scientists Should Study

By Troy Farah | October 16, 2018 5:12 pm
 Psilocybin mushrooms, the “magic” fungi famous for giving users hallucinations and spiritual insight, may not actually be supernatural, but they come pretty close. A growing body of research suggests they might help treat a range of mental disorders, and there’s little evidence that they’re addictive.

But the world of magic mushrooms extends far beyond psilocybin. Though they may not have intended it, these fungal chemical factories are synthesizing chemicals that just so happen to carry beneficial properties for humans, as well.

Mushroom 101

From Agaricus bisporus (portobello) to Amanita phalloides, the aptly-named, very lethal death cap toadstool, mushrooms come in all manner of sizes, colors, and flavors. They’re part of the fungi kingdom, along with molds and yeasts. Some are microscopic; another can be considered the largest living organism on Earth. With only around 100,000 species described, out of an estimated 5.1 million, fungi make ideal candidates for bioprospecting, or extracting useful compounds for pharmaceuticals and other things from nature.

Mushrooms are actually just the above-ground portion of certain fungi. Some species grow a root-like system called a mycelium, which sprout into mushrooms when they reach the surface. They sprinkle spores, the fungal equivalent of a seed, so the cycle can begin again. It sounds suspiciously plant-like, but mushrooms are actually closer genetically to animals than to plants.

You might be most familiar with the mushrooms in your food, but the chemicals they’ve evolved to produce over time have turned out to have a wide range of uses for our bodies, as well. And when you hear “chemicals and mushrooms”, you’re probably thinking psilocybin.

There are nearly 200 species of psilocybin mushrooms, but why the fungi evolved this psychedelic chemical in the first place is still a mystery. The effects on humans are far from mysterious, though, given the decades of amateur experimentation by budding psychonauts. Visual hallucinations are common, as well as feelings of euphoria and a sense of oneness with others or the world at large. Less inviting results include disorientation, paranoia and anxiety.

Research interest in psilocybin has trended upwards in recent years, and researchers have begun to test its potential for treating things like depression and PTSD. Early results are positive, and indicate that it could likely help treat a range of mental disorders.

How, and why, the mushrooms actually make the drug is still largely unknown, though.

Two studies released this year aimed to answer this question. The first, published in Evolution Letters, says it may be used as an insecticidal defense against pests. However, a recently published study on the preprint server bioRxiv (meaning it’s not yet peer-reviewed) suggested psilocybin may be used to attract bugs, not repel them, serving as an “insect-vectored spore dispersal” i.e. spreading spores like birds scatter seeds.

To test this, scientists from the United Kingdom gathered and washed Psilocybe cyanescens, a psilocybin mushroom, that had been covered in dark-winged fungus gnats. Days later they watched as maggots emerged and grew into flies.

“It was a very simple, non-replicated experiment that showed flies can live in and emerge from these mushrooms,” says Bryn Dentinger, the study’s lead author and mycology curator at the Natural History Museum of Utah. “So I don’t think that, the insecticidal property, we can’t rule it out entirely, but it’s clearly not a black-and-white scenario.”

It’s a reminder that for all its psychedelic properties, psilocybin wasn’t made for humans. It and other chemicals derived from mushrooms are the result of evolutionary tinkering over the course of millions of years aimed at helping the fungi survive. The trippy properties of shrooms are just a side effect of an evolutionary arms race — though that doesn’t mean we can’t benefit from it.

Fungal Serotonin

Humans may be separated from fungi by millions of years, but there are still surprising similarities between us.

For example, one genus of mushrooms, Panaeolus, produces serotonin — an important neurotransmitter in our brains, thought to regulate moods like depression. Psilocybin is actually quite close chemically to serotonin, so it’s not that surprising. There’s even reason to think that the mushrooms could be using these chemicals to communicate between cells like we do.

The serotonin system is very ancient evolutionarily, Dentinger explains, and mushrooms could have receptors on their cell membranes for this neurotransmitter. But, to his knowledge, it’s never been tested.

“There’s reason to expect that it was in the common ancestor of animals and fungi,” he says. “It wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out that these molecules like psilocybin may in fact be about mediating interactions either between cells within individual fungal organisms or between fungal organisms.”

Dentinger is quick to point out that it doesn’t mean mushrooms are conscious, though. “It’s just that they may be mediating communication in a way that may be analogous to neurocommunication in our own brains,” he says. 

While we’re still understanding why mushrooms produce serotonin-related chemicals, Panaeolus is far from unique.

Inocybe aeruginascens, a tobacco-colored species with greenish stains and blue bruises produces three serotonin-like chemicals. Found widely across central Europe, it contains an almost equal amount of three hallucinogenic compounds: psilocybin, baeocystin, and aeruginascin. I. aeruginascens is the only fungus known to produce aeruginascin, and there are hints it could be a better option for therapeutic use than psilocybin is.

No uncomfortable, terrifying trips have been reported with I. aeruginascens mushrooms, even in cases of accidental ingestion, according to Jochen Gartz, a German mycologist and chemist, who first discovered and named aeruginascin in the ‘80s. For more than 20 years, he’s looked for the molecule in other mushroom species. He hasn’t found it.

“I know of about 50 experiences with Inocybe aeruginascens and half are intoxications in the field where people at the beginning thought that they have mistaken an edible and common species with [an] unknown toxic mushroom,” Gartz, author of Magic Mushrooms Around the World, says in an email. But instead of freaking out about dying, Gartz says, these accidental fungus eaters usually have calm, euphoric episodes, often with “colorful mystical experiences.”

That’s why Gartz thinks this mushroom may be a better candidate for treating mental health disorders like depression, as well as for migraines and cluster headaches. Due to its chemical structure, it’s unlikely to cross the blood-brain barrier. That means it could help to moderate the effects of psilocybin, perhaps by blocking receptors elsewhere in the body, Gartz says. Damping down on psychedelic side effects is an important consideration if such compounds are ever to see therapeutic use.

But Richard Hartnell, an analyst at the cannabis testing center EVIO Labs, isn’t so sure.

“I’m skeptical of the notion that aeruginascin would significantly modulate the effects of a psilocybin trip, but it’s possible. I’d be very surprised if any controlled, blinded studies have been done of this,” Hartnell says in an email. “That research almost certainly hasn’t been done yet, and it’s likely that we won’t know the therapeutic applications of most or all of these compounds until we de-schedule psilocybin and its analogs.”

As with many mushrooms of potential pharmacological interest, the literature on I. aeruginascens is scant. This means that we still don’t know how it could potentially help us, and neither do we know what the dangers might be. That’s not true for every mushroom, though.

The Mighty Toadstool

With appearances ranging from Alice in Wonderland to Super Mario, no psychoactive fungus is as iconic as Amanita muscaria, the fly agaric mushroom. These archetypal red-and-white toadstools don’t contain a drop of psilocybin, yet they’re wildly mind-bending.

Although not as deadly as popularly believed, fly agarics contain two hallucinogenic compounds — muscimol and ibotenic acid — that are notorious for producing a delirious, dream-like trip. The shrooms can produce euphoria, and more rarely, muscle spasms, coma, and Lilliputian and Gulliverian hallucinations — feelings of shrinking or growing. (Lewis Carroll knew his stuff.)

Dentinger says that the two compounds are probably used by the mushrooms to keep bugs and other pests away — there’s a history of them being used to kill house flies, he says.

There are no known medical uses for these two drugs, but they’ve helped advance research nonetheless. For example, small injections of ibotenic acid, which is a potent neurotoxin, turn out to be a very precise means of creating brain lesions

Removing or damaging a section of the brain helps scientists observe what might stop working, providing insights in the functions of different brain regions. This highly targeted technique has shed light on mechanisms related to visual motion processing, spatial learning, and neural pathways linked to Alzheimer’s.   

Muscimol, too, has proven useful. At the behest of the pharmaceutical giant Lundbeck, renowned Danish chemist Povl Krogsgaard-Larsen began developing numerous synthetic variations of muscimol in the 1970s.

Eventually he discovered gaboxadol, originally called THIP, a less toxic version of muscimol. The varied clinical life of gaboxadol included trials as a pain reliever, a treatment for anxiety, a hypnotic sleep aid, and as a treatment for a movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia.

For multiple reasons, including strange psychiatric side effects such as disorientation, dizziness,and sedation, the drug didn’t stick, and it was never approved for medical use.

But gaboxadol isn’t done yet. In 2015, Lundbeck sold biopharma company Ovid Therapeutics the rights to gaboxadol. It’s been fast-tracked by the FDA as a treatment for two rare genetic disorders, Angelman Syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome. Krogsgaard-Larsen synthesized a few other analogs of muscimol as well, those too could prove to have therapeutic uses.

And that’s just a single species of mushroom — there are potentially millions more. Amanita muscaria just happens to have been studied a little more closely than many.

Not Just LSD

Mushrooms aren’t the only fungi that contain promising compounds. The Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann is, of course, famous for developing the psychedelic LSD from ergot, a fungi in the genus Claviceps that infects grasses like tall fescue. But Hofmann is also responsible for developing other ergot-derived drugs on the market today, including methylergometrine, used to stop bleeding after childbirth; dihydroergotamine, a migraine drug; and ergoloid mesylates, a mixture of three ergot alkaloids that is prescribed for dementia. He even found 2-Bromo-LSD, a non-intoxicating drug that could treat cluster headaches without hallucinatory side effects. 

Carolyn Young, an associate professor at Noble Research Institute, has been studying ergot and related fungi for many years. She’s intrigued by the extraordinary diversity of the alkaloids these fungi produce, many of which still haven’t been studied.

Why ergot produces so many compounds may have to do with an evolutionary concept called “bet hedging,” Young says. It’s a strategy that involves producing a variety of evolutionary responses to help an organism respond to a range of situations. (The same theory could apply to psilocybin mushrooms and the many serotonin-related chemicals they produce.)

It’s resulted in a range of chemical options for researchers to examine. And in ergot, the genes that produce these alkaloids are found in clusters, which Young says may make them easier for us to genetically modify. 

“That helps us understand those pathways better, to manipulate, to make gene knockouts,” Young says. “There is a whole industry behind synthetic biology and getting microorganisms to create more compounds for us.”

Ergot has a symbiotic relationship with the grasses it infects, Young says, and help them to spread their seeds around. The chemicals ergot produces likely play a role in this relationship, though what that is, we don’t know.

“The plant has some selectable advantage when that fungus is in there,” she says. “Otherwise, that fungus wouldn’t be there — nature would have crossed it out already.” 

Most, if not all of these fungal molecules are constructed using L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid commonly found in mushrooms that is used to build many different proteins in our bodies, as well as neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin. Aside from knowing that it’s important for them, Young says we don’t have a good answer for why tryptophan shows up in mushrooms, too. But, as with other therapeutic compounds in mushrooms, the coincidence could pay off for humans

Many fungal compounds remain completely unstudied — and the fact that some are still illegal makes it even more difficult to probe their secrets. Others, like aeruginascin, muscimol, and many ergot-derived compounds are open to researchers, though. The only thing standing in the way of more research is funding. If the few we have studied is any indication, the potential payoff could be large.

“Sometimes we don’t fully appreciate that ecological bioactivity of these compounds,” Young says. “Whatever it is specifically that they may be doing, we’ve got a lot to learn about it.”

You Are The Key – A Message From Psilocybin Mushrooms

 Spiritual awakening is simply understanding the reality of spiritual content. Expanding from that takes effort and time most of all.  But it starts there. 

The other aspect that has not been understood except through me is that spirit itself is physical and has an information density many magnitudes greater our perceived physical presence.  We have grossly underestimated the significance of spirit.

Then understand that plant spirits exist holding the image of man and are many and universal.  We know of the Green Man who represents an oak grove and empowers those trees, each of whom is an aspect of the Green Man.

Mushrooms do exactly the same and thus are able to also communicate directly with us.

These communication are positive enough and sometimes not overly significant.  Their significance is in their apparent novelty...

You Are The Key – A Message From Psilocybin Mushrooms

October 17th, 2018

The world is waking up.

More and more of us around the globe are coming to the realization that there’s so much more to our lives than the ones we are currently leading. As we are going through our spiritual awakening, and as the layers of falsity and illusions of lack, fear and victimhood are being peeled off one by one, the healing and expansion journey of awakening allows us to return to our original state – the state of wholeness.
For many, there is a deep yearning, even if the way isn’t clear, to participate in the expansion and evolution of global consciousness by advocating for human rights, creating sustainable and ecological ways of living, healing the minds and hearts of others, and inspiring others to lead more empowered and awakened lives.

I am one of them.

I work regularly with sacred plant medicine. It is apparent that the plant spirits, or, the plant teachers as I call them have long been participating in the global paradigm shift. As more on this planet are tuning into the incredibly healing power of plant medicine, the plant teachers are more than eager to empower humanity to heal, transform, and awaken to the truth of our existence.
The following messages were transmitted during my last psilocybin ceremony, and I was asked to transcribe and share them with as many awakened/awakening beings as I can in this world. They’ve only been through a process of minor editing.
It is my hope that as the powerful energy behind these words is stirring something deep within your soul, that you will find the courage, insights, and perhaps, the remembrance of Who You Truly Are to rise to your truth, greatness and leadership, and allow yourself to finally embrace the fullest and highest expression of your soul on earth.
You Are the Key

Each person came into this body with something unique to contribute to humanity, to the rising of global consciousness, and to making the world a more harmonious place. Each person on earth has chosen that, but not all will awaken to that in this lifetime as the collective unconscious programming of fear, lack, scarcity and separation keeps the majority population asleep in their daily problems, insecurities, and disempowering mental chatter.
There are three steps for you to rise to your greatness with this important knowing: you are the key.
You are the key.
You are the way.
You are the answer.
Each being came into this body as a set of keycodes which manifests as an unique personal vibrational signature that is here to contribute to the global awakening, as well as the construction of a new paradigm and collective reality that supports the well-being of every human and living organism on earth, and the earth mother herself.
That’s right! You, me, and all of us each contains the power to end hunger, oppression, violence, war, prejudice, pollution, competition, separation, and ignorance if we allow our keycodes to be activated.
To do that, you must say yes to the following three things:
1. Remember How Important You Are
There is a global epidemic of “I am not good or worthy enough to…” right now.
Low self-worth is a deep-seated and unconscious programming that has affected just about every being on earth, and it is one of the primary reasons that stops so many from ever reaching their highest divine potential in this lifetime.
The false belief of insignificance then instills guilt, shame, fear, and doubt into your mind every time when you desire to move closer to embracing something that excites you which results in a self-sabotaging thought of “I can’t do this right now because…”
Of course, the thought that you can’t do anything is a complete, blatant lie. You are Source Energy having a human experience, and there is nothing you cannot be, do, or create in this lifetime if you are willing to powerfully show up!
The truth is, your highest possible destiny is also tied to the highest possible destiny of humanity. It is no mere coincidence that your soul chose this precise set of talents, gifts and experiences, and your unique vibrational signature for you to share with the world, and the only way you can harness the power behind your key codes is for you to first choose to acknowledge your importance and honor your infinite worth which is 100% an inside job.
2. Celebrate Your Essence
Have you wondered why adults cannot stop celebrating babies, and it’s so easy to get pulled into their giggles and joy?
Babies are so fully expressed because they have not yet been conditioned by the heavy teachings called shame, fear and limitations from earth school.
We are all children at heart, and each of us desires to be seen, heard, loved, appreciated, and celebrated, yet most of us do not allow ourselves to be seen, heard, loved, appreciated, and celebrated.
We truly are here to shine.
Perhaps you feel you need to take one more course, find the love of your life, or get all your ducks in a row in order to celebrate who you are, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Right at this moment, there is something you have that can touch and inspire others, and lift them higher. What the world really needs is your fully expressed energy: your true, raw, and authentic energy exactly where it is right now; and that includes your heartbreaks, your failures, your vulnerabilities, your persistence, your courage, most importantly, your experiences from your very unique perspective that can only come from you.
To be fully expressed and to celebrate your essence means to allow yourself to embrace all the bits and pieces that you have been trying to hide from others and from yourself.
It means for you to find joy and celebration in who you are, exactly wherever you are right now.
It means to shine the light of love on every quirky habit, every shameful memory of the past, and every unique attribute you have been attempting to hold back.
It also means for you to become the living and breathing version of the true you without all the masks, in this moment in time.
When you open your heart and stand in your full glory just as you are, you are transmitting your powerful codes to others and sharing your gifts while giving them permission to do the same.
3. Co-creation, Collaboration, and Conscious Community-Building
To shift the existing paradigm is a collective job. We need each other. This is the time for us to say goodbye to competition and individualism as we are here to build each other up, to promote each other’s work, to create projects that benefit all, and to stand by each other.

The essence of conscious community building is for all of us to pool our talents, gifts, and passions together, and create a conscious and sustainable global community where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, participate, and receive.
No one needs to compete with anyone for anything because we live in an infinitely abundant universe whereas there is enough for everyone and then some! Instead, the most powerful way to create a new reality is to create it together because each of us is a key. When all the keys come together and weave our individual magic into this tapestry called human existence, collective magic happens.
The only way the new earth can be created is through conscious collaboration that is built on love, compassion, choice, truth, and actions that allow us to mutually support each other to create more life while honoring the lives of all.
Wherever you are in life, whether you are already in the process of global conscious community building and contributing to this world as a light leader, or you are allowing yourself to let go of beliefs, people and circumstances that no longer serve you, know that you always have a choice right at this moment.
The choice of giving yourself permission to be fully expressed and celebrating who you are every day.
The choice of saying yes to your highest truth and expansion, and your divine potential.
The choice of healing your past, remembering the truth of who you are, and returning to your wholeness.
The choice of magnetizing the soul-aligned and soul-contracted friends, collaborators and mentors into your life to help you say yes, create clarity, and take charge of your destiny (and if you are in the process of raising collective consciousness and community building, I’d love to hear from you! This is a job that requires collective effort and talents from all of us!)
The choice of seeing yourself as the magnificent, powerful and sacred being that you already are.
Your highest level of creation, contribution, and transformation can only come from you showing up at your highest level.
You are the key.
If you work with plant medicine, and are seeking to process and integrate the teachings of the sacred plants so you can create the next chapter of your life with clarity, vision and alignment, I invite you to download my free gift to help you thrive after ayahuasca (or any other plant medicine) here.

The Complex and Frustrating Reality of Recycling Plastic

The first problem with plastic is that it is way too cheap to produce.  The economic solution is to tax it and do this progressively over twenty years so that every manufacturer can see that trend and its impact.

Into that we throw the potential for market withdrawal as well.  All this telegraphs to the market that we as consumers are prepared to accept alternatives and to work with them.  Put another way, a carbon tax on oil is meaningless when it merely adds pennies to the manufacturing cost of all products.  It is quite another matter when it causes selling process of such goods to soon double.

What is important is that all disposable plastics must be replaced by disposable biodegradables  this means that the price differential must be closed or no benefit will ever exist.  It also must be done over enough time to allow industrial change....

The Complex and Frustrating Reality of Recycling Plastic

Global consumers now use a million plastic bottles every minute, 91 percent of which are not recycled. Our growing consumption of single-use plastic is evident in the form of ever-expanding landfills, as well as pollution on our sidewalks, along roadways and in natural ecosystems. Plastic that is littered or blown out of waste bins makes its way into storm drains, streams and rivers. Ultimately, up to 8 million metric tons of it enter the world’s oceans every year. 

Scientists aren’t sure how long it takes for plastic to fully biodegrade—estimates range from 450 years to never, National Geographic reported in its June issue, which is devoted to the mounting plastic pollution problem. But we know enough to know that the staggering 9.2 billion metric tons of plastic produced since the 1950s isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. At this rate, our oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050.

Many now consider ocean plastic pollution an existential threat on par with climate change, but it seems like it should be an easy one to fix. Plastic is recyclable, after all, so why can’t we just recycle it? It turns out it’s not as simple as it sounds.

Around two-thirds of the plastic that enters the ocean from rivers is carried by only 20 waterways—the majority of which are on the Asian continent, where access to waste collection and recycling is often limited. Even in countries with established waste management infrastructure, the picture remains bleak: Less than 10 percent of the plastic used in the United States is recycled, according to the most recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data. Figures improve for select plastic materials—for example, around 30 percent of polyethylene terephthalate, commonly used to package household staples like bottled beverages, condiments and personal care products, is recycled—but even these rates remain woefully out of balance with our increasing reliance on single-use plastic.
To make matters worse, fluctuating demand for recycled material and consumer confusion about what is recyclable make it harder for US collection programs to remain economical. If nothing changes, municipal recycling programs across the country may be forced to scale back or even shut down—hastening our collision course with a new paradigm defined by toxic seas.

This grim reality begs the question: How can developing markets—which now produce roughly half of the world’s plastic—hope to establish effective recycling infrastructures if countries like the US are still unable to get it right? What’s holding us back from recycling more plastic, and what can we do to save our oceans before it’s too late?

The Cost of Confusion

For decades, PR campaigns and public service announcements touted the ease of recycling. “Just move your hand over a few inches,” spokesman after spokesman said, “and throw that plastic, metal or paper into the recycling bin instead of the trash.”

The reality of recycling is far more complicated—even in nations like the US, where curbside programs have steadily proliferated since 1980. Neighboring communities can have vastly different recycling programs, and educational campaigns that hinge on industry jargon often do little to ease confusion for residents.

“Most people have the attitude that if they just put it in the blue bin, it will get taken away and somebody will figure out what to do with it, but putting something in the blue bin and actually recycling it are two very different things,” said David Biderman, CEO and executive director of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA).

Motivated by good intentions, people throw everything from plastic shopping bags to garden hoses into their curbside carts. According to Biderman, on average, 10 to 15 percent of the material sent to US recycling centers is not recyclable, and it eventually makes its way to local landfills. “You may divert material on the front end, but it’s still going to a landfill in the back end,” Biderman said. “Meanwhile, someone is getting paid to do that processing.”

The results of widespread confusion can be prohibitively expensive for municipalities—and wasted work time is only the tip of the iceberg. Materials like those aforementioned bags and hoses can become tangled in sorting machinery, causing plants to shut down the processing line while workers remove obstructions by hand. If miscellaneous materials are not sorted out, or if containers are contaminated by food waste residue, the quality of the bulk scrap drops—and so does the price it will fetch on the open market.

The landscape is complicated even further by the wide variety of plastics now used to package foods, beverages and other household goods. Packaging manufacturers increasingly favor more lightweight plastics, which carry their own benefits. Namely, opting for lighter-weight packaging means a manufacturer uses less plastic and can ship more product in a smaller amount of space, cutting down on transportation-related emissions. But lightweight plastics are often not recyclable, even though they appear to be, and more of them are entering the recycling stream.

“The goal of a recycling program is to generate saleable material. Paper, plastic and metal can only be sold into the marketplace if it satisfies certain standards, and one of those standards is that it not contain other material,” Biderman said. “When the stream becomes contaminated, the material may not be able to be sold, or it will be sold at a lower price—which makes recycling programs less effective and efficient if they’re not breaking even or making money.”

“On the Brink of Disaster”

On a partly cloudy afternoon in May, recycling haulers and processors from across California converged on the Capitol building to warn lawmakers about a “recycling crisis.” US recyclers process around 66 million tons of material every year, a third of which is exported. Until recently, China was the largest purchaser of bulk plastic, paper and other recyclable materials leaving the United States, but new regulations have recycling programs “on the brink of disaster,” the haulers said.

At the start of this year, in an attempt to reduce local environmental problems associated with handling over 45 million tons of foreign waste annually, China imposed what some call an impossible purity standard on imported recyclables. Mixed paper and plastics found to have more than 0.50 percent foreign material by weight are rejected, and barges are forced to return to the United States or ship their load to other ports, mostly elsewhere in Asia, where they are sold at a lower price.

“We have a major challenge right now, because the largest export market for American recyclables has basically been shut off,” Biderman said. “India, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia have ramped up some of their imports of American recyclables, but it’s still less than half of what China was taking.”

This shift comes as relatively low oil prices make it cheaper to produce plastic from virgin material, further decreasing demand for recycled feedstocks. “Plastic prices are down across the board,” Biderman told us. “Material is moving in most instances, but it’s moving at very low prices.”

California haulers are pushing for dramatic policy changes to help them adapt and told lawmakers they must do more to educate consumers about what is recyclable, but they aren’t the only ones feeling the pinch. At the start of May, Portland, Oregon, was forced to raise its waste-hauling rates for the first time in five years as it struggles to find new buyers for bulk plastic and other materials.

Portland haulers transport recyclables to regional depots, where they are sorted, baled and prepared for export. In years past, the modest fees they received helped to offset hauling costs for residents, but falling prices are leaving haulers in the red. “It hinges on the broader lack of recycling markets,” Bruce Walker, Portland’s solid waste and recycling program manager, said of the rate increase.

“The contamination issue is not solely responsible—there’s a vast oversupply [of recyclables] in the US right now, so if you’re looking at supply and demand, that contributes to lower prices—but contamination certainly plays a role,” Walker said. “Residents can help the program by keeping non-recyclable materials out, but it’s difficult to get that message across with so many very similar types of plastics that enter the household.”

The Role of Corporations 

In the United States, the cost of recycling plastic and other household waste falls on cities—and their taxpayers. But as municipal programs seek new buyers for bulk scrap, many wonder whether the companies that produce single-use packaging should bear more responsibility for recycling it. “For too long, packaging companies have been externalizing the costs of their packaging on local governments,” said Biderman. “They’re changing how they package material and expecting local governments to pick up the tab for it.”

Walker agreed, underscoring the power of US companies to take the financial heat off municipal recycling programs. “If American manufacturers and brand owners were willing to package products using recycled materials, we would be in a much better situation. Unfortunately, those commitments aren’t readily apparent.”

That’s beginning to change, albeit slowly. Launched in 2003, The Recycling Partnership uses funding from companies like PepsiCo and Starbucks to improve municipal recycling infrastructure. It tests contamination reduction and other best practices in the field with partner cities, such as Atlanta, Chicago and Denver, and makes them available to communities across the country. Last year, it joined the Association of Plastic Recyclers to get companies more actively involved. Their campaign, dubbed Recycling Demand Champions, asks companies to recognize that their demand for recycled plastic is vital to the health of US recycling programs and calls on them to purchase more of the material.

Top brands like Target, Procter & Gamble, Campbell Soup Co. and Coca-Cola signed on to the initiative and pledged to use more recycled plastic, primarily to replace virgin material in industrial items like trash cans, pallets and tote boxes. This type of application is typical for plastic; unlike other materials such as aluminum and glass, plastic is downcycled far more often than it’s used for new bottles or other containers. So, while initiatives like this one can help recyclers make ends meet and ensure less plastic goes to landfill, they do little to stem the demand for virgin plastic in packaging.

Some companies are going even further. French bottled water giant Evian, for example, plans to use 100 percent recycled plastic bottles by 2025—one of the most aggressive corporate goals on record. Meanwhile, others are looking beyond plastic for products and packaging. UK supermarket chain Iceland will become the world’s first supermarket to eliminate single-use plastic in its branded products within five years. Home-delivery startup ThreeMain says its cleaning products—packaged in aluminum bottles—will eliminate more than 80 percent of the plastic associated with home cleaning. Even toy company Lego may start making its iconic building blocks from sugarcane instead of plastic.

This is all positive, but businesses can do more—and their stakeholders are letting them know it. In response to mounting protest from NGOs, Coca-Cola pledged to “collect and recycle 100 percent of its packaging” by 2030, though Greenpeace says the company is still “dodging the main issue” of its increasing plastic use and pledged to keep the pressure on. Earlier this year, a group of 25 institutional investors with a combined $1 trillion in assets called plastic pollution a clear corporate brand risk and said they will engage consumer goods companies to fight the problem—beginning with PepsiCo, Nestle, Procter & Gamble and Unilever. Shareholder pressure also swayed McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts to move away from polystyrene cups. In announcing victory in the foam cup fight, the shareholder advocacy nonprofit As You Sow declared, “Shareholders [are] stopping the flow of plastics at the source: giant global corporations.”

What You Can Do

Cities across the country are taking action to clean up their recycling streams and preserve the viability of their programs. California instituted a statewide ban on plastic carryout bags in 2016, and cities from Chicago and Boston to Austin, Texas, have their own bag bans on the books. A handful of cities, including Portland, Minneapolis and Washington, DC, ban foam takeout containers. New York City may soon be the latest to ban plastic drinking straws, joining the likes of Seattle, Miami Beach and Malibu, California.

As with any other issue, citizens who are concerned about plastic waste and recycling can contact their representatives and voice support for similar legislation, although bans alone can’t solve the problem. “How many items are we going to have to ban?” Walker asked rhetorically. “That’s not a comprehensive approach either … though in my opinion there needs to be some consideration in other cities with respect to these items that pose problems to the recycling system.”

Even if you feel you know what is recyclable in your community, take the time to visit your local recycling program’s website and review the list of accepted materials. Make sure all recyclable materials are clean and dry before placing them in the bin to avoid contributing to contamination. For materials that are not accepted curbside, use third-party searches like Earth911 or RecycleNation to find drop-off or mail-back recycling options near you.

If your community has yet to establish a curbside program—or if you live, work or attend school at complexes that do not provide recycling—step up to make your voice heard. Connect with the waste management companies that service your area and contact your political representatives, as well as your local solid waste services director and staff, advised Jon Johnston, a retired EPA program leader who now sits on the board of the environmental nonprofit Keep America Beautiful.

Beyond a push for legislation, the plastic problem calls for individuals to take personal ownership of how they contribute. “Single-use plastics are a convenience, but at a resource cost,” said Lucas Mariacher, zero waste coordinator for the city of Phoenix. “The goal should always be to minimize waste disposal by reducing resource consumption [and] reusing resources. Recycling should really be the last resort.”

The Bottom Line

Is recycling enough to stem the tide of plastic entering our oceans? Not by a long shot, but a massive problem like plastic pollution requires a multi-pronged approach that includes source reduction, reuse and recycling—and we need everyone from governments and companies to individuals in the game.

“I would caution you against expecting or wishing that there be a recycling market for everything,” said Robert Reed, spokesperson for San Francisco’s recycling and compost collection company, Recology. “The consistent advice from environmentalists is ‘refuse’ single-use plastics. Refuse plastic straws. Carry a metal water bottle and refuse plastic water bottles … Refuse is the new R word.”