Think Green

Indianapolis collects more than 24,000 tons of trash each month — but only 7 percent of it gets recycled. Indy — the nation’s 14th largest city — is the biggest municipality without a curbside recycling program serving every household.

Think Green written by Lindsey Fella Bery, CEO Helping Ninjas posted orignially on February 24, 2019 in Motherhood @IndinapolisMomsBlog

Did you know? Indianapolis is one of the most wasteful cities in America, with a recycling rate of 7% compared to the 35% United States city average.

Here are six easy steps that you can do to reduce your waste and carbon imprint at home –starting with reducing plastic consumption and pollution, and tips on how this works for my family! 

Step One: Open Your Eyes

Become aware. Plastic pollution is a significant threat to our environment. Educate yourself, and your family, on its negative effects on our ecosystems and society. This is the first step in reducing our carbon imprint.

Hopefully – the choices you make at the grocery store or the location you choose when you go out to eat will open your eyes to the impacts of global plastic pollution.

The startling facts of how our Earth is drowning in plastic will shock you. Google it. I commission you and your families to learn about plastic pollution, and then share this knowledge with others. Awareness is key and the first step to making a difference. 

Step Two: Skip The Straw 

Mitch (my husband) and Layla (our daughter).

Choosing to not use a plastic straw at a restaurant is an easy thing to do to help the planet. Just skip the straw. Let your server know that you will not be needing a straw. When we are at restaurants, we like to celebrate with an “eco cheers!”

My family has actually gone a step further and have been educating local restaurants about plastic pollution with our Stand Up To Straws initiative. We ask the restaurant managers to consider only offering plastic straws upon request, or to explore an alternative.

And, if you have to have a plastic straw (or a family member) or if the server brings one before you are able to request one – then just keep it! Take it home.

We collect plastic straws. 

Why? Straws are not recyclable. So, if put in a waste bin, they go straight to landfills, and eventually into our oceans.

If the plastic straw doesn’t get thrown in the trash, it can’t get into to the ocean – and it will not and cannot hurt a sea animal. 

We collect all of our unsolicited plastic straws.

We keep them in a mason jar and on display in our kitchen as a daily reminder that we are making a difference.

Step Three: Try Alternative Straws

Luckily there are a wide variety of environmentally friendly straws available to consumers. They come in all shapes and sizes, depending on what you are drinking – as small as a coffee stirrer or as large as one for a smoothie. There are reusable straws, such as bamboo straws, stainless steel straws, and glass straws. You can simply wash and reuse them! No waste involved – whatsoever! 

My son, Skyler, and our alternative straws!

There are also biodegradable straws such as paper straws. (Biodegradable means that they will decompose and break down over time.)  And, there are compostable straws: Hay straws, corn straws, and plant-based PLA straws. (Compostable means that it can be broken down into organic matter that can be used to create renewable energy: compost soil.) We have all of these straws in our kitchen. It’s fun for my children to have choices!

We always keep some of our eco straws  in the console of our vehicle and I carry them in my purse, always prepared and ready. You can order all of these alternative straws online and some can be found in some retail stores.

Step Four: Choose Eco-Friendly Products

My family’s eco-friendly kitchen items.

Thankfully companies are paying attention and are beginning to produce products that do not harm us, or our environment. To name a few alternative to plastic items that my family uses are bamboo toothbrushes, stainless steel and glass storage food containers, and 100% cotton lunch bags, clothing and bedding – and we use woven baskets instead of plastic to hold our laundry and other household items. 

We use glass mason jars to drink out of (less likely to crack under everyday use). When we entertain large parties, we use plant based biodegradable or compostable cups, plates and cutlery. We then compost them in our home compost bin. These can easily be found online, just search biodegradable dinnerware.

Step Five: Avoid Single Use Plastics

Single use plastics is a term used quite a bit. And it means just what it implies. A plastic that is only used once. Cannot be recycled. Used once but remains forever on our earth.

Plastic Bottles? No thank you, our family chooses to pass on the plastic water bottles and use stainless steel water bottles. We never leave home without them! 

Choose paper, or “Go Naked” in your cart! 

Instead of using plastic wrap, we use reusable and biodegradable plant-based wraps and beeswax food wrap – it works like a charm! You can wrap food itself or cover a bowl.

In place of plastic storage baggies, we use resealable paper bags and reusable cotton. These can be found in most picnic item aisles in retail store, and online.

We take large reusable bags to the supermarket to carry our groceries home and we use reusable cotton mesh bags for our produce. Choose paper bags if available or we just “go naked” in the cart – avoiding plastic bags completely when we grocery shop!

Step Six: Recycle  

Recycle your plastics!

Familiarize yourself with recycle symbols on any plastic item in your home – learn which plastic goes where. What does this mean? Some plastic is accepted in certain curbside recycling centers, and some unfortunately not. For instance, plastic wrap, bags, storage bags, and plastic trash bags cannot be recycled at most curbside recycling centers. But there are places you can take these items to get recycled. Contact your recycling company to find out what plastic they will take and what they will not. If you do not have curbside recycling, research a place near you that accepts recyclable items.

And remember all plastic has to be clean and dry, so be sure to rinse and dry completely before placing it your recycle bin. Otherwise it could contaminate other recyclable items and prevent them from getting recycled. 


If you want to make a change then simply begin to look around. You will see there are many things you can do at home and in your daily lives to reduce your waste –you just have to start thinking green.   

Stand Up To Straws

Stand Up For Our Planet

Break Free From Plastic

📷 @nytimes Adam Amengual

Are We Addicted to Plastic? Share with what are YOU doing to help reduce plastic? We want to learn efforts how others have reduced plastic so we can share and inspire positve change! Let us know or send us tips and suggestions so we can share with others on our webpage: at info@helpingninjas or tag us on FB, Instagram or Twitter! Read this New York Times article to learn how…

Photo credit above Adam Amengual New York Times

Join the Stand Up To Plastic Iniatative! Help us inspire others to reduce single use plastic use through education and leadership!

Our Planet

Written By: Leo, Helping Ninja, Founder/Creator

The World Wild Life Foundation:

“It’’s never been more urgent and important to recognize the fragility of our world. We’re losing nature at an unprecedented rate. Sixty percent of vertebrate species have disappeared in the last 50 years, according to WWF’s recent Living Planet Report. The health of our forests, oceans and fresh water are all at risk. ”

According to WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018:

60% Populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians have, on average, declined by 60% between 1970 and 2014, the most recent year with available data.

50% The Earth is estimated to have lost about half of its shallow water corals in the past 30 years.

20% A fifth of the Amazon has disappeared in just 50 years.

After learning this, I think this video that WWF is producing will help our future. Why? Because it will tell people that you can’t live like this, we need wildlife, plants and animals to live.

This makes me feel sad because our future relies on the biodiversity. .

I think it is important that others know that the human race cannot survive like this – at the rate we are going.

I hope that this video will tell teach people how important animals are to the planet and we need each other to live.

I hope you watch Our Planet on Netflix when it comes out on April 5th.

If you do, tag us on @helpingninjas on Instagram or email us at and tell us what you think!

Starting the Journey to Low-Waste Living

Written By: Helping Ninja Kate, Age 17, 11th Grade, California

The International Statistic of 2018 states that 90.5% of plastic waste has never been recycled. While some of this trash goes to the landfill, a surprising amount ends up in the ocean. This has devastating effects. 70% of the Earth’s oxygen comes from the sea and the sea life that lives there.

In addition, plastics do not biodegrade. They simply break down into smaller and smaller pieces, called microplastics. Small sea creatures consume these insidious microplastics and by doing so, the plastics make their way into the ocean food chain. Microplastics deteriorate an animal’s health and eventually cause death. To alleviate this harm on our oceans, individuals can reduce their waste. There are myriad ways to cut down on waste in almost all aspects of our lives.

Packing Meals

Have no fear, it’s definitely possible to pack meals without creating waste.

The first thing to do is to pack your food in a reusable container such as a thermos or metal box. After you’ve done that, fill up a reusable water bottle with whatever drink you plan to have. Next, make sure to pack the reusable utensils that you will need. Now you are good to go, enjoy!

Personal Hygiene Products

Most personal hygiene products contain some sort of plastic. Soaps, shampoos, and conditioners are packaged in plastic containers. Dental floss not only contains plastic but is also packaged in it. Toothbrushes are made of plastic and nylon. These products can be easily swapped for more eco-friendly products. For example, use bars of soap to wash your hands. These are usually wrapped in paper or even better, not packaged at all! Bars of soap can also be used for body wash and believe it or not, shampoo and conditioner. In addition, bamboo toothbrushes work just as well as their plastic counterparts. Lastly, silk floss packaged in glass containers is available in some stores and online. 


Shopping greatly contributes to pollution. Many people enter stores empty-handed and leave with plastic bags filled with unnecessary, packaged items. However, that can change with a few simple steps. First, ask yourself if you really need what you want to buy. If you do, then try to find what you are looking for second-hand or sustainably-made. Second, come to the store with a reusable bag so that no paper or plastic will be needed to carry home your purchase. When shopping for food, choose whole foods without packaging. If you bring your reusable bag, there is no need to put fruits or vegetables in the plastic bags that many grocery stores offer. Also, many stores have bulk shopping or refill sections. Here, you can put unpackaged nuts, beans, tea, flour, etc. into your own container or bag!

Eating Out

Eating out, especially at fast-food restaurants, can produce lots of waste. Nevertheless, you can avoid this waste by coming prepared. It’s important to carry all the essentials so that you can refuse single-use plastics and still enjoy your meal. For instance, if you are craving a smoothie or tea with boba, bring a stainless steel boba straw and a reusable cup. Remember to convey to the person at the restaurant that you don’t want the plastic cup or straw when you order. 

I hope that you have learned some useful tips from this article.

Keep reducing your waste and living that low-waste life!

You can follow Helping Ninja Kate on Instagram at @pollution_solution_

Kate’s Instagram Account started as a Girl Scout Award and is now used to advocate for the low waste living to reduce ocean pollution and to save the beautiful sea! 💙

Plastic Bag In Our Tree

Written by Leo Berry, Age 9, Helping Ninja, Creator/ Founder

Today we were looking outside our upstairs window and my mom said, “Leo, look outside!”

I said, “What is out there?”

She said,”Look, what is wrong with that picture?”

I looked again.

At first I thought that it was a white bird then I looked closer and it really was a plastic bag!

My mom and I realized there was plastic bag in the top of our tree stuck on a branch.

I was really worried about the birds.

It is too high for us to reach with a ladder. We are not sure how we will get it down.

This is really not good.

I wonder how many birds die from plastic. I decided to google it and learn.

How many much birds die from plastic bags? Sea birds that die is 1,000,000 million.

Marine animals that die from plastic is one hundred million a year.

This makes me feel sad.

Animals on land can die too from plastic. I can’t find a statistic but I can bet its a lot.

I now want to know how what happens to birds if they get caught in a plastic bag. So, I look up if land birds can get hurt from plastic.

And, yes they can.

It’s really sad

I learned that birds can’t fly if they are entangled in plastic. The plastic bag could get wrapped around the birds wings and keep them from flying. If they are unable to fly they die of starvation. Or they may use the plastic for nesting materials and hurt there young.

This made me ask the question, ‘What happens to animals if they eat plastic bags?”

I found this on a website about plastic pollution and wildlife:

Plastic bags, once ingested, cannot be digested or passed by an animal so it stays in the gut. Plastic in an animal’s gut can prevent food digestion and can lead to a very slow and painful death.

As plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to break down.

And, once an animal dies and decays after ingesting plastic, the plastic is then freed back into the environment to carry on killing other wildlife.

This is not good.

Its dark now (and snowing) and the plastic bag is still there.

My mom said we are going to figure out how to get the plastic bag down from the tree.

Kids Need More Recess

Written By Leo Berry, Helping Ninja Founder/Creator, Age 9

I think kids should go outside more and I think we kids, need to have a longer recess.

Five to ten minutes outside is not enough for kids our age. A school day is eight hours long, kids need more recess.

Kids need to be outside more. Because it’s good for their health and social skills. I like playing tag and I get to talk to my friends at recess.

At my school we only get that , five to ten minutes. The thrid grade classes, we’re supposed to go outside at 12:00 and recess ends at 12:10, but it sometimes ends at five minutes early because the recess teacher wil l say that we have lunch at 12:25. And cuts our time outside, because we have to go inside to get ready for lunch.

But, after recess and before lunch, we read a book or an e-book or talk with a classmate for up ten minutes. (Or with our heads down on our desk because someone acted out and got the whole class in trouble.)  I think we should use this time to spend more time outside. 

On average, American children spend four to seven minutes a day in outdoor play and spend seven or more hours in front of a screen.

A recent study by the Seattle Children’s Research Institute says on average, children aged 10 to 16 spend only 12.6 minutes a day on outdoor activity and spend 10.4 hours of either indoors in school or watching tv or playing video games.

The study says on average, children aged 10 to 16 spend only 12.6 minutes a day on outdoor activity and spend 10.4 hours of watching tv or playing video games.

When I read this, I flipped and thought, “why are they on so long?”

I think that is too long. And definitely not enough time outside.

Kids should have longer recess because it improves physical activity and social skills. Being outside helps kids to exert more energy. This is sometimes a problem our class. Kids sometimes roll around on the floor or talk too loud because they have more energy and they don’t have a way to get it out. And, they get in trouble.

Doctors say that being in nature is good for kids health.

And that just being outside will help our mind and body get strong.

I think that schools need to think about how they can add more recess time into their school day. And if the school curriculum rules say that they cannot add more reccess, they may need to think about it and maybe rethink the rules. And, teachers maybe they could try to mix outside and our work. Like incoroprate going outside into our daily lessons. Some studies say being outside improves chidren’s creativity and foucs.

I have a freind who is on focus medicine. Some studies and doctors say that it improves this too. That being outside helps you focus better when go inside. There was a big article in the New Yorks Times about how nature helps kids mental health. Maybe it would help my friend if we had more recess and help other kids too.

Another reason  kids should go outside more as it helps kids focus and concentrate on class work and also improves the five senses. And being outside also helps your body’s defenses from getting sick – going outside improves your immune system.  It also helps the development your brain. It helps with being more friendly and talking – helps your socializing skills .

And, here’s the best part about it – being outside, it’s also proven, that it makes kids happier.

Leo, Central Park, New York City, New York
Helping Ninjas Photo Copyright December 2018

Helping Ninjas Rock Climbing at Central Park, New York City, New York
Helping Ninjas Photo Copyright December 2018