Tuesday, August 7, 2018

9 ways to help the climate

In the same day that my newsfeed had a Smithsonian article about CO2 being at an 800,000 year high, Forbes produced a short list of things you can do about it TODAY. Ironically, it’s a reprint of a 2017 article. So which of these have you done yet?


Monday, August 6, 2018

Shell getting into the electric car market with a (potentially) revolutionary charging system

Everyone knows that electric cars are expensive, you have a limited range and then you're stuck at a charging station for awhile and that's only if you can find a charger with the right connector. But what if that all weren't the case?

Royal Dutch Shell, the oil giant, is funding a new start-up called Ample:
“Ample has invented an economical, rapidly deployable and widely accessible platform that delivers a full charge to any electric car in minutes. An alternative to traditional charging, Ample uses autonomous robotics and smart-battery technology, making it feasible for anyone to own an electric car regardless of driving needs, economic means, or geographic location.”


Sunday, August 5, 2018

Sustainability election forum featured in Red Rock News

Couldn’t make the candidate forum we hosted for Sedona candidates? Here’s a news story covering it from the Red Rock News. We’ve also posted candidates’ answers (those we were sent) on our website. You can find the link under News tab on our website.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Another reason to use less plastic and recycle what you do use

It makes sense but the scientists hadn’t looked into it yet. Plastics dumped in the landfill break down, generating methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Many people are now aware of the plastic problem in our oceans, but it make be just as problematic on land if we don’t recycle them.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Levi is setting ambitious climate goals

Levi Strauss was an early adopter regarding sustainability. Now they have set ambitious and science-based climate targets.

By 2025, the company plans to use 100% renewable energy in all of its own facilities, cut emissions in those buildings by 90% compared to Levi’s footprint in 2016 and–in a move no company has tried before–it also plans to cut the emissions in its supply chain by 40%.
Inside Levi’s ambitious plan to cut its carbon footprint - Fast Company https://apple.news/Am1ymvqXKTsG5d1XBFcAL7g

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Noah, the first circular economy car

Noah is an experimental electric car made from recyclable materials. The chassis is made from flax and a sugar biopolymer. Sweet! It can go about 150miles on a charge and it incredibly efficient.
"The complete drivetrain has been optimized and with a gearbox called "Smesh Gear" which will reach an efficiency of 97% (!) during acceleration and even a 100% efficiency at constant speeds, this makes the entire drivetrain of Noah incredibly energy efficient. The electromotors are powered by six modular batteries that enable easy battery swapping and the possibility to gradually introduce better battery technology when available. For Noah to be future ready he is equipped with NFC scanners in the doors which make him perfect for carsharing. With this NFC scanner, the door can be opened by any mobile device, Noah will immediately recognize the user and set the car to his or her personal preferences."


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Sedona Candidate Forum--Answers to Sustainability Questions

Ten of 12 candidates for mayor and council showed up for the Sustainability Forum today (July 28) at Mary D Fisher Theatre. If you weren't able to make the event or want to learn more about candidate views on sustainability, we encouraged candidates to post their answers and we offered to post their answers on our website as well. Ones that we were sent can be found here.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Nordic alternative to the food pyramid

The Mediterranean Diet has long been a model. Now some are focusing on the Nordic alternative, 10 simple principles that encourage eating seasonal and wild foods, reducing waste and having a lighter footprint on the planet.
1. Eat more fruit and vegetables every day 
2. Eat more whole grain produce 
3. Eat more food from the seas and lakes 
4. Eat higher-quality meat, and less of it 
5. Eat more food from wild landscapes 
6. Eat organic produce whenever possible 
7. Avoid food additives 
8. Eat more meals based on seasonal produce 
9. Eat more home-cooked food 
10. Produce less waste

Monday, July 23, 2018

This company isn’t having any trouble finding ag workers

No doubt, farming is hard work. We’re told that Americans don’t want to do it; only desperate undocumented migrant laborers. But this new organization, organized as a labor trust, similar to a worker owned cooperative, is growing by leaps and bounds.

The key to it all is replacing the traditional middleman. In the case of California Harvesters, that means the farm labor contractors, or FLCs, who supply a majority of the agricultural workforce to growers up and down the state’s giant farm belt.
California Harvesters charges growers the same as an FLC does. But it takes the amount of the total labor bill that’s pocketed by the FLC–5% to 8% after expenses, those in the industry say–and directs that sum back to the employees in the form of higher wages, more generous benefits, and so on.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Vitol, largest oil trader, putting money into renewables

Probably a decade ago, the Saudi oil minister famously said, “The Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stones and the Oil Age won’t end for lack of oil.”

Here’s another indicator that the Oil Age is on the wane. Vitol, the world’s largest oil trader, has just partnered with Low Carbon to set up a renewable fund. They appear to be focused on investments in Europe.

The world's biggest oil trader is setting up a renewable energy fund - Business Insider https://apple.news/AzKscbiT-S5OPalB5cmRfGQ

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Can Bitcoin bring solar to the developing world?

To scale up solar, there are some problems we need to address. One is geographic: some places get a lot more sun that others (and that sun may not always correspond to peak demand). A second is up-front costs: how can people who are barely getting by (either in the developing or developed world) afford to pay for panels?

Sun Exchange is making it possible, using the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, to de-couple who owns the panels, where they are and who gets the energy.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Sacramento intends to be electric car capital of US

Sacramento CA is rolling out a number of initiatives to lead the electric vehicles, including passenger cars, golf carts and buses.


Monday, July 16, 2018

2018 Sedona elections: What do the candidates think about sustainability?

Public Forum on Sustainability,  July 28, 1:00-2:30 at the Mary D. Fisher Theater.

At this point we have 10 candidates confirmed as planning to attend in person. Andrea Christelle, owner of Sedona Philosophy and former board member of the local League of Women Voters, will be the facilitator.

Sustainability is embedded in the Sedona Community Plan, voted on by the community, and a recent National Citizen Survey revealed strong support for action on 6 sustainability areas. Our questions invite the candidates to explore their ideas in light of how they would help our People, Planet and Prosperity.


The format the Sustainability Alliance has chosen for this event is as follows:

  • WELCOME (Darcy Hitchcock)
  • INTRODUCTIONS (1 min per candidate)
  • SUSTAINABILITY QUESTIONS (candidates speak 2 min each on three of 5 questions)
  • WRAP UP (Andrea Christelle)


Our community is working to  balance economic vitality (which in Sedona, has been closely linked with tourism) and livability for local residents.

How do we maintain a prosperous community while addressing the impacts of tourism?

We all come here, visitors and residents alike, for the natural beauty. But this natural beauty is adversely affected by human impacts, including (but not limited to)  trail erosion, water pollution and supply. Additional development and climate change may exacerbate these challenges.

Which of these issues, or others, are priorities for you, and what can the City of Sedona do to help residents & visitors mitigate impacts on the environment?

One of the six major outcomes of the Community Plan is a commitment to environmental protection. That vision imagines that Sedona will become “an international model for the successful balancing of environmental and human wants and needs.” 

To what degree should we focus on becoming a model for other communities, and how can we work toward that goal?

The National Citizen Survey that Sedona conducted last year revealed very strong support for “investing in creating sustainability policies and programs” for each of six environmental issues alternative energy, water conservation, National Forest stewardship, recycling services, zero waste goal and higher green building standards.

Which of these opportunities, or others, would you want the city to address first and how?

Another of the 6 major outcomes in the community plan relates to economic diversity.

How do you see economic diversification happening in a way that protects the planet and enhances the lives of those in our workforce?

Carbon farming: One way to fix the climate problem

Carbon farming. Hmm, no milking, birthing, or harvesting? Well, those things might still be involved but changing farming and ranching practices can put carbon back into the earth. Bioneers is launching a new series to explore the advances in carbon farming.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Apple investing $300 million in clean energy in China

Let's face it. All those devices take a lot of energy to produce and use. So Apple is trying to remedy some of their impacts. They just announced a $300 million fund to develop clean energy in China.


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Critters cheer: computer now better than animal testing for toxicity

You really don’t want to know what it took to bring your personal care and household products to market. Unless the container says cruelty-free or not tested on animals, it was likely rubbed into rabbits’ eyes and force-fed to mice.

But now there is really no need to torture animals this way. A new computer program is now more reliable than animal testing.


Friday, July 13, 2018

How to get more energy without new power plants

Some people worry that as we electrify our transportation system, we won’t have enough electricity production to charge the vehicles. But our energy system is hugely inefficient; over half the energy created by a power plant is wasted as heat. Europe has spearheaded combined heat and power plants where the waste heat is used to heat buildings and drive industrial processes. I visited waste to energy plants that cleanly burned what could not be recycled and generated heat and electricity.

But there are even more interesting opportunities. Imagine not needing batteries because you could charge your phone or other device by pressing a button. Whirlpool turbines set in rivers can generate electricity without dams. Read more...

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Star gazing is new sustainable tourism trend

Flagstaff, Sedona, Village of Oak Creek and most recently Camp Verde are International Dark Sky communities. This sets the Verde Valley for the latest travel trend: astrotourism. No, that's not getting a ride on Elon Musk's rocket. It's enjoying the night sky, increasingly rare in the electrified world.

Here's an article about the trend that includes a listing of some of the best communities to view the dark sky.


Build roads with plastic waste!

An engineer has figured out how to take plastic waste and use it in road construction and repair. Watch the short video at this link.

British engineer, Toby McCartney, has developed a way to use waste plastic as a binding agent in asphalt, replacing most of the conventional bitumen, an oil product. His method reduces plastic waste, decreases the need for oil, and creates tougher, longer-lasting roads.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Businesses committing to net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050

We Mean Business is a coalition of corporations pushing to improve the climate change targets around the world and to ramp up progress toward meaningful levels. They have a number of different tools (like a climate policy tracker to help businesses maximize their opportunities) and a Net-Zero by 2050 pledge which includes having approved, science-based targets.

Currently five companies have committed to set science-based target, or had their target approved by the Science Based Targets initiative, and have also pledged to take their companies to net-zero. These are: Kering, Unilever, Broad Group, Safaricom, and Natura.

Monday, July 9, 2018

IKEA getting into repairs, used furniture

Part of the path toward sustainability is to shift from products to services, move away from business models that require selling more of the world’s resources. Interface Carpet’s Evergreen Lease is the iconic example, leasing carpet tiles and taking them back to make new carpet.

Now IKEA is planning to grow by offering services, ways to update rather than replace furniture, and to sell used furniture. It also is working on sourcing only materials that are renewable or from recycled materials.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Grow food underground in a walipini

Climate change may wreak havoc on our agricultural systems as weather becomes more unpredictable. But some are finding ways to grow food partially underground. These are cheaper than greenhouses and provide a stable micro-climate.


Blueprint for a green economy

While in Iceland for vacation, I lucked out choosing a guide who had been elected to Council to promote sustainable practices. He shared an English version abstract of their plan for a green economy. Unfortunately it hasn’t been implemented (yet, we can hope) but it may give guidance to others who share an interest in creating a sustainable economy.


Friday, July 6, 2018

Housing fast, in increments: an idea for workforce housing and disaster recovery

In Curitiba, Brazil, the municipality helped poor people build their own homes, one room at a time. Texas, having faced disaster after disaster, is using a similar model to get people back into their homes fast. There’s a core module with Kitchen, bath and bedroom, designed to be added onto as more funding becomes available. It’s called RAPIDO. Take a look. This could also be a response to affordable workforce housing.


One point in the video that sticks with me is the need to determine, long before a disaster happens, what the community would want to do with the funding that typically follows.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

EU reimagining agriculture for a sustainable future

Our agricultural system is unsustainable. Soils are being depleted, water is being polluted, and Americans are getting fat. The EU recently held a gathering to reimagine the future of agriculture in Europe.
"We need a fundamental transition to sustainable food and farming systems," said Olivier De Schutter, co-chair of International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) and former U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. "We need shifts in food production, processing, retail, and consumption to occur at the same time. And we need a clear direction of travel at EU level. That is why we need a Common Food Policy."


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Nordic countries sledding down the climate curve

Nordic countries took the energy crisis in the 1970's to heart and have since been working to switch to renewables. Of course, they're still pumping oil from the North Sea; it's a transitional process.  But as a result of these efforts, while their GDP is up 28% since 2000 (better than Germany), their greenhouse gas emissions are DOWN 18 percent.

Just a taste of the latest milestones: In Norway, more than half of all new car sales are electric or hybrid models, just as entire fleets of ferries that run on batteries are being produced. Last year, Denmark set the world record for a wind-powered economy, generating 43% of electricity from wind power. The Swedes and Finns are paving the way in producing biogas from waste and vegetation and turning it into fuel for heating and automobile engines. Iceland and Norway already run on renewable energy, so abundant are their geothermal and hydro resources, respectively.

Copenhagen, Denmark's capital, is one of Europe's smartest cities, or low-carbon sustainable cities; two-thirds of its residents cycle to work, while only 9% drive cars. There are 233 miles of bike path, and the city is continuing to expand the routes and bridges for cyclists. In few other big cities is the downtown air so clean, which lands Copenhagen among the world's most livable cities year in, year out.


Monday, July 2, 2018

Automakers ask for efficiency standards

The AAM, Alliance of American Auotmakers, recently sent a letter to the government, affirming climate change.
“Automakers remain committed to increasing fuel efficiency requirements, which yield everyday fuel savings for consumers while also reducing emissions — because climate change is real and we have a continuing role in reducing greenhouse gases and improving fuel efficiency,” said David Schwietert, the organization’s executive vice president of federal government relations.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Fashion industry struggling to manage waste

 When clothing became “fashion” designers harnessed our human need to fit in to generate huge profits. If your perfectly good dress or suit and tie from last year has become passé, you’re almost required to buy a new one just to maintain your social status. Great for the designers and clothing manufacturers, but a disaster for the planet.

This article chronicles some of the efforts the fashion industry is undertaking, but ultimately they can’t keep up with the fast-fashion culture they created. It’s up to us to change our behavior.

Even the clothes you donate probably end up in a landfill - Popular Science https://apple.news/AbwX26z77Q4Sa2-8U9OabDg

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Alphabet (Google) wants to air condition your home

Geothermal (groundsource heat pumps) have been around for a while. We've got a unit in our house. It uses the constant temperature of the ground to heat and cool. We found that with tax credits, it was no more expensive than a traditional heat pump system.

But now Alphabet has turned out a product that should make it even less expensive.


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Suck carbon from the air

Geoengineering the climate has been considered a hail-Mary approach to climate change. But costs are coming down. A technology has been developed to suck carbon dioxide directly from the air and then making fuel with it. It’s not clear how that could be considered a low carbon fuel since they’d be putting the carbon back into the atmosphere, but at least it wouldn’t be adding new CO2 from supplies long buried deep in the earth.


Monday, June 25, 2018

China closing doors for our recycling waste. What now?

The US used to send a lot of our waste to China to be processed. But China has changed its policy and it’s causing a crisis in the recycling industry. So are there alternatives to just dumping it all in the landfill? This article has a couple ideas.


Friday, June 22, 2018

Major investors factor in climate change

The largest asset manager in Europe sees a shift in investment strategies within institutional investors. For many, until now, Climate change was off their radar. But many are now realizing that the effects of climate change (like extreme weather events) and how the world may react to the problem (like banning diesel cars) has to be part of a wise, forward-thinking investment strategy. In fact, the low-carbon index has been out-performing the MSCI.

Europe’s Largest Asset Manager Sees ‘Tipping Point’ on Climate - Bloomberg https://apple.news/AGE-dhOCFQdOSRkjteokBZA

Thursday, June 21, 2018

What to look for in a sustainability coordinator

We're delighted that Sedona is hiring a sustainability coordinator. I've not seen a sustainability effort be successful without it being someone's official job. That said, their job is to integrate it into the organization so the effort isn't dependent upon them.

Here's my advice to anyone planning to write a job description and hire a sustainability coordinator. There are three main competencies I would look for, from technical to general:

Do they know enough about sustainability science and frameworks to give you good advice, develop a credible framework, make decisions based on a reputable framework? At a minimum, I would want them to know about the UN SDGs and Global Reporting Initiative, and familiarity with The Natural Step and industry-specific certifications would be helpful. Some familiarity with the science behind climate change, chemical exposure, renewable energy and urban planning may be helpful.

Do they have experience with processes to get sustainability formalized within your organization: Sustainability planning, metrics, setting meaningful goals, and facilitating steering committees.  For government, a familiarity with public meeting laws and related ethics and political processes would be helpful. Are they a good leader, facilitator, and team builder?

Do they know how to persuade people, make persuasive business cases for projects, deal with nay-sayers, get people engaged and excited? Can they work effectively with stakeholders inside and outside the organization (and perhaps have any existing relationships that could be helpful)? Can they effectively move responsibility for sustainability into the systems of the organization (eg, planning, budgeting, standard operating procedures, performance reviews) such that the effort is not dependent upon their presence in the organization?

For more information on the competencies of sustainability coordinators/directors, go to the International Society of Sustainability Professionals. They conducted a competency study for people in this role and also have two levels of professional certification based on that research. You can search for certified professionals by city or country.  Realize this certification was released in the last couple years but the number of professionals with one of these certifications is growing rapidly.

Pope Francis takes on oil execs, calling for clean energy

In an unprecedented two day meeting, the Vatican put pressure on oil execs and investors to switch to clean energy sources.
“We know that the challenges facing us are interconnected. If we are to eliminate poverty and hunger ... the more than 1 billion people without electricity today need to gain access to it,” Francis told them.
“But that energy should also be clean, by a reduction in the systematic use of fossil fuels. Our desire to ensure energy for all must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments and increased levels of poverty,” he said.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Why your home should go all electric

Here’s an interesting article about why we need incentives to electrify homes. For a while it was thought to be better to use natural gas directly in the home vs using it to generate electricity with all the line losses. And the natural gas companies had lots of incentives to get people to switch from oil or propane, or even old heat pumps. 

But this article makes the case that we should be encouraging people to switch to heat pumps (in this climate, ground-sourced heat pumps are ideal). In the long run, this should make it easier to reduce our climate impact as the grid switches to renewables. 


Monday, June 18, 2018

Plant based diet improves athlete performance

You’ll recall from previous posts that a vegan diet is much more planet-friendly. But did you know it can vastly improve your performance? According to a new documentary, The Game Changers, it’s becoming increasingly popular with athletes but the health  benefits should transfer to the rest of us.

In the film, Esselstyn challenges 35 New York City firefighters to take his Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Challenge to see how their weight, blood pressure, and internal biochemistry could measurably shift in just one week. “When they're doing whole plant-based foods, we've got an average total cholesterol drop of 31 points, weight loss of almost seven pounds, and blood pressure at 10 over 5 — and these guys were just blown away,” Esselstyn reports


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Unilever's Sustainable Brands growing much faster than the rest of their business

Unilever's experience proves there is a market in healthier, safer, sustainable products.

Unilever has today revealed its fourth consecutive year of growth for its ‘sustainable living’ brands, which delivered 70 percent of its turnover growth and grew 46 percent faster (a slightly slower rate than last year, when it was over 50 percent). than the rest of the business. The company says all of its brands are working to reduce their environmental footprint and increase their positive social impact; the ‘sustainable living’ brands are those that are furthest ahead on the journey.


Friday, June 15, 2018

Better than composting? Great ideas to eat your food scraps..

You don’t want to put your food scraps in the trash because, in the landfill, they turn into methane, a far more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2 created in your compost pile. But what’s better than composting? Eating your food scraps! This article has a number of creative ideas for everything from stone fruit pits to herb stems.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Plant protein is healthier than animal protein

Want to live longer? Want to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer? Care about the environment? Then experiment with vegan alternatives to your typical meals. Here’s an article from Popular Science explaining why plants are healthier for you to eat than animals.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Trap CO2 in concrete

Concrete is the most prevalent man-made material but the cement it’s made with has a huge carbon footprint, thanks to the chemistry involved. A number of people have been working on methods to inject CO2 into the concrete to trap it forever. It makes the concrete stronger so you can use less cement. Now there is a commercial product that’s being used to build a large building in Atlanta.

"If this technology is deployed across the globe, we could reduce about 700 megatons of CO2 each year. That's the same as taking 150 million cars off the road every year," Gamble said.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Republican mayors advancing climate policies

Unfortunately climate change has become politicized in the US instead of a purely scientific issue. But this study shows how conservative mayors are moving toward climate-friendly policies, even if they don’t frame it as such. Instead, they may focus on issues like ecosystem conservation or human health.

Many Republican mayors are advancing climate-friendly policies without saying so - The Conversation US https://apple.news/ACZwLAOcVQlytuNtXLwN0sQ

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Want to know percent of people accept climate change in your hometown?

Yale has produced a map of the US, down to the county level or congressional district, which shows the percentage of people who accept climate change as real. This information can embolden politicians to move forward on climate strategies.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Practical suggestions to ban plastic from your life

We’ve all seen the tragic pictures of wildlife and sea creatures tangled in plastic. Certainly recycling your plastic helps but that’s gettting harder and harder to do now that China has closed its doors to a lot of our waste and the value of recycled materials tanks.

So how can you rid your everyday life of plastic? Here are some great suggestions.


Charge your car in 5 min

BP may be slowly returning to their Beyond Petroleum marketing. They’re investing in an Israeli company working on solid state batteries which could charge in 5 minutes. More and more oil and car companies are getting on board because of the exponential growth in electric vehicles and associated technologies.


Friday, May 25, 2018

The dirty underbelly of solar production and what you can do

Most people who put up solar panels are confident that they’re doing right by the environment. Certainly they’re producing clean power. But which solar panels you choose can affect the up- and downstream effects: toxic chemicals used in production and what happens at the end of life, if the solar panels can be recycled.

Learn more: https://www.triplepundit.com/2018/05/carbon-footprint-solar-panels-manufacturing/

Thursday, May 24, 2018

12 indicators of a healthy community

There are many ways to assess community well-being. A Yale research group has found that 12 indicators are highly predictive (not necessarily the cause of) community health and well-being or the opposite.
A Yale-led team of researchers has identified 12 community factors independently related to well-being. The factors included some obvious ones, such as higher levels of education and income, as well as some surprises, including a higher percentage of black residents, a higher percentage of bicycle commuters, and better access to preventive care, such as mammograms. The results appear in the journal PLOS ONE.


Monday, May 21, 2018

More worker-owned cooperatives on the horizon

I’ve been a fan of worker owned coops since I first heard of the Mondragon Coops in Spain in the early 1980’s. They give employees power over their lives and spread the wealth more equitably. In economic downturns, they typically find more humane ways, avoiding layoffs. According to this article, it now seems that the number of coops may grow as Baby Boomers face retirement. Some are selling their companies to their employees.


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Enclosed electric bike goes off-road

Watch the video of what this little electric bike can do: snow, hills, dirt roads. To meet US standards for an electric bike (that can go in bike lanes), they plan to make a 3 wheeled version. Unfortunately it appears people in the US can't participate in the crowd-sourcing....yet.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Free service helps communities remove red tape for solar

The cost of solar panels is only part of the expense of going solar. Navigating the bureaucracy is a “soft cost.” SolSmart is a free service that helps communities streamline the process.

Unnecessary paperwork, red tape, and other burdensome requirements increase costs and discourage solar companies from moving to the area. By streamlining these requirements and taking other steps to encourage solar development, communities become “open for solar business.”


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Restaurants: Ditch the straw!

My husband cringes when I do it. At restaurants, I blurt out, “No straws!” before the server brings us water. Why on earth do restaurants waste money by putting plastic garbage in our drinks? If people think the glasses aren’t clean, a straw won’t really help much. Sure, if someone has a broken jaw wired together, they could ask for one, but don’t make it the default.

My husband can take some comfort in that there is now a worldwide movement to ditch the straws, or at least come up with an environmental alternative.

Pernod Ricard announced we would stop purchasing plastic straws and stirrers to adorn our Chivas Regal Scotch Whiskey, Absolut Vodka, Kahlua Liqueur and other specialty liquor cocktails. In their place, we are introducing drinks with alternative options, including drinks without straws or stirrers.


Monday, May 14, 2018

How to create a sustainability plan

At first, organizations pursue sustainability with ad hoc actions: a little recycling, replacing plastic water bottles, etc. But how do you know if you're working on the right things in the right order, on what's important, not easy?

A Sustainability Plan documents the business case for your organization to pursue sustainability, how you're going to measure progress, and what projects you intend to pursue over the long-term. This process is critical to becoming systematic in your approach to sustainability.

The Step by Step Guide to Sustainability Planning by Darcy Hitchcock and Marsha Willard is a 'cookbook' for how to create a sustainability plan. The Sustainability Alliance has also created a simple 5-page worksheet to help you create your first sustainability plan. Rather than doing an exhaustive plan over many months, we've found it usually works best to get a preliminary plan done and get some action under your belt. Then revise each year.

Download the Sustainability Planning Worksheet.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Team of kids transform Styrofoam into water filter activated carbon

What is plastic? Mostly hydrocarbons. So these kids wondered why they couldn’t recycle expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) into activated carbon which can clean water, solving two global problems with one solution. They burned up a family grill in the process but finally figured out how to do it. Now they are patenting the process. Watch this short TedTalk to learn more (there’s a longer version on TED.com.)


Friday, May 11, 2018

California is first state to require all new homes have solar panels

California tends to lead on many environmental issues. Here's a stunner. In the next 2 years, all new homes will have to have solar panels.

The new requirement, to take effect in two years, brings solar power into the mainstream in a way it has never been until now. It will add thousands of dollars to the cost of home when a shortage of affordable housing is one of California’s most pressing issues.

That made the relative ease of its approval — in a unanimous vote by the five-member California Energy Commission before a standing-room crowd, with little debate — all the more remarkable.

State officials and clean-energy advocates say the extra cost to home buyers will be more than made up in lower energy bills. That prospect has won over even the construction industry, which has embraced solar capability as a selling point.


Squaw Valley: 100% renewable by year end

Ski resorts have to be worried about climate change. Warmer temps and uncertain rainfall are threats to their core business. So Squaw Valley is taking responsibility for switching to 100% renewable power. For a ski resort, this can be difficult because it involves more than just buying green power. Think of the generators and snow machines. But thanks to a deal with Tesla, they expect to be all renewable by the end of the year.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

What would we be doing if we were serious about climate targets?

The world’s approach to climate change has been a bit like using your debit card without ever checking your bank balance: no firm budget, just wishful thinking that somehow it’ll work out okay.

So what would it look like if we were serious about our climate budget?


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

PG&E, one of the largest US utilities, has 79% renewables

PG&E, a California utility headed by a Latina, is benefitting from jumping on the renewable bandwagon early. They already get 79% of their electricity from renewables and is well positioned to benefit from the electrification of transportation.

Compare that to Arizona where the Corporation Commision only expects our utilities to reach 15% renewables by 2025.


UK flushing baby wipes and other plastics off the market

The British government is pushing single-use plastic items off the market. Wet wipes for babies’ bottoms and women’s cosmetics are one of a number of products targeted. This should also make the wastewater treatment workers happy since 93 percent of sewer clogs are from these wipes.


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Agroecology combines organic, culture and land rights

Agroecology movement recently had a global summit to debate the path forward. Can conventional agriculture and agroecology coexist or should agroecology scale up to large agribusiness or is there a third path?

Read more....

Friday, May 4, 2018

Soon, only electric cruise ships can see Norway’s fjords

“Over-tourism” is a real term in the travel industry. Residents flee Dubrovnik and Venice while tourist-focused economic development floods the town.

Norway had 300,000 cruise passengers visit its UNESCO fjords, causing air pollution and crowds. The parliament has just decided that staring in 2026 only electric cruise ships will be allowed, making them the “world’s first zero-emission zone at sea.” They will need to charge the ships with renewable energy to truly earn that title. In 2016, 98 percent of their electricity came from renewables (although they still drill for oil and gas offshore.)


Thursday, May 3, 2018

India gets electric scooter for $1125.

The Flow electric scooter can go 50-100 miles (depending on whether you get the one or two battery option.) It can charge on a normal outlet in several hours and only costs about $1000. Not surprisingly, the first offering sold out immediately. The only question is when these might be available outside of India.


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

New database connects companies with SDG innovations

Fetch is a new platform intended to connect sustainable entrepreneurs with larger companies focused on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. It will be rolled out this month.

The idea for fetch is to create one global digital platform where members can search for innovations that align with their goals around all topics under the sustainability umbrella and the Sustainable Development Goals. The aim … is to become the world’s largest digital platform with a searchable database of sustainability and social innovations around the globe.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Investment in green economy tops $9 trillion

In a recent report, the Ethical Markets Media adds up the cumulative private investment in the green economy. We are on track to reach $10 trillion by 2020.

See the whole report here.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sleep better knowing you have a green mattress

Guest post by Ellie Porter
Managing Editor | SleepHelp.org

What You Need to Know About Green Mattresses

It's easier now than ever before to choose a green mattress. The market is full of options for green mattresses, many of them online. As environmentally responsible innovation has grown, many mattress companies have introduced more sustainable materials and manufacturing practices that make it easier to sleep on a bed that's good not just for you, but the environment as well.

Green mattresses use natural and organic materials in the cover, comfort layers, and support core. Typically, natural or organic materials used in mattresses include natural latex, plant-based foam, organic cotton or wool, or fire socks made from cotton, thistle, wool, or Kevlar.

When shopping for a green mattress, look for standards including:

  • No chemical flame retardants (fire socks are an eco-friendly alternative)
  • Renewable resource materials, including natural latex, cotton, plant-based foam, and wool
  • Recycled materials, such as recycled fibers
  • Organic materials
  • Sustainable manufacturing practices, such as minimal water usage
  • Sustainable shipping practices, such as compact delivery boxes
  • Green mattress certifications

Green Mattress Certifications

Not all green claims are equal, and some mattress companies may exaggerate the eco-friendliness of their products. Although it's not possible to have a 100 percent natural or organic mattress, green mattresses typically have a 60 to 95 percent natural and organic content. But with green mattress certifications, you can verify some of the health and environmental claims made by mattress manufacturers.

Green mattress certifications include:

  • Global Organic Textile Standard: Minimum 70 percent organic materials
  • Global Organic Latex Standard: Minimum 95 percent organic latex
  • GreenGuard: VOC emissions in finished mattresses
  • USDA Organic: Organic raw materials such as rubber trees (latex) and cotton
  • OEKO-TEX Made in Green: Sustainable manufacturing processes
  • Cradle to Cradle: Multiple sustainable criteria
  • Global Recycled Standard: Environmentally healthy and sustainable manufacturing practices
  • OEKO-TEX Standard 100: Emission limits
  • CertiPUR-US: Polyfoam emission limits
  • Eco-Institut: Latex emission limits and chemical substances

Responsibly Disposing of Your Old Mattress

More than 50,000 mattresses end up in landfills each day, according to the Mattress Recycling Council. But up to 80 percent of each is made up of components that can be recycled, so it's never a responsible choice to simply throw away your old mattress. If you have an old one you no longer have a use for, there are options.

Donate Your Old Mattress

Used mattresses that are still in good condition can be donated. Consider passing your old bed on to a friend or family member, or listing it online. Contact local charities to find out if they accept used mattresses. Of course, make sure you call ahead and be sure that your old mattress is clean and in good working order.

Recycle Your Old Mattress

Mattresses that are no longer in good shape can be recycled. Metal and box springs can be sold for scrap and reused by steel mills. Wood can be recycled and used as a fuel source or chopped up for gardening use. Foam, fiber, and other soft materials can be recycled and used as well. Visit Earth911 to find recycling centers near you that can accept used mattresses.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

UK fund manager will name-shame-divest climate bad guys

Helena Morrissey, a large investment manager responsible for over $1 trillion in assets, has said she’s soon to name and shame and strip companies of funding if they aren’t doing enough for climate change.

"There comes a time when talk is over, and it's time to vote with our feet. Money talks as they say," Morrissey said at a conference in London on Monday. She emphasised the need for the financial sector to work together, driving change through sustainable investments, and said that these investments can produce both "profit and purpose." Many individuals don't invest in the market because of fear their money will be used for purposes they disagree with, Morrissey said. She suggested sustainable investing as a solution.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Vacuum ocean plastic...will it work?

You might have seen the TedTalk. Boyan Slat left school because he was so concerned about ocean plastic. His device will be deployed this summer. It will be interesting to see if it works.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

You can go to jail in Kenya for plastic bags

The UK is considering a ban on plastic straws and Q-tips with plastic. But the toughest plastic regulation of all is in Kenya:

 ...there are fines if you use a plastic bag and if business people are caught making or importing them, they actually face up to four years in jail.
Plastic straw and cotton bud ban proposed - BBC News US 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

New tool: Zero Waste Events checklist and certification

When we tell people about our Sustainable Business Certification, we are often asked if we can certify events. We thought that was a cool idea, especially because of all the events we have in the area.

One of the first and most accessible actions is to make an event "zero waste" (defined in industry as at least a 90% diversion from landfill.) With a little planning and local resources, it's easily achievable.

Wouldn't it be great if the Sedona Film Festival, Yoga Festival, Native Plant Workshop, Art Festival, Marathon, Day of the Dead, Verde River Festival, Earth Day Celebration, weddings, etc., all produced virtually no waste?  

We could educate all who came about zero waste as an achievable goal.

We created Make Your Event Sustainable guide which includes a Zero Waste Events Checklist. If an event planner commits to all relevant practices (from the 16 zero waste practices), their event can be certified by the Sustainability Alliance.

We also have a host of local resources to help you, including people who can compost your food waste and rent you dishes.

Download the guide and learn of Verde Valley/Flagstaff resources here:

Book review: The Righteous Mind

Haight, Jonathan (2012) The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.

This book takes a current look at brain science and evolutionary adaptations that have led us to the political divide in the US. The concepts have a chance of bridging the increasing divide.

Key concepts:

Elephant and the rider: The elephant represents our unconscious which is largely in control. The rider is our rational mind which tries to direct the elephant. Mostly it’s in service of the elephant, even if we don’t know it.

We’re 90% chimp/10% hive: Humans are still largely selfish/self-interested but can in certain circumstances act collectively. This capacity to come together was key to our evolution. Culture of course affects the degree to which we focus on individual freedom or collective well-being. To me one of the most interesting perspectives is how religion—the function of it, separate from whatever beliefs—is designed to create community, to sacrifice for the group and dampen selfishness. There are ‘hive switches,’ actions that can help us move our focus from self to group. Examples include military marches, singing together, and sports, as well as religious practices.

Liberals and conservatives have different moral values: No surprise here, but he reinforces earlier research that shows that liberals focus on two:
·      care/harm
·      liberty/oppression
They are much more likely to care about people outside their group and want to ensure fair treatment.

Conservatives share those values but add 4 more:
·      Loyalty/betrayal (often expressed as loyalty to one’s own group, protecting the in-group, nationalism)
·      Authority/subversion (often expressed as a respect for God, leaders, military structure and service)
·      Sanctity/degradation (often expressed as a respect for God, the sanctity of life, hallowed places and practices)
·      fairness/cheating (often expressed as a respect for meritocracies and a concern about free-riders: why take money from someone who earned it and give it to people—welfare recipients—who have not.)

Without these structures, Conservatives worry that people may behave badly.

Fairness to liberals is about righting wrongs, removing sources of oppression. Conservatives’ version of fairness has to do with getting what you earn, and not getting what you haven’t. These tendencies are largely set at birth. Liberals are more interested in change, new things. Conservatives are suspicious of changing too much too fast. 

Haight’s point of view is that we need both of these perspectives: liberalism to open avenues to adaptation but conservatism to maintain structures that maintain a sense of community.