Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Biggest science policy issue by state

There are so many issues to focus on, people get distracted. This Popular Science article identifies THE policy issue for each state. Arizonans, no surprise, it’s water conservation.

The most important science policy issue in every state - Popular Science https://apple.news/At5rxwXRVRySTj5SHzmZj-Q

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Nobel prizes tied to sustainability

Two US economists ere just awarded the Nobel Economics Prize related to sustainability.

Nobel committee chair Per Stromberg told Reuters Monday’s award was honoring research into “two big global questions”: how to deal with the negative effects of growth on the climate and “to make sure that this economic growth leaves prosperity for everyone.”



https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nobel-prize-economics/u-s-economists-win-nobel-for-work-on-climate-change-innovation-idUSKCN1MI0UN

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The astounding greenhouse gases of meat and dairy companies

Here’s a startling factoid...

The world’s five largest meat and dairy companies combined, including Tyson, Cargill and Dairy Farmers of America, are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions every year than any of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies.
For most of us, it’s going to be easier to eat more fruits and veggies than to buy an electric car and solar panels.

Some people go ‘cold turkey’ (bad vegan ‘meataphor’), committing to a vegan diet for a month and then see how they feel. I’ve found it easier to do it gradually....and I’m not quite there yet. I’ve been a vegetarian for decades which gave me time to adapt recipes (eg, pizza and chili without meat). Lately influenced by Healthy World Sedona, I’ve been experimenting with dairy alternatives (coffee creamer, yogurt, cheese...first two were easy; cheese, not so much unless it’s mixed into a dish.) Online recipes and reviews make this easier than ever. I still occasionally make an egg dish or treat myself to a slice of bacon when we go out for breakfast.

Start somewhere. It’s healthier, less expensive, better for the planet and better for the poor caged animals. Who wouldn’t want that?

Share your favorite recipes and vegan brands!

The Giant Corporations Behind Your Burgers And Milk Have A Terrifying Climate Secret - HuffPost https://apple.news/ADuh1qWGtQ1qmpSthbhDGWQ

Friday, October 12, 2018

How the Brits used the mail to change ‘crisps’ packaging

Crisps (that’s potato chips in American English) are usually packaged in un-recyclable packaging, crackly plastic that brings your dog running, or Mylar. The Brits were fed up. Instead of staging their own version of the Boston Tea Party, they mailed the packaging back to the manufacturer. Here’s what happened....

https://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/why-brits-have-been-mailing-potato-chip-packets-and-why-they-can-stop.html

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Leave No Trace now includes packing out your poop

What happens when too many people hike or back back in the same area? Use your imagination; it’s gross. So now some of our National Parks are requiring people to pack out their own poo (if there’s no pit toilet around.)

Even if you’re in an area that doesn’t require you to pack it out, be sure to follow the Leave No Trace guidelines.

...find a secluded spot two hundred feet away from the trail, site, or water sources; dig a six-inch hole in the earth (which many do with the help of a compact plastic trowel), do your business, and cover it up. Toilet paper, even the kind advertised as “biodegradable,” is to be packed out, not buried, burned, or lazily stuffed under a rock.
America's National Parks Are Being Ruined by Human Poop - VICE https://apple.news/Az4GuNkUkQmKRwiHEK2i2YQ

Monday, October 8, 2018

IPCC says we need to reduce greenhouse gases by 45% by 2030

According to the world’s leading climate experts, we have 11 years to drastically reduce our impact on the climate to avoid disaster our consequences, far more onerous than those we are already experiencing.

Global net emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach "net zero" around 2050 in order to keep the warming around 1.5 degrees C.

What can you do? For around $1 a day, everyone can buy green power and carbon offsets, even if they can’t buy a more efficient car or appliances right now. (See this blog post. While it’s written for small business, it all applie equally to households. http://www.sustainabilityallianceaz.org/2017/02/your-business-can-be-climate-neutral.html)

Those of you who are motivated to save money can check their home for leaks, upgrade their HVAC system or old appliances, and move toward a plant-based diet.


Planet has 12 years to stem catastrophic climate change, experts warn - CNN https://apple.news/Albo11YkZRU-zcQsbSCDwFg

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Sign of change: Solar installation at Chernobyl

Heres a symbol of the shift from the dirty 20th Century Industrial Revolution to our clean energy future. The Russians have built a large solar installation at Chernobyl, large enough to power 2000 homes despite the fact they’re virtually in the dark during the winter.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45771188

Monday, October 1, 2018

Globally, who is concerned about climate change, and not

Heres an interesting bit of analysis on a Pew research study. Caring about the climate is tied to democratic values.

Commitment to such democratic principles is a “nearly universal” predictor of concern for climate change around the world, the study finds—except English-speaking Western democracies where “political party has a large impact.” 

The study concludes that attitudes are different in the US because of free-market ideology. This is a classic case of our brains resisting information if we don’t like the implications.

Perhaps the reason totalitarian states tend to deny climate change is that there is a relationship between extractive economies/petro-states and authoritarianism. When a small number of people get wildly rich on a resource, they generally fight to keep the spoils themselves.

I wonder where China fits in this study. They’re investing heavily in clean energy but aren’t fans of unfettered democracy.

Climate Deniers Are More Likely to Hate Democracy - VICE https://apple.news/AUL6miMEUTyKEX0A7Nz0o0A

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Another reason to ditch Round-up: bees

According to this recent study, the main ingredient in the herbicide Round-Up may be killing honey bees and our native bees.

There are many safer alternatives, for you and the bees. Check out clove oil products like Weed Zapp. I’m having good results on tough desert weeds with amonium nonanoate which biodegrades in about a day (for example, Biosafe Weed Control) but it doesn’t smell like cookies like Weed Zapp. You can even steam your weeds to death!

https://www.npr.org/2018/09/25/651618685/study-roundup-weed-killer-could-be-linked-to-widespread-bee-deaths

Friday, September 28, 2018

Retire and sell your company...to your employees

Capitalism, at least how it is practiced in the West, primarily rewards those who put up the capital, the investors or owners. Wages are seen as a cost to control, employment is to be minimized. But step back and ask, is this fair? Surely the people who put millions into a business should get some type of return, but how much effort is there in calling your broker or writing a check? What about the people who show up every workday, who come up with ideas to improve the process, who satisfy customers, and who spend their wages and volunteer in their community? In a fair world, what percentage of the profits should they get?

Worker owned cooperatives are an alternative way to set up the enterprise so that this relationship is more balanced. These cooperatives not only share the fruits of labor with the laborers; unlike ESOPs, they also get decision making authority. Rights and responsibilities should in my mind always be aligned in this way. Give employees power and a fair share of the profits. After my many years experience with self directed work teams, I know that with a little coaching and support, most people will step up to the responsibility.

Increasingly business owners are selling their companies to the employees. Here are some examples.


https://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/a-boost-for-the-worker-owned-economy-20180925

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Using nature to reduce greenhouse gases

Nature has been recycling greenhouse gases for a lot longer than humans have been adding more of them to the atmosphere. But which strategies would make the biggest differences. Here’s a report that compares natural strategies (like reforestation) to taking millions of cars off the road.

If you are thinking of buying carbon offsets for natural projects, this chart might help you decide what to put your money toward.

Harnessing the power of nature in the fight against climate change - The World Economic Forum https://apple.news/AJRz817scMa-gKr9u7LT3yA

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Community health: measurable improvement in only 4 years

So-called BlueZones are areas in the world where people live long and healthy lives. The BlueZones organization has translated these into principles in a book published a number of years ago and they are now partnering with communities to improve their well-being. Fort Worth is one such community which has seen measurable improvements in only 4 years.

https://www.bluezones.com/2018/09/blue-zones-project-city-fort-worth-well-being-surges-u-s-score-drops/



Since 2014, Fort Worth has seen incredible well-being improvements:

31 percent decrease in smoking following Blue Zones Project implementation, advocacy, and policy work. Fort Worth’s smoking rate now stands at 13.5 percent.
9-point increase in residents who exercise at least 30 minutes three or more days of the week, now at 62 percent
3.7-point increase in those who say Fort Worth is the perfect place for them, now more than 65 percent
5.6-point increase in those who say they are proud of their community, now at over 69 percent.
More than 58 percent of Fort Worth respondents are now categorized as “thriving” in their general evaluations of their lives, an increase of 7.3 points.
The survey revealed that 75 percent of Fort Worth residents use their strengths daily, an increase of 6.2 points since 2014.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Utilities struggling to keep up with customer expectations for renewables

There's some really interesting info in this article. ...

--A majority of those surveyed (51 percent) believe that 100 percent renewables is a good idea even if it raises their energy bills by 30 percent. (Survey was done by the market research firm Maslansky & Partners, which analyzed existing utility messaging, interviewed utility execs and environmentalists, ran a national opinion survey, and did a couple of three-hour sit-downs with “media informed customers” in Minneapolis and Phoenix)

--Utility messaging around the barriers or cost concerns only leaves people feeling like they're putting up roadblocks.

Take a look at what else they discovered here:


https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/9/14/17853884/utilities-renewable-energy-100-percent-public-opinion

Sunday, September 23, 2018

A design of a sustainable community

In The Netherlands (of course), people are working on a design of a community that would generate all its heat and power, provide all its water, and half its food.

Decentralized Microgridding Can Provide 90% of a Neighborhood's Energy Needs, Study Finds - VICE https://apple.news/A1A8dvMSER_OoTeAQWfoN9A

Saturday, September 22, 2018

ChargePoint is catching up to Tesla charging stations

Chargepoint is planning to deploy a million charging stations by 2025.

https://electrek.co/2018/09/14/chargepoint-million-electric-vehicle-charge-points-2025/

Image from Electrek article
Since Tesla gives people the option of getting a dual charger (a Tesla one and the one the rest of us use), many Tesla’s could use the charger too. So if you’re thinking of putting in a charging station at your business, it’s more democratic to put in one of these. It’s hard enough to afford an electric car; a Tesla is out of reach for many people’s budget.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Bike paths from plastic, why not?

The Netherlands is testing out bike paths made from plastic waste which are projected to hold up better than asphalt. Sections come premanufactured and are light so they are easily installed.

Why don’t we use this approach to expand our sideswalks to be multi-use paths so electric bikes and neighborhood electric vehicles could share the paths with pedestrians?

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/sep/13/a-road-full-of-bottlenecks-dutch-cycle-path-is-made-of-plastic-waste

Thursday, September 20, 2018

BPA-Free isn’t free of toxic chemicals

Bisphenol-A mimics hormones and is implicated in the precipitous drop in sperm counts. But BPA-free plastics aren’t necessarily safe because the chemicals that replaced BPA may have similar effects.

Here’s an article about the problem that includes clear instructions for how to avoid a lot of your exposure.

Consumers can also take steps to avoid BPA alternatives entirely, notes Trasande. He suggests steering clear of plastics with the recycling numbers 3, 6, and 7, which all contain compounds of concern. Don’t put plastics in dishwashers or the microwave, which can damage them and cause them to leach more BPA or its alternatives. Throw away plastic when it looks aged or scratched. And opt for glass or steel containers rather than lined aluminum cans whenever possible.
 'BPA-free' plastic was supposed to be safe. Not necessarily, study shows - National Geographic https://apple.news/A8sUypafGR12SfHQyHZbIkQ

Switching to renewable power doesn’t have to cost more

In Arizona, as in other states, there are debates going on regarding whether switching to a more climate friendly energy system is going to “break the bank” or not. We won’t tell you how to vote, but here are two sources where you can answer your own questions about the cost comparison between conventional and renewable power.

Lazard https://www.lazard.com/perspective/levelized-cost-of-energy-2017/


UE Energy Information Center (scroll to Table 2 on page 9)
https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/archive/aeo17/pdf/electricity_generation.pdf





Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A new product can let you control temp in every room

Those of us with forced air heating and cooling never get it comfortable in all the rooms in the house. Some are too warm, as the sun streams in, and some, farthest from the air handler, get barely a breath out of the vents. And closing the door to an unused bedroom may only make things worse.

Now there may be a smart product to solve that: sensors and adaptable vent covers direct heating and cooling where it’s wanted.

If you get one of these systems, let us all know how it works.

https://www.fastcompany.com/90235707/forget-smart-ovens-intelligent-hvac-is-the-smart-homes-future

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The rise of mental illness isn’t all in their head

Historically, we have treated mental illness, including substance abuse, depression and anger, as a problem of individuals. Send them to a shrink or give them some drugs. (If we do anything at all.)

But our society contributes to the prevalence of these problems. The more unequal a society, the higher the rates of mental illness, not only for people at the bottom of the totem pole, also for people at the top. Groups that feel mistreated by society are more likely to act out their frustration. And in autocratic organizations, employees “retire and stay,” become “maliciously obedient,” or even sabotage.

This article quickly reviews the data on social impacts on mental well-being and provides suggestions for a path forward.

https://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/mental-health/what-a-society-design-for-well-being-looks-like-20180912


Monday, September 17, 2018

How a clean house makes kids fat

You may have heard that kids raised around animals are less likely to develop asthma. Now it appears cleaning your house, especially with traditional cleaners, can make kids fat by affecting their gut microbiota. Even over use of eco-cleaners, including vinegar, can reduce one type of gut bacteria, although green cleaning products aren’t associated with childhood obesity.

When a child's weight was measured at the age three, children who came into contact with disinfectants the most had higher BMI scores, while those encountering eco-friendly products—including homemade substances using vinegar—saw an inverse trend.
So ease off the disinfectants. For sure, get rid of antibacterial soaps that contribute to antibiotic resistance. And use green cleaning products sparingly. Remember, we have at least as many non-human cells than human cells in our bodies. Sure, there are some bad bacteria around, but many are our friends.


Household Cleaning Products Might Be Making Your Children Fat - Newsweek https://apple.news/Ar9U4BmgVT9OOEd3WLH5hVw

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Why it matters to the planet to eat your fruits and veggies

Plant-Pure Communities has put together a short summary of data about the impacts of our Western diet and provides a handful of recommendations.

http://plantpurecommunities.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ResourceSheet_FoodClimate.pdf

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Nukes are having a make-over

Given that we now likely need to take more carbon out of the atmosphere than we put in, are we now forced  back toward nuclear power?

There appears to be a PR campaign for nukes underway. I’m just catching up on episodes of Madam Secretary but the program I just watched had one of the characters making an impassioned case for the need for nukes. This also came up in the Helsinki-based series, Deadwind, but in that episode, nukes didn’t win the debate. Have you seen this argument showing up in other programs?

Now MIT has released a report saying we need nuclear power.

"Our analysis demonstrates that realizing nuclear energy's potential is essential to achieving a deeply decarbonized energy future in many regions of the world," says study co-chair Jacopo Buongiorno, the TEPCO Professor and associate department head of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT. He adds, "Incorporating new policy and business models, as well as innovations in construction that may make deployment of cost-effective nuclear power plants more affordable, could enable nuclear energy to help meet the growing global demand for energy generation while decreasing emissions to address climate change."

Granted, the nuke designs today are much safer, and some can reprocess spent fuel, reducing the quantity of nuclear waste. But we still have no solution for  storing the waste and no reliable way to protect those stockpiles for 10000 years. And then there’s the risk of dirty bombs. And the possibility of Peak Uranium.

What do you think? Is there a viable alternative? Can we ramp up action on the priorities in Project Drawdown (like replacing refrigerants and switching to a plant based diet)? Personally, I’d rather give up bacon than have a nuke in my neighborhood. (See Project Drawdown recommendations here: https://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank). If, that is, if it will be enough to avert disaster. It may be that we’ve waited too long.

If we do start considering nukes again, we need to take a full life cycle comparison of options, comparing the costs and carbon impacts of building, fueling, operating and decommissioning along with storing and protecting waste products. If you take into account the entire supply chain, like mining uranium, etc., according to this research, nukes have a similar carbon impact to wind.

MIT Energy Initiative study reports on the future of nuclear energy - SCIENMAG https://apple.news/AWo2SGRZlRVWqE4s_SCrVfQ

Friday, September 14, 2018

The goal is no longer carbon-neutral; now it’s climate positive.

According to this research group, we just passed the point at which our emissions would meet the science-set limit of 1.5 degrees C that would hopefully prevent us from throwing the world into unknown climate territory. So now we all need to be taking out more greenhouse gases than we are producing.

That may seem magic-thinking, but some companies have already set climate positive goals. Here are 6 steps to get there.

A 6-point plan for building a new carbon economy - Fast Company https://apple.news/Aw1Dtl5uNQQ2V_F3s_UiZKg

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Blockchain may soon transform sustainability reporting

Blockchain is the technology that Bitcoin uses to track financial transactions.  But sustainability professionals are eyeing it for other uses, including tracking product components through the supply chain to verify the end-product qualifies for a sustainability-related certification. This will certainly make it easier for manufacturers to report on sustainability performance.

And it will help anyone doing a greenhouse gas inventory who is trying to account for the climate impacts of their purchases (a major part of “Scope 3” emissions). Purchases are often one of the largest sources of a company’s greenhouse gases but accounting for purchases has been one of the most confounding tasks in a greenhouse gas inventory. The bulk of a greenhouse gas inventory is a simple matter of multiplying your electricity, gasoline and natural gas use by the appropriate factors.

https://www.triplepundit.com/2018/09/could-blockchain-boost-the-triple-bottom-line-worldwide/

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

When 'biodegradable' isn't

We've encountered quite a few companies locally who are paying extra for so-called biodegradable cups, flatware, etc. Most of these products are only compostable in an industrial facility that can generate extreme heat. If your community doesn't have such a facility, you're wasting your money. Ironically it can be more sustainable to use recyclable plastic.

Biodegradable Products Institute Label
If a product says it's compostable in soil, then it will break down under normal backyard conditions but remember, you have to separate all compostable products and compost it! Otherwise it will generate methane in a landfill.

Even products with the Biodegradable Products Institute Label (right) won't biodegrade in small composting operations; note the phrase "in industrial facilities."

Locally, here's the advice we give people and the resources we share, since we don't yet have an industrial composting operation in the area. If you're from out of the Verde Valley, see if you can find equivalent resources.

If the product doesn't say compostable in soil, if Sedona Composts or the Yavapai Food Recovery Program can’t compost the product, then frankly, go for reusable products or recyclable plastic. Otherwise you'll have to find an industrial composting system (there's one in Phoenix).
For cold beverages for example, you're better off with #1 clear plastic cups that can be recycled locally.

Hot beverages are a more difficult problem because there aren't compostable cups (that don't require an industrial composting operation) on the market yet. In this situation, can you provide and wash mugs and silverware? Friends of Flagstaff lends out dishwasher-safe plastic tableware. (It still has to be washed before returning it.) https://www.friendsofflagstaff.org/zero-waste/

You might be able to pick up a bunch of mugs at Paw Prints/Goodwill or borrow some from Sedona Recycles. You can also advertise to customers/attendees to please bring their own travel mug and then sell mugs for people who don’t. Alternatively have travel mugs printed up with your logo. Here’s an example with prices running around $3 each. 
Take out containers have more options and issues. Some recycling systems can't handle black plastic so avoid clamshells with clear tops and black bottoms. No, no, no to Styrofoam! Anything that is microwavable can't be recycled, even if it has a number in a triangle, because it melts at a different temperature than the other plastics of that number. If your foods aren't hot, you may be able to find all-paper to-go containers. But think about what your customers are going to do with it? If most recycle but few compost, you may still be better off with plastic. According to Sedona Recycles, the best plastic take-out container is Ecopax (a #5 like yogurt containers) in beige.
Portion containers can be found in #1 PET plastic with #1 plastic lids.
Straws, just say no. Stop giving out plastic straws automatically. For customers who ask or need one, use straws made from paper, straw (that's where the name comes from!), bamboo or even reusable stainless steel. Participate in the Straw-Free Sedona campaign.

Things you can do reduce over-tourism

Popular destinations are struggling to deal with the effects of over-tourism which threatens to undermine the quality of life for people who live there and also the visitor experience. Some communities are fighting back, limiting the number of visitors or cruise ships. Sedona is currently working on a sustainable tourism plan, and one of the out-of-control issues is the explosion of AirBnB rentals. 

Renting a room in your home isn’t much different than having a friend visit. And renting out your house when you’re on vacation is almost like you’re still in town to your neighbors. But it disrupts the community when several homes on a street turn over every few days, sometimes to rowdy vacationers. These investor AirBnBs are driving out what otherwise would be workforce housing long-term rentals.

But what can you do personally to reduce over-tourism when you travel? This article has 7 recommendations. And the first is to avoid AirBnB homes owned by investors (vs someone on vacation.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Solar panels could reverse desertification in the Sahara

It’s hard to imagine how solar panels could make it rain in the Sahara, but according to this study, it could. The question is, what would the effect of that be? Would it simply reverse the spread of desert caused by humans or would it disrupt other ecosystems?

https://www.popsci.com/sahara-wind-solar-rain#page-2

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Netherlands has solved the bee problem

Bees and hives around the world have been dying out at an alarming rate. But The Netherlands appears to have solved the problem. They eliminated certain pesticides, planted green roofs, spread native plants across public lands and are subsidizing others to do the same. They even drilled fist-sized holes in the sides of buildings for bats and bees to use as homes.

There are benefits to humans too. Zoku, a hotel, planted a rooftop garden to lure people away from their laptops.

“People will stay here hugging a pillow and say I don’t want to leave, I don’t want to go into town,” said Veerle Donders, Zoku's brand and concept manager. “They say it’s really nice to see the sunset and ease their mind from city life.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/bees-are-dying-alarming-rate-amsterdam-may-have-answer-n897856

Friday, September 7, 2018

Your “Florida” orange juice likely comes from slave labor in Brazil

It's nice to imagine the Sunshine State putting all those oranges into the bottle. But after a citrus disease reached Florida in 2005 which reduced production by over half and increased prices by $2 a gallon, Brazil stepped up production and used the money in part to buy up the production facilities in Florida, shutting them down. So now more than half the OJ in your bottle comes from Brazil, adding to climate impacts. High pesticide use has also been reported. But the situation is worse for the workers.

One 2015 report from activist organization Supply Cha!nge called the orange picking industry in Brazil "a modern system of slavery." Workers are sometimes unpaid for weeks and trapped in employment contracts that keep them in debt and stuck on the plantation, the report says.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/23/brazil-florida-orange-juice-tariff-trade-war.html

Thursday, September 6, 2018

21st Century sails look like ionic columns-how they work

Container ships and other ocean vessels are going to start sprouting sails that look like Greek columns. You’d think that such things would create drag but instead they can increase fuel economy by 6%. Watch the demonstration with the basketball to understand how these work.

https://jalopnik.com/this-is-a-sailboat-and-those-are-sails-1828740311

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Inexpensive filter for stormwater

Development has made precipitation a problem. All our hardscapes prevent rain from percolating into the ground. Ditches and curbs concentrate the flow and pipes either take the rainwater to a wastewater facility to be processed (using chemicals and energy) or to rivers where the strong pulses of water erode the banks. And all along the way, the precipitation picks up the crud of urban life: litter, oil from the roads, and pesticides from yards.

As a partial solution, engineers have come up with an inexpensive way to filter stormwater, cleaning many of the contaminates out.  This could mean that water getting to our rivers would be cleaner. In the developing world, it could become a source of water.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180830084812.htm

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Latest sustainability term: e-waste neutral

Now you can get gizmos for your  gizmos/phones made from bio-plastics, hemp and recycled aluminum. Nimble is a new company offering "eco-friendly accessories" for your smartphone. (The first thing that comes to mind for me--of a certain age-- is a little stretchy tutu or some plastic pearls, but they are referring to charging pads, stands, etc.)

Nimble says it's committed to becoming e-waste neutral by 2022, and will recycle up to a pound of e-waste for every product sold.

https://www.engadget.com/2018/08/29/nimble-eco-friendly-charging-accessories/

Sunday, September 2, 2018

America, Land of the Free-range Livestock

 Bloomberg published a fascinating set of maps of the US showing how we use our land. Take a look and poke around the data. One chart shows that livestock takes up 1/3 of our land. As people eat less meat, maybe this can be recovered or even returned to bison. But what will happen to the ranching communities?

 Contemplate:

How will these areas and communities be affected by long term trends and sustainability related pressures?

Is this how we would want to use our land?

How might we change our practices to make room for more non-human native species?


How does America use its land? These maps show a whole new way to look at the U.S. - Bloomberg https://apple.news/AO32F8UDySD6njF5r7ZX3hg


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Microsoft pushes contractors to offer parental leave

Microsoft announced that it will only work with firms that offer parental leave.
The software giant’s new policy means that anyone working with it has to offer mothers and fathers 12 weeks of leave at two-thirds of their wages or up to $1,000 weekly, according to The Post.

https://www.fastcompany.com/90230102/microsoft-says-it-will-only-work-with-companies-that-offer-paid-parental-leave

Friday, August 31, 2018

Electric car sales up 42% in Europe so far this year

Europe’s Electric car fleet just passed 1million cars.

https://www.treehugger.com/cars/sales-surge-sees-europes-electric-car-fleet-surge-past-1-million.html

Aligning capital markets with sustainability-What’s in your wallet/IRA?

So many people care about sustainability issues and donate to charities but still invest in businesses that undermine our long term well-being. I told our investment team, “I’m working to make the world better; I don’t want to have our assets going toward making the world worse!”

What’s in your wallet/401-K? Unless you’ve chosen Sustainable/socially responsible mutual funds or directed your stock broker to align your investments with your values, you likely own stocks that would make you squirm. Lots of studies have shown you can do as well or better by investing in sustainable leaders, so why not join the growing number of sustainable investors and make a switch?

I’ve also found that corporations pursuing sustainability often haven’t thought about aligning their investments. And worse, most financial institutions have been amoral; if it makes money, we’re in.

But that is starting to change. Major re-insurance companies like Swiss Re have long recognized risks associated with climate change. Rising sea levels are affecting property values in Florida. And slowly major financial institutions are discovering their role in making the world better, in addressing the Sustainable Development Goals. People like Steve Waygood (perfect name!) are leading the charge.

http://www.ethicalcorp.com/disruptors-how-avivas-steve-waygood-trying-turn-tide-capitalism

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Mixing biodegradable plastic can make it more compostable

Many of the bio-plastic products like cups and forks don’t biodegrade under normal situations, like your backyard compost pile or along the roadside. Unless you have an industrial composting operation nearby, they’re just trash.

Scientists are finding that combining some of the bioplastics make them more biodegradeable under a variety of situations, making the products perform better at the same time. It can’t happen fast enough!

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180829081342.htm

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Medusa for Carbon: turning CO2 to stone

Fixing climate change involves more than just reducing our current and future emissions. There is already too much in the atmosphere that will stay there for a century. So some scientists are looking into ways to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Here’s one approach...speed up the normal geologic process of turning it to stone.

https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/can-we-turn-carbon-dioxide-stone-fight-climate-change-ncna904286

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Small is beautiful: McMansions falling out of favor

The American Dream is not a static concept. It’s easily influenced.

After the Civil War, the dream was to not work for others (that was viewed as akin to slavery.) Then the Industrial Revolution started and in a matter of a decade, the American Dream became to have a job. After WWII, we were persuaded to want a suburban home that looked like all those around it, 2.5 kids and a dog were what we should want. In the booming 1990’s with shows like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, McMansions exploded on the landscape. The size of the home even middle class people live in has ballooned, with commensurate impacts on the environment. (In 1940 the average home was 1177 sq ft and likely housed 6 people; by 2014, the average home was 2657 sq ft, often housing only 2 people.)

But maybe the pendulum is swinging back. Tiny houses are cool (although far from common.) There is some indication that smaller homes are becoming popular again. And of course, many urban Millennials figure they’ll never be able to afford one and don’t even want a car.

https://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/what-does-it-mean-to-be-an-american-now/the-shrinking-american-dream-house-20180824

Monday, August 27, 2018

DC one of 19 cities commiting to net-zero buildings

It’s ironic that Washington DC is one of 19 cities so far to sign onto the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Declaration to make all new buildings net-zero energy by 2030 and all buildings net-zero by 2050.

The cities are Copenhagen, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York City, Newburyport, Paris, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, Stockholm, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Tshwane, Vancouver & Washington D.C

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Which countries are the most environmentally sustainable?

How environmentally sustainable is your country? Or the country where you or your ancestors came from? Or the country you’re soon to visit? Now it’s easy to know.

Spoiler alert: US is #27.

https://epi.envirocenter.yale.edu/2018/report/category/hlt

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Sweden beats its 2030 goal for renewables by 12 years

Sweden took the 1970’s energy crisis to heart. So it’s perhaps no surprise that they are well ahead of their plans to be 100% renewable energy by 2040. They just blew by their 2030 goal.

https://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/sweden-reach-its-2030-renewables-target-12-years-early.html

Friday, August 24, 2018

How small businesses can contribute to global goals

You’ve heard the phrase, “Think global, act local.” Small businesses can think big by adopting a couple of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Here is one example.

United Kingdom startup Globechain keeps its focus tight—targeting three of the 17 SDGs—in order to maximize impact. Founded in 2013, Globechain is a digital platform that helps large corporates, SMEs and nonprofits share reused items. Rather than send unwanted building materials, stock and other goods to landfills, larger firms can share them with charities, smaller businesses and other members of the Globechain network. 
The platform helped nonprofits and small businesses save more than $500,000 in 2016 while diverting 700 tons of material from landfills. Connections made through the platform also furnished two hospitals and sent medical equipment to developing markets like Kenya, Ghana and Sierra Leone.  
Globechain founder May Al-Karooni showcased the company’s SDG plan at the 2017 World Circular Economy Forum in Helsinki, Finland. The company hopes to further goals like building sustainable communities (SDG 11), ensuring responsible consumption and production (SDG 12), and acting on climate (SDG 13) by expanding its network that turns waste into resource, she explained. 
Read more....
https://www.triplepundit.com/2018/08/small-businesses-can-align-sdgs/

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Green to Go got rid of disposable take out containers

Heres an interesting business model, though it won’t make anyone rich. Instead of restaurants buying take-out containers that quickly get tossed in the trash, they can instead subscribe to a reusable take-out container service (that the health department approves of).

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/this-restaurant-takeout-service-swaps-styrofoam-for-sustainable

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Make your bike electric by changing the front wheel

You don’t have to buy a new bike to have an electric bicycle. There are a number of conversion kits. This one is interesting because it is all contained in the front wheel. Pop out yours and put in this one. And this tire can’t go flat.

 
https://www.autoblog.com/2018/08/17/transform-any-bike-into-an-electric-bike/

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Corporations breaking records buying renewable power

And those are based on year-to-date figures. It’ll only get better from here.

You might be surprised which corporations are buying the most renewable power, and how they compare. Check out the chart in this article. Contemplate how much energy companies like GM and Facebook use versus what they buy as renewables. And what percentage of their carbon footprint electricity represents.

Companies Have Bought More Clean Energy Than Ever This Year, and It's Only August
https://earther.gizmodo.com/companies-have-bought-more-clean-energy-than-ever-this-1828366281


Saturday, August 18, 2018

Sweet toy: Legos from sugarcane

Legos has committed to having all their blocks come from a sustainable source by 2030. They’ve started releasing “plastic” toys from sugarcane. Of course we don’t want to chop down more rainforest to grow sugarcane for Legos but this could be a good step in the right direction with a lower carbon footprint. Maybe some of the cane for ethanol could be diverted for this use; or better yet, from candy and other sweets.

https://www.businessinsider.com/lego-go-eco-friendly-with-blocks-made-from-sugarcane-2018-8

Friday, August 17, 2018

How sustainable is the seafood at your grocery?

If you buy seafood, it matters where you get it. See how your grocery compares to competitors in the chart included in this article. Good news: they’ve all improved their scores in the last 10 years.

https://www.triplepundit.com/2018/08/sustainable-seafood-rise-u-s-grocers-greenpeace-says/

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?


https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2017/01/23/nine-things-you-can-do-about-climate-change/#63f97594680c

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.”


More...
https://electrek.co/2018/08/06/shell-invest-startup-ample-electric-cars-for-everyone-charging-tech/

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."

https://www.treehugger.com/cars/meet-noah-circular-car-future.html

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
https://www.treehugger.com/health/why-we-should-all-adopt-new-nordic-eating-guidelines.html

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.

https://www.fastcompany.com/90205860/how-a-small-worker-controlled-farm-collective-could-transform-labor-for-decades

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.

https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/earning-bitcoin-sun/

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.

https://www.curbed.com/2018/7/17/17583524/sacramento-electric-car-emissions-vehicle-transit

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.


FORUM FORMAT

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)


SUSTAINABILITY QUESTIONS


Question 1: INTERSECTION OF PEOPLE & PROSPERITY
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?

Question 2: INTERSECTION OF PEOPLE & PLANET
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?

Question 3: INSPIRING RESIDENTS AND VISITORS
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?


Question 4: PEOPLE, PLANET AND PROSPERITY
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?

Question 5: PROSPERITY, PEOPLE AND THE PLANET
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.

http://bioneers.org/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.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-12/apple-suppliers-to-invest-300-million-in-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.

https://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/computer-program-could-make-animal-testing-obsolete.html

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...
https://www.triplepundit.com/2018/07/energy-businesses-future-will-focus-re-using-energy-way-well-slow-climate-change/

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.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/comment/astrotourism-new-sustainable-travel-trend/

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.

https://www.brightvibes.com/557/en/what-if-we-could-build-our-roads-with-recycled-plastic

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.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-08/ikea-is-working-on-how-to-make-lots-of-money-and-save-the-planet

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.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-44398472

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.

https://www.althingi.is/pdf/Green_economy.pdf

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.

http://www.rapidorecovery.org/the-idea

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."

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/05/30/upend-failed-paradigm-hundreds-experts-converge-eu-forge-blueprint-sustainable-food

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.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/05/opinions/nordic-renewable-energy-model-hockenos/index.html

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.
 https://www.triplepundit.com/2018/05/automakers-yes-president-trump-really-climate-change/

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.

http://money.cnn.com/2018/05/30/technology/dandelion-air-google/index.html

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.


https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05357-w

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.

https://futurism.com/china-recycling-alternative/

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:

TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE RELATED TO SUSTAINABILITY
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.

IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS
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?

CHANGE MANAGEMENT
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.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/09/pope-francis-tells-oil-bosses-world-must-wean-itself-off-fossil-fuels

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. 

https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/6/20/17474124/electrification-natural-gas-furnace-heat-pump

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

https://sports.good.is/articles/game-changers-documentary

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.

http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/business_case/sustainable_brands/unilevers_sustainable_living_brands_delivered_70_tur

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.

https://food52.com/blog/22500-clever-uses-for-all-your-summer-scraps-10-for-ugly-tomatoes


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.

https://www.popsci.com/plant-protein-healthier

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.
 http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/12/technology/concrete-carboncure/index.html