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

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:

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

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