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

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

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.