If you are as concerned about environmental advancements taking a few steps back, perhaps we should worry less. A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times posted an article highlighting the want for large corporations to keep addressing climate change issues instead of the new Presidential administration abandoning the Paris climate agreement and more. Concern over US economic security has these corporations speaking up. At least 365 companies will stick to their own greenhouse gas protections, but urge the new President to honor the direction the US has been heading. Read more at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/17/business/energy-environment/us-companies-to-trump-dont-abandon-global-climate-deal.html?mtrref=undefined&_r=2.
In recent reports, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon feels that President Elect Donald Trump will have to change his views on climate change (for more on this: http://abcnews.go.com/International/secretary-general-ban-ki-moon-predicts-trump-change/story?id=43547496), and I really hope he is right on this one. Trump said on Twitter and later deleted: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Please be sure to write to Donald Trump to look at the scientific data on climate change and make advancements. You can write to him here: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/contact.
The radio station WBEZ (91.5) has several feature shows that tell stories about current events and interesting topics. Personally, I like their story-telling style versus a bullet point fact sheet approach to news-telling. Curious City is one of my favorite shows (also podcasted). They take questions from listeners that are specific to curious and “mysterious” topics about Chicago and surrounding areas.
Recently, Curious City was asked about the Blue Cart Recycling Program. Many think it’s just a sham. It’s not working and is just a “feel good” placebo program. I’ll admit, I had my doubts too. After listening to the podcast “What really happens to Chicago’s blue cart recycling?” by Chris Bentley, I am happy to know that at least 80% of what I (and collectively, my Chicago Family) put in the blue bin actually ends up somewhere with the intent to recycle it: to turn them into something of use, reclaim the natural materials and reserve the need to use virgin and raw materials. They will not sit in the landfill forever, never to be used again, wasted.
Stores staying open all day on Thanksgiving, Black Friday hype, Christmas ads already blaring… enough! It’s STRESSING me out! And that is not healthy.
I want to relax and enjoy quality time with my family and friends. And I want the experiences to be healthy for me, them and light on environmental impact.
Two things I like to consider to help me be less stressed & promote health for my peeps and my (our) planet: 1. Greening Gifts
2. Greening the Menu
1. On Gifts (and avoiding the crazy, stressful shopping wars!) I’m steering clear of all that hub bub and instead will be home, warm and cozy, preparing my craft room to make my gifts. I love making things! It helps me unwind, plus I know I’m pouring love into the gift and so does the recipient. Win-win!
Not everyone is crafty or inclined to make gifts. But if you are! Here’s a blog with a few ideas I really like and maybe you will, too. 38 DIY Gifts People Actually Want
If you’re not crafty, no problem. You can of course still pour love into bought items, too. And there are plenty of resources out there to help you find the perfect gift for that special someone. It’s perfect because not only do they need the item, it is helpful to them, won’t make them sick and is also created in a way that doesn’t harm the environment. Perfect!
I realize some of us will still want to get out and shop for some great deals… have you heard of Small Business Saturday? A lot of Chicagoland businesses are participating and shopping local is really a great way to encourage local economic recovery!
2. On the Menu: Eating lower on the food chain is a great way to make a difference for your health and the planet. It’s easier than you think, too. Do you have to give up the Turkey? No!! But treating it more like a condiment and enjoying more of your favorite vegetable based sides is a great start. Also, everything doesn’t have to be organic, but I do look out for certain food additives to avoid as well as where and how the veggies or fruit are grown for health concerns.
What’s on my menu? Well, I’m not hosting….but this is what I am bringing
Roasted Brussels Sprouts in a Balsamic Reduction
Kale, Pumpkin Seed, Cranberry Salad
Apple, Turnip, Sweet Potato Saute
Final Greening Holidays tip from me to you… When making your list to give people this holiday season, it helps to consider the following:
- WHAT will be the impact on the person I’m giving this gift to? Will it improve their live in a meaningful way?
- WHERE does this gift come from? Is it locally crafted and supporting local economies?
- WHO made it? Are they paid a living wage and have safe working conditions? WHO profits from me buying this gift? Does it enrich some corporation whose values I do/don’t support?
- HOW was it made? How does the resource and manufacturing impact on the environment?
- WHY? Why should I give this gift? What NEED does it fill?
It’s important to consider these questions so that not just at a personal level, but at a global level you are fully aware of the impacts of your gift-giving decisions.
Woke up to hopeful news this morning!
U.S. President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping coming to agreement to #ActOnClimate Change. Under this new deal, the U.S. would cut its 2005 CO2 emissions by 26-28% before 2025 and China will aim to get 20% of its energy from clean (zero-emission) sources by 2030.
The U.S. and China are two of the world’s top CO2 emissions polluters so this deal is quite significant; it sets a precedent and calls for other countries to also address their emissions in a global commitment to mitigate the most severe impacts of climate change. Perhaps there is hope for the Climate Summit in Paris next year!!
Still have questions about climate change? The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions has a series of podcasts and simple to understand articles that help explain what is climate change; what changes can we expect regionally and globally; what is being done to address these changes (policy and innovations); what else can be done and how can we, individually, act?
Or, Check out Bill Nye the Science Guy explain climate change in less than 5 minutes…
then dig deeper to get wise on the topic. The more we know, the more we can do to make positive change for today and tomorrow.
One of the world’s leading organizations driving conservation efforts across the globe, Conservation International, has launched a new series of short films called, “Nature Is Speaking”. Watching them, words like: beautiful, poignant, true and powerful come to mind.
NATURE DOESN’T NEED PEOPLE. PEOPLE NEED NATURE. ~natureisspeaking.org
Here’s one featuring Kevin Spacey. Wonderful.
See them all here.
#natureisspeaking … are You listening?
Commitments and Executive Actions Illustrate Federal, State, and Local Leadership to Create Jobs and Cut Carbon Pollution
“The Obama Administration is committed to taking action to combat climate change. As part of that effort, today, the White House is announcing a series of public and private sector commitments and executive actions to advance solar deployment and promote energy efficiency.”
Last night, I attended a presentation and panel on Climate Change and why our brains tend to ignore it. It was fascinating. I’m looking forward to reading this book by George Marshall, who was leading last night’s conversation: Don’t Even Think About It: How our brains ignore climate change
The presentation was a really terrific conversation, but definitely still left me feeling a bit nervous and like I need way more tools to help others understand the importance of discussing topics of climate change!
My nerves were quieted and my hope, for a near future in which we call stop ignoring this
has been reinforced by today’s news from the White House. Here’s more:
“The executive announcements today altogether will cut carbon pollution by nearly 300 million metric tons through 2030 – equivalent to taking more than 60 million cars off the road for one year – and will save homes and businesses more than $10 billion on their energy bills. Those executive actions are:
- Partnering with up to three military bases to create a veterans solar job training pilot;
- Investing $68 million in 540 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in rural areas across the country, including 240 solar projects;
- Proposing an energy conservation standard for commercial unit air conditioners that has the potential to save more energy than any previously issued standard;
- Supporting funding for clean energy and energy efficiency for affordable housing;
- Strengthening commercial and residential buildings codes; and
- Harmonizing the power of national service and volunteerism to tackle climate change and its effects.”
Last night, George Marshall who goes by the twitter handle @climategeorge, said something to the affect:
Climate change is like the big elephant in the room… and right now, we’re INSIDE the elephant. It’s time to get out of the elephant and start talking about it!
So, are you ready to climb out of the elephant, the “let’s all ignore climate change elephant”, and look it square in the eye? YES! Begin to talk about climate change and help lead the discussion for solutions!
Read more about these new climate change addressing actions from the Obama Administration here.
Being a teacher myself, I know that none of us have the summer off. We spend the summers planning for the next year. If you have been toying with bringing more sustainability into your classroom, check out these helpful tips http://www.treehugger.com/htgg/how-to-go-green-school-teachers.html. I might also suggest thinking about a service learning project as well. That will bring in the social justice/equity pillar of sustainability. Don’t forget that sustainability is the intersection of social equity/justice, ecological stability/green, and economic vitality. Happy planning!
U.S. EPA Releases Clean Power Plan Proposal
On June 2, the U.S. EPA released a proposed rule to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants. The Clean Power Plan proposal sets state-specific goals to be met by 2030 and provides guidelines for states to develop plans, building on the work states are already doing to reduce carbon pollution. By 2030, the EPA expects to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector by 30% nationwide below 2005 levels. In order to meet that target, this proposal allows states to work individually or in regional groups to meet their respective goals while including flexibility in compliance options.
The proposal includes a timeline for states to follow to meet their respective goals:
- June 30, 2016: All states submit initial or complete plans
- June 20, 2017: Deadline to submit individual state plans eligible for one-year extension, and progress report for multi-state plans
- June 30, 2018: Deadline to submit multi-state plans
The EPA is accepting public comment for 120 days after publication in the Federal Register and will hold four public hearings the week of July 28 in Denver, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. To learn more or to submit a comment, click here.