Cheers! Winemaker Shows the Future of Farming Lies in the Past

With significant droughts for years on end, Jackson Family Wines is adapting to conditions caused by climate change to save the business, which is one of the biggest family owned wineries in the US. You may have purchases or seen Kendall-Jackson chardonnay. That’s a big seller for the Jackson family. With an attitude of adjust or lose, the winery has a formal sustainability program; tracks energy and water use and greenhouse gas emissions; employs renewable energy sources; and practices many ‘old school’ farming methods. The increased introduction of owls and falcons as predators of the new warmer weather grape obsessed pests decreases the need for pesticides. Energy efficiency of solar and wind power, precise irrigation systems and water reservoirs keeps their energy and water needs down. Jackson Family Wines has become a leader in modern farming applications given climate change and hopes to inspire others in the wine and coffee businesses worldwide. For more details read: http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/05/business/california-wine-climate-change.html.

Money Talks

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.

Merry Your Season Be Merry & Green!

Americans generate a lot of waste during the holidays, and one of the big culprits is holiday entertaining. Plastic cutlery can hang around a landfill for thousands of holidays to come, and even paper plates aren’t earth-friendly!

Biodegradable cutlery and plates are one alternative. Better yet:
Use cloth instead of paper napkins. Reusing is always better than recycling! Also you can borrow plates and silverware. If you’re short, ask a few friends to bring a set of each. Here are some other ideas for how to make the party green.

And, here are a few more ideas make sure your holiday has a great impact on hearts but not the planet. Also, note the reminder for the office, too!

Gifts:

  1. The gift of an experience – for those that  have it all and  need nothing, how about movie tickets or tickets to a play or passes to a yoga classes? Check out 30 other ideas here.
  2. Holiday cards are really great to receive! But what do you do when the holiday is over? 18 creative reuse ideas right here– and some would make fun gifts, too!
  3. Wrapping paper is beautiful, but so is fabric and scarfs! Here are 15 ways you can wrap gifts that are fun, sometimes reusable and festive!

Around the Office (whether you work at Moraine Valley Community College or not):

  1. When you leave for the break make sure to unplug everything: tvs, computers and monitors, fridges, coffee makers, and anything else you have plugged in. This saves a tremendous amount of energy and reduces the risks for fire and other issues.
  2. Oh, and please, turn off the lights!

In the spirit of love, happiness and always hope for a bright future- may you and yours have a love filled, safe and happy green holiday!

Sustainably yours,
Stephenie

Hope & What to Do About Climate Change in 2017

A colleague, Clara Changxin Fang, recently posted an article talking about her top Ten Reasons to Feel Hopeful About Climate Change in 2017, https://residenceonearth.net/2016/12/07/hope-climate-change/

I found it to be uplifting in a time where I even more concerned about the future of climate policy and climate change action in the U.S.

Of the 10, I think my top 2 favorites:
1. All power does not reside in the President (remember checks and balances, separation of powers!!)
and her number 10.,
2. The next election is only 2 years away.

That’s right, we’ll have another chance to vote for candidates that will support and fight for solid climate policy.

So, what can we all do about climate change in 2017? Or even right now?

TALK ABOUT IT.

In a recent article from Katherine Kayhoe of the Huffington Post, she wrote “Seventy-two percent of people in the US are cautious, concerned, or alarmed about climate change, according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication’s Six Americas survey. Yet so few of us talk to our friends and family about it. Why? Because we don’t hear anyone else doing it.” 

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Kayhoe warns to not get into the “Yes it is, No it is not” arguments; they are pointless.

A quote from the Citizen’s Climate Lobby about talking about climate change explains: “Research from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication has found that knowledge about the scientific consensus on climate change serves as a “gateway belief,” making people more inclined to accept the fact that climate change is happening and more inclined to support public policy solutions. Here is the specific wording that needs to be communicated:”

97 percent of climate scientists are convinced, based upon the evidence, that human-caused global warming is happening. (Link to Yale Study: Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.)

Check out Kayhoe’s suggested talking points, or Citizen’s Climate Lobby, or the Yale Project… or, wherever you get your creditable information and start talking about it!

(My favorite of Kayhoe’s: “2. Fort Hood in Texas, the biggest army base in the US, is installing wind and solar. Why? To save taxpayers $168 million dollars. Now that’s what I call green.”)

Aldi Will Rival Whole Foods, But At Less Cost

For someone who knows too much about the way our food is produced, I am super excited by the news that Aldi is making huge strides to rival Whole Foods and make healthier food available to all at a much lower cost. Step by step, Aldi has begun to challenge the ‘whole paycheck’ way of shopping. Some of the newest additions to the Aldi marketplace are: expanding organic choices; banning a number of pesticides from any products; growing the “Never Any!” line of meat, which have no added antibiotics, hormones or other additives; removed artificial colors, partially hydrogenated oils, and MSG from the private-label products (90% of sales); growing the “Simply Nature” line, which has banned more than 125 synthetic ingredients; and sourcing milk, yogurt, sour cream, cottage and other dairy products free of artificial growth hormones. If you are gluten-free, Aldi is your place to shop! There are lots of great choices there especial the “liveGfree” line, and again, at a fraction of the cost. For those that think Aldi doesn’t offer artisan selections, you are off base. I have found lovely cheeses and crackers, smoked salmon, nice wines and delectable chocolates. I have two Aldi stores within a mile and a half from my home and you probably have one nearby as well. Apparently the company plans to open 500 more stores in the next two years. If you haven’t ventured into an Aldi lately, give them a shot. Just remember two things: bring a quarter to borrow a cart (and you get your quarter back when you return the cart) and bring your own bags (which I hope you do regardless). Happy and healthy shopping!

Will Trump Change His Views on Climate Change? Let’s Hope/Take Action

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.

What Will You Do To Celebrate Earth Day Tomorrow?

Tomorrow, April 22nd, is the 46th Earth Day. Make a commitment to do at least one thing, big or small: write to a legislator and ask them to protect the environment or support a sustainable future, make a pledge to buy less stuff, plant something, recycle something you have been meaning to recycle (computer, old paint), or teach someone else something about the environment. Need some other suggestions? Click here: http://www.greeneducationfoundation.org/nationalgreenweeksub/curriculum-and-activities/activities-ngw/1195-top-10-earth-day-activities.html. What will you do?

Happy Pollution Prevention Week! (Sept 21-27, 2015)

Happy Pollution Prevention Week!

(Sept 21-27, 2015)
Courtesy of the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR)
(Repost: September 21st, 2015 by Laura B.)
“Twenty-five years ago, Congress passed the Pollution Prevention Act. Pollution Prevention (P2) Week, celebrated during the third week of September each year (September 21-27, 2015), highlights the efforts of EPA, its state partners, industry, and the public in preventing pollution right from the start.”

Check out the GLRPPR Blog posts this week for great ideas on how to minimize waste and pollution through your daily activities.

Also, “If you’re on social media, use the#P2Week and #25YearsofP2 hashtags to raise awareness of pollution prevention as the cornerstone of environmental sustainability.”

Recycling… does it really happen?

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.