8 attainable sustainability resolutions for 2020

January 1, 2020 by  
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Setting goals is a ubiquitous part of ushering in each new year. With a renewed vigor for healthy living, embrace the opportunity to incorporate more eco-friendly habits into your routine. This task can be achieved in a variety of ways, from changing your diet to reducing waste . Wherever you are on your sustainable living journey, we’ve got some ideas for how to lower your carbon footprint and enhance your sense of commitment to the planet. Commit to less driving Reducing miles equals reducing carbon emissions . To minimize personal auto usage, use public transportation for your daily commute. If subways and buses don’t take you where you need to go, set up a carpool to eliminate multiple cars going to the same location. Over the course of a year, replacing your 10-mile drive to work or school at least one day each week will greatly reduce emissions. If possible, skip the car altogether by walking or using a bike. Alternately, look into electric cars if you’re in the market for a new vehicle. Even if you must rely on your car daily, you can still reduce miles by combining errands when you head to town, organizing a carpool for kid drop-offs and pickups, sending the kids to school on the bus, eating your lunch in the office instead of driving to a restaurant and walking or biking to places in your neighborhood instead of jumping in the car. Related: People for Bikes is making cycling safer with Ride Spot Start a garden There’s nothing better than having fresh, organic vegetables at your disposal and no better way to achieve that goal than by starting a garden. If you have the space, plan for the seasons with cool weather leafy veggies and carrots in the spring, a salsa garden in the summer and squash in the fall. In a small space, prepare a container garden on your patio with cherry tomatoes, herbs and peas. If you don’t have space for your own garden, bring together like-minded people and start a community garden. As the saying goes, “Many hands make light work,” so having help with planting, maintaining and harvesting plants benefits everyone. If outdoor space isn’t an option, consider setting up a hydroponics system to grow indoors instead. Join an environmentally focused group Finding ways to help the environment can feel somewhat overwhelming, but when you join a group of like-minded people sharing in a common goal, you can achieve great things. Whether your passion is cleaning up the oceans or planting trees , find a local group that supports your cause. If there isn’t one in your area, set a goal to start one. Budget for the environment We are surrounded by prompts to constantly buy more stuff. Every billboard, bus and storefront is filled with enticing marketing meant to convince you that you need whatever they offer. But each product contributes to emissions from sourcing materials, manufacturing, transporting, maintaining warehouse and retail space and disposing of post-consumer waste. Of course, it’s important to make conscientious decisions about avoiding plastic and plastic foam, buying in bulk when possible and investing in durable products that will last many years rather than disposables, but avoiding the purchase in the first place is the best thing you can do for the planet. Boil purchases down to the essentials. Give experiences rather than physical gifts. Only buy in quantities you’re likely to use. Focus on multipurpose items that can suit alternate needs. Really evaluate whether you will use an item long-term. Set a goal to reduce unnecessary purchases, and do your budget a favor at the same time. Hint: Sharing or renting equipment, tools and supplies is another easy way to save money and reduce environmental impact. Take a class There are endless ways to lower your carbon footprint , so target a topic of interest and learn more about it. Some examples include beekeeping, preserving food, woodworking, sewing, gardening or learning how to build solar and wind technology. Become more self-sufficient by obtaining skills in homesteading, identifying edible plants or using plants in alternative ways. Reduce waste Becoming conscious of your waste is a huge step toward reducing it. Take a look at your typical waste. Do you fill a 64-gallon street container each week? If so, see if you can reduce that to a 32-gallon instead. If you don’t already, start recycling . Capabilities of local recycling centers vary widely across the nation, so educate yourself on the regional process. Most facilities accept glass, tin cans, large plastic containers and paper — at a minimum. Also, always return your bottles and aluminum cans for recycling or redemption. Related: Recycling Identifying Device takes the guesswork out of figuring out what is recyclable To repeat an earlier sentiment, the best way to reduce garbage is to keep it from entering the house in the first place. Look at the packaging when you make a purchase, and support companies that ship in recyclable or biodegradable containers. Set a tangible goal for yourself to reduce your waste production by half. Maybe next year, you can halve it again. Write a letter Believe it or not, companies want to know how you feel about their products. When you notice something you like, such as a commitment to carbon offsetting or sustainable material sourcing, let them know with your buying power and your word. Conversely, let businesses know when they miss the mark. Write a letter to the CEO or owner, and let them know you would be a loyal customer if they worked toward corporate responsibility. Near and far, make companies aware of changes they can make to be more sustainable. Offer suggestions to local restaurants to replace plastic straws or single-use plastic tablecloths. Ask if to-go containers are cardboard, and refuse them if an establishment only provides plastic foam. At a city, state or federal level, get your representative involved. Drop them a note each month of the year to let them know what is important to you. Educate them about issues they may not be aware of. Ask for representation around topics like reducing petroleum reliance, protecting nature and supporting organic farming. Make your voice heard by speaking out for what you believe. Clean your plate Feeding the planet’s population puts a burden on our limited resources, but there are many things you can do to lessen your individual impact. Start by buying as local as possible. Source food from the farmer’s market seasonally, and purchase directly from farms in your town. Buying organic produce supports farmers who make the extra effort to keep pesticides and other chemicals out of our waterways. You don’t want to eat chemical-laden food, anyway. Cut back on animal products, because animal farming is a major producer of methane. Skip meat a few days a week or altogether. Cut out dairy products where you can, too. Don’t buy more food than you need , and use up leftovers rather than throwing them out. Do most of your cooking at home. A commitment to home-cooked meals is better for your health, your budget and the planet. Setting resolutions for the new year is a healthy way to guide yourself toward your sustainability goals, which is a win for you and for Earth. Happy New Year! Images via Shutterstock

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8 attainable sustainability resolutions for 2020

Climate Neutral Certification labels products with minimized carbon footprints

December 13, 2019 by  
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The idea of the Climate Neutral Certification is a simple one — give businesses the opportunity to identify their carbon emissions and then reduce them and pay for programs that offset them. Climate Neutral, an independent, nonprofit organization, monitors the entire process and provides a unique certification for companies that meet all four criteria. The certification can then be displayed on products and/or their packages, making it simple for consumers to support brands that practice corporate responsibility for the planet. The proposed Climate Neutral Certification consists of four elements that businesses need to meet in order to earn the esteemed Climate Neutral label. Measure Measuring a total carbon footprint involves evaluating every step in the manufacturing process, including material production, power and water requirements, packaging, shipping and more. Climate Neutral helps businesses measure their carbon footprint to meet a uniform standard. Related: PaperTale app shows the ethics and sustainability of clothing with a simple scan Reduce With a carbon footprint number in hand, businesses are then challenged to reduce it. That process might include reducing packaging, using more earth-friendly materials, finding less impactful shipping methods or powering manufacturing processes with solar energy . Offset At this stage, the emissions that cannot be reduced or eliminated must be offset. That means these companies pay other companies to remove carbon from the air or keep it from getting there in the first place (like by planting trees or investing in wind turbines .) Carbon Neutral monitors the payment of these offsets and ensures they are invested in verifiable carbon offset projects. Label Once a company completes the first three steps, it earns the Climate Neutral Certification and can display the label proudly on its products. Benefits of the certification This entire process has advantages for everyone involved. First of all, it empowers businesses to be transparent about their manufacturing processes, material sourcing and consumption. Plus, a company’s investment to reduce carbon emissions is also an investment in a loyal customer base. The certification also a powerful tool for consumers who want to be more conscientious about their purchases but don’t always have the information they need to make good purchasing decisions. Simply look for the label. Thirdly, and perhaps the most obvious, is that the Climate Neutral Certification is good for the environment, because it supports organizations working directly toward carbon reductions and makes it more accessible for consumers to choose eco-friendly products. At least 50 brands have already signed up and earned the certification, and Climate Neutral would like to expand that number into the thousands as soon as possible. To support the effort, it has launched a now fully funded Kickstarter campaign (ends December 12, 2019). + Climate Neutral Images via Climate Neutral

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Climate Neutral Certification labels products with minimized carbon footprints

Earth911’s 5 Things Today: COP25 Carbon Commitments, Climate Models, & Water Filtration Progress

December 3, 2019 by  
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Every day brings new climate information and news about scientific … The post Earth911’s 5 Things Today: COP25 Carbon Commitments, Climate Models, & Water Filtration Progress appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911’s 5 Things Today: COP25 Carbon Commitments, Climate Models, & Water Filtration Progress

Earth911 Podcast: How To Lower Your Carbon Footprint and Save Money

November 25, 2019 by  
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The Earth911 gang gathers at the microphone to talk about … The post Earth911 Podcast: How To Lower Your Carbon Footprint and Save Money appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Podcast: How To Lower Your Carbon Footprint and Save Money

Lisa Dyson on the new carbon economy

November 5, 2019 by  
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Lisa Dyson, CEO of Kiverdi, considers new approaches to convert carbon into food for the world’s growing population. She uncovers the technologies and markets focused on developing multiple world-scale carbon sinks of value to addressable markets that can ultimately make the carbon economy a reality.

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Lisa Dyson on the new carbon economy

Mayor Schaff on Oakland’s clean economy

November 5, 2019 by  
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Mayor Schaaf announces Oakland’s official Clean Economy Week and speaks to the ways in which cities like Oakland are critical to accelerating the clean economy.

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Mayor Schaff on Oakland’s clean economy

Angela Glover Blackwell on prosperity and progress for all

November 5, 2019 by  
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Angela Glover Blackwell, a pioneer of the environmental equity movement, explains that without equity, there can be neither progress nor prosperity.

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Angela Glover Blackwell on prosperity and progress for all

VERGE Accelerate (Circular and Carbon): Nori

November 5, 2019 by  
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On the VERGE 19 main stage, selected finalists pitch to a live audience of business leaders, government officials and investors, as well as to a global online audience. During this fast-paced pitch competition, industry experts provide commentary and audience votes determine the winner.

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VERGE Accelerate (Circular and Carbon): Nori

Behind those hookups between carbontech firms, oil and gas majors

October 29, 2019 by  
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In the spotlight: the burgeoning relationship between direct air capture firm Carbon Engineering and Oxy Low Carbon Ventures.

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Behind those hookups between carbontech firms, oil and gas majors

Have an eco-friendly Halloween and aim for zero-waste this October

October 28, 2019 by  
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Holidays and celebrations can take a toll on the environment. Between waste and consumption, Halloween festivities leave behind a giant carbon footprint. But with a little purposeful planning, your holiday can be fun and eco-friendly at the same time.  Go plastic free Obviously plastic is problematic for the planet from the petroleum used in production to the lack of sustainable disposal options. With some foresight you can mostly avoid plastic in favor of alternatives. For costumes, shop local or make your own so you can see plastic parts and avoid shipping packaging. Make costumes from natural fibers such as organic cotton or hemp. Use accessories of metal or wood. Swap out plastic trick-or-treat buckets with pillow cases or reusable shopping bags. Related: Light your pumpkins the EEK-o-friendly way this Halloween Multi-purpose decor One way to cut back on the “stuff” you accumulate for the holiday is to think seasonally. Focus on decor that can serve throughout the fall season rather than just until Halloween. Hay bales, corn stocks, pumpkins, gourds and potted plants create a welcoming display at the front door that is both sustainable and inviting well past Thanksgiving. Inside the home, target the classic sights, sounds and smells of fall with pumpkin spice candles, reflective glass displays and wreaths from burlap, straw or herbs. Organic plant-based food Holidays are for celebrating with friends and Halloween is the perfect time to invite your favorite witches and demons over for a party. Since it’s always in season to be nice to the planet, plan your party around organic (no pesticides and other toxins in the water and soil), plant-based (sans the carbon footprint of meat production) food . Make taco dip with tortilla headstones, adorable pumpkin cookies, a veggie platter in the shape of a skeleton or individual spider pizzas. Save gas Reducing gas consumption avoids the need for more oil drilling and limits your contribution to air pollution. Pick up your party supplies in advance when you are already running other errands to avoid extra trips to the store. Also, stay in your neighborhood for trick or treating if possible. Zero waste Aim for zero waste during Halloween as a challenge to yourself and your family. Work together to brainstorm ways to keep trash from taking over the holiday. Using the real plates and utensils is a great start, but you can avoid the need for dinnerware altogether by creating a menu consisting only of finger foods. Drag out the cloth napkins, too. Avoid throwing out your costume at the end of the holiday by using recyclable materials such as cardboard or save the outfit for another occasion. Be sure to donate or resell when it’s time for the final goodbye. Go second hand If Halloween is really your season to shine and you enjoy widespread decorating, spend some time at the local thrift shop where holiday decor comes in year-round. While you might still end up with non eco-friendly materials like plastic , giving those items a second life keeps them out of landfills. This is also true for costumes, lawn decorations and clothing. Tricks and treats Candy has become an integral part of the holiday and you can enjoy a treat without contributing to wasteful consumption. Start by setting a reasonable limit. While it’s fun to be out with the kids on Halloween, the treats they gather shouldn’t last until Valentine’s Day. There’s not much you can do about the plastic you’ll acquire during your trip around the neighborhood, but you can do your part when it comes to making a conscience choice about what you hand out at your door. Shop from fair trade companies and look for sustainable packaging. Also consider non-candy items or offer up a trick instead. Cut the electric bill You can enjoy your party without a spike in electrical use by making a few simple changes. Skip the TV shows and music and consider cutting the electricity all together. Halloween is the perfect occasion to take the party outside to celebrate around a wood fire under the stars and the harvest moon. Drop some submersible LED lights in the bottom of the apple dunk barrel and use solar lights to create paths or designate gathering areas. If the weather in your area isn’t cooperating with a nature party, bring it inside for a blackout party instead. Grab the solar lights from the yard and further illuminate the space with beeswax candles displayed on reflective metal or glass plates. For entertainment, share spooky stories and explain the history of the holiday to the younger generations.  Halloween is a ghoulishly fun holiday, but it doesn’t have to have a gastly impact on the planet. Set an example for your kids, guests and neighbors with thoughtful decor, costumes and party ideas that just may inspire them to make Halloween a real treat for the planet, too. Images via Shutterstock

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Have an eco-friendly Halloween and aim for zero-waste this October

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