The COVID Covenant: Going big is the price of admission

September 21, 2020 by  
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The COVID Covenant: Going big is the price of admission Gil Friend Mon, 09/21/2020 – 01:00 The world (well, most of it) attacked COVID-19 as if it were a true global emergency: with extraordinary speed, scale and scope. With real collaboration and a healthy dose of courage, some gutsy decisions were made both in government and business. Getting billions of people to don masks, allocating trillions of dollars and putting massive human safety nets in place around the globe in record time is no task for the faint of heart. Yet we haven’t responded to other planetary catastrophes with the same speed, scale, scope and coordination. This year’s Climate Week commitments notwithstanding, we haven’t shown the same guts and drive on climate as on COVID. But what if we did? That is the challenge posed by the COVID Covenant. Take climate change — in the grand scheme, a far greater and decidedly more existential emergency than the current pandemic. While some targets have been set, some progress made and some portion of the public enrolled, the world has not become galvanized to meet it. This is a threat we know will affect billions of people and displace hundreds of millions more through sea-level rise, desertification and other disastrous impacts by the time our children are grown. The stakes are high. There is no room here for laggards. We need to shift the whole game, raise the level of ambition, move that needle. We could talk about why we haven’t acted, but the real question is about what we will do going forward: How will we provoke the world into attacking carbon as it has the virus? And climate is not the only major threat we face. The social infrastructure that has left many millions without access to healthcare in the middle of a major pandemic certainly threatens global stability. Inequality and injustice are worldwide disasters as well. These are all global issues that underpin all of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and they are all soluble. Yet our planetary response to them has been tepid at best. Going big The COVID Covenant was created to kick the world into overdrive, to accept no less than the huge, unprecedented commitments required to deal with these issues, to make what seemed impossible, possible. In short: to go big. Developed by a cadre of sustainable business veterans, the COVID Covenant represents an all-in community of influential business leaders, municipal leaders and individuals who — after a long, deep breath — have committed to doing far more, far faster than they ever believed they could, and to turn on the sirens and the flashing lights for others while they’re doing it. Each has committed to the COVID Covenant. They have declared they are going big. That’s the price of admission. The COVID Covenant I solemnly commit to do what is necessary, at the speed, scale and scope that is necessary, to ensure we don’t go back to a broken system — an overheating, divided, unequal world — and build a resilient, equitable, healthy world in its place. Before the ink is dry on this Covenant, I will begin creating economic, social and governmental change at speed, scale and scope. I will practice, and advocate for, unprecedented levels of collaboration and I will mobile mobilize my organization(s), city, company and others in my circle of influence to do the same. We know what a real emergency response looks like now, what it feels like — the immediacy and urgency of it. And still, when this pandemic eventually ends, will most organizations return to their pre-coronavirus goals, such as to reduce emissions by 20 percent in five years, say, or to be carbon neutral by 2050? Will they continue with health care and wages as usual? Or will they go big, to get it done now?Demand and lobby hard to ensure everyone has health care, and for a far more equitable wage structure? Will they catalyze others to do the same? If, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says, we have a maximum of eight years of carbon left in our 1.5 degree Celsius carbon budget, then a goal of neutrality 30 or 40 years from now no longer looks like leadership. Like heroism. Like going big. Instead, it looks like thinking small. If — or more likely, when — the next pandemic hits, or Florida is underwater, or California is burning, or whatever the next disruption is — can we afford to have millions of people in food lines within a few days of a shutdown, or for millions to lose their jobs or not be able to access health care? The stakes are high. There is no room here for laggards. We need to shift the whole game, raise the level of ambition, move that needle. If the COVID Covenant can get those who are crawling toward progress to walk instead, if it can get the walkers to start jogging and the joggers to sprint, then we have a chance. (Those already sprinting? Time to turn on the jets — let’s see commitments that make Microsoft’s aim to remove all the carbon it has ever generated look like last year’s news.) The world has progressed — a bit — on climate. A few short years ago, climate targets were not science-based, and carbon-neutral commitments were rare. Most corporations were not reporting to GRI or SASB or thinking about TCFD. Now, thousands of companies are reporting, hundreds have set science-based targets and many corporations and communities already have committed to neutrality — though, as we’ve noted, their goals are too modest and too slow. The goalposts have moved, but nowhere near fast or far enough. Further, faster The message of the COVID Covenant is, “It’s great you say you’ll do this cool thing in 20 or 30 years, but that’s not soon enough. What if you treated it like the emergency it is and committed to getting the job done fast? What would it take for you to do it in 10 years? Five years? Three?” The COVID Covenant is seeding a community of collaborating competitors, of peers, experts and cheerleaders, sharing best practices, modeling what going big looks like and how to get there, offering feedback and advice, and trumpeting its work to the world. What this community does and becomes is up to those who commit to it — we’re confident that a group of people and companies whose uniting purpose is to go big will do more than just commit. The community might generate new business relationships among its members, new research or new public-private partnerships. However the collaboration evolves, it will be a vehicle for greater change and impact — picking up the gauntlet thrown down by the coronavirus, climate change and widening social inequity.  Those who’ve committed to the COVID Covenant include Andrew Winston, Hunter Lovins, John Izzo, Gil Friend, Daniel Aronson, Catherine Greener, Daniel Kreeger, Amy Larkin, P.J. Simmons and Phil Clawson.  Read more and make your own commitment here . Pull Quote The stakes are high. There is no room here for laggards. We need to shift the whole game, raise the level of ambition, move that needle. Contributors Daniel Aronson Topics Climate Change Leadership COVID-19 COVID-19 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Why sustainability professionals should embrace Black Lives Matter

September 21, 2020 by  
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Why sustainability professionals should embrace Black Lives Matter Charles Orgbon Mon, 09/21/2020 – 00:45 Long before corporations acknowledged Black Lives Matter, they championed the plights of specific endangered species. Corporate conservation campaigns used phrases such as “Save the [insert your favorite animal],” which have been catchy, effective and oddly similar to the language we’re now using to educate people about the status of Black life in America. The Disney Conservation Fund protects lions, elephants, chimpanzees and thousands of other species. Ben & Jerry’s brings awareness to declining honeybee populations. Coca-Cola appropriately is the longtime ally of the poster child for climate change, the polar bear. As a kid, I, too, was influenced by Coca-Cola’s messaging. At just 11, I thought I could stop global warming, so I created a blog with articles urging people, “Save the polar bears.” No one challenged me by asking, “What about the tigers? The tigers…matter, too! All endangered species matter.” The fact is, polar bears were (and still are) drowning due to global problems. If we addressed the root causes of those global problems such as reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, in fact, all endangered species would fare better. The phrase “Black Lives Matter” works similarly to “Save the polar bear,” only that Black people are drowning in a sea of systemic racism instead of a rising sea of melting ice. Want to know how well our society is tackling racial injustice? Look to Black people. If we’re doing good, we’re all doing good. When someone says something such as “Save the polar bears,” they are also indirectly revealing other information about themselves. Perhaps they eat organic, use public transportation, recycle or take military-style showers. Likewise, when we say “Black Lives Matter” we are actually making a declaration about our belief that injustice somewhere is a threat to justice everywhere. All lives truly matter when those that are the most marginalized matter. Want to know how well our society is tackling climate change? Look to polar bears. If they’re doing good, we’re doing good. Want to know how well our society is tackling racial injustice? Look to Black people. If we’re doing good, we’re all doing good. I spend a lot of time thinking about how white people are just awakening to the systemic racism that continues to thrive in every aspect of American life and how this systemic racism continues to affect me daily . If so many people have gone so long without acknowledging the reality that people of color experience every day, it’s not surprising that these issues have gone on for so long. Watershed moment Sometimes a watershed moment is needed to bring attention to a crisis. After all, no one cared about polar bears until Mt. Pinatubo’s 1991 volcanic eruption, which greatly influenced our scientific understanding of anthropogenic global warming and its impacts on arctic life. The catastrophic event was one of the most significant watershed moments for climate activism. Now, the Black Lives Matter movement is amid a watershed moment. White people are awakening from their own hibernation and acknowledging that, yes, as the statistics suggest, racism still exists. For example, Black people and white people breathe different air. Black people are exposed to about 1.5 times more particulate matter than white people. Give more than just a cursory glance to Marvin Gaye’s ” Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) ” and you’ll discover its truisms: “Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east.” Researchers have found that toxic chemical exposure is linked to race : minority populations have higher levels of benzene and other dangerous aromatic chemical exposure. Lead poisoning also disproportionately affects people of color in the U.S., especially Black people. A careful examination of our nation’s statistics reveals myriad racial disparities. The polarity of experiences is startling. This influenced many well-intentioned white people to examine numerous situations and ask, “Is racial bias truly at play here?” I challenge that that’s not the question we must ask when we live in a world with such disparate statistics for communities of color. It’s much more powerful to ask, ” How is racial bias at play here?” Those who fail to confront how racial bias is often at play attempt to live in a colorblind world that does not exist. When tipping service workers, when selecting your next dentist, when making employment decisions, when raising children, seriously consider that the world is not colorblind. And to create a more equitable world, we have to fight more aggressively to counteract the evil that already exists. This is what it means to be anti-racist, or as the National Museum of African American History and Culture counsels, “Make frequent, consistent and equitable choices to be conscious about race and racism and take actions to end racial inequities in our daily lives.” So, what can allies do? Step 1: Take out a sticky note. Step 2: Write out the words ANTI-RACIST. Step 3: Put it on your laptop monitor and do the work. It’s a daily practice to filter your thoughts, communication and decisions through an anti-racist lens. Pull Quote Want to know how well our society is tackling racial injustice? Look to Black people. If we’re doing good, we’re all doing good. Topics Social Justice Equity & Inclusion Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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Maven Moment: Safe & Natural Baby Products

September 9, 2020 by  
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My mother-in-law Lucy had four children. They were born in … The post Maven Moment: Safe & Natural Baby Products appeared first on Earth 911.

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Mightly kids clothing is GOTS- and Fair Trade-certified

August 14, 2020 by  
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As parents, protecting kids against chemical-laden fabrics and setting examples about conscientious purchases make an important impact. Brands like Mightly, a children’s clothing company, make it easier to ensure the clothes you buy are responsibly manufactured, both for the safety of the planet and the children. Launched in 2019 by co-founders Tierra Forte, Barrie Brouse and Anya Marie Emerson, Mightly started with the goal of making ethically made and organic clothing more affordable for families. In partnership with Fair Trade USA, the brand will be releasing its first Fair Trade-certified collection.  Related: Origami-inspired clothing line that grows with kids wins Dyson award By the end of the year, all of Mightly’s clothing will achieve Fair Trade certification . This includes its best-selling pajamas, which are made without chemical flame retardants. In addition, the team offers artist-designed T-shirts with itch-free labels and flat seams for kids with high sensitivities. Other products include long-lasting leggings with no-show, reinforced knees (a must for kids) and double-duty dresses with strategically placed pockets for children who like to collect everything in their path. Mightly is also launching new Fair Trade-certified products including kids underwear and adjustable-fit face masks. “Our goal as a company is to make ethically made children’s clothing accessible to more families and Fair Trade Certification is a key part of that commitment. I’ve seen firsthand the many ways that workers benefit from Fair Trade and am proud that Mightly is a part of the program,” said Mightly CEO Tierra Forte. Forte was previously a leading member of the team at Fair Trade USA that developed and launched the Fair Trade Apparel and Home Goods Standard, which has been widely adopted by sustainably minded brands. With a deep understanding of the process, from sourcing materials to selling products, Mightly ensures each step is kind to the Earth. Products are made from rain-fed, certified organic cotton and use Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)-approved dyes and inks. Mightly works exclusively with family farmers in India who sell the cotton through a farmer-owned nonprofit to the company’s Fair Trade factory in India.  Fair Trade-certified factories must adhere to rigorous social, environmental and economic standards to protect the health and safety of workers. For every Fair Trade-certified product sold, Mightly pays an additional Fair Trade premium directly back to the workers. Mightly’s comfort wear is made for children ages 2-12 and is available on Mightly.com. + Mightly Images via Mightly

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Maven Moment: Playing at the Park

August 5, 2020 by  
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When my siblings and I were kids, one of our … The post Maven Moment: Playing at the Park appeared first on Earth 911.

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Luxury home in Kerala produces all of its own energy

July 30, 2020 by  
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Thrissur-based design studio LIJO RENY Architects has taken full advantage of Kerala’s sunny, tropical climate with its design of The House Within the Grid, a luxury residence that produces all of its own energy via rooftop solar panels. Commissioned by a doctor couple with four children, the solar-powered home is currently used as a holiday escape from the clients’ primary residence in Sharjah; however, the house will eventually serve as the family’s permanent home in the future. Located on a slightly elevated half-acre lot in the coastal neighborhood of Andathode, the House Within the Grid encompasses nearly 9,000 square feet of living space to accommodate the primary family of six and the clients’ extended family and friends on holiday visits. To provide privacy to the main sleeping wing, the architects divided the home into two connected yet distinct parallel bays — a single-story bay housing the public and semi-private areas on the east side and a double-story bay on the western side that comprises six en suite bedrooms and a compact office space. Two large courtyards are located in between the bays. Related: Mud and recycled materials make up this sustainable Kerala home “A mix of primary and secondary functions, with its two different room widths, creates a visible repetitive spatial pattern throughout the house,” the architects explained of the layout. “This project was an exercise in exploiting the spatial possibilities offered by the surprisingly flexible modular grid. Juxtaposing the rigorous but serene geometry of the house with the incoherent landscape of its site, a distinct spatial language evolved to become a subtle stage for the contemplative daily activities.” In addition to adding rooftop solar panels that meet all of the home’s electricity needs, the architects have strategically placed windows to tap into cross ventilation for natural cooling. Extended roof slabs also help protect against unwanted solar gain from Kerala’s intense sunlight. A rainwater collection system has been installed along the floating roofs as well to further reduce the home’s resource footprint. + LIJO RENY Architects Photography by Praveen Mohandas via LIJO RENY Architects

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Mysterious seeds from China arriving in mail across America

July 30, 2020 by  
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Agricultural officials from several states have expressed alarm over unsolicited packages of seeds delivered to residents. The packages appear to come from China, as they feature China Post labeling. Agricultural officers advise farmers not to plant the seeds, in case they are harmful or invasive. Warnings sent out to farmers and residents follow reports of unsolicited seed packages being delivered in residents’ mail. Several people reported receiving seeds in white pouches that featured Chinese writing and the words “China Post.” Another concerning detail is that the seed packages were not labeled as food or agricultural products. Envelopes included misleading labels, with some listing the contents as jewelry, toys or earbuds. States that have released public notices against planting the unsolicited seeds include Washington, Virginia, Kentucky, Delaware, Colorado, Iowa, Georgia, Minnesota, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, North Dakota, Texas, Alabama and Florida. Kentucky , one of the first states to receive reports of unsolicited seeds, issued warnings to residents. As Ryan Quarles, Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner, wrote on Twitter, residents should “put the package and seeds in a zip lock bag and wash your hands immediately.” Residents must also send any seeds they receive to the Department of Agriculture. Following the reports, several other states, including Arkansas, Michigan , Oregon and New Jersey, issued warnings to residents. Such measures may help prevent farmers from planting harmful, contaminated seeds. The Chinese Embassy in Washington claims these China Post packages “to be fake ones with erroneous layouts and entries.” Cecilia Sequeira, spokesperson for the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, says the department is working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to stop illegal importation of prohibited seeds. Should you receive any mysterious seeds in the mail, report it to the nearest Agriculture Office. + NY Times Image via Pexels

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Rare blue lobster turns up in Red Lobster shipment

July 30, 2020 by  
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The only thing that saved Clawde from the linguini sauce was her blue hue. As Lora Jones unpacked the Cuyahoga Falls,  Ohio  Red Lobster restaurant’s air-lifted live lobster delivery, one crustacean stood out: a rare blue lobster. Scientists estimate that a genetic anomaly makes only about one in two million American lobsters blue. Red Lobster workers immediately isolated the lobster — nicknamed Clawde, after the restaurant mascot — to keep her safe. “We kept [it] in the tank and just made sure that nobody took him in the back for dinner,” server Angie Helbig told NPR. Related: 132-year-old lobster returned to ocean after living in tank for 20 years Staff marveled at the unusual  sea  creature. “At first it looked like it was fake,” culinary manager Anthony Stein told NPR. “It’s definitely something marvelous to look at.” Soon after Clawde’s arrival, the corporate office phoned the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, which promotes sustainably sourced seafood . Seafood Watch connected Red Lobster with the Akron Zoo, which was excited to adopt the azure lobster. Kathleen Balogh, animal care manager at the Akron Zoo, headed for the Red Lobster armed with a big cooler of cold saltwater. After the 15-minute ride to the zoo, Clawde got a tank of her own. “There is a little bit of wear and tear from its journey,” Balogh said. Despite this, she added that the female lobster is in good  health  and adjusting to her new surroundings. Zoo staff will watch over Clawde as she goes through the next molting cycle of shedding and renewing her shell, which can be a delicate time for lobsters. Akron Zoo’s indoor areas, including Clawde’s tank, are currently closed to the public due to coronavirus . Balogh hopes that the blue lobster will eventually be on public display. Though the blue color is rare, it’s not the only unusual lobster color. Rare genetic defects can cause lobsters to create a  protein  that results in yellow, orange or even calico coloration. Albino coloring is the rarest of all, occurring in about one in 100 million lobsters. While exciting for humans who stumble across these colorful crustaceans, stand-out colors make it hard for lobsters to avoid predators. Via NPR Image via Richard Wood

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Educational center in Russia has a wind turbine and rooftop solar panels

July 30, 2020 by  
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Located in the Russian village of Khryug in southern Dagestan, the Luminary Inspiration Center is a welcomed educational experience in a small town of just 2,000 residents. The idea for an interactive creative center was born thanks to a local charity foundation, which delivered computers to the village schools in an effort to bring the area up to national internet communication standards. The center has been open since mid-2018 and has always remained free-of-charge for kids between the ages of 10 and 17. By 2020, there were about 120 children regularly studying in the center, half from Khryug and the rest from neighboring villages. Related: Locally crafted children’s learning center doubles as an emergency shelter in the Philippines One of the most compelling aspects of Luminary is its architecture, which is unlike anything else in the immediate region. Most of the children who frequent the center have never been outside of their villages, nor have they experienced anything outside of their own neighborhood’s common architecture. Luminary offers a chance for them to see mosaics of different styles and epochs as well as the combination of the traditional architecture of the area with contemporary black metal and glass elements. The educational center is located within a 2,500-square-meter property inside of an apple garden and includes a lecture hall designed with panoramic glass walls and an outdoor amphitheater for fresh-air learning during favorable weather. Inside, there is a wide range of educational spaces including an observatory, robotics and VR laboratories, a virtual planetarium, a cinema, a library and an artistic workshop. A peaceful, modern interior creates the perfect learning environment for studying and creative thinking. Sunlight-harvesting rooftop solar panels assist with the frequent power outages, so if the internet is lost at any time, it only takes 0.025 seconds for the solar battery to kick in. A large wind turbine in the garden powers the water fountain and provides a working example for a favorite student project — assembling a working wind turbine and solar power station in Luminary’s technological laboratory. + Archiproba Studios Photography by Alexei Kalabin via Archiproba Studios

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Solar-powered bungalow in Australia promotes indoor-outdoor living

June 24, 2020 by  
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This bungalow-style home combines a thermal chimney system with solar power to improve energy efficiency. The young family who bought the original home wanted to present the rest of their community with a welcomed sense of connection through indoor-outdoor living, multiple entryways and a large-scale colorful mural on the side of the house. The two-level project in Melbourne, Australia was led by Gardiner Architects and completed in 2018. The thermal chimney effect is achieved by having the two stories spaced around the home’s stairwell, so that cool air is drawn from below and exhausted at the top. Sheet metal and shiplap cover the exterior. There are also solar panels fitted to the roof and a skylight to bring natural light inside. The brick wall, which runs down the middle of the building, works thermally as a heat sink and cool sink, while the concrete floor and efficient insulation provides additional assistance in thermal regulation. Despite only having ceiling fans and no air conditioning, the temperature inside remains comfortable throughout the year, even during the summer months. Related: Solar-powered home embraces tree canopy views in all directions The home incorporates three different zones: the children’s bedroom upstairs, the adult bedroom downstairs and the living spaces toward the back. A main, informal living space and sporadic communal spaces provide plenty of opportunities for activities, and an additional ground-level common area has the flexibility to be used as a study, homework room or space for long-term projects, such as artwork or puzzles. This concept adds to the sustainability elements of the home, as the designers are able to provide more amenities in a smaller footprint. As with most homes with young children, the clients wanted a house that would help center the family around the kitchen. Because the family enjoys gardening with herbs and vegetables, making kombucha, bee keeping and preserving fruit, they wanted a large, open kitchen that connected to the dining and living spaces and also the backyard. A sizable kitchen window opens to a butler’s pantry, and large glass doors open to the deck. Windows in the living room are designed to fold back, allowing inside activities to merge with outdoor ones with ease and creating the ability to connect larger gatherings of neighbors or family. A green roof was incorporated as an extension of garden space and a spot for the family to keep their bees. + Gardiner Architects Via Houzz Photography by Rory Gardiner via Gardiner Architects

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