Here are 5 Indigenous eco-charities to support

November 29, 2021 by  
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“There is no planet B.” Perhaps no one understands that better than Indigenous people. Understanding how to coexist with nature has been an essential life skill for many generations, and today’s Indigenous people are still honoring the  environment  through various movements. These movements support sustainable, low-impact lifestyles that meet the needs of humans and the planet. If you want to support Indigenous organizations working toward this goal through everything from education to legal help, check out this list of Indigenous-led eco-charities worldwide. Seed Climate justice is the goal, and Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are keeping a focus on that goal through a series of campaigns supported by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC). AYCC understands Indigenous communities are highly affected by climate change and is committed to empowering the younger generation to address the issue.  Related: 12 sustainable, Indigenous-owned brands to support To participate, you can sign the petition to urge Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to ban any governmental support of new coal and gas projects. Organizers say, “We are the caretakers, protection of the country is at the very core of our culture and connection to the land and sea. It is the teaching of the Dreaming.” You can also sign a petition to ban fracking in the region. A recent article from  The Guardian  summarizes the mission saying, “Where they can, communities are already acting to make these changes reality. For example, in the Northern Territory, where Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network, Seed, is working with communities to protect the country and water from dangerous gas fracking, communities are working to become energy self-sufficient and supply clean and cheap power with  solar power  and batteries.” Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) The goals of the IEN are many, but they center around continuing to impart ancestral knowledge about land management to modern generations both within and outside the Indigenous community. IEN is a grassroots effort started in the United States in 1990. In addition to educating and empowering the Indigenous community, the group aims to protect the environment, human health, and  animals  by promoting sustainable lifestyles and influencing policies that affect Indigenous Peoples at local to international levels. The group includes elders and youth in campaigns to protect the rights of all while transferring traditional cultural and spiritual beliefs to the next generation of land stewards.  Through IEN, the ‘Keep it in the Ground’ campaign provides information and news about Keystone XL, Line 3 and No DAPL. The ‘Just Transition’ campaign seeks to refocus how we view the planet’s natural resources — a shift that moves away from seeing it as a product and instead promotes a lifestyle of balance with nature. ‘Save our Roots’ highlights various land and  water  issues, such as a campaign to stop genetically engineered trees and protect against deforestation worldwide.  Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) Many Indigenous groups still live in and rely on forested areas for protection, shelter,  food , heat and natural materials for home goods, trade and industry. But while these communities continue the practices of previous generations, they’re fighting a battle with a world trying to use those same resources without consideration for Indigenous people or the land. FPP’s goal is to ensure these communities have a voice when it comes to political strong-arming that strips them of their lands and their rights to them.  The ‘Free Prior and Informed Consent’ (FPIC) campaign provides the people the right to approve or deny outside use of their traditional lands. ‘Self Determination’ supports forest people’s rights to develop and practice their own political, economic, social and cultural practices. They also work to ensure gender equality and land rights, among other concepts.  Women’s Earth Alliance, Sacred Earth Advocacy Network Led by Indigenous women throughout North America, Women’s Earth Alliance, Sacred Earth Advocacy Network is on a mission to identify and enforce federal environmental laws and customary international law. It presses for governmental law reform and offers support for women-led Indigenous environmental justice groups. With a well-established nationwide network of legal professionals, the group advocates action through grassroots solutions for the climate , economy, water, energy, food, cultural preservation, health, safety, education and more.    The Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) The Earth has no voice. Or rather, it does, but it’s often drowned out by humans. CCAEJ works to advocate for the planet from a community perspective. It brings communities together in search of solutions for social and environmental problems. The focus is to empower people to develop systems that meet community needs with respect for the planet. As CCAEJ explains on its website, “We believe in a zero-emission future and in regenerative and sustainable communities.” Working with local communities and acknowledging that they are closest to the problems and potential solutions, the group addresses crises related to  pollution , cleaner transportation, zero-emission technology and more. Lead image via Pixabay

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Here are 5 Indigenous eco-charities to support

Renewables can power the world, according to new study

November 15, 2021 by  
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A recent study published in  Nature Communications  has found that renewables can meet most of the world’s energy needs. According to the authors, even the most industrialized countries that need a heavy power supply can rely on renewable energy, specifically wind and solar.   The study was led by researchers from the University of California, Irvine, to address concerns raised by critiques of renewable energy. As the world struggles to move away from fossil fuels , those opposed to the change have argued that renewables cannot reliably meet the energy needs of industrialized nations. Related: Solar program has customers saving money from renewable energy In response, the researchers behind the study analyzed the hourly electricity needs of 42 developed countries over the past 39 years. They found that wind and solar power could cover up to 80% of the energy needs of most developed countries without the need for heavy storage. The study further found that wind and solar could cover 72-91% of energy needs in most of the countries studied. With a boost of 12-hour battery storage, wind and solar could meet 83-94% of power needs in most countries. “Wind and solar could meet more than 80 percent of demand in many places without crazy amounts of storage or excess generating capacity, which is the critical point,” said Steve Davis, UCI professor of Earth system science. “But depending on the country, there may be many multi-day periods throughout the year when some demand will need to be met by energy storage and other non-fossil energy sources in a zero-carbon future.”  Researchers collaborated with experts from China’s Tsinghua University, the Carnegie Institution for Science , and Caltech. Although the authors agree that it will not be possible to phase out fossil fuels in a flash, they say that it can be done with consistent efforts from all stakeholders. “Historic data show that countries that are farther from the equator can occasionally experience periods called ‘dark doldrums’ during which there is very limited solar and wind power availability,” said lead author Dan Tong, assistant professor of Earth system science at Tsinghua University.  The scientists gave an example of a recent situation in Germany that left the country without solar for two weeks. In reference to such situations, they say that only small countries with high power demands such as Germany may be unable to meter their energy needs. “It comes down to the difference between the difficult and the impossible. It will be hard to completely eliminate fossil fuels from our power generation mix, but we can achieve that goal when technologies , economics and socio-political will are aligned,” said Davis. Via Newswise Lead image via Pexels

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Renewables can power the world, according to new study

Can the Amazon rainforest survive?

November 15, 2021 by  
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Humans are barreling toward a catastrophic tipping point for the  Amazon rainforest , according to a recent study by more than 200 scientists. If we don’t change our habits immediately, the damage will be irreversible. According to study authors, more than a third of the Amazon rainforest has been deforested or degraded. Dry seasons continue to lengthen, and  rainfall  has decreased. Related: Amazon deforestation still high despite Brazil’s COP26 pledge The authors formed a new group, Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA). On the final scheduled day of the  COP26  climate talks in Glasgow, the group released its first dire report.  The wonders of the Amazon include a huge diversity of animals, plants and insects, with new species being discovered practically every other day. The Amazon Basin accounts for between 16-22% of global river input to oceans. Biodiversity and abundant water are crucial to the stability of local  ecosystems , regulating climate variability and governing global water cycles. On the minus side: humans. They clear  forests  to put in roads and pipelines. They contaminate water supplies, build giant hydroelectric dams, scar the landscape with open-pit mines and log indiscriminately. “At the start of the century, large-scale forest dieback was seen as a remote possibility, predicted by oversensitive models,” said Jos Barlow of Lancaster University, one of the founders of SPA, as reported by The Guardian. “However, there is now irrefutable evidence that parts of the Amazon have reached a tipping point, with  megafires , increased temperatures, reductions in rainfall. The severe social and ecological changes mean that a rethink is urgently needed. We cannot continue business as usual. The report is a first step in encouraging that rethink.” During the first week of COP26, more than a hundred countries signed a pledge to halt deforestation. These countries include  Brazil  and Ecuador, both of which contain parts of the enormous rainforest, and Canada, a big player in Amazon mining.  While many conservationists are skeptical about the follow-through of those who signed the deforestation pledge, SPA study author Erika Berenguer of the University of Oxford is staying positive. “This is a message of hope,” Berenguer said, as reported by The Guardian. “I don’t want to sound naive given what we have seen over the past three years, but this report gives clear pathways for a different future. We don’t need a forest based on destruction; we can have a future with a healthy ecosystem where people are thriving. This comes from scientists who are a cynical and sceptical bunch. We deal with evidence and we see evidence that the future can be different.” Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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Can the Amazon rainforest survive?

Solar program has customers saving money from renewable energy

November 15, 2021 by  
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Making the individual choice to invest in renewable power is a good decision for the sake of the environment . Some areas make it easy to tap into solar, wind, water and other renewable energy options by paying a few extra bucks on your monthly bill. Other areas don’t offer the option at all, or available options are cost prohibitive. Joule Assets has set out to change that paradigm with a program called community source solar, and it’s changing the framework of the power structure in New York.  Joule Community Power, also known as Joule Assets, is a company dedicated to increasing the amount of, and access to, renewable energy options. Basically they act as a mediary between cities and energy users on one side and energy providers on the other side. In this role, they work with municipalities and power companies to negotiate lower energy rates based on the numbers. In New York that means representing entire communities where a large number of customers can acquire lower energy rates than individuals can obtain.  Related: Renewable energy is growing too slow to stop climate change More than simply a bulk energy, cost-savings option, the community choice solar program maintains a focus on diversifying the types of energy available, with an emphasis on solar and other renewable energy. A recent contract with supplier Luminace is the largest solar generation supply agreement dedicated to community choice solar ever. It’s expected to produce approximately 24,600 megawatt hour in the first year of operation. A second contract with BQ Energy brings that total up to a combined 31,000 megawatt hour of community solar supply in the first year of operation for New York communities.  Most green energy programs work as an opt-in system where customers choose to participate. This system typically captures about 5% of customers. The community choice solar program through Joule will largely be offered as an opt-out program instead. That means everyone will be signed up and only those who choose not to participate will be excluded from the program. Planners anticipate this will capture about 90% of customers.  “Without having to lift a finger, our residents will be able to gain benefits from renewable energy while saving money ,” said Marbletown Supervisor Rich Parete. “This is an amazing benefit for our town and the result of some terrific collaboration.” In addition to making it easier to access energy that is sourced from solar, the community choice solar program also saves the customer money, estimated at up to 10% of their standard utility costs. The combined contracts will service more than 4,500 households and small businesses. Between 35% to 50% of those customers fall into the low to moderate income range, which provides a unique opportunity to allow these typically underrepresented households the chance to participate in renewable energy programs without extra expense. “Hudson Valley Community Power will be the first opt-out community solar program that explicitly prioritizes LMI residents for solar benefits,” said Jessica Stromback, CEO of Joule Assets. “We have already brought thousands of New Yorkers monthly savings on their utility bills while promoting clean energy, and these deals will help those who need it most.” BQ Energy develops renewable energy with a unique business model. Rather than buying and using large expanses of land for solar fields, it puts a focus on using unappealing land areas such as landfills and brownfield sites. “We are arguably the most experienced and successful landfill solar developer in the U.S. ,” the company said. “This year, we have added 175 MW of new projects to our development portfolio. We take pride in our ability to transform unusable land into operating solar projects that benefit local communities.” As a service provider, the company benefits from expanding its client base. “Repurposing landfills and brownfields to start generating new, clean energy is at the core of our mission and a benefit we are thrilled to expand upon in the Hudson Valley ,” said Paul Curran, Managing Director of BQ Energy. “Knowing that the majority of our capacity is going to low-income residents adds a social value element to our environmental efforts.” The programs offer an immediate increase in customer base for solar power providers, boosting the households they serve by thousands almost instantly. It also puts the “ power ” in the hands of community leaders when it comes to making decisions about the types of energy they want at a local level. Joule Community Power is dedicated to “empowering local decision-making, enabling access to cleaner and cheaper energy and making it easier for New Yorkers to transition to renewable electricity . Through community choice aggregation (CCA), Joule helps municipalities join together to aggregate the buying power of residents at large enough scale to negotiate more favorable terms of their energy contracts, decrease electricity costs, designate renewable generation sources, choose clean energy, increase consumer protection, select a default energy services company, support local renewable generation and deliver the benefits of solar, or other renewables, to entire communities.”   The combination of the opt-out programs, participation at the municipal level and the commitment from the solar energy providers will allow large communities with a varied population to transition into clean energy and is an automatic way to work towards climate goals for the country. Joule hopes the system sets an example for expansion across the United States and around the world.  + Joule Assets  Image via Joule Assets  

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Solar program has customers saving money from renewable energy

Biophilic Belgian Pavilion features futuristic sustainable design

November 12, 2021 by  
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The theme of Expo 2020 Dubai is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.” In line with this, the Belgian Pavilion, called The Green Arch, seeks to be exemplary in the realm of sustainable development. The architects, Vincent Callebaut Architectures and Assar Architects, have used futuristic design through greenery, solid timber construction and passive energy to showcase how developments in architecture will give rise to environmentally-friendly cities. Located in the “Mobility District” of the Expo site, the building serves several purposes. By organizing the main exhibits on higher floors, the ground level is left open for use by the public and features delectable Belgian gastronomy. The pavilion also maximizes the prevailing west-east winds of Dubai and creates a well-ventilated covered space with 3D-printed white concrete street furniture. Related: WOHA’s final design for Singapore Pavilion nears completion The Green Arch is also a “bridge-building” that links the Mobility and Sustainability districts at Expo 2020. The pavilion is formed of two pillars and a vault with double curvature, also known as a hyperbolic paraboloid. The paraboloid that envelopes the project is made of 5.5 linear kilometers of spruce cross-laminated timber ( CLT ) and forms a giant mashrabiya, an intricate perforated screen that controls sunlight and filters in cool breezes, taking a modern approach to Middle Eastern vernacular latticework. The pavilion is powered by renewable energy and uses a large photovoltaic canopy to produce electricity and heat water for the building. The playfully cantilevering balconies and extensive rooftop not only provide views to other parts of the Expo site but also house over 2,500 plants, shrubs and trees, which are drip-irrigated and create the pavilion’s refreshing microclimate through evapotranspiration. Through educational scenography, visitors embark on an immersive experience through the country in 2050, encompassing the theme of a technologically advanced and eco-friendly Belgium in the decades to come. A futuristic escalator is designed to simulate the experience of a space-time tunnel, casting the guests to the future and into the exhibits that showcase how the nation’s three regions, Brussels , Flanders and Wallonia, are working towards a smarter, greener future. Upon the completion of the Expo 2020 event, the pavilion will not be destroyed. “The building will not be doomed to destruction,” said Pierre-Yves Dermagne, the Belgian Federal Minister for the Economy. “Everything has been done so that it can be rebuilt , I hope, in Belgium.” + Vincent Callebaut Architectures and Assar Architects Images courtesy of Nizar Bredan, Greg O’Leary, and Vincent Callebaut

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Biophilic Belgian Pavilion features futuristic sustainable design

Scotland’s plastic ban may fail due to UK’s internal strife

November 12, 2021 by  
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The Scottish government has announced it will ban the sale of plastic straws, cutlery and polystyrene food packaging next year. This is part of a larger plan to reduce plastic waste and cut pollution. The ban will include all polystyrene food packaging containers and their lids, as well as balloon sticks, plates, coffee stirrers and other single-use plastics. Although the Scottish government has pledged to enact the ban on June 1, doubts abound due to its entanglement in U.K. climate policies. The ban itself is parallel to a similar ban planned across the U.K. Individual countries within the union have expressed their doubts about the ban’s effectiveness, prompting the move for individual policies. Related: Innovative biomaterials to help the world replace plastic The U.K. is accused of being slow to enact key climate decisions. In 2020, England banned plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers, but the ban has yet to begin. The U.K. is still consulting on the matter, in a process that seems to be taking a lifetime. Due to such delays, the Scottish government is worried the ban could be undermined by the U.K. market’s internal rules. Under U.K. market rules, all the countries in the union have to wait for a harmonized move on climate matters, since they share the same market and customers. According to Lorna Slater, a Scottish Green Party Minister, the climate disaster is an emergency and should be addressed fast. Slater says there is no time to waste since the oceans and landfills are already overwhelmed by plastic waste. “Every year, hundreds of millions of pieces of single-use plastic are wasted in this country,” Slater said. “They litter our coasts, pollute our oceans and contribute to the climate emergency. That has to end and this ban will be another step forward in the fight against plastic waste and throwaway culture.” Slater has expressed her fears over the matter, saying that if the ban is implemented in Scotland alone, it might be sidestepped by people shopping in England. The minister has written to other ministers to see whether the U.K. could consider allowing Scotland to make independent policies on the matter.  The U.K. and its four member states have been criticized for being reluctant to implement these bans. Already,  the E.U. and its 27 member states  have banned single-use plastics. The U.K. is now under pressure to speed up its process to avoid littering the region. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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Scotland’s plastic ban may fail due to UK’s internal strife

Amazon deforestation still high despite Brazil’s COP26 pledge

November 9, 2021 by  
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Last week at  COP26  in Glasgow, 100 countries, including Brazil, pledged to reverse deforestation by 2030. However, recent figures for October show that Brazil is nowhere near protecting the Amazon rainforest. In fact, the latest numbers are the second most appalling since scientists began measuring deforestation. The Brazilian National Space Agency (INPE) released its latest data on November 5. It showed that during October 2021, The  Amazon rainforest lost 796 km2 to deforestation. For comparison, this is more than four times the area of the Glasgow metropolitan area. Last October, the Amazon set an all-time deforestation record of 836 km2. The November 5 report shows a figure only 4.8% lower. Related: 110 countries pledge to end deforestation by 2030 “It is appalling to see this steady growth in  deforestation  in Brazilian Amazon, while the world is coming together to protect the world’s rainforest,” said Toerris Jaeger, secretary general of Rainforest Foundation Norway, in a statement. “Only one third of the world’s original rainforest now remains intact. We have no more square kilometers to lose.” As world leaders gather in Glasgow to try to solve the  climate change  conundrum, the deforestation pledge was one of the first positive steps. Such heavily forested nations as Canada, Russia, the U.S., U.K., Indonesia, China, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo also signed. Who knows what aerial photos would reveal about recent deforestation in these other countries? “The world will remain skeptical about  Brazil’s  promises until the country shows concrete results,” Jaeger said. “The pace of Amazon destruction needs to be reduced at the very least to comply with the country’s own 2020 climate targets.” Jair Bolsonaro’s administration hasn’t shown itself to be BFFs with the rainforest so far. During the administration’s first two years in power, Amazon deforestation rates soared to a 12-year high. The deforestation rate in 2019 and 2020 was 67% higher than the average deforestation rate a decade earlier. Via Rainforest Foundation Norway Lead image via Pixabay

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New resort area in Saudi Arabia breaks ground with Desert Rock

October 13, 2021 by  
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Saudi Arabia is about to see major development along the wadi vistas in the westernmost part of the country. The project being designed for The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) will be an expansive investment in driving tourism to the scenic and historic area. Award-winning firm Oppenheim Architecture is behind the current installment called Desert Rock, which is part of the larger Red Sea Project that will eventually see 50 resorts, 8,000 hotel rooms and 1,000 residential houses. Desert Rock broke ground this past summer and is expected to open for visitors at the end of 2022. Related: Mixed-use complex aims to minimize heat gain with greenery in Saudi Arabia Desert Rock is aptly named as it’s more than built from the ground up. It’s built into the side of a massive rock. While some might question the  environmental aspects of renovating the natural structure, the company has stated sustainability is high on its list of priorities. The rock that is removed from the mountainside will be used as a building material for interior and exterior walls and floors. Additional stone will be ground and, along with existing sand, used as the main building material. Processes within the building will focus on energy-efficient design elements that minimize energy consumption and aim to achieve the highest level of LEED certification. In addition to  passive design  techniques and energy-efficient systems, the building will incorporate water reduction strategies through rainwater harvest and native plants in the surrounding area.  Chad Oppenheim, founder of Oppenheim Architecture, said, “Desert Rock is one of the most dramatic desert landscapes in the world, which is why we wanted to use the architecture as a way to honor and respect it. By utilizing  natural materials  and integrating the resort into the rock, guests can connect physically with the destination and experience Saudi Arabia’s stunning, natural beauty.” Planners want to make the resort a cultural destination, hiring locals to educate visitors about the culture and history of the land. They also want to promote culture through art facilities. The outdoor and athletic opportunities include a spa and fitness center, remote dining, a lagoon, hiking, dune buggies and star gazing. Desert Rock is part of phase one of the project, which will include 16 hotels with a 2023 expected completion date. The destination will include luxury marinas, golf courses, entertainment, leisure facilities and an international airport. A 100-hectare landscape nursery that will provide an estimated 15 million  plants  to the resorts is up and running, while housing for 10,000 builders is complete and housing for an additional 14,000 workers is underway.  + Red Sea Development Company Via Oppenheim Architecture Images via Red Sea Development Company 

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New resort area in Saudi Arabia breaks ground with Desert Rock

Clark Street Composts sets example for Chicago and beyond

October 11, 2021 by  
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The natural world has a system for everything, including a natural waste cycle that turns dead  plants  and trees into food and soil for other living things. It’s called composting, and it’s a system as old as the planet itself. But modern garbage services have traditionally lumped all disposed of items together and hauled them to landfills. In a private-public collaboration, Chicago is tackling this issue by building a model for city-wide composting that can be developed anywhere.  The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce (ACC) has partnered with WasteNot Compost in a project called Clark Street Composts. The initiative is a pilot program the organizers hope will spread to every neighborhood. The program launched in mid-September with a focus on high producers of compostable waste such as  restaurants , bars and other businesses. At the onset, the program has the support of 20 businesses with an interest in diverting compostable waste away from the dump and towards conversion into nutrient-rich soil. Related: The Australian government unveils plan to end plastic pollution Andersonville has a history of embracing environmental and social change in Chicago’s north side, as seen through the Andersonville Recycles program, which launched in 2009. WasteNot is also well-established as an industry leader in composting, earning Treehugger.com’s top rating for the best overall composting company in the U.S. However, even with these resources available, Chicago ranks last in the country in terms of  recycling  habits. According to a press release for Clark Street Composts, “food waste [is] estimated to make up over 50% of landfill contents, and 17% of greenhouse gasses produced in the U.S. are a product of food waste rotting in landfills,” so organizers are hoping to use the program to educate and encourage business owners in regards to composting.  The process works like most other curbside services. WasteNot Compost provides bins and carts for members and informs customers about what items can go into the bin. This includes fruit and vegetable waste, but also lesser-known compostables like cooked and raw  food , meat, dairy products, hair, pet fur, yard waste, compostable products from packaging companies and much more. Many of these items are not recommended for standard backyard composting because they can draw in unwanted animals, and temperatures often don’t get high enough to effectively break down materials as it does at an industrial level.  To provide information on the ins and outs of the program, WasteNot maintains an online membership where customers can find answers and support. The program also provides marketing materials for each business , so they can promote their environmental actions and help educate the public. ACC and WasteNot help promote the businesses to those looking to support environmentally-minded establishments.  The process offered by Clark Street Composts has a multi-tiered effect. Not only does it lower emissions in the landfill and divert the amount of  waste , but it also minimizes rodent problems in alleyways and smells in the city and at home. WasteNot operates a fleet of zero-emission electric trucks and offers a subscription service for both residents and businesses. It’s not a one-way street, though. Twice each year, WasteNot trucks haul nutrient-rich compost back to customers to enrich the soil.  40th Ward Alderman Andre Vasquez praised the new initiative, commenting, “I think Clark Street Composts is a shining example of a community and partner such as the Chamber showing leadership that puts our planet first. It creates a model the rest of the city should look to so that we can be not only forward-thinking, but forward-acting!” + WasteNot Photography by Jamie Kelter Davis

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Clark Street Composts sets example for Chicago and beyond

Indigenous tribes are key to the US reaching its climate goals

October 11, 2021 by  
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In some parts of the country, tribes are investing in renewable energy, which also supports tribal self-determination and economic development.

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