Remembering Flex exec Bruce Klafter

July 27, 2020 by  
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Remembering Flex exec Bruce Klafter pete may Mon, 07/27/2020 – 01:45 Longtime GreenBiz friend Bruce Klafter died July 18 after a short and intense bout of pancreatic cancer. Bruce most recently was a vice president of sustainability strategy and outreach at Flex in Silicon Valley. GreenBiz co-founder and President Pete May reflects on his interaction with Bruce over the years. And below, we provide memories of Bruce from many of his friends and collaborators in the sustainability community. In the course of a business career, you meet colleagues who are smart, or kind, or just really good at what they do. Bruce Klafter was all of those things.  I first met Bruce in 2007. Joel Makower and I had just founded GreenBiz Group (then called Greener World Media). I was very actively getting out to meet practitioners in what was then the emerging field of sustainable business. Bruce at that time was managing director, corporate responsibility and sustainability at Applied Materials — then and now a massive player in materials engineering for the semiconductor and solar photovoltaic industries. Bruce was engaging, warm, thoughtful and way farther along the journey in sustainability and environmental, health and safety issues than most people I spoke with back then. ( Read his 2013 interview , when he “retired” from Applied Materials, in which he recounts his professional journey to that point.) Over the years, I got to know Bruce and I considered him a friend. We even got together to play tennis once and he roundly thrashed me. He was in good shape but, more tellingly, he was strategic in how he played — just as he was in his day job. In typical Bruce fashion, he offered no trash-talking after; he instead commended me on my game and noted what I needed to work on.  Bruce left his handprints all over the industry, a hand that was always advancing good. Bruce was always a big fan of GreenBiz — our website, our team and our events. He was always diplomatic but he didn’t shrink from giving detailed, measured and constructive feedback. I can still hear him, with his Chicago accent, saying, “Yeah, that article on LCA was good, but I think you could have gone deeper on …” Or “I thought the conference was good this year, and your team always does a professional job, but I thought the mainstage speakers could have been better.” Or without arrogance, “I thought some of the sessions were too 101.” Feedback from Bruce was always valuable, never trite, never superficial and never a stroke to one’s ego. I always walked away thinking “Yeah, we can really improve in this or that area.” Engaging with and giving back to the community always came easily for Bruce. He was present at most every sustainability gathering in the San Francisco Bay Area and often farther afield — as a speaker or just an attendee. He lectured at the Presidio School of Management and was integrally involved with Acterra, SASB, GRI and other sustainability leadership organizations. Bruce was present at leading conferences such as GreenBiz, VERGE and BSR. He always had time for early career professionals who sought his advice.  In 2013, Bruce joined Flex, the giant multinational electronics contract manufacturer, where he most recently was vice president of sustainability strategy and outreach. Over the years, we would meet up regularly at Flex headquarters in San Jose, where Bruce would share insights about the company and the industry. When I saw him in January, we spent some time in the cafeteria. We talked about work and he gave me advice on how GreenBiz should deal with Flex. When I asked him about his family, he lit up, speaking so proudly of his kids.  By that time Bruce was dealing with a challenge way bigger than any challenge in his career: pancreatic cancer. And he was doing it with courage, in his own quiet measured way,  Bruce attended our GreenBiz 20 in Phoenix in February. He later confided in me that that was where the cancer treatments really started to affect him. I last saw him at our VERGE Host Committee meeting at Cisco Systems in late February, just weeks before the world shut down for COVID-19. He participated actively, passionately describing Flex’s work in the circular economy and other topics. During a break, he expressed a quiet confidence in how he was dealing with his illness.  From the calm way he described it, I never imagined that was the last time I would see him. But it was. And that hurts.  Bruce was personally warm and engaging, intelligent, blessed with a sense of humor and dedicated to the work of building bridges and bringing change. On July 21, his family held a beautiful and moving ceremony. With more than 200 friends and colleagues tuning in by Zoom, the officiating rabbi, along with Bruce’s spouse, son and daughter, described a caring father and husband known for his humble, caring and unassuming manner.  Cancer is cruel. It often takes the best among us. Like Bruce Klafter.  Bruce, you were loved and will be sorely missed by the team at GreenBiz Group, and by the sustainability community all around us.   The Klafter family has requested that any donations in his name go to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network , dedicated to fighting the world’s toughest cancer. Below are a handful of memories from members of the sustainability community who Bruce touched. Eric Austermann, Vice President, Social and Environmental Responsibility, Jabil Deepest condolences to Bruce’s family. I’ve known Bruce since the early beginnings of the Responsible Business Alliance (EICC when we first connected). Bruce was an outstanding person, with contagious impact. Bruce left his handprints all over the industry, a hand that was always advancing good.  Evident by our respective companies, Bruce and I were direct competitors. Bruce’s intellect, gentle (but very effective) passion and overall leadership at Flex inspired a healthy competitiveness that, frankly, raised the bar for all.  Peggy Brannigan, Global Senior Program Manager, Environmental Sustainability, LinkedIn I also want to share my appreciation for Bruce. I worked with him on the Acterra Business Environmental Awards program, and from the first time we met, I benefited from his generous welcoming spirit and his kindness. He was purposeful and had a big impact but always sensitive to taking good care of the relationships with people. Bruce Hartsough, former director of sustainability, Intuit; Board Chair, Bay Nature I was deeply saddened to hear that Bruce Klafter had passed. I met him when we were both members of the GreenBiz Executive Network (GBEN) at the time that he was leading Sustainability at Applied Materials while I was doing likewise for Intuit. Bruce was personally warm and engaging, intelligent, blessed with a sense of humor and dedicated to the work of building bridges and bringing change. He was one of the nicest people that I met during that time, and afterwards I was always glad to catch up with him at some of the nonprofit events that we were both involved in. I’m truly sorry that he has left us. In a situation where some would resort to divisiveness, aggression, preconceived opinions or determination to outshine all others, Bruce did none of those things. Ellen Jackowski, Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer, HP Inc. Bruce was one of the best in our business and his legacy will live on for generations. He contributed to so many solutions, co-developed important pathways forward and did everything with such intention and openness to create change within our industry. I will miss Bruce’s friendship, and will never forget him or his passion to create a better world. Cecily Joseph, Board Chair Net Impact; former vice president, Corporate Responsibility, Symantec My heart aches for Bruce’s family. Bruce was a mentor and friend to many in the sustainability space including me. He was always so kind and gracious. When we last met, I recall him speaking so very proudly of his children. He will be missed. Mike Mielke, Senior Vice President, Environment and Energy, Silicon Valley Leadership Group Bruce was my first professional mentor upon my arrival in Silicon Valley. I had heard so much about him before our meeting, and I was nervous that first time. Bruce, although he offered me some really helpful and point-blank advice, did so with such insight, thoughtfulness and kindness, that I knew right there and then I wanted to work however and whenever I could with this sharp, experienced, kind and witty man. I must confess I was overcome with grief when I learned of his passing. But I am comforted by the knowledge that Bruce positively touched and affected the lives of so many people — more than he could possibly know. Life is short and precious, and we should try our best to take advantage of the time we have to make a real difference however we can. That is what he taught me, and I believe Bruce tried to live every day that way. Adam Stern, former director, Acterra Many people talk about corporate environmental sustainability. Bruce lived and breathed it and made it happen. He was a brilliant strategist and an inspiring leader for all of us in the field. May his memory be a blessing. Kathrin Winkler, former chief sustainability officer, EMC; Editor-at-Large, GreenBiz In a situation where some would resort to divisiveness, aggression, preconceived opinions or determination to outshine all others, Bruce did none of those things. He was thoughtful, kind, open to others’ perspectives, willing to listen and with his calm demeanor, able to bring peace.  Pull Quote Bruce was personally warm and engaging, intelligent, blessed with a sense of humor and dedicated to the work of building bridges and bringing change. Bruce left his handprints all over the industry, a hand that was always advancing good. In a situation where some would resort to divisiveness, aggression, preconceived opinions or determination to outshine all others, Bruce did none of those things. Topics Corporate Strategy Leadership GreenBiz Executive Network 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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Remembering Flex exec Bruce Klafter

It will take personal sustainability to meet the global challenges we face

July 6, 2020 by  
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It will take personal sustainability to meet the global challenges we face Chris Gaither Mon, 07/06/2020 – 02:15 Earth Day, when we remember the planet’s fragility and resilience, was when I finally understood that I had nothing left to give. It was April 2017. After two decades of striving in my career, I had risen to a role of great impact: a director on Apple’s Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives team. My boss, former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, had entrusted me with orchestrating the company’s annual Earth Day celebration. And, wow, had we stepped up our game that year. We released a 58-page environmental responsibility report and a series of animated videos about Apple’s environmental achievements, posing curious questions such as “Do solar farms feed yaks?” We turned the leaf on our logo green at hundreds of Apple stores around the world. Even bolder, we announced ambitions to make Apple products out of entirely recycled or renewable materials. I drank beer and hugged the brilliant people from so many Apple teams who had pulled all of this off. I smiled. But mostly, I wanted to fall into bed. To inspire Apple employees, we created an hour-long presentation for Lisa to deliver in Town Hall, the campus theater where the first iPhone was announced. And we brought musician Jason Mraz to play an Earth Day concert on the green lawns of One Infinite Loop. Whew. Surrounded by thousands of my colleagues as Mraz performed, I drank beer and hugged the brilliant people from so many Apple teams who had pulled all of this off. I smiled. But mostly, I wanted to fall into bed. Insistent inner voice That wasn’t new. The enormity of my job, leading strategy and engagement for Lisa’s team, usually left me exhausted — especially after Earth Day, when I felt like one of Santa’s elves just after Christmas. What was different? This time, when I told myself I’d bounce back soon, I knew I was lying. Underneath my sheen of accomplishment and pride, a quiet and insistent inner voice told me I was depleted. Cooked. Burned out. That voice was right. As May deepened, so did my sadness and fatigue. The physical and emotional crisis overwhelmed me. Nearly every day, I sat in my glass-walled office and tried to avoid eye contact with my colleagues so they wouldn’t see my tears. I felt like I was failing at everything. I couldn’t gain any momentum on projects. My well of creative energy had run dry. My body no longer allowed me to pretend that this hard-charging life was right for me. Previous injuries flared up, sending lightning bolts of pain along the nerves in my hands, feet and back. As I tried to ignore the pain, my body kept turning up the volume: a 3 out of 10, then a 4, then a 7. My body seemed to be asking, “Can you hear me now?” The pain reached a 10 that spring of 2017. And still I tried to soldier on. Don’t be an idiot, I told myself. Your boss served President Barack Obama, and now she reports to Tim Cook. You have a wonderful team. You have a great title and lots of stock in the world’s most valuable company. Even better, you get to tell stories of the powerful work Apple is doing on climate action, resource conservation, natural-disaster relief and HIV prevention. You show others what’s possible. You become what Robert Kennedy (whose photo hangs on the wall of Tim’s office, alongside Martin Luther King Jr.’s) called a “ripple of hope,” spreading inspiration through customers, investors, suppliers, policymakers and industry. Listening to your spirit So what if you feel down? Most people would kill for this job. Suck it up. Here’s the thing: You can’t think your way through an existential crisis. You can’t talk your way out of burnout. You need to listen, deeply, to your spirit. You need to honor what it’s telling you. And my spirit was telling me something profound: For the previous few years, I’d devoted myself to corporate and planetary sustainability. But along the way, I’d completely lost my human sustainability. Only when I hit the depths of my crisis did I understand that I needed to quit the job I’d worked so hard to get. Only when I hit the depths of my crisis did I understand that I needed to quit the job I’d worked so hard to get. I’d let the burnout go for so long that stepping off the corporate treadmill was the only way I could truly recuperate from the punishment of two decades of high-stress work, long commutes, poor health habits and time away from my family. So that’s what I did. I sat across from Lisa in her office, swallowed hard past the lump in my throat and told her I was leaving to recover my well-being. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I haven’t regretted it for a moment. In the three years since, I’ve come back to life. I’ve gotten well. I’ve crafted a career of purpose and meaning. I’m an executive coach who helps leaders — especially environmental sustainability leaders — nourish and inspire themselves so they can keep doing the work they love. Why am I telling you this story? Because, my friends, I see myself in you. I see you suffering under the weight of the environmental crisis. I see you struggling with weariness, depression and burnout. I see you decide you can’t take a day off when the planet is burning. I see you sacrifice your own sustainability for planetary sustainability. I get it. You keep going because you have a big heart. You’re called to do this work, maybe by your love of wildlife or natural places, or by a deep desire for racial and economic equality. The problem is, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have the energy or creativity that you need to do great work. And great work, maybe even transcendent work, is critical right now. That’s why I’m starting this series with GreenBiz. I’ll be writing regularly about ways you can tend to your human sustainability. Purpose. Love. Natural beauty. Breath. Poetry. Stillness. Rest. I’ll use as examples things my clients and I get right, things I get wrong (so, so wrong) and things I still struggle with every day. My hope is that you’ll reconnect with that wise voice inside you, and the spark that brings you most alive, so you can be at your absolute best. Because, to find solutions to our most pressing problems, the world needs you at your best. Pull Quote I drank beer and hugged the brilliant people from so many Apple teams who had pulled all of this off. I smiled. But mostly, I wanted to fall into bed. Only when I hit the depths of my crisis did I understand that I needed to quit the job I’d worked so hard to get. Topics Leadership State of the Profession Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The author with Lisa Jackson at the Apple campus, Earth Day 2017. Photo courtesy of Chris Gaither.

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It will take personal sustainability to meet the global challenges we face

How sustainability professionals can uplift the black community

June 8, 2020 by  
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How sustainability professionals can uplift the black community Jarami Bond Mon, 06/08/2020 – 02:11 Dear Sustainability Community, I come to you again. It’s been three years since writing my first article for GreenBiz, ” Why diversity is the key to unlocking sustainability .” I provided a quick glimpse of the anxiety and pain that the black community feels daily and actionable steps that the sustainability community could take to advocate for diversity and stimulate unprecedented change. I write to you again today with heavy grief and a set of earnest pleas: As sustainability professionals, we must lead the cultivation of a more inclusive, equitable and safe world for all. We not only must steward the environment, but also explore ways to meet the needs of the vulnerable and create healthy platforms for people of all backgrounds to embrace commonalities, celebrate differences and heal tensions. If not us, then who? Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Say their names. These are just a few of many precious lives ended tragically and prematurely by people sickened by the venom of racism. The victims were not dangerous. They were not threats. They were unarmed. In their final seconds, they were powerless and vulnerable, diminished to a point where a cry for mother was the only hope. If you really want to be a part of the change, it’s time to get uncomfortable. Please know that these narratives are not new. They are just now being videotaped and disseminated globally across social media platforms. These narratives leave me and so many in my community numb, angry, speechless, depressed, traumatized, exhausted, afraid, emboldened and so on, all simultaneously. We have been crying out for centuries, for generations. We continue even today. My good friend Joel Makower asked some poignant questions in his recent open letter . Among them: What led you to this work in the first place? Was it to protect the unprotected? To ensure the well-being of future generations? To engender community resilience? To create solutions to big, seemingly intractable problems? Or maybe, simply, to make the world a better place? I ask you to reflect with honesty on your answers to these questions. If you really want to be a part of the change, it’s time to get uncomfortable. It’s time to expand your social and professional circles. It’s time to listen. It’s time to ask questions. It’s time to engage with empathy. It’s time to study how our nation has systemically oppressed, crippled and stolen from the black community. It’s time to explore the part you have played. As you shift your posture toward this crisis, your friends, family and colleagues may look at you funny. You may have to swim upstream. I acknowledge the looming tension you may be anticipating in this polarizing moment, but I promise you that it is miniscule juxtaposed to the generational anguish through which our community continues to persevere. However, I do promise that you would not be alone in your newfound, countercultural advocacy. If you care — if you want to see justice, equity and restoration for my community, here are some actions you can take. Believe me. I encourage you to begin by picking one, two or more items from this list and leaning in wholeheartedly. Donate to your local  NAACP chapter, Black Lives Matter and the United Negro College Fund . Before voting, understand politicians’ positions on environmental and social justice as well as criminal justice reform. Hold elected officials accountable once in office. Fight against voter suppression and gerrymandering. Find and support black-owned businesses Push for your company to hire people of color. Ask your company’s HR department to hire more people of color in leadership positions. Call out workplace bias and discrimination when it happens. Promote truly inclusive workplaces. Watch movies and read books that can help educate you on the black experience and race in America. Do research to better understand and process your own biases and privilege. Learn the difference between  equality and equity . Stop appropriation . Many non-black people enjoy the social currency and financial profit derived from embracing elements of our culture, while simultaneously devaluing our very lives. Remember that silence is deadly. Address friends and family who spread ideals laced with racism and discrimination, no matter how subtle. If you witness racism and violence against, record and share the incident. Digital evidence can help protect us against people such as Amy Cooper who weaponize racism, putting innocent black lives at risk. I hope this list gives you actionable ways to get the ball rolling. Your voice and support hold weight and can go a long way in changing the narrative for my community. Don’t let the overwhelming number of ways to get involved hinder you from taking that first step toward real action. For more ways to get involved, I encourage you to explore this robust article, “75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice,” written by Corinne Shutack on Medium. In closing, I believe in us. As a community of purpose-driven professionals, we have an opportunity to help lead the conversation and lean into actions that provide hope for a better future. I would love to hear from you. You can find me at @jarami_bond on Instagram , Twitter and LinkedIn . Pull Quote If you really want to be a part of the change, it’s time to get uncomfortable. Topics Social Responsibility Environmental Justice 30 Under 30 Collective Insight 30 Under 30 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by Jarami Bond

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How sustainability professionals can uplift the black community

Is sustainability undergoing a pandemic pause?

June 1, 2020 by  
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Is sustainability undergoing a pandemic pause? Joel Makower Mon, 06/01/2020 – 00:00 If you were to believe the mainstream business media, there would be no question whatsoever that the twin crises of a pandemic and a recession have pretty much put the kibosh on sustainable business activity. I mean, why, amid all this human and economic carnage, should companies be focused on anything besides keeping their doors open? Last month, for example, the Wall Street Journal published a piece (“Sustainability Was Corporate America’s Buzzword. This Crisis Changes That”) proclaiming that when it comes to corporate commitments and programs, “executives have called a timeout.” It said in part: Today, every occupant of every C-suite is trying to figure out what they’re willing to throw overboard as the economic storm spawned by the pandemic is swamping their ships. Businesses that were planning to help save the world are now simply saving themselves. Among the Journal’s proof points: General Motors put the brakes on a car-sharing program, Starbucks washed its hands of filling reusable coffee mugs and “companies have delayed sustainability reports.” Yes, we get it: No one wants to share a vehicle with strangers or refill an unwashed coffee mug during a pandemic. No question those programs should be “thrown overboard,” at least temporarily. For the first time, corporate sustainability professionals are on the bus instead of being thrown under it. All of which, my friends, is the editorial equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard: something so dissonant with reality that it makes my head hurt. The reality is that corporate sustainability is alive and well. Unlike previous economic downturns, sustainability isn’t being jettisoned in the spirit of corporate cost-savings. It’s being kept alive as part of a pathway back to profitability. For the first time, corporate sustainability professionals are on the bus instead of being thrown under it. Need proof that reports of the death of sustainability are premature? Let’s begin with a few headlines: Southern Company commits to net-zero emissions by 2050 Microsoft committed to protect more land than it operates on globally by 2025 Citigroup to halt all financing for thermal coal mining by 2030 Shell plans to achieve net-zero emissions across its product manufacturing operations Mattel launches latest sugarcane-based products Volvo and Daimler launch €1.2 billion fuel cell truck joint venture General Mills commits to 100% renewable electricity by 2030 All of those happened in April. April! The Lost Month. When jobs and economic activity essentially went poof. When more than 190,000 humans died of COVID-19 globally, nearly five times the number one month earlier, and more than 20 million Americans lost their jobs. When the U.S. services sector posted its biggest contraction in more than a decade and the price of oil turned negative for the first time in history. When the global economy essentially sank like a stone as people world over sheltered in place. April! Okay, you say, April coincides with Earth Day, when companies traditionally strut their sustainability stuff. Thus, it’s not a good indicator. Fair enough. In that case, here are some headlines from May: Total pledges to deliver net-zero operations by mid-century Campbell Soup to transition to 100% recyclable or compostable packaging by 2030 Dunkin’ switches to plastic-free cups and plans to double number of green restaurants French corporates call for “green and inclusive recovery” BNP Paribas accelerates “complete coal exit” plan Intel’s 2030 commitments include “shared” climate and social goals More than 300 companies push U.S. Congress to promote climate action Pernod Ricard moves up ban on single-use plastics to 2021 ADM to pioneer biofuels, more carbon capture projects Over 150 global corporations urge world leaders for net-zero recovery from COVID-19 Siemens Gamesa unveils plans for “world’s largest wind turbine” Google to stop making AI tools for oil and gas extraction Half of Cargill’s sustainable cocoa now traceable from farm to factory I could go on; there’s more where these came from. Still, this baker’s dozen of storylines provides a peek into what happened in the 31 days just ended, well before most cities and states have started to reopen. Another data point, albeit anecdotal: The 90 or so members of our GreenBiz Executive Network — sustainability leaders at large companies — remain firmly in their jobs. Sure, there’s been some churn — both comings and goings — but that’s normal. There seem to be precious few layoffs among these professionals. That could change if the downturn drags on, but so far, so good.  Five easy pieces So, why is sustainability still going strong within the private sector amid this terrifying time? Five reasons: 1. Corporate sustainability is a long-term evolution. As several of the above headlines suggest, companies are making commitments into 2025, 2030 and beyond. That means they have set the wheels in motion for long-term structural change. These changes generally don’t come and go based on quarterly cycles. 2. Companies understand that sustainability engenders resilience by making supply chains more transparent, operations more efficient and, increasingly, improving the ability of operations to withstand or recover from calamities of all types. 3. Investors see sustainability as material. Largely because of No. 2 above, institutional shareholders see sustainability performance as a proxy for a well-managed company that is taking a risked-based approach to strategy and investing. And they’re not shy about letting companies know this. 4. There’s a growing call for a business-led “green recovery” to revive economies around the world and help them prepare for the next likely pandemic: climate change. While the Green New Deal isn’t yet getting traction in Washington, D.C., some of its components already are being tucked into the recovery legislation. And in Europe, “green recovery” is already a mainstream meme . 5. Companies understand that the world is watching. They want to be able to attract and retain customers and talent — to be seen as part of the solution or at least not part of the problem. True, we’ve been hearing this for years, and there is strong evidence that job shoppers and seekers have been seeking out “good” companies. But the times have ratcheted up those concerns. In a world where talent, both young and experienced, are drawn to employers that are helping address the world’s problems, who will want to work for your company? Of course, it’s not all a rosy scenario. Clean energy jobs have been decimated . Hiring is on hold for many open corporate sustainability positions. More than a few sustainable business professionals are devoting their time these days to the pandemic, to ensure the well-being of employees, suppliers, customers and others, and that facilities will be healthy places to work once the recovery kicks in. Some are itching to get back to their “day job.” But let’s stop and briefly celebrate the moment: Corporate sustainability continues, largely unhindered, during some of the worst moments in modern human history. Its value and importance are being seen as central to addressing the economic, environmental and social problems we face, and to increasing societal resilience to the next wave of shocks, in whatever form they take. And, little by little, companies are stepping up to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities. Okay, enough celebrating. It’s time to get back to the hard work still to be done. Pull Quote For the first time, corporate sustainability professionals are on the bus instead of being thrown under it. Topics Leadership State of the Profession Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz, via Shutterstock Close Authorship

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Is sustainability undergoing a pandemic pause?

UK residents enjoying record low emissions

May 28, 2020 by  
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By now, almost everybody has heard about record low CO2 emissions brought on by  coronavirus  lockdowns. But new data shows not only that the U.K.’s emissions are the lowest they’ve been since the 1920s, but there’s reason to hope they might not shoot back up to pre-pandemic rates as soon as life returns to quasi-normal. A recent paper published in the scientific journal  Nature Climate Change examined six sectors known for their climate change contributions: electricity  and heat; surface transport; industry; home use; aviation; and public buildings and commerce. They found that surface transport was notably down, partially accounting for why the U.K. cut emissions by 31% during lockdown, compared to a global average of 17%.  “A lot of emissions in the UK come from surface transport – around 30% on average of the country’s total  emissions ,” said Professor Corinne Le Quéré, the paper’s lead author. “It makes up a bigger contribution to total emissions than the average worldwide.” Since the U.K. reached full lockdown, Quéré said, people were forced to stay home and not to drive to work. Mike Childs, Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, reminds us that our problems are far from over. “A 31% emissions drop in April is dramatic, but in the long run it won’t mean anything unless some reductions are made permanent,” Childs told HuffPost UK. “This lockdown moment is a chance to reset our carbon-guzzling economy and rebuild in a way that leaves pollution in the past, to stop climate-wrecking emissions spiking right back up to where they were before, or even higher.” Fortunately, British drivers appreciate the cleaner air and plan to permanently alter their driving style, according to a survey. In the Automobile Association’s poll of 20,000 motorists, half plan to walk more post- pandemic , and 40% aim to drive less. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they planned to work from home more, 25% intend to fly less and 20% to cycle more. The U.K. government plans to spend £250 million on improved infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. “We have all enjoyed the benefits of cleaner air during lockdown and it is gratifying that the vast majority of drivers want to do their bit to maintain the cleaner air,” said Edmund King, Automobile Association president. “ Walking  and cycling more, coupled with less driving and more working from home, could have a significant effect on both reducing congestion and maintaining cleaner air.” + Nature Climate Change Via HuffPost and BBC

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How to replace single-use and plastic items in the kitchen

May 15, 2020 by  
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Scientists are predicting that by the year 2050, the ocean may have  more plastic than fish . While countries around the world are beginning to take a stand against  single-use  items and plastics in grocery stores, restaurants and retail chains, there are still measures that consumers can take within their very own households.  The kitchen is one of the most notorious spots in the house for waste, whether it is food waste, excessive  plastic  usage or single-use materials. Swapping some of your everyday kitchen items with reusable or eco-friendly alternatives is a great way to get started on (or continue) your sustainable-living journey. Related: Cut plastic from your home and inspire your family to live plastic-free Ditch paper towels One of the easiest eco-friendly kitchen swaps comes in the form of the humble paper towel roll. Usually stored right next to the sink or the stove, grabbing a sheet or two is almost second nature to those who spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Invest in a stack of high-quality, reusable microfiber cloths for cleaning instead of reaching for a paper towel every time, and switch out paper napkins or paper towels with reusable cloth napkins. Simply toss them in the laundry basket and reuse. Swap out plastic wrap Plastic wrap has become essential in the kitchen for keeping food fresh and wrapping up leftovers (because no one wants to  waste food ). The handy alternative of reusable beeswax wrap is making huge waves in the sustainable-living community, and for good reason. You can wrap pretty much anything in beeswax wrap that you would normally use plastic wrap for, and the food will stay just as fresh. One of our favorite brands,  Bee’s Wrap , is made with organic cotton, beeswax, organic jojoba oil and tree resin. It is washable, reusable, compostable and comes in different sizes and specialty wraps for bread, sandwiches and more. Replace parchment paper and aluminum foil A reusable mat or roasting sheet is a great alternative to parchment paper or tin foil, especially for baking. Non-stick  silicone  mats can be reused thousands of times in lieu of oil, which is especially handy for those who are trying to stick to certain diets. Take proper care of it, and a good silicone mat can last for years! Nix plastic baggies Plastic sandwich baggies come in handy for packing lunch and smaller food leftovers. With a little extra effort, a couple of re-sealable silicone bags can be just as convenient and rewarding. It is also a nice way of introducing sustainable living to your children by teaching them to bring the reusable bags back home instead of tossing  disposable plastic  ones in the trash like most of their friends. Substitute plastic containers Swap out your cheap plastic Tupperware for tempered glass containers. Tempered glass containers keep food fresh and are  non-toxic , recyclable and food-safe (even in the freezer). Opt for a collection of compact, lightweight containers with easy-seal lids. Even better, since most types of tempered glass used for food storage containers have been treated to withstand heating, most are microwavable and dishwasher safe. Trade out plastic coffee pods When these little pods first came into the market, it seemed too good to be true for busy consumers eager to skip a step or two in their morning coffee routine. However, most plastic single-use coffee pods such as K-Cups and Nespresso Pods end up in landfills or oceans rather than being recycled. This plastic pollution is small enough to quickly break down into microplastics that have the potential to harm wildlife. In contrast, refillable coffee pods can be cleaned and reused daily. For those who compost, several companies are also beginning to make biodegradable and compostable pods available. Upgrade from plastic ice packs Swap out your plastic or disposable ice packs for stainless steel ones for use in lunch boxes or coolers. The stainless steel packs are filled with distilled water and freeze in just a few hours, so you can easily use them for your child’s lunches or keep one in the freezer for achy muscles. The material makes them  100% recyclable  at the end of the product’s lifespan.  Try out sustainable sponges Most kitchen sponges are made of polyester or nylon, giving them a considerable environmental footprint, especially if used daily. There are several alternatives to sponges out there for those who want to make the switch to a more  sustainable  dish-washing option. Try out cloth or reusable sponges and silicone scrubbers instead, or use a natural or plant-based compostable sponge. There are also machine washable cotton sponges on the market as well as copper scours that can be recycled. Forget the plastic grocery bags Plenty of Americans have already made the switch to reusable shopping or grocery bags (some states are even making them mandatory). Smaller plastic bags used for bulk items and produce are still popular, however. A couple of reusable and washable produce bags like  these  will greatly decrease your plastic use, especially if you eat a lot of fruits and veggies . Make sure you purchase bags with the tare weight on the tag so your grocer can easily find it for weighted items. Lose the plastic soap bottles Dishwashing soap blocks produce a lather that cuts grime and grease on dishes just as well as the liquid dish soap that comes in plastic containers. The popular  No Tox Life  vegan dish soap block is made of moisturizing coconut oil that won’t dry out your hands and also claims to take stains out of laundry and clean countertops. With alternatives like these, you can make a strong effort toward lowering your single-use plastic consumption. Images via Pexels, Pixabay, Randy Read , and Kevin Casper

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How to replace single-use and plastic items in the kitchen

Ocasio-Cortez and Kerry co-chair climate change task force

May 15, 2020 by  
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By focusing on climate change and other issues important to progressive voters, Joe Biden is attempting to win over Bernie Sanders’ supporters and unify the Democratic Party. Biden has tapped Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former Secretary of State John Kerry to co-chair a climate change task force. “She made the decision with members of the Climate Justice community — and she will be fully accountable to them and the larger advocacy community during this process,” Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesperson Lauren Hitt said in an email. Ocasio-Cortez was a staunch Sanders supporter until he dropped out of the race in April. Related: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez releases Green New Deal resolution Ocasio-Cortez serves as representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, which includes the eastern part of the Bronx and parts of Queens. At only 30 years old, she’s Congress’ youngest member and is known for advocating for working-class people and social and environmental justice; Ocasio-Cortez sponsored the Green New Deal. Kerry is known for his work on environmental improvements. He helped orchestrate the 2016 Paris Agreement, which addressed greenhouse gas emissions . Other panel members bring the perspectives of both rural and urban areas. “This is the Climate Dream Team for Democrats,” said Jeremy Symons, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental consultant, according to Inside Climate News . The climate policy panel is one of six task forces Biden convened to unify Democrats after Sanders left the presidential primary race. The other five panels focus on healthcare, immigration, the economy, criminal justice reform and education . The groups will meet before the Democratic National Convention to help set Biden’s campaign agenda. “A united party is key to defeating Donald Trump this November and moving our country forward through an unprecedented crisis,” Biden said in a statement. “As we work toward our shared goal, it is especially critical that we not lose sight of the pressing issues facing Americans.” Via NPR Image via Senate Democrats

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Ocasio-Cortez and Kerry co-chair climate change task force

How to celebrate Earth Day virtually in 2020

April 17, 2020 by  
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With social distancing in full force this Earth Day , the 50th anniversary of this environmental movement is certainly one for the history books. Just because you can’t go outside in large groups this year doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of inventive ways to celebrate Earth, though. The Earth Day 2020 theme is “climate action,” and while we aren’t able to come together physically this year, technology is presenting some unique opportunities to show your love for the Earth virtually. Learn the history The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970, when 20 million Americans (about 10% of the U.S. population at that time) took to the streets and college campuses to protest environmental ignorance and promote environmental awareness. The movement, now recognized as the world’s largest civic event each year, launched the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Related: How Earth Day began and how it helps the planet Take a virtual tour Because many of us are now homeschooling kids, Google has created 360-degree tours of 113 different national park sites, including monuments, historic sites and shorelines. The Nature Conservancy also features a series of virtual field trips designed for grades 5-8. Live webcams have also gained popularity since social distancing began. People may be staying indoors for the most part, but animals are still keeping up with their daily routines. Check out live feeds of marine animals at Monterey Bay Aquarium or a series of different feeds, from remote locations throughout Africa to rescue animal facilities around the world, with Explore.org . Earthx , in partnership with National Geographic, is streaming everything from speaker series to film festivals to student activities via its website. Participate in a running challenge A healthy running challenge that raises awareness for the environment is a win-win to celebrate this year’s Earth Day. The 2020 Earth Day Run presented by The Virtual Run Challenge encourages participants to spend the month of April (though you can start anytime) to collectively run the distance of the equator — 24,901 miles. Log your running and walking miles every day and connect with others for a common goal; participation is free. Related: Orca Running offers a Social Distance Run Virtual Strides is celebrating Earth Day by hosting the 5K/10K/Half-Marathon Earth Run virtually. After runners (or walkers) finish their course, they can upload results and photos to the website. Registration isn’t free, but a portion of the proceeds from the race (around $4 from each registration) will be donated to EarthShare, a non-profit that supports critical environmental causes. In the past, the organization has raised more than $300 million for programs benefiting air, land, water, wildlife and public health. Download the Earth Challenge 2020 app By downloading the Earth Challenge 2020 app , you’ll help gather critical environmental data near your area, providing scientists and other “citizen scientists” with research to help maintain a cleaner planet. Users measure air quality and plastic pollution where they are and add each reading to a global database. Related: Earth Day 2020 goes digital For example, Earth Challenge 2020 launched its monarch butterfly project on April 1 with a goal to fill 1 billion data points before the month’s end. When users launch the app, they are able to snap pictures of insects that they see, submit them to be verified and allow scientists to better understand the distribution of butterflies and migration patterns. This kind of knowledge is essential to identify the different regions that need habitat restoration. Take action From April 20 to April 25, more than 100 speakers from five continents will participate in the largest online climate conference ever held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Topics ranging from climate finance and agriculture to circular economy and politics will be discussed and can be viewed virtually via the partnership program We Don’t Have Time . Sign up with the official Earth Day website volunteer database for the latest resources and information on at-home or online activities as well as ways to spread the word to your friends. You can also create your own “act of green” and share it with the rest of the Earth Day community. The official Earth Day website also has a planning guide to help get people inspired and organized; check the map for ideas and to see how other people around the world are celebrating. Spread the word Digital tools are making it easier than ever to connect, especially through social media. You can bring your friends, teachers and family together to raise awareness and do their own part for the environment. Utilize Vote Earth to take the pledge to vote for climate candidates . The global initiative has already mobilized millions of people who wish to show their concern for the Earth and demand change at the polls. Sign up on the website to pledge to vote for candidates who support sustainability in your next election, and you’ll have the option to receive automatic email reminders to vote. + Earth Day Images via Carl Heyerdahl , University of Michigan School of Environment and Sustainability , Arek Adeoye , U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region

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This DIY off-grid home in Hawaii includes a permaculture farm

March 16, 2020 by  
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Living an off-grid lifestyle is a dream for many, but it’s also incredibly tough to achieve. Still, there are a select few who manage to do it with such style that it makes the transition from running the endless rat race to sustainable living look relatively easy. Ambitious couple Arina and Zen Moriya have done just that by creating an off-grid oasis within the jungles of Pahoa, Hawaii . The Root Down Farm is a self-built homestead that enables the couple to embrace a close connection with nature. The sustainable permaculture farm and off-grid home are located in a community called Puna. After visiting in 2008, the couple immediately fell in love with the community’s progressive, laid-back style and history of  sustainable living. The region’s mild weather, along with the lush jungle vegetation, led them to purchase a 3-acre lot to begin a new way of life. Related: Serene off-grid tiny home sits tucked away in a Hawaiian rainforest The resulting Root Down Farm includes three structures: the main house, which is 1,272-square-feet, a 384-square-foot cottage and a sweet, 360-square-foot bungalow that the couple rents out on Airbnb. All of the structures are surrounded by an expansive permaculture farm that provides vegetables and fruits for the couple and their friends. Inside each building, the furnishings were chosen to reflect the couple’s minimalist design style . Nearly everything was handmade by Zen or found secondhand. The couple did most of the construction work themselves over the span of 2.5 years, along with help of a professional contractor and a few very good friends. The climate was an essential element in their building strategy, enabling them to rely on a few passive features. “Because we don’t have harsh winter, we were able to build structures with no windows (only screens to keep bugs out) and build with single wall with no insulation,” Zen told Inhabitat. Perhaps the only downside to building in a remote area on a tropical island is the fact that they weren’t able to find many repurposed materials to use for the structures. Instead, they turned to nature. “Reclaimed building materials are not easy to find on this island. There is only one or two vendors who salvage old building materials on this island but they charge premium,” Zen explained. “We did try to use as much natural material as possible, such as ohia tree for the main post in the house, guava trees for railing and fence.” Root Down Farm operates completely off of the grid thanks to solar power generation . There is no access to electricity, water or sewers in the area, so the couple built their own self-sufficient systems. They use multiple wells for their water needs and all of the structures are equipped with composting toilets. The permaculture gardens that surround the properties were a crucial component of the project. Arina and Zen now enjoy an abundance of organic food year-round, including coconuts, avocados, banana, papayas, root vegetables, tomatoes and more, all of which they also share with friends. + Root Down Farm Via Apartment Therapy Images by Zen Moriya

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This DIY off-grid home in Hawaii includes a permaculture farm

Hello Wood unveils a tiny cabin that sleeps up to 8 people

February 19, 2020 by  
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Most cabins are designed to let people enjoy a bit of quiet time, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. However, for those social butterflies who believe that getting back to nature doesn’t have to mean sacrificing time with friends, Hello Wood has created the beautiful Grand Cabin. Located near Csóromfölde, Hungary, the cabin’s looming A-frame volume was built from panels of prefab wood . Although the pitched-roof shape was inspired by traditional Czech-style mountain lodges, the cabin has an undoubtedly modern aesthetic thanks to the two blue and red capsules that flank the cabin’s jet-black exterior. Related: Solar-powered POP-UP Park takes over underused Budapest square The entrance to the cabin is through a cathedral-like entrance created out of multiple glass panels, which flood the interior with natural light . At first sight, the interior living space looks like any typical cabin of a similar build, but this cozy, 324-square-foot retreat actually sleeps up to eight people comfortably, far more than similar cabins of this size. The minimalist interior is comprised of one open central area, which is arranged to be the social, shared space. However, on either side of this main room, there are a number of room dividers that can be used to create additional sleeping quarters. Additionally, the two colorful boxes seen from the exterior are actually two large bedrooms with built-in bed platforms. According to the Hello Wood team, the Grand Cabin was designed to not only provide a serene space for people looking to reconnect with nature from the comfort of a beautiful tiny cabin but also to provide a way that they can do just that while being surrounded by friends and family. The studio said, “Our concept is about a small cabin that contains a fully equipped community space inside by expanding the A-frame with sleeping capsules — fitting 8+ people. It’s a house for you and all your friends.” + Hello Wood Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Tamás Bujnovszky via Hello Wood

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