Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

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By: Sydney O’Shaughnessy

With the first 100 days of the year successfully put behind us and Earth Day rapidly approaching, now is the best time to crack open a new book, dig deep, and recommit ourselves to climate action. 

However, with a crisis as large as climate change, it can be challenging to know where to start. To help inspire you, we’ve curated a list of five books, written by women, on the state of the climate, the solutions in play, and the pathways forward. The novels provide scientific, political, and ecological insights without sacrificing the unique human elements that make the fight against climate change so dire. 

So grab some tea and let’s get reading!

#1 – All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis

Edited by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Dr. Katharine K. Wilkinson

All We Can Save puts women at the heart of climate change discussions by highlighting the work of dozens of women environmental leaders. Self-described as “the feminist climate renaissance,” this anthology of essays and poems hopes to challenge the status quo on how to tackle the climate crisis.  

“It’s time to wholeheartedly support those who are lighting the way to a just and livable future and to grow feminist climate leadership across all genders and in every corner,” the website states.

Edited by two climate leaders, this novel is an excellent way to get your feet wet about the breadth of climate change and the solutions in place to move forward.

#2 – Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

By: Robin Wall Kimmerer

A household favorite, Braiding Sweetgrass is a must read for those wanting to feel more connected to the natural rhythms of the planet. Author Robin Wall Kimmerer connects her experiences as an Indigenous woman and mother with her career in botany to illustrate how to listen to the lessons other living beings have to offer.

“In a rich braid of reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world.” 

From flowers to fruit and sweetgrass to frogs, this novel pushes the reader to hear the language of the Earth and live in harmony with the natural world.

#3 – On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal

By: Naomi Klein

From bestselling author and activist Naomi Klein, On Fire, brings the climate crisis to the here and now. Often discussed as a future problem, climate change is impacting communities around the world. This series of essays details the very real and present threat of climate change while also presenting valuable insights for how to combat this issue. 

“With dispatches from the ghostly Great Barrier Reef to the smoke-choked skies of the Pacific Northwest, to post-hurricane Puerto Rico, to a Vatican waking up to the case for radical change, recognizing that we will rise to the existential challenge of climate change only if we are willing to transform the systems that produced this crisis — On Fire captures the burning urgency of the climate crisis, as well as the fiery energy of a global movement demanding a catalytic Green New Deal.”

#4 – What Can I Do?: The Truth About Climate Change and How to Fix It

By: Jane Fonda

A biography by Jane Fonda, What Can I Do details Fonda’s journey from climate despair to climate action. This novel combines speeches from community organizers and climate scientists with Fonda’s personal reflections on her life as an activist. 

“This is the last possible moment in history when changing course can mean saving lives and species on an unimaginable scale. It’s too late for moderation.”

A call-to-action, this novel also sets the tone for the future of environmental activism and details specific step-by-step ways individuals can join the fight.

#5 – No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference

By: Greta Thunberg

No One Is Too Small is a collection of speeches given by Thunberg throughout her quick rise as a youth climate leader. Thunberg has inspired millions of people to act through her global Fridays for Future protests and has spoken with numerous governments urging them to take immediate action on climate change.

“Her book is a rallying cry for why we must all wake up and fight to protect the living planet, no matter how powerless we feel. Our future depends upon it.”

***

Sydney O’Shaughnessy is the Communications Associate for the Environmental and Energy Study Institute. She has degrees in environmental science and journalism and primarily focuses her work around highlighting community-driven climate change solutions.

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By: Callie Yow

Beginnings of the B Corp Ideal

The B Corporation movement is possible because of the ambition of companies to use their business as a force for good and as a method of turning societal ideals into action. 

Consider outspoken brands like Ben and Jerry’s and Patagonia. Since 1978 Ben and Jerry’s has utilized their marketing strategy to advance social responsibility. As a result, Ben and Jerry’s stands out on the shelf and during pivotal social movements. Similarly, Patagonia has engaged in ingenuous business practices and proactive community minded programs to contribute to an equitable and inclusive environment both in the store and in society since 1973.  

In 2006, the B Corporation movement was founded to challenge outdated business models prioritizing shareholder value instead of equitable practices for stakeholders. The B Corporation certification recognizes long-term planning and purpose as equally important to profit. This distinction offers a foundation on which businesses can identify, assess, and improve their operations to drive greater positive impact. 

What is a B Corp?

On its website, B Corporation describes the movement as follows: “By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment.” 

Figure 1: Source: bcorporation.net

Certified B Corporations are companies that have met strict requirements in five focus areas: governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. Companies are evaluated by B Lab and given a score between 0 and 200. To become a certified B Corp, the company must score a minimum of 80 points. The B Corp movement creates a collaborative space for brands to collectively build a community from shared value in the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit.

Both B Corps and benefit corporations offer more transparent practices, but they are not the same. On one hand, the B Corporation Certification is a third-party certification administered by B Lab based on a company’s performance using the impact assessment tool. On the other hand, benefit corporations are legal structures for a business with legal accountability or interest to pursue positive stakeholder engagement. 

The B Impact Assessment 

The B Impact Assessment (BIA) is a free tool available to anyone interested in gaging their company’s impact before committing to the certification process. This assessment tool provides a standardized framework for measuring impact on stakeholders, allowing businesses to better understand their social and environmental performance in clear terms. 

Pursuing the B Corp certification is a forward-looking step toward improved corporate social responsibility and elevates processes within your business model while highlighting brand purpose. Becoming certified does expose your business in areas where improvement may be needed. This exposure accredits your company as transparent and customer focused. Just make sure you can address and improve upon those blind spots realized through the assessment. 

Reasons to Certify and Some Considerations

Certification as a B Corporation differentiates a business from its competitors and provides numerous benefits including: allowing relationship building, attracting like-minded talent searching for socially conscious companies, amplifying the brand voice, and improving overall measurable impact.  

Despite the many positives that come from joining this community driven by purpose and integrity, there is associated risk. B Lab requires a rigorous process in which companies must provide proof of their organization’s operations and an annual fee is required to keep the certification active. This cost is calculated based on the company’s annual sales and may exclude smaller companies with a lower budget or fewer employees.

Further, while certification is a great way to improve accountability, it can also be a stressful process that makes it difficult for a business to correctly quantify their impact while answering the questionnaire.. There is not a grayscale, which can be either a positive or a negative depending on your company’s processes.

The B Corp certification is the only holistic review of a company’s performance and may be worth the intensive certification process. Consider how the certification would improve your business, most importantly how you would build upon your current mission statement to achieve your company goals.

The Future of B Corp

The B Corp certification is more than just a credential— it is a movement that challenges businesses to be a force for good through purpose-driven actions that create positive change. Customers can support companies, (such as Seventh Generation, King Arthur Flour, and New Belgium Brewing),  that are prioritizing positive social, economic, and environmental impact by using B Corporation’s search function.

Since B Corporation’s founding in 2006, over 3,800 companies across 150 industries have joined this community. It is incredibly encouraging to see brands from all over the world engaging in conversations that place people and planet ahead of profit so we may collectively grow to new models focused in addressing the triple bottom line. 

***

Callie has a strong appreciation for the natural world and combines her passions for writing, relationship building, and environmental justice to advocate for better management of materials in her personal and professional life. She currently manages corporate relations at a nonprofit that plans and operates paint stewardship programs to keep paint out of the waste stream.

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on 7 Ways to Make Sustainable and Ethical Fashion a Wardrobe Staple

By: Camille Bangug

The first time I Marie Kondo-ed my wardrobe, I remember the sheer horror I felt at the pile of clothes sitting in front of me. What was I going to do with all these clothes? I couldn’t just throw them out, and even if I did, where would they even go? 

After a frantic Google search to figure out what happens to discarded clothing, I found myself falling down a dizzying rabbit hole as I learned about fashion’s impact on the environment and its history with labor abuse and exploitation. Fashion is responsible for producing 20% of global wastewater, 10% of global carbon emissions, and 92 million tons of textile waste annually. On top of that, the industry is guilty of some of the most horrifying modern workers’ rights violations including the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh and rampant wage theft due to COVID-19 disruptions resulting in millions of garment workers around the world struggling to survive.

My first reaction was to research my way out of the problem. I spent hours trying to find ways to make more sustainable and ethical purchases. I scoured secondhand retailers, developed lists of ethical brands and potential clothing rental sites, and tried to educate friends and family members. After years of finding piecemeal solutions, I realized I was not addressing the issue’s root cause: unchecked consumerism. To be truly sustainable, I needed to completely rethink my mindset, rather than rely on finding alternative ways to overconsume.

To save you from your own Google rabbit hole, I’ve compiled some tips I’ve learned along the way to help you support a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry:

1.       Love what you have

The fashion industry spends billions of dollars each year in designs and marketing to convince us that our current wardrobes are outdated.  However, the most sustainable wardrobe is the one in your closet right now. (Even those fast fashion items!) Take care of the clothes you already have, including the ones from fast fashion brands, and they’ll have the potential to last you years to come.

2.       Learn to mend

Learning to mend my clothes has been one of the best lessons I’ve learned in quarantine. Even my fast fashion items that seem to tear easy can be easily mended by learning just a few stitches. Although there are no shortage of online tutorials on how to sew, one of my favorite sustainable fashion non-profits Fashion Revolution, has multiple ‘How To’ guides on how to mend clothing that can be found here.

3.       If you want to wear something new, try to borrow or rent first

While I’ve missed having excuses to get dressed up in quarantine, in the pre (and post!) pandemic world, dressing up doesn’t have to mean buying a new outfit. Borrowing from friends or renting from sites like Rent the Runway or Nuuly can help give you a standout, trendy look without having to buy something new.

4.       Can’t borrow? Try secondhand first

Visit local consignment shops, charity shops, or even thrift stores to find unique, gently used clothing. Some of my favorite sites in the DC area include Current Boutique (14th St or Clarendon locations), Frugalista, and Meeps Vintage. If you don’t feel comfortable going in person, sites like ThredUp and Poshmark make secondhand shopping much easier online, allowing you to sort by brands and your sizes.

5.       If you buy new, buy clothes that you know will last

If you need a new basic item, consider investing in an item that you know will last. Sustainable shops can be great options to buy those longer term, investment pieces. Good on You, for example, is one of my favorite online sources to find high quality, sustainable brands that replace common fast fashion brands.

6.       Remember that donations are not a dumpster

Although the clutter of unused clothes can be draining, remember that donations are only helpful when they satisfy a real, community need. Sort out your items in great condition and consider selling to consignment shops or donating needed items to mutual aid groups and non-profits in your neighborhood. Facebook Marketplace and Buy Nothing groups are also great places to give your clothes new life elsewhere. For older, poor quality items that you’ve worn to their full life, visit this article from Trash is for Tossers for potential options on where to recycle old items (disclaimer that some of these may be better than others – H&M’s textile recycling program has often been accused of greenwashing)

7.       Don’t sweat the occasional fast fashion purchase, but take time to learn about activism efforts to create a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry

While each of these tips are important in their own ways, this is my most important takeaway for those who hope to create a more just and sustainable fashion industry. In the grand scheme of things, buying that one fast fashion sweatsuit for a serotonin boost mid-quarantine is not going to change too much about fashion’s impact on the environment. However, critical evaluations of personal consumption habits will be meaningless unless we simultaneously advocate for an ethical and sustainable fashion industry. Individual actions, coupled with advocacy for systemic change, will help us reimagine a fashion industry that serves all individuals along its value chain – from garment workers producing goods, to consumers purchasing items in store. To learn more and plug into existing efforts, some great places to start include Garment Workers Center LA, Fashion Revolution, and the ongoing #PayUp Fashion campaign

***

Camille Bangug is an Analyst within Deloitte’s Startup Innovation and Ecosystem practice, focusing on Industry 4.0 technologies and startups. She is passionate about sustainability, circularity, and environmental justice. Prior to joining Deloitte, Camille graduated from Georgetown University with a major in International Politics and Development, and these days can be found scouring the city for its best pastries and green spaces. 

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By: Kelley Dennings

The pandemic may have everyone stuck at home, but for many people the location of home is changing. In the months between February and July 2020, as COVID-19 crept across the country, there was a nearly 4% increase in moves compared to the previous year as people fled big cities or dorm rooms or went looking for a change of pace. Temporary moves were up 27% for the same period, and there’s no indication this migration is slowing down.

I’m no exception. When my lease expired in December, I packed my things and temporarily relocated to the sunny south for the winter. What might make my move a little different, though, is that I tried my best to create very little waste.

Whether you’re headed across town or across the country, moving often leaves behind a mountain of waste. Every year Americans trash an estimated 16.8 billion pounds of junk when they move. They also use 900 million boxes and 90 million pounds of packing paper. Even if some of it gets recycled, disposing of all that waste demands energy and other resources, contributing to habitat loss, pollution and the climate crisis.

But there are steps you can take, like I did, to reduce the risk that moving to your new home will cost wild animals and plants their home.

Once I made the decision to move, I also made the decision to consciously consume by buying only what I absolutely needed. This helped me reduce the amount of stuff I had to move and/or rehome.

One place I focused was food because up to 40 percent of food that is produced in the U.S. every year is wasted. I learned to meal plan each week, helping me use up what was left in my refrigerator, cabinets and freezer. Sharing food might feel weird during COVID, but anything unopened I gave to a neighbor or local food pantry and made a mental note to purchase less of it next time. 

To stop junk mail from following me to my new place, I tracked what was being mailed to me for a month and then sent back the business reply envelope with a note asking to be removed from their list. You can also visit CatalogChoice to remove your name from other mailing lists you may not know you are on.

The one thing that’s hard to avoid acquiring during a move is boxes. Rather than buying brand-new moving boxes I got them for free by requesting them from online groups like FreecycleNextDoor or Facebook’s Buy Nothing group, but you can also get them for free from liquor and grocery stores. There are also companies that rent reusable plastic boxes, but if you move a lot like me you might want to invest in purchasing your own reusable tubs.

I skipped the packing paper and instead used my own towels, rags, sheets, pillows and clothes to protect my more fragile items. Using what I already had as packing material saved paper and its associated natural resources.

Most of my usable but unwanted items were given away through contactless online programs and outdoor curb alerts. The online outlets were great for things a regular charitable organization wouldn’t take, like my leftover holiday ribbon or a half-used roll of piping insulation.

In the end I gave two bags of winter clothes to a local charitable organization supporting homeless women.  Due to the pandemic, I called them first to ask what they were accepting and how they were handling donations. If you want to ensure your items go to organizations with values you support, look up the charity on Charity Navigator or Guidestar first.

The best way to help the planet is to prevent waste in the first place, because by the time you’re choosing between the donation or recycling bin all of the land, water, energy and other materials that went into producing your stuff has already been spent.

But there are several categories of items that can’t or shouldn’t be put in the regular trash or recycling. While packing up my stuff I unearthed old electronics, expired medicine and household hazardous waste like chemicals, batteries and lightbulbs. By recycling and properly disposing of these items I helped keep toxins out of the environment. E-waste, for example, represents 2% of America’s trash in landfills but it equals 70% of overall toxic waste which can harm soil, water and wildlife.

Whether you’re hiring professional movers or recruiting friends and family to help you during this upside-down time like I did, take precautions to keep everyone healthy by wearing reusable masks and gloves and staying socially distant when possible. The pandemic may add some challenges to your move — it may even be the reason you’re moving in the first place  — but with a bit of planning, it’s possible to come up with a strategy for a more sustainable move that creates less waste and keeps everyone safe.

***

Kelley Dennings is a campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity. She has worked for local and state government recycling departments and now focuses on waste prevention and reuse.

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on D.C. Gardeners are Growing Food to Combat Climate Change

By: Julia John

Nine-and-a-half years ago, lifelong gardener Kathy Jentz pushed to convert a brownfield site by her Silver Spring home into a community garden to expand sunny growing space for nearby urban residents. Today, with the removal of several inches of gravel, the addition of several tons of topsoil, and the dedication of dozens of local gardeners, the Fenton Community Garden is a productive Climate Victory Garden mere steps past the Washington, D.C. border. It’s one of hundreds in the D.C. metro area that not only offers fresh produce but also offsets greenhouse gas emissions.

““The more we can do it [offset carbon], the better,”

—Kathy Jentz
Photo Credit: Kathy Jentz

“The more we can do it [offset carbon], the better,” said Washington Gardener Magazine editor Jentz. She plants lettuce, radish, asparagus, strawberry, and thornless blackberry for publication research alongside her interns on one of the garden’s 44 plots.

Launched in D.C. in 2018, Green America’s Climate Victory Gardens campaign encourages gardeners of all levels worldwide to mitigate climate impacts by planting gardens, restoring soil health, and sequestering atmospheric carbon. The nonprofit modeled the effort on the world-wars-era victory gardening movement, when 20 million gardeners, united by the urgent cause of supporting the troops, grew two-fifths of the United States’ fruits and vegetables.

Now, across the D.C. region, households, community gardens, urban farms, schools, businesses, and other organizations tend to over 400 Climate Victory Gardens.

“Together, they span nearly 14 acres and draw down approximately 35 tons of carbon per year—equivalent to offsetting roughly 284,000 miles driven.”

—Julia john

“Garden activism is real and powerful,” said Carissa Tirado-Marks, school garden and sustainability coordinator at Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School in D.C.

A Climate Victory Garden can be just a couple square feet or even a few indoor pots. With the right methods, any garden can enhance soil, capture carbon, and produce healthy food.

Climate Victory Gardening follows ten practices that protect the soil, store carbon in it, and cut emissions from garden inputs. Basic steps involve covering soils with organic matter, composting, avoiding chemicals, and promoting biodiversity. Additional tips include incorporating perennial and native plants.

Photo Credit: Kathy Jentz

“Gardens have a special place in urban settings,” said Jes Walton, Food Campaigns Director at Green America. “They’re a way for folks to connect to the land. They provide an opportunity for community building. In D.C., gardens have played an important role in human and ecological health and increasing food security, from World-War-I Victory Gardens to today’s Climate Victory Gardens.”

The 2.7-acre Glover Park Community Garden is the District’s largest Climate Victory Garden. Situated within Rock Creek Park, it actually began as a Victory Garden that tackled World-War-II food shortages. Today, its 150 plots supply organic vegetables and herbs for household, charitable, and instructional use. 

Many smaller D.C. gardens joined the Climate Victory Gardens campaign through Love & Carrots, a woman-owned company that has installed organic vegetable and flower gardens around the city since 2011. The landscapers also help clients care for gardens via coaching and maintenance programs.

Photo Credit: Carissa Tirado-Marks

Schools are popular locations for Climate Victory Gardens. In 2014, Mundo Verde’s Truxton Circle campus transformed 700 square feet of asphalt into a bounty of greens, peas, turnips, sunchokes, squashes, cabbages, celery, peppers, tomatoes, berries, figs, watermelons, herbs, and native species.

“A lot of people walk by during the day…ask about what is growing in the garden and leave with their arms full of greens and herbs,” Tirado-Marks said.

The space commemorates the land’s indigenous roots and grows food for students, their families, and the afterschool garden market by harnessing soil-building techniques, she said. These include rotating crops, leaving soils undisturbed, using cover crops in the cold season, and applying compost from the garden’s compost system and from its hens and worm bins.

Through engaging with this outdoor classroom and urban wildlife habitat, Tirado-Marks said, “students learn that natural, social, and economic systems are linked and interdependent. They build a foundation for understanding and treasuring ecological systems and begin to understand intergenerational responsibility and act with this mindset.” 

Photo Credit: Carissa Tirado-Marks

“They build a foundation for understanding and treasuring ecological systems and begin to understand intergenerational responsibility and act with this mindset.”

—Carissa Tirado-Marks

As an educator, she believes that “growing hyper-locally and keeping healthy food in communities should not be revolutionary.” And she hopes that “society will recognize the value of gardens—for learning, for healing, and for survival—and that eventually, gardens will be supported and evenly distributed throughout D.C. and beyond.”

***

Julia John is a former Green America food campaigns intern. She received a Masters in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Johns Hopkins University in 2020 and currently writes about sustainable agriculture for Food Tank.

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By: Angela Trenkle

Photo Credit: Angela Trenkle, on November 8th 2020 at Great Falls Park in Virginia

If you are a resident in the DC Metropolitan area, chances are you have come across the Potomac River in some form, whether it is the river proper or one of the river’s tributaries, the mighty Potomac River is a landmark of the area in the same way that some of the famous buildings are in the downtown DC area. There are tales of the Potomac that stretch back to some of the nation’s earliest presidents reaping its benefits. If rivers could talk, the Potomac would have an endless number of historical accounts to pass along for the world to learn.

Photo Credit: Angela Trenkle, on November 8th 2020 at Great Falls Park in Virginia

Today, the Potomac River watershed is home to approximately 5 million people as well as millions of animals and plants that depend on it for its many resources. Clean drinking water is at the top of the list followed by food sources for both humans and animals that occupy the watershed. The river is also utilized by hundreds during the warmer months of the year for recreational activities, including, but not limited to, kayaking, fishing, hiking, bird watching, and stand-up paddle boarding.

Photo Credit: Angela Trenkle, on August 8th, 2020 at Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge on the Potomac River

For a period of time from the 1960s to the late 2000s, the Potomac River was in a state of decline and poor health. Water clarity was at an all time low, trash and algae were abundant, and native fish suffered because of the urban runoff that was making its way into their homes along the river. This has begun to turn around since the beginning of the 2010s, thanks to several key processes that were put into place. 

One such process is the creation of the Potomac River Report Card. The report card, which began in 2007, provides residents of the watershed an easy format to view the different aspects of the river in terms of its health and the areas in which it improves as well as declines. This gives residents of the watershed a visual of what is happening and the areas that they can target for improvement. Thanks to this report card, in addition to the other processes put into place for the river, the Potomac has gone from an abysmal grade of “D” in 2007 to a peak grade of a “B” just three years ago in 2018. In 2020, the grade slipped slightly to a B-, showing that the river recovery is plateauing. Now is a turning point to ensure that it does not slip any further.

Photo Credit: Angela Trenkle, on November 8th 2020 at Great Falls Park in Virginia

To ensure that the flora and fauna thrive as well as make sure that our grandchildren can appreciate the river in the same way we have, you too can do your part to make a difference. Some ways that you can help include:

  1. Participating in stream cleanups to prevent water pollution and premature death of wildlife.
  2. Planting trees as forest buffers to cool stream temperatures and create forest corridors for animal travel.
  3. Use your voice to advocate for stronger water protection laws. 
  4. Donate to organizations that are working towards protecting the Potomac River and its tributaries.
Photo Credit: Angela Trenkle, on August 8th 2020 at Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge (See left of photo)

As you can see, there are many benefits to the Potomac River not only for us, but for the animals and plants that depend on it for survival. By each of us doing our part and coming together with a common goal to make a difference, we can ensure that the Potomac is around for many generations to enjoy.

***

Angela Trenkle is a scientific technical writer who was born and raised in Maryland. Her love of science combined with her passion for writing led her into the field of scientific technical communication at a pre-clinical research organization where her work involves contributing to the documentation of study reports for various infectious diseases including COVID-19. Preserving the natural world is an important goal for her and she plans to use what she has learned over the years to help do her part in restoring local watersheds for future generations to enjoy. When she is not working, she enjoys reading, writing, traveling, running, weightlifting, and spending as much time outdoors as possible.

posted by | on , , | Comments Off on 6 Ways to Federally Aid the Adoption of EVs

By: Jane Marsh

People look forward to a future with flying cars and hovercrafts, but the future of transportation is already here. Electric vehicles have begun to cut down natural gas consumption that hurts the environment for those who can afford them. Many now wonder how the government could fuel the adoption of electric vehicles so they become the mainstream option for the average consumer.

These strategies are the latest ideas from environmentalists and federal experts. Some may take years to implement, while others could happen immediately. They would all open up the world of electric vehicles and get the world closer to a pollution-free existence.

1. Address Rising Oil Costs

Even though anyone can stop by a gas station whenever their car needs a refill, fossil fuels are running out. Industry experts estimate that the world will run out of fossil fuels by 2060, rendering all traditional vehicles useless.

The federal government could create campaigns to stress the importance of finding new fuel because of this approaching deadline. It’s in the consumer’s best interest whether or not they’re concerned about the environment.

2. Invest in Fuel Research

Electric charging stations aren’t currently widespread, so people may not switch to electric vehicles because they’d feel limited in where they could drive. The government could fuel the adoption of electric vehicles by investing in alternative types of charging stations. 

Water already powers 7% of U.S. electricity, so it could charge electric cars by local rivers and waterfalls. The charging stations would be strategic, but they would expand electric vehicle use into rural areas that didn’t previously have access to them.

3. Educate the Public About Emissions

Consumers may see electric cars as a luxury because of their price tag, distracting people from their necessity. The government could educate the public about carbon emissions by comparing electric and gas cars. They could point out that electric vehicles produce 50% fewer emissions than cars that run on gas, even when used for decades.

It would also help to make the problem personal. It’s easier to wave off climate concerns when people hear that emissions will create lasting damage in a few decades. Instead, they should know critical information about how greenhouse gases like carbon cause the following health effects:

  • Cancer
  • Developmental issues
  • Respiratory diseases

People will live a healthier, potentially longer life by switching to electric vehicles, but they won’t know that until it’s a well-known fact. The federal government’s access to news networks and international publications could get that started.

4. Expand Tax Credits

Anyone who buys an electric vehicle gets a federal tax credit, but it doesn’t apply to people who lease their cars. Currently, leased electric cars give the tax credit to the leasing company, providing no extra benefit to consumers.

Expanding this credit to leased cars would add incentive and fuel the adoption of electric vehicles. It would meet consumers where their financial abilities can take them and give them a tax discount that would further improve their living conditions.

5. Buy EVs for Federal Purposes

Advocates and experts can tell people to use electric cars, but actions speak louder than words. If those same people don’t use electric vehicles, it speaks to how practical they really are. The government should lead by example, which may begin soon.

The current presidential administration vowed to replace the federal vehicle fleet with electric vehicles. It would require 645,000 vehicles and doesn’t currently have a timeline. However, getting this effort started would normalize their use and make electric cars more conventional.

6. Introduce Federal Rebates

Rebates are similar to tax credits in that they give money back to the consumers, but rebates make that happen much faster. If federal rebates existed for electric vehicles, people would immediately get part of their purchase back in their pocket. It would make ownership possible for many moderate to low-income individuals, especially since they won’t match traditional vehicle affordability until closer to 2030.

Government Action Could Change the Game

If the government utilized these strategies, they could fuel the adoption of electric vehicles and greatly reduce U.S. carbon emissions. It would save people from a future with no fossil fuels and make electric cars affordable instead of remaining a dream for the average citizen.

***

Jane Marsh is an environmental writer. You can keep up with her work on her site Environment.co.

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on This Valentine’s Day, the DCEW Executive Board share what they love about the environment

As most of America continues to deal with the effects of COVID and quarantining, it’s evident that we are all in need of feel good stories. This Valentine’s Day, we asked some members of the DC EcoWomen Executive Board to share what exactly they loved about the environment. Each board member was allowed to respond in whatever way they desired.

Let us know what you love about the environment by tagging us on social media!

“I love the endless opportunities for adventure and learning the environment offers us. I took this photo at sunrise on Assateague Island last summer. Just looking at it takes me back to the warm sand between my toes, the cool early morning breeze, the summer sun peeking out from beyond the clouds and the horizon, and the sound of wild horses neighing in the distance. When I think of the environment, I am reminded of the memories before this photo and those to come. My hope is that others feel this strong connection to and love for the environment so that they can come to understand why so many of us are fighting so hard to protect it.” —Ngozika Egbuonu

— a Haiku by Nikita Naik

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By: Tacy Lambiase

In 2021, let’s commit to investing and caring for ourselves and our communities.

For many of us, it’s a ritual. When a new year starts, we start to analyze the previous one. What do we wish we could have changed? How can we make sure that we’re somehow better, healthier, prettier, or wealthier in the year to come? Enter: The New Year’s resolution.

While well-intentioned, many resolutions inevitably fail within weeks or months, leading to frustration and disappointment (who knew it would be so hard to start working out five days per week?). But what if there was a way to make resolutions that make us feel good and do good for others in the process? 

Here’s what I’d like to propose: Instead of making a typical New Year’s resolution, let’s all commit to participating in some form of community care this year. 

Community care means exactly what it sounds like: it’s “people committed to leveraging their privilege to be there for one another,” as community organizer and researcher Nakita Valerio describes it. It can involve anything from making dinner for a sick neighbor to participating in a community-led protest. 

While the concept of community care is nothing new, I think many of us would agree that it’s sorely needed. As our greater DC community continues to face the impacts of a pandemic, high unemployment, ongoing racial and social injustice, white supremacy, and climate change, it’s more important than ever for us to foster a culture of care within our own homes, our workplaces, and our neighborhoods. 

If you’re ready to commit to community care, here are a few action items to get you started. 

Care for Yourself

  • You have something amazing to offer to someone else, whether that’s your time, skills, perspective, or passion. Take time to reflect and explore the social change role that you can best play to support the needs of your community. 
  • Community care doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t also practice self-care: it’s hard to support others when your own needs are not being met.Get into the habit of listening to your body and responding accordingly. Maybe that looks like taking a nature walk when you feel stressed, scheduling a doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off, or asking a friend to be a listening ear when you need one (community care can be both given and received).
Picking up trash during your daily walk is another form of community care.

Care for Your Community

  • Think about your neighbors, but also your community of friends, family members, and coworkers: Who could use a phone call, a card in the mail, or a word of encouragement? Brainstorm a simple action that you can take, totally unprompted, to make someone else feel loved and supported.

Care for Our Common Home 

  • Join a local Buy Nothing group and make gifting, sharing, and borrowing the norm in your community. Items that we own but no longer need could find a second life in the hands of a neighbor, helping us to form stronger relationships and reducing unnecessary waste.

I’m planning to participate in more acts of community care this year. What about you? Do any of the actions on this list speak to your values or goals? Respond in the comments with your plans; I’d love to hear how you’re promoting a culture of care in your community.

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Tacy Lambiase manages communications and outreach for the Office of Sustainability at American University in Washington, DC. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in sustainability management from AU’s Kogod School of Business. Tacy enjoys kayaking, reading, and spending time with her husband and her adopted cat, Spanky.

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on 8 Ideas for Eco-Friendly New Year’s Resolutions – And How to Actually Stick to Them

By: Ellie Long

If you’re anything like me, you’re starting out 2021 more than a little exhausted from the events of the past year. Yes, we’re surrounded by messages of “brighter days ahead,” but with COVID-19 still raging, an economic crisis disproportionately hurting the most vulnerable among us, and, oh yeah, a climate crisis spiraling out of control, “Happy New Year” can feel a bit premature. 

While it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all this, taking small, concrete steps toward positive change can have a big impact on lending a sense of control, and even more importantly: hope. Once you accept that you’re not going to single-handedly stop the earth’s temperature from rising or save every tree in the rainforest, you can start focusing on what you CAN do in 2021. Here are a few ideas to get started – and tips and tricks for sticking with it. 

1. Vow to volunteer. 

Whether your schedule allows for once a week, once a month, biannually, or anywhere in-between, setting a firm, realistic target for when you can commit to giving back will help you stick to volunteering more in 2021. In-person opportunities can be harder to come by during COVID-19, but there are still many organizations across the D.C. area that could use extra helping hands – here are just a few to look into: 

  • Washington Parks and People has virtual, in-person, and group volunteer opportunities available with safety precautions in place, including a park cleanup on the 3rd Saturday of every month. 
  • EcoAction Arlington is hosting intermittent in-person cleanups around Arlington County, as well as virtual volunteer social events to connect with your fellow eco-enthusiasts. 
  • Capital Area Food Bank is playing a critical role in providing food to those who need it most around the region. Opportunities include driving to collect and distribute food, sorting and packing, and staffing their community marketplaces. 

2. Make 2021 your year of composting. 

Composting is a win-win for the environment: by sorting out your food waste, you reduce landfill emissions while creating a nutrient-rich soil for gardening or agriculture. Make a resolution to sort out your compostables, such as vegetable scraps, grains, and egg shells, into a separate container, then drop off them off at one of the D.C.’s collection sites (there are also locations in Virginia). Or, if you want to use the compost in your own garden, consider starting an at-home composting system – local governments including D.C., Arlington, and Montgomery County offer bins discounted or free. 

3. Plastic is so 2020. 

COVID-19 can make it feel like we’re making backward progress on eliminating the wasteful use of plastic in our daily lives. Counter the trend when the use of plastic isn’t necessary for health and safety with simple steps such as always carrying your own reusable grocery and produce bags to the store (most stores allow this, but may ask that you bag your own items), purchasing a reusable straw, or requesting restaurants to reduce plastic in takeout when possible (e.g., asking that plastic utensils are not included). 

4. Eat for two – the planet and you! 

Eating healthier is a common New Year’s resolution, but how about eating healthier for the planet? Set goals in 2021 based on your current diet; for example, if you already eat largely plant-based, maybe you’re ready to commit to being vegetarian or vegan (going vegetarian can roughly half your food carbon footprint, while veganism lowers it by about 60%), but if you currently eat a meat-heavy diet, starting small with “meatless Mondays” may be more effective at creating lasting change. You can also think about goals for eating more organic, local, or sustainably sourced food, e.g., “I will only eat seafood that is on SeafoodWatch’s recommended list.” 

5. Make Mother Earth the center of attention by informing others. 

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re probably already fairly interested in and informed about environmental issues. Confront disinformation and disinterest by spreading the word – a few examples of resolutions could include “I will always speak up when I hear or see climate disinformation this year,” “I will share at least one environmentally educational article on my social media each week,” “I will invite a friend or family member to every environmental event I attend,” or *ahem* “I will write a blog for DC EcoWomen!” 

6. Learn about the ongoing shadow of environmental racism. 

The past year brought the terrible toll of racial injustice front and center. In 2021, continue to listen, learn, and act – one way to start could be by reading up on environmental justice and how we can ensure our planet’s resources are enjoyed equally, that environmental catastrophes are not felt disproportionately, and that the movement for justice is all-inclusive. Here are a few resources to start:

7. Don’t forget to donate. 

If you have the means, helping to support the fight for a cleaner planet through donating can make a big difference. Consider establishing a certain amount of money you intend to donate each month, then setting a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget to make it happen. Or for an easy solution, set up a recurring donation with your favorite organization. 

8. Take care of yourself with nature. 

Resolutions around giving back are great, but in these stressful times, never forget to give back to yourself as well. If you have trouble finding the time, resolutions such as “I will hike once a month,” “I will join a birdwatching group,” or “I will go for a lunch walk every day” may help you make space for yourself. 

I hope you’ll find in these ideas some inspiration for a resolution that will work for you in the year ahead. 2021 may not be the brightest dawn we’ve ever seen, but there’s still hope in new beginnings, and setting goals for the benefit of yourself, your community, and the planet can provide a ladder to keep moving forward – step by step by step.

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Ellie Long is a Communications Associate with the Alliance to Save Energy, a Washington D.C.- based nonprofit that advocates for energy efficiency policy. In this role, she assists with content development, media relations, grassroots advocacy, social media, and other marketing efforts for the Alliance. Ellie graduated in May 2020 from California Lutheran University with degrees in Political Science and Global Studies, and previously interned in a Senate communications office.