People

  1. Animals
  2. Lifestyle
  3. People
  4. Thinking

Big picture: A 2016 study of over 8,000 threatened or near-threatened species found that over-exploitation and agricultural activity posed a much greater threat to biodiversity than climate change.

Why it matters: Climate change is abstract. It also gets all of the news coverage. In reality, ecological issues like deforestation and hunting play a significant role in the environment. These are tangible issues that we can fix before investing billions into an more abstract threat like climate change. Most of that money pours into clean energy while critical wildlife face extinction from other causes.

Sustainable suggestion: We need to approach the climate conversation in a way that works cooperatively with intersecting threats like wildfire risk mitigation or ecological restoration, not against them.

A forestry organization may want to clean-up deadwood to prevent harsher wildfires, but a conservation group will sue them for cutting down a sacred forest. A conservation group may want to support hunting an invasive species , but an animal rights group will publicly condemn them. Let's stop doing that.

Bottom line: Climate change is important, and intersects with basically every ecological issue. But that behemoth threat will be much easier to manage if we can start knocking off the little guys that we can see, touch and feel. That would call for better farming, less hunting/finishing, more land protection in sensitive areas, and less logging.

Dig deeper → 3 min

  1. Doing
  2. Lifestyle
  3. People

What is period poverty? Inequalities related to menstruation. That includes the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand washing facilities, etc.

Who does it affect? Students, low-income and homeless women and girls, transgender and non-binary individuals, and the imprisoned all struggle with period poverty. Girls with special needs and disabilities are also disproportionately affected.

What are the main causes?

  • Improper education― we often stigmatize menstruation.
  • Economic barriers―menstrual products are costly (and in some cases taxed).

Why is it a problem? Period poverty increases physical health risks, such as reproductive and urinary tract infections, when the proper resources are not easily accessible. This causes women to turn to unsafe substitutes. Period poverty also widens the educational and economic gap.

Periods and planet

  • In North America, about 20 billion tampons and pads go to landfills every year, and the non-organic items take at least 500 to 800 years to decompose.
  • Disposable menstrual products are the fifth most common type of waste washing up on beaches, according to a report by the European Commission
  • The manufacturing of disposable menstrual hygiene products generates a total carbon footprint of about 15 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually―the equivalent of burning about 35 million barrels of oil, according to the United Nations Environmental Program

How can we promote sustainable periods?

  • Choose reusable menstrual products (e.g., period proof underwear, menstrual cup, and reusable tampon applicators and pads)
  • Choose cotton products and support transparent brands if disposable products are necessary
  • Demand that corporations make plastic-free sanitary products

Bottom line By normalizing menstruation and destroying taboos around the natural process, we can prioritize menstrual equity policy that makes sustainable menstrual products and sanitation available for all.

Dig deeper → 4 min

  1. Land
  2. Lifestyle
  3. People
  4. Thinking

The scoop: There is an understandable skepticism around GMOs due to our bias for natural products. But GMOs have many undeniable social and environmental benefits.

What to know: The science agrees with the use of GMOs – 90% of scientists believe they are safe.

  • GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. It is the process of selectively breeding plants with other genes to create desirable characteristics.
  • GMO characteristics have the potential to address food security with projects like Golden Rice.
  • GMOs can also help reduce food waste and help growers adapt to climate change with drought, heat, or flood tolerant seed varieties.
  • While GMOs are often negatively associated with health and sustainability, there is little to no science to support this claim.
  • There is overwhelmingly more research that supports GMO's ability to positively influence health and sustainability.

Bottom line: GMOs have become somewhat of a controversy, but the scientific consensus shows they are safe. In the face of a growing population and increased land use, we need a more efficient agriculture industry to be sustainable. GMOs are at the core of a more sustainable future, and more efficient food systems.

Dig deeper → 3 min

  1. Animals
  2. Energy and Environment
  3. Planet
  4. Thinking

Question: How can sustainability succeed without laws protecting animals?

The science is out on animals. Man's outdated perceptions of our underwater and in-the-forest cousins are coming to light as science meets PETA.

Animals are sentient beings. It's not a romance novel, it's the world we live in. Animals experience a wide range of emotions.

The animal manifesto: Every squirrel, every rabbit, every bear, every fish serves a clear, identifiable role in Earth's ecosystem except for two creatures: invasive species like pythons in the Everglades.... and mankind.

Humans as protectors: Man certainly plays a role in this crazy floating ball universe, but we've drifted so far from our hunter-gatherer origins that our ecological purpose is becoming harder and harder to define. As such, it is the moral responsibility of man to act as benevolent stewards for the vulnerable, voiceless animal kingdom.

Animal lives matter: The next sustainability chapter of post-industrial society begins with a recognition of animals as they are, fellow Earthlings deserving of basic rights.

Bottom line Today, most advanced nations do not recognize animals as sentient beings. And we expect sustainable lifestyles to be widely adopted in our homes? You have to learn how to drive a car before lifting up the hood to fix it.

  1. Federal
  2. People
  3. Politics and Policy

Big picture With social distancing mandates and divisive partisanship on the Hill, experts speculate as much as a week’s delay on election results. They need to manually count millions of mail-in ballots. And the side-effects of a delayed election are enormous. Who would act as President while we counted the winner?

Possible outcomes

  1. As the law currently states, the Speaker of the House, followed by the President Pro Tempore, would fall in succession to serve in the case of a disputed presidency. President Pelosi?
  2. BUT, Congressional elections occur every two years. That means that every single House seat will expire on Jan 3. That means if the House majority is unclear, the Speaker of the House may be disputed also.
  3. Section 3 of the 20th Amendment, ratified in 1933, outlined an alternative for undecided presidential elections. Basically, Congress can dub any "Person" deemed suitable for office to serve as president in the interim. That list would stretch out to Former Presidents, Secretaries of State, etc.

What it all means I know it’s become quite a partisan issue, but I truly believe our best bet is to vote at the booth and minimize mail-in ballots. It’s in the best interest of our safety, integrity and ensured continuity as a nation. Enact whatever social distancing policies we need, designate specific time slots for seniors, but make it happen. If Costco can do it, so can we.

Bottom line Given the current political climate, an election dependent on mail votes could be catastrophic.

Dig deeper → 4 min

  1. Federal
  2. People
  3. Politics and Policy

The scoop The 2020 election is just around the corner. Where do Biden and Trump stand on sustainability?

Biden's campaign website highlights that he plans to implement the key foundational elements for building a sustainable future –

  1. Comprehensive climate plan w/ emphasis on clean energy and international cooperation.
  2. Racial equity as a centerpiece for environmental justice.

Trump's campaign focuses on a short-term growth mindset of maximizing existing industries and economic growth.

  1. The decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, slashing federal funding for environmental initiatives, and weakening environmental protection acts to prop up corporations.
  2. America-first policy
  3. Lower corporate/individual taxes

Bottom line Biden’s plan for a sustainable future is pretty on point – better/more affordable housing plans, a massive Green Deal, and of course working on racial reform. Trump’s plan is to “go, go, go!”.

Dig deeper → >1 min

  1. Energy and Environment
  2. Planet
  3. Thinking

The scoop It's been 161 years since the US drilled oil for the first time. Let's talk about the history and future of oil, and where it fits into our plans for better planet.

Talking points

  1. We keep running out of oil and then find more.
  2. It seems like the world is moving away from oil, but the US is producing more today than ever before.
  3. Unconventional oil, which is oil that is extracted by non-traditional means, is more problematic given its more likely to use more costly and environmentally disruptive processes.
  4. If you stream videos, drive a car, or live in a colder climate, you probably use more fossil fuels than you think.
  5. To move away from oil, we need to either invest heavily in a climate plan at an institutional level (cons: more government market intervention, higher taxes) or create a marketplace where renewables are the more viable option for businesses and consumers.

Final thoughts More investment in renewables will help ‘fuel’ the transition away from oil. In the meantime, let’s get the Republican party to acknowledge climate change.

Dig deeper 2 min

  1. Doing
  2. Lifestyle
  3. People

The scoop With increased pressure on supply chains from COVID-19, food systems are seeing a shift toward local-purchasing. For environmental purposes, maintaining local food supplies post-pandemic will be crucial.

Support farmers markets, food hubs, and community-supported agriculture. Ride the wave toward more resilient and sustainable food systems.

Things to know

  • Large-scale and complex food systems buckled under the unpredictability and immeasurable pressures of a global pandemic
    • Millions of pounds of food products lost across the US
    • Grocery stores are dealing with food shortages
  • Consumers are shifting to purchasing locally and local farmers face an increased demand for local food
  • We need resilient and sustainable food systems even after the pandemic
  • How to support local and shop small:
    • Farmers’ Markets
    • Community Supported Agriculture Programs
    • Food Hubs

Bottom line Eating local should not be expensive or exclusive. You can buy local food based on what fits your schedule and budget. Sustainable and local food systems rely on consumer behavior.

There is no doubt a major increase in local purchasing during COVID. However, reaching sustainable development goals and building resiliency in food systems requires your action to support local farmers. Buy local.

Dig deeper → 5 min

  1. Doing
  2. Lifestyle
  3. People

What are you talking about? Plogging. AKA jogging while picking up litter. Yes, you can exercise and help the environment AT THE SAME TIME.

Pro-tips for plogging

  1. Safety: Look before you touch and use good judgment. If you suspect something may be hazardous, leave it be and notify your local township!
  2. Reycling properly: Recycle according to local laws. Most parks and rec facilities have recycling bins. Use them! If you are unsure about your local recycling policy, look up '{city/town} {state} recycling' on your favorite search engine
  3. Local clean-ups: Check your area for local clean-ups at parks, lakes, rivers and highways.
  4. Share on social: Use #plogging and post your eco-warrior efforts on social media so other people can learn about this awesome trend!

Dig deeper >1 min

  1. Federal
  2. People
  3. Politics and Policy

What’s happening On Monday, the Trump administration approved drilling plans for an oil and gas leasing program in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Energy vs. Environment This is a big policy win for Republicans in a decades-long fight for energy independence. However, the South Carolina-sized refuge has never been used for oil extraction and for good reason.

The pristine land, made up of a biodiverse plant and wildlife population, deserves protection now more than ever. America is already oil-abundant. We don't need more drilling.

So we are oil rich, why the move? Short answer: $$$$. Oil companies drilling on federal lands get a break on royalties.

Threat to Gwich’in people Gwich’in leaders are vocal about their fight against drilling in the coastal plains of ANWR. The Gwich’in people have lived in the ANWR for over a millenia.

What can you do

  1. You can sign a petition, available at the bottom of this article.
  2. Alaskans can vote in the upcoming Senatorial race; the incumbent candidate supports ANWR drilling.

Dig deeper → 1 min


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