Month: November 2019

More States Banning Single-Use Plastic Bags | Reusables for Every Store

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 30, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

The holiday shopping season has begun. Packed malls and stores from coast to coast. American consumers are expected to spend nearly a half trillion dollars  from Thanksgiving through December 25, 2019. But how many US shoppers will rely on their reusable bags at every store they visit?

ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300Prior to 1977, stores offered paper bags to shoppers. But once the first plastic shopping bags appeared in 1977, the switch to plastic was swift and furious and by the end of the 1990’s, the vast majority of retail outlets across the globe relied on single-use plastic. According to The World Counts:

  • we consume 5 trillion single-use plastic bags per year
  • 160,000 single-use plastic bags per second
  • but sadly, less than 1% of these are recycled
  • single-use plastic bags are made from oil, gas & coal which produce a significant amount of carbon
  • one ton of recycled single-use plastic bags equals 11 barrels of oil
  • the public’s seeming indifference to the extensive damage single-use plastic causes the environment, as well as it’s impact on climate change, has resulted in several states stepping in to regulate the use of single-use plastic bags

HillReport11-30-19d

According to U.S. News & World Report:

  • Connecticut just passed a law that went into effect August 1 2019, banning single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and restaurants by July 2021. Some grocery store chains and restaurants have already begun transitioning patrons to the ban by ditching all plastic bags and charging shoppers .10 cents for paper bags, as well as passing along a discount to shoppers who bring their own reusables. Businesses that continue to provide singles-use plastic bags these next 19 months will charge shoppers a .10 cent tax for each plastic bag. This is an excellent model for other states to follow.

HillReport11-30-19a

  • California was the very first state to ban single-use plastic bags back in 2014, and San Francisco was the first US city in 2007
  • New York jumped in and banned single-use plastic bags on Earth Day 2019; the ban will go into effective March of 2020
  • Hawaii hasn’t officially banned these deadly bags, but beginning in 2015 every county in the state has barred them, so Hawaii too is included in the count of state bans

HillReport11-30-19b.png

The Center for Biological Diversity has provided a critical list of key facts about the harm of single-use plastic bags:

  • the average American household uses 1,500 sing-use plastic shopping bags per year
  • 80% of the oceans’ massive toxic plastic island, the size of France, floating in the Pacific, comes from the plastic’s use on land
  • once it begins swirling around in the ocean, plastic is broken down into micro plastic fragments the size of rice and ingested by the majority of marine mammals
  • 267 marine species are impacted by plastic
  • each year, 100,000 marine animals die from plastic consumption
  • once dumped in a landfill, it will take 500+ years for a plastic bag to degrade

HillReport11-30-19c.png

It’s time to ACT. SAVE a LIFE this Holiday Season. There’s no need to wait for a ban in our states. Shop with REUSABLE bags at EVERY store beginning immediately.

Let’s GO. We can do this!

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
GallantLogoNWST-75

 

Climate Change’s Impact on America’s Favorite Pastime | Sports

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 22, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

America’s passion for professional sports, particularly baseball, is under severe threat from climate change. So with our favorite pastime now in peril, it becomes a powerful wake up call that should motivate us into quick action. The intense heat during summer months is impacting both the enjoyment and health of fans and players alike. More must be done ASAP.

  • High temperatures have resulted in several ST-Saga-CovFrnt-72dpi-300
    teams reinventing their stadiums. The Miami Marlins, Houston Astros as well as four others are now equipped with air-conditioned stadiums with retractable roofs to ensure the well being of all in attendance.
  • Other teams adapt by changing their playing schedule, going to bat at midnight. This might be enjoyable on a summer Saturday night, but would be a nightmare during the week.
  • Wrigley Field in Chicago was dangerously hot this past July, with the heat index temperature reaching 107 degrees. The stadium set up cooling stations and offered fans free ice backs. Coaches were on a mission to keep the players hydrated. This required a significant amount of work and was clearly a borderline health risk. Hopefully, the powers that be are taking notes and finding a better solution for the future. This wasn’t a one-off but is rather a dire climate emergency that will escalate.
  • In October 2018, not a single American sports stadium made the top 5 sustainable stadiums in the world ranking. (1) Amersterdam ArenA,  Netherlends (2) National Stadium, Taiwan (3) Mineral Stadium, Brazil (4) Fisht Stadium, Russia (5) Khalifa International Stadium, Qatar.
  • However, the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta has deemed itself the “‘most sustainable sports venue in the world.'”
    • 4,000 solar panel
    • 2 millions gallons of stormwater capture
    • Water conservation

HillReport11-22-19a

  • The first “Zero Waste Super Bowl” was held in 2019 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota. The mission was to maximize recycling. The success rate reached 90%.
  • Recycling at America’s massive sports complexes must become a VERY big deal if we are to lower the carbon needle. It’s much more simple than most realize. There are now regional composting services that will assist with this. According to the Sloan Blog, Patrick Boyle, the Sloan Director of Corporate Sustainability, lowering waste at stadiums is a matter of limiting choices so that all refreshments are served using compostable plates and cups. This enables all waste to be thrown away in the same bin and picked up by one truck.

HillReport11-22-19b

Some sustainability focused stadiums are taking climate action one step further and getting players involved in educating fans on the importance of recycling and sustainability. The Sloan Blog notes that stars are assuring the public that “Ordinary people can make a difference.”

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
GallantLogoNWST-75

Weather Bombs & the Superfund Sites

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 18, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

There’s no better example of climate injustice in the Unites States than those Americans living near Superfund sites. Superfund sites came to be in 1980, and are ST-Saga-CovFrnt-72dpi-300
labeled with this classification based on hazardous waste contamination.

  • The United States currently has 1,344 Superfund sites on the National Priorities list
  • An additional 48 sites are in the process of being added
  • There are 2 million Americans who live near Superfund sites
  • A large number of the sites are near populated coastal communities  — Portsmouth, NH, Boston, New York City as well as both coasts in Florida.
  • Hurricane Harvey flooded over a dozen Superfund Sites in the Houston area

Following World War II, it was common practice for corporations to dump their waste into the ground. No one thought much of it at the time. But eventually, medical conditions began to spike, and we grew to learn that toxins cause major health risks and in many cases lead to cancer, heart problems and birth defects. So the EPA was tasked to clean up these life-threatening toxic locations.

HillReport11-18-19a

And then along came climate change extremes. Weather bombs are fierce deluges over a relatively short period of time that result in major flooding. Flooding near a Superfund site results in water spreading the toxins far and wide, endangering the well-being of millions more people. The toxins are usually invisible. So, once spread, it’s nearly impossible to retrieve, and families are left unaware that they’ve now been impacted.

HillReport11-18-19b

There now needs to be a major push in congress to address this calamity immediately. The health consequences of not moving quickly, are extreme and incalculable.

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
GallantLogoNWST-75

Ketchup & Climate Action

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 17, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

I was really proud of myself this weekend when I was grocery shopping. I promised myself on the way to the store that I would follow through with my commitment to cut plastic from my grocery list, and would no longer buy my beloved ketchup in a plastic container. I was even willing to pay more for the glass.

ST-Saga-CovFrnt-72dpi-300But when I arrived in front of the condiment section, wasn’t I shocked to discover that there wasn’t a single brand of ketchup in bottles. This was mind boggling, especially after making my way up and down the various aisles, and seeing so many products packaged in glass: BBQ sauces, pickles, jams and jellies, mustards, vinegar, salad dressing. I was cheering the success of the world’s sustained call to action to rid the planet of plastic. But, arriving at ketchup took the wind out of my sails.

In fact, I was in disbelief that ketchup leader Heinz had not responded to consumer demand and felt extremely frustrated. I’d even called Heinz a few weeks ago, and then tweeted about it. So this did not sit will with me. I had to make a change. There was no way I’d be able to drive home feeling ashamed that I wasn’t strong enough to follow through with my promise. I simply had to find an alternative. But, how is it possible to replace ketchup with something similar? What were my choices, salad dressing? BBQ sauce?

HillReport11-17-19aI backed up a few feet to reassess the BBQ sauce possibilities. Surely there was a flavor that would do the trick. I quickly scanned one row, then the next… then onto the third. Voila! Pioneer Woman BBQ Sauce – Apple Brown Sugar. Not only did this flavor look divine, but the shape of the bottle meant I’d be able to use a spoon. (Do you remember the Heniz commercials with Carol King’s Anticipation?) Twenty-four hours later, I can assure you this BBQ sauce is amazing. I’m so grateful to have discovered it. And now I feel wonderful knowing that by stepping out of my comfort zone in the grocery store aisle, I’ve had the pleasure of falling in love with a new product that I never would have ever had the good pleasure of being introduced to. But the ultimate satisfaction was realizing that this type of little everyday change can save someone’s life. It’s the easiest feel good ever.

I mentioned my exciting BBQ sauce find to a friend, and she surprised me by letting me know I could buy glass bottled Heinz ketchup on Amazon. Whoa, awesome! Yet, this new BBQ sauce is so tasty, I think I’ll do both.

Screen Shot 2019-11-17 at 10.12.37 PM.png

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
GallantLogoNWST-75

Fire Drill Friday | Jane Fonda Keeps Us Focused On #1 Priority

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 15, 2019
 by Noreen Wise

It was an emotional day on Capitol Hill with defamed ex-Ambassador for Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, testifying in the second impeachment hearing for Donald J. Trump. The details outlined by Ms. Yovanovitch were critical and seem to have sealed Trump’s fate. I speculate he’ll be impeached by New Years Eve 2019.

Meanwhile, a few hundred yards away, in the warming sunlight, Jane Fonda rallied Americans with her sixth Friday Fire Drill. Her mission is to draw awareness to the Green New Deal and the important role fossil fuels have played on our climate’s demise.

Fonda was not arrested today, but she prides herself on the positive impact her protesting and subsequent arrests have had on the climate emergency cause. Today’s climate focus was on our oceans and rising sea levels as well as the urgent need to break free from plastic.

Although Fonda wasn’t arrested, two of her tag-along friends were: Marg Helgenberger and Robert Kennedy Jr. It seems these wonderful climate activists consider their arrests their red badge of courage.

HillReort11-15-19b.png

The holiday shopping season has arrived. It’s imperative that we keep our resolve to act now on lowering atmospheric carbon levels by the choices we make during the holiday season. Every tiny decision will save a life. For example, it’s advised that no red meat for any festivities. Avoid plastic packaging. Buy grocery products in glass bottles. Let’s promise to keep our eyes wide open as we claw through the packed aisles, and make the right selections when we reach toward a store shelf.

HillReport11-15-19a

Another positive choice is to buy local. It’s mind boggling how dramatic this simple decision can make. Again, it’s all about being aware, and making a commitment in advance to save our oceans and brighten our children’s futures. We can do this!

HillReport11-15-19c.png

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.

Cards Are Stacked Against Trump | Impeachment Exit Begins

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 13, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

After today’s opening public hearing, it’s mind boggling that Trump hasn’t resigned already. He now has everything stacked against him. And all of the typical lifeboats he’s used in the past to save himself from drowning — Russian Mob money, Deutsche Bank, criminal enterprise thuggery — have been cut off. So what exit strategy is trump concocting as the noose tightens?

ST-Saga-CovFrnt-72dpi-300The answer to this question that immediately pops into my mind is almost too scary to think about. Do Trump and his loyalists have something sinister planned? I personally fear that they do, but hopefully Department of Homeland Security is way out in front on this.

Being inside the hearing room today, and watching everything first hand, made it seem much more personal. I became acutely aware of the sacrifices William Taylor and George Kent were making for their country and the American people. This resonated in a profound way. An inspirational way that made me realize we’re all called on to do the same. Stand up, do what’s right, no matter what the cost may be.

There are endless news casts that are recounting the blow by blow play of the first two witnesses —Ambassador William Taylor, and Ukraine expert Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Eastern Europe and the Caucuses George Kent. These valuable pieces include weighty new evidence, as well as an extensive history that provides the public with the appropriate context in which Trump & company executed Trump’s shakedown strategy.

ImpeachmentHearing-9a.jpg

But by the time I left the hearing room at 1:30 PM on this first day, the impeachment evidence against Donald J Trump was already rock solid and crystal clear. Trump is guilty. In fact, it’s so self-evident that the House will have no choice but to impeach the 45th President of the United States of America.

The key takeaways for me though, are less about the facts (that thankfully I don’t have to memorize, but rather can easily refer to) and more about the quality of the content :

  • Chairman Adam Schiff’s opening statement was exceptional. He clearly outlined the lens he was using to oversee the hearing. The Constitution and the Rule of Law. Period. It’s that simple. Cut and dry.
  • The two witnesses are like no others that I’ve ever seen or heard before. They’re incredibly skilled at tough discussions. This seems to be a big part of their professional life, tough negotiations with foreign leaders, many of whom are not necessarily allies. They’re also highly intelligent and were able to pick up on the fact that Nunes and Jordan were trying to undermine their testimony. They maneuvered perfectly, and phrased their replies expertly. It was impressive.

ImpeachmentHearing-10.jpg

  • What became obvious during these antagonistic interactions though, is that this must have been very similar to what was going on behind the scenes during Trump’s shakedown timeline. Trump and Giuliani were trying to snake their way around rock solid diplomats who were ten times smarter than both of them. Diplomats who know how to maneuver and to block…. which is why we’re in the midst of impeachment hearings. Thus, not only do they know how to maneuver and block, they know how to win. They make me proud to be American again. They are exhibiting the very traits that resulted in the United States of America becoming the most powerful nation in the world. Their testimony is a testament to who they are, and what the State Department is all about. I can now see why America has been the bright light shining on the hill for other countries in the world to aspire to be like.
  • If all of the witnesses we’ll be hearing from work for the State Department, they likely will all have this same adeptness. So, a list of witnesses of this caliber, becomes a solid concrete wall that seems impossible to knock down, leap over, or tunnel under.

ImpeachmentHearing-11

  • And then there’s Majority Counsel Daniel Goldman. I’ve never seen anyone like him before. I must have missed the article about the Majority and Minority counsel who were added to make everything smoother. He’s an expert, straight out of Central Casting. His tone is neutral and diplomatic. An excellent public speaker. All who hear him, trust him. He sets the bar, and in so doing, the Minority Counsel immediately falls below it. When I left the hearing, I was shaking my head wondering how the Minority Counsel Steve Castor could have been selected for his position. But then I worried that my low opinion of Steve Castor was formed in comparison to Mr. Goldman. The difference between the two is extensive. Trump must be panicked.

ImpeachmentHearing-6.jpg

  • So, Adam Schiff has created a fierce, solid wall using the Constitution and the Rule of Law, and he too is straight out of Central Casting. The witnesses are a second wall. Mr. Goldman a third. So now, Trump is completely surrounded by unmovable walls, while he’s treading water in the deep blue sea without a lifeboat or lifejacket, sharks at every turn, in the middle of a hurricane.

Is this checkmate?

ImpeachmentHearing-7a

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
GallantLogoNWST-75

A REAL Solution – Urban Tree Canopy | Act Now

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 9, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

The emerging concept of “green intelligence” is bringing much needed analytical assessments to the attention of mayors across the country.  We understand the ST-Saga-CovFrnt-72dpi-300
importance of planting thousands of trees in our local communities. But apparently, where we plant trees really makes a difference.

How do we determine the best locations for each household to plant ten trees? Thankfully, the USDA’s Forest Service Northern Research Station has just released a valuable analysis termed UTC, Urban Tree Canopy. The UTC Assessment is made up of geospatial data that can be used to strategically outline where exactly new trees should be planted in a town or city, and approximately how many will net the maximum benefit. It can be used as a guide in every city in America to identify which areas in each city need more tree work and tree TLC. New York City’s Hudson Yards’ revitalization is an excellent example.

By the way, Urban Tree Canopy is the complete tree mass — made up of branches, leaves and stems — that covers the ground when looking down from above the treeline.

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 8.56.40 PM.png

Here are the facts:

  • Trees make a vital, positive impact on all communities, particularly cities where there’s a dense population
  • Trees improve storm water run-off by capturing rain water in their canopy and discharging it into the atmosphere.
  • The EPA asserts that, “Tree roots and leaf litter create soil conditions that promote the infiltration of rainwater into the soil.”
  • So with more trees, there should be less street flooding.

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 8.47.03 PM.png

  • Trees provide shelter from the heat, and lower urban temperatures.
  • Trees reduce air pollution by absorbing toxins into the roots, bark and leaves. Trees also absorb a significant amount of CO2, as well us provide us with the oxygen we need to live.
  • Once trees have been planted, wildlife habitat will soon follow. This rich habitat includes wonderful insects, birds, bats, butterflies and small mammals.

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 9.11.54 PM.png

  • Trees beautify our communities which increases property values and improves our mental health.
  • In fact, Thomas Jefferson, and our founding fathers for that matter, strongly believed that trees and gardens were so critical  in ensuring our emotional strength and stability, that they insisted trees be planted across Capitol Hill and that a Botanic Garden be established at its base.
  • Trees improve the economic viability of a city or town.
  • Trees nurture the community spirit and strengthen community ties. In this day and age with the opioid crisis still haunting our communities, it’s nice to know that we can grab onto something positive, inspirational and healthy that will improve our quality of life and draw us all together.

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 8.55.20 PM.png

The facts are clear. Numerous life saving benefits, and a plan that the whole community can participate in. Team work. It’s time to attend town hall meetings to discuss our local community’s Urban Tree Canopy assessment. Did our mayors and town counsel members even read the UTC released by the USDA’s Forest Service? Let’s find out.

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
GallantLogoNWST-75