Category: Environment

Protecting Our Water Supply Now More Than Ever

Washington (GGM) Analysis | March 23, 2020
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

World Water Day was celebrated across the globe yesterday, Sunday March 22, 2020, and I must confess that I’ve never cared more about clean water than I do right now. In the past month, with coronavirus spreading like wildfire, and the CDC pleading with us to wash our hands for at least 20 seconds, many times a day, my water usage has tripled. When I add in how much more frequently I now do laundry, several times a week Water Drop Earthto scrub off potential coronavirus germs that I don’t want lying around my home, I’m stunned by how often I think of water.

The moment that pushed me over the edge, however, was when I was out searching for bottled water this week. Nearly every store was sold out. I finally had to pick through a few leftover brands that no one else wanted and found myself hyper-analyzing why no one else wanted them. Why were they left behind? Googling to see where the springs were, so many fears flooded my mind. Was it really clean water, or did the bottling company just turn on a lead lined tap in an old rusty warehouse sitting out by a superfund site that recently flooded after being hit by a water bomb, and I was I going to deeply regret this purchase one day?

There’s already enough to worry about with coronavirus, adding clean water to the list is not something that’s easy to process, yet here I am so concerned that I’m transforming into a clean water advocate / activist on top of being a climate activist. The two seem to go hand in hand.

As a United States Citizen, clean water is something I’ve always taken for granted. I don’t like to admit that. There are certainly many US citizens who don’t have clean water and are forced to suffer the consequences, either by purchasing purified water, or drinking toxic water the many potential health consequences. Sadly, there are several habits we adults have gotten into that we don’t necessarily realize contaminate our clean drinking water supply.

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First and foremost, walking our pets on a trail in the forest and not picking up after them (because we don’t think we have to). Guess what? We do have to. Pet droppings are washed into local creeks during heaving rains and land in our reservoirs, contaminating our drinking water. Period. That’s all we need to know. For those who don’t like plastic bags, and I get that, there are long handles pooper shoppers. I spotted a man just the other day with an awesome pooper scooper like the one below. What a simple & easy way to solve a life-threatening problem.

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World Water Day is a gentle reminder of how important clean water is for our survival. And since health is on all of our minds right now, and we’re in the midst of changing so many of our daily routines and habits, let’s rise to the challenge and commit to updating our pet maintenance habits as well. No time like the present. Amazon has just hired 100,000 new employees to process the influx of online orders now that we’re housebound.

Let’s GO!

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.
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Time to Plant Climate Gardens While We’re Stuck at Home

Washington (GGM) Analysis | March 14, 2020
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

Backyard gardens are one of the easiest most inspiring ways to lower our carbon footprint. Adding multiple layers beneath trees and along fences, lining the front of homes. Shrubs, flowers, vines, ground cover. Ivy and creepers up and down walls, around mailboxes and lamplights. International cities like London and Paris have perfected this.

The best part about zeroing in on a giant burst of nature as the solution, is that it works immediately, especially if we all collectively execute ASAP, during these next few weeks while we’re stuck at home hoping tp stay clear of the coronavirus pandemic.

Imagine the positive impact.

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In the nick of time, no less. We’re down to only nine years to save humanity from climatocalypse. So, the silver lining of being thrown into our current heart-wrenching calamity, with unexpected at-home time on our hands, is that we can pause and focus on the long term, and alter our destiny by conquering what otherwise would most likely be an improbable collective gardening effort.

Live in an apartment or condo? Balcony, patio and rooftop gardens or plantings on every available flat surface is a life-and-planet-saving difference. With a success rate as significant as this will be, at a minimal cost, we can all jump in first thing in the morning.

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Bringing back nature, will not only be a giant leap forward in our progress at lowering our atmospheric carbon level back down to 350 PPM, but has multiple other valuable benefits.

Nature improves mental health, not only an emotional positive boost, but a sensory one as well. Sunlight provides the much needed daily dose of vitamin D that will keep our outlook positive and optimistic. Additionally, nature’s scent has an array of therapeutic properties. Some species are calming and supportive, while others keep us alert and energized. There’s also the tangible, yet little understood, sentient characteristics of nature that indicate plants and trees can problem solve, even connect with other plants and animals, as well as communicate with each other, and some believe communicate with humans, in addition to nurturing humans,  .

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Considering how many alarming societal threats we face — climate, suicides, drug addiction, physical and mental health — the fact that nature can aid in improving every single one of these, is a very compelling reason to quickly sow our climate gardens during this unexpected period of being stuck at home (at least it’s spring, the planting season). In fact, there’s no better way to keep our minds off this extended emergency, than to dig into a powerful solution that will not only bring back nature, but will keep us calm in a crisis.

Once nature is back, the wildlife that goes along with it will also return. Our planet will be healthy again, which will make humankind that much healthier too. It all begins right now, during these mandated weeks of social distancing.

Let’s GO!

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.
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Protecting Our Water Supply this Spring | Beware of Lawn Fertilizer

Washington (GGM) Analysis | March 8, 2020
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

After Trump’s recent roll back of Obama’s Clean Water Act, we have to be more mindful than ever of what we can do as individual citizens to be the stewards of our community water supply in the hopes that we can minimize the negative fallout now that these life-saving federal regulations have been repealed.

I feel traumatized by the horrible news that 60% of our waters will again be unprotected. Climate change has created a seemingly apocalyptic ripple effect from the fallout of the flooding and run off that occurs from the now regular rain bombs, as well as the threat of the new Category 6 hurricanes (not that the National Hurricane Center has officially added Category 6 to the Saffir-Simpson Scale, but recent Hurricane Dorian with winds of 185 mph that flattened the Bahamas, was so far off the charts there’s certainly been a fewa discussions about the need to do so).

Factor in the flooding of superfund sights alone, during this age of climate change, and the frightening consequences for future generations in the calamitous way that water pollutants cause birth defects. This reality is already rattling nerves and alarming homeowners close to these toxic sights. The unseen leaking of life-threatening pollutants  into ground water from buried storage tanks is certainly of grave concern, but all the more troubling is seeing the vacant wastelands flood and the damaging toxic waters flow through town drains as well as the surrounding nearby community property.

Farmland with pesticides and fertilizer is equally as concerning. Weather bombs know no borders. Heavy rains will spread these toxins for miles. They’re usually invisible, but the damage they cause humans is very tangible and physical.

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So with these significant issues now plaguing American communities this spring 2020, and some states stepping in to protect its waters and passing much needed state regulations, we have to do our part too, after all, we’re the ones with the most to lose.

We love beautiful lawns, or course. And we likely use fertilizer to make sure our yards have the right nutrients to nurture our favorite flowers, shrubs and trees. However the ammonium nitrate found in most sterilizers, amongst other hazardous nutrients, are the very pollutants that may cause birth defects after running down the town drains during heavy spring rains.

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Birth defects caused by the nitrates found in fertilizer:

  • spina bifida
  • cleft palate
  • missing limbs

Rules of thumb to avoid contaminating the town water supply?

  • home composting from food scraps that can be added to garden and yard soil
  • many town farmer’s markets now offer free compost
  • organic alternatives that are not water soluble like ammonium nitrate
  • don’t fertilize in the spring, wait until fall when there’s much less rain.

So let’s be more aware, and make a commitment to finding an alternative to fertilizing with heavy nutrients in the spring. We can do this!🌱

 

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.
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Powerful Impact of Meadows on Carbon Sink

Washington (GGM) Analysis | February 24, 2020
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

Thousands of innovators across the globe are aggressively working on inventing machines that will pull carbon out of the air and store it, or transform it into something useful. Recent news about Amazon committing $10B to combat climate change has created hope that some of these funds will be used to create innovative solutions such as carbon sequestration machines.

But we’re not there yet, unfortunately, so we have to maximize what’s currently at our disposal… nature.

Planting trees, of course, is number one priority.  However, often overlooked, but equally as important, in fact, maybe even more important than trees, are meadows. Expansive landscapes of open fields that contain a variety of plants have a magical way of funneling carbon into their roots and trapping it in the soil where it will be stashed even when the roots die.

According to the Scientific American on sustainability, “Carbon Off-Set Cowboys Let Their Grass Grow”:

“The best way to maximize the amount of carbon that gets trapped underground is to maximize grass growth.”

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The fact that so many different types of botanic species grow in a meadow, and their roots all intertwine underground, appears to be why meadows store so much more carbon than say tall and bushy shrubs. Once carbon is trapped underground, fungi feed off it, and according to the Scientific American, fungi are often consumed by microbes and worms which stabilizes the carbon.

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The western half of the country, with it’s massive open terrain, has a huge opportunity to maximize this opportunity and help the United States take giant steps forward in cutting carbon. Apparently, a cap & trade program that reward ranchers and land owners is already underway. According to Civil Eats, Indigo Ag, a Boston-based agtech company, has raised $600 million from investors to help farmers sink one trillion tons of carbon on their property. Farmers are paid $15 per metric ton of stored carbon.

It’s exciting to see that the economy that led to our stratospheric carbon emissions rate, can be used to turn the catastrophe around and inspire land owners to reach for an opportunity to reduce carbon just as quickly and significantly.🌱

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.
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Overhauling the Packaging of Consumer Brands | Circular Economy

Washington (GGM) Analysis | February 13, 2020
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

With the advent of the global circular economy movement, it soon becomes clear just how many everyday items can’t be recycled. It’s quite alarming. We’ll never reach zero waste unless we find innovative solutions to meet this imperative.

Take plastic, for example. The following plastic packaging/ additional items cannot be recycled:

  • plastic single use shopping bags
  • straws
  • plastic film wrap
  • frozen food bags (nearly all vegetables are sold in non-recyclable bags)
  • cereal box liner
  • chip bags
  • granola bar, candy bar and nearly all snack items wrappers
  • six-pack rings
  • plastic hangers
  • any plastic containers that can’t be cleaned, ie toothpaste tubes

Back before I was aware that these particular pieces couldn’t be recycled, it was exciting to end the month with an empty kitchen garbage bin. But now that I’m in the know, and I see the waste stack up, I feel maximum frustration. We have to stop, focus and fix.

Screen Shot 2020-02-13 at 10.09.07 PM.png Thankfully, innovative sustainability companies have done just that. According to Healthy Human, the following are the top sustainable packaging innovations of 2019:

  • Loop, Returnity and Share Pack – companies that enable consumers to conveniently return packaging either by dropping off at targeted locations, or sending back in company provided totes
  • Plant based packaging – plastics made from plants
  • Edible packaging – typically this is seaweed, hopefully they’ll soon find additional alternatives
  • Plantable packaging – contains seeds so the packaging can be planted after use
  • Compostable plastic alternatives
  • Minimal packaging design
  • Upcycled or recycled packaging

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Sustainable packaging solutions are here. All we need now is to grow demand which will come from our consumer decision making. We simply must be motivated to seek these sustainably packaged products out and use our wallets to influence corporations to switch. If we all refuse to buy particular brands because of the packaging, corporations will soon wise up.

We can DO THIS!~

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.
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FINALLY! Ketchup Packaged In Glass | New Brands

Washington (GGM) Analysis | December 24, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

Exciting update on the “Ketchup in a glass bottle sold locally” saga, a tale that has reached ST-Saga-CovFrnt-72dpi-300a positive outcome in just five weeks. Five weeks is a very short period of time to go from 0 to 60. This proves that social media is a very powerful solutions driver.

  • In mid November while grocery shopping, after making a commitment not to buy anymore products packaged in plastic, even if that meant paying more, I was shocked to discover that there literally weren’t any Ketchup brands sold in glass. It was the ONLY condiment that didn’t have a single glass packaged option. Barbecue sauce had the largest selection of brands sold in glass, row upon row upon row. BBQ Sauce and Ketchup are very similar, so I was perplexed. How could one of the two similar condiments have the most glass packaged possibilities, and the other have the least, actually none? This made no sense (although now I realize it’s because Heinz cornered the Ketchup market and refuses to revert back to glass).
  • I ended up purchasing “Apple Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce” as my Ketchup alternative
  • I snapped a photo and posted on Facebook about my shocking surprise that Ketchup isn’t sold in glass.
  • Someone commented that I could purchase Heinz in glass bottles through Amazon, although the glass bottles were super tiny, but the price was reasonable so I went for it. I imagines that I could give some away to various friends and family to promote the circular economy and the importance of glass packaging.

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  • And the best part was that I could reuse the bottles in other ways once finished. Tiny storage containers for small things like buttons, etc, and much more.
  • The small 2.25 oz ended up not being practical. So, my next big decision was to be adventurous and order Heinz Ketchup in the 14 oz glass bottles sold as a pack of 24 for $76.60 though Amazon. I realize this seems crazy, but buying in bulk is something we should be used to thanks to Costco.
  • Meanwhile, I posted each of these steps on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
  • I was supposed to receive the 14 oz bottles on Thursday of last week, but was dismayed to instead receive an email stating the delivery was cancelled. The glass bottles had been shipped, but the delivery ran into sone type of snafu and the package was being returned to sender and I’d be given a credit. No explanation provided. Yes, I can’t help but wonder if the bottles broke and everything was a mess. I guess I’ll never know.
  • Disappointed, I resumed my quest in local grocery stores this past weekend for Ketchup in glass bottles. I nearly jumped for joy when I found Unsweetened Organic Ketchup in Whole Foods. I bought it, tested it and determined that I could indeed grow a taste for unsweetened Ketchup. It was wonderfully fresh and healthy, and very tomatoey I might add.

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  • But later Sunday night, I had to dash to Safeway, and wasn’t I shocked to see a “NEW” Ketchup brand along the top row of the Ketchup shelves. The Red Duck label made my mouth water. It looked delicious, and indeed it is very yummy! YAY, a solution!

Climate Action works. Sharing ideas through social media catches the attention of many and nets positive results. I must admit that it’s disappointing Heinz hasn’t begun testing glass packaging for their Ketchup. The majority of the major soda producers certainly have. After 50 years of sustained success at having more than 60% of the Ketchup market share, has Heinz grown complacent? We’ll soon find out. In the meantime, GOOD LUCK, Red Duck! Thanks for responding to consumer demand. ~

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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EV Charging Stations | Retail & Restaurant Parking Lots ROCK!

Washington (GGM) Analysis | December 20, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

The new year is here. Thinking of all that can be accomplished on the Climate Action front makes my head spin. Way at the top of the list is EV cars, which means EV charging ST-Saga-CovFrnt-72dpi-300
stations are going to be on everyone’s minds.

Savvy business owners and managers who have parking lots can take advantage of this consumer need by installing a handful of charging stations in their parking lots. It seems that this is what everyone has been talking about at holiday parties this year. Where do you charge your car?

One woman I spoke with lives in a complex that doesn’t yet have charging stations, so she has to be sure to charge in town. She now LOVES Walgreens because they have charging stations. She makes plans to charge while she shops. It was likely that she rarely shopped at Walgreens before buying an EV, but now, it’s her favorite store in the world. And she always spends money, every single week.

HillReport12-20-2019aWide open green fields for marketing, literally. And the best part about this unique opportunity, is that EV owners who charge when visiting a store, feels immense gratitude. The most passionate, heartfelt kind of deep appreciation, almost an indebtedness, the way we feel towards heroes. They’ll likely feel inspired to say “yes” to a  promotion opportunity rather than “no.”

When restaurants and retailers everywhere begin adding charging stations to parking lots, we’ll see EV sales go through the roof, and the atmospheric carbon levels drop. Win/win! In certain regions, businesses can find sizable grants to help cover the cost. Good Luck!~

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© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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