Sustainability is vitally important in our quest to lower our carbon footprints and preserve our natural resources for future generations. Improving the outcome of our sustainable living strategies involves a lot of critical thinking, ingenuity, and resourcefulness, three valuable life skills, that once acquired, consistently power us through the many tough challenges we’ll likely face across the decades. These life skills are yet another residual benefit bestowed on us from living sustainably.Continue reading “Sustainability Hacks | Eggshells”
Washington (GGM) Analysis | April 3, 2021 by author & journalist Noreen Wise
Earth Month is finally here… again. Hurray! Let’s get our ducks in a row so that we can maximize the enthusiasm and excitement that comes from so many of us in our communities focused on making progress with the aggressive habitat restoration goals we’ve set for ourselves and our towns.Continue reading “We’ve Had 51 Years of Earth Month, Yet Carbon Skyrocketed”
Washington (GGM) Analysis | March 19, 2021 by Noreen Wise
With the circular economy now in full swing outside the United States, it becomes that much more clear just how many everyday items cannot be recycled. The reality is alarming. We’ll never reach zero waste unless we find innovative solutions to meet this imperative.Continue reading “Overhauling Packaging of Consumer Brands | Circular Economy”
Washington (GGM) Analysis | December 10, 2020 by Noreen Wise
Compost is a big deal in the calculus for increasing carbon sink in our soil. It provides one of the most effective methods for the US public to assist with cutting carbon as deeply and swiftly as possible.Continue reading “Compost & Carbon Sink| Climate Action”
Washington (GGM) Analysis | December 6, 2020 by Noreen Wise
It’s exciting to think about all the ways we can rush forward on the climate front in 2021, with John Kerry as the US Climate Envoy, and our 46th President, Joe Biden promising to rejoin the Paris Agreement on the day he’s inaugurated, January 20, 2021.Continue reading “Let’s Rush to Win One Eco Battle | Commit To Zero Waste 2021”
Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 4, 2020 by Noreen Wise
There’s never been a more important time to plant trees than right now. After massive wildfires scorched millions of acres of forests across the western United States, to the ongoing need to cut atmospheric carbon levels in order to reduce global warming, trees are now more important than ever for sustaining human life on our planet. The only way our children will have mature trees tomorrow, is if we plant seedlings today.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland in January 2020, hundreds of nations across the globe committed to planting a trillion trees by 2050. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2016 ranking, the United States is 33.93 percent forested area. Sadly, prior to Davos, the United States was hovering well below its potential for tree planting despite how much room we have to plant trees. Canada on the other hand, has been a top performer, planting 500 million trees in 2019. During this same year, the US National Forest Foundation planted 5 million trees, nearly double their 2018 total, which is aggressive, but a long way off Canada’s 500 million. There doesn’t appear to be a national data base keeping track of US totals that incorporates tree planting in local communities on private property, so the total number of trees planted in US for any given year is difficult to calculate. But what we do know, is that the US chopped down 36 million trees in 2019, and in 2020, in addition to the millions of leveled trees we ax on an annual basis, we lost 30 billion mature trees in the West Coast wildfires, which is staggering.
Ethiopia is a 2020 tree planting champion, succeeding at putting 350 million trees in the ground in 12 hours this past July 2020. The US needs to rush to catch up. In most states, trees can only be planted a few months out of the year. There’s a window in both the spring and the fall. Thus, it’s vitally important that we take advantage of each and every opportunity. Homeowners have to be the drivers of our national tree planting efforts if we’re going to succeed.
Planting a tree to remember someone whose life was cut short — whether that be from covid, gun violence, wildfires and other natural disasters, a car accident, cancer, and multiple other tragedies — or is still alive but but going through a very difficult time, is a great way of showing empathy and letting others know a loved one is being thought of regularly. It also motivates us into action. This wonderful way of keeping spirits alive and communities full of hope, helps families and communities heal, while at the same time saving the planet.
Gallant Gold Media is distributing 300 FREE redbud and button bush seedlings on Saturday, October 24, 2020, from 12 noon – 3 PM at GMU, courtesy of Fairfax ReLeaf. Residents in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia can register to pick up a free seedling at GMU so that homeowners and businesses throughout the area can plant trees and bushes this fall to remember all those in our community who’ve been lost to covid. Click here to register. This is first come first serve, so please register ASAP.
If your business has any clients or employees who have loved ones to covid, a redbud seedling is a wonderful gift to let them know you care and empathize with what they’re going through. Redbud’s are a top choice to feature in the front yard landscape, with beautiful pink spring blossoms and very easy to care for while they grow.
Again, limited quantity, with some HOAs ordering large bundles, and first come first serve, so please register ASAP.
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Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 21, 2019
by Noreen Wise
LIGHTBULB! The solution to the climate crisis is for the global economy to shift from a linear economy to a circular. For the past 250 years — ever since the Industrial
Revolution began in 1760 — the world has been operating under a linear economy of take-make-waste. Under this paradigm, we take natural resources, make a lot of products and then dispose of the waste. Typically, disposing of the waste nets a negative impact on the environment as well as our health.
The linear cycle is often very inefficient, destroying far more natural resources than necessary, and leaving behind dangerous toxins everywhere. Corporations often build inefficiency into their business plan intentionally in order to increase revenue. For example, if a company manufactures a cheap product (let’s say a refrigerator) and it breaks easily, the consumer will have to buy a new one faster. Corporations are incentivized to produce a flimsy refrigerator. They make more money being inefficient. However, there are negative consequences for the global community with this business plan: increased carbon emissions, poisoning of the environment and the fueling of climate change.
The circular economy model is built on the concept of reduce-reuse-recycle . In a circular economy the manufacturer will produce a very high quality refrigerator that will last a very long time. They’ll make money servicing the hardy refrigerator for the consumer. In creating a higher quality product, the company reduces the number of refrigerators it manufactures which results in a whole series of advantages from natural resources, to the environment, and to the public.
“The circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital.” Again, these are all positives. Breaking down every piece of the economic puzzle so that we can move toward a circular economy to save our civilization, is quite tedious, but must be done. There are layers of issues that need to be analyzed. The product itself, and all its parts, as well as the packaging. The reuse and recycle aspects of the product, the parts and the packaging have variations depending on purity, and other fine details. Take for example glass.
Glass packaging is truly amazing. It can be recycled forever. It will never lose its purity on its own, only when accidentally mixed with cardboard or paper, etc. To keep glass from becoming impure, the new philosophy is to create large community recycle bins where townspeople can drop their glass off for recycling once a week. Northern Virginia is piloting this test program. Curbside pickup of glass has been cancelled in Norther Virginia. Large collection bins have been delivered in key locations around town. We’ll now wait and see the benefits of this minor change in the way glass is recycled, so it can then be rolled out in every community in the United States.
There will be business winners and losers, of course. Fossil fuels and plastics will each be phased out. These industries have benefitted from the linear model for many decades, but will eventually be eliminated by the circular. There’s already pushback, but the transition from linear to circular is inevitable. It’s the only way our civilization can survive.
Plastic packaging MUST be replaced with glass and aluminum, as well as other easy to recycle natural alternatives, or reused as the material to create new products. In nations with large leaves on most trees, the leaves have been harvested for packaging. Recycled paper is also being converted for packaging. There will be many innovations on this front in the upcoming months and years. Keep your eyes wide open as new solutions debut one after the other. For example, straw make-overs have been so much fun to watch. Aluminum straws, paper, and just this week there was a fabulous article about pasta straws being a fab sensation.
You know that any article dealing with the economy is only scratching the surface. Economics is not only a college course, but a college major. The subject is massive, especially when you factor in the global layers. So, one step at a time. In the transition from linear to circular, the EU is leading the way in the West. It’s been transitioning for over seven years now. China is aggressively converting as well. China is the world leader in nailing “reduction” through manufacturing the most long-lasting building materials: aluminum, steel, and cement.
America hasn’t yet begun to rush. Only 16% of US companies are currently using circular principles, however a total of 62% responded positively to a February 2019 survey stating they plan to transition. Investment Funds have begun moving the needle by rewarding corporations that are a match for the circular economy goals and creating a special fund, “BGF Circular Economy” Fund.
We citizens can do our part by recycling religiously, composting daily, purchasing products packaged in glass, eliminating plastic, planting trees and gardens, the list is endless. Begin today, and again proceed one step at a time. We can save our children’s future, and alleviate their daily stress. LET’S GO!
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Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 15, 2019
by Noreen Wise
For the millions of us searching for effective next steps in reducing atmospheric carbon, as well as lowering our personal carbon footprints, having a home compost bin is a significant step forward. The best part, is how easy compost bins are to step up and maintain.
According to Exploring Green , Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, 51% of trash is compostable. This food that is thrown away in landfills turns into methane. Methane increases global warming 21 times that of CO2. But when food waste is composted and then layered into the soil, the soil becomes so rich with nutrients that it substantially increases the amount of carbon the soil can sequester, which lowers our atmospheric carbon level, and reduces the global temperature.
Homes, restaurants, and large dining facilities — whether that be school cafeterias, hospital and corporate cafeterias, mall foodcourts, and large banquets and conference centers — should all be tapped into the simple compositing process. Be on the lookout at restaurants in your area. Most healthy and organic venues now have compost bins.
There are many ways composting space can be set up. It all depends on where you live and whether you’re able to have a larger outdoor bin.
- In the kitchen, it’s best to have a small bin, with a handled bucket that can be lifted out of the lidded container.
- All food scraps we normally stuff into the sink disposal, will instead by placed in the compost bin.
- The small compost bin should be emptied each night into the larger bin that is either stored in the yard or garage.
- It’s important that the large bin is ventilated, and turned with a large stick once a week.
- Air enables the compost to process faster.
- An official compost bin has a lower hatch close to the ground, that can be opened when the compost is ready, and easily removed to place in soil around the yard.
- If you live in a condo or apartment and want to keep everything light, you may want to try a small lidded container on your porch or patio that you can empty by layering into a nearby forest floor regularly.
Schools Districts have jumped into the act in a big way, transforming the composting process into a learning lab. Many schools share their composting efforts through social media and it’s very exciting to see students energized by being part of this planet saving effort.
Teachers really enjoy these interactive, climate action learning labs, too. Win/win experiences are positive and invigorating, making learning fun and joyful. What parents doesn’t love that?
If you don’t have time or yard space to set up and maintain your own compost bin, a whole new industry is starting to take shape. CompostNow.org is a compositing service for home, office, and restaurants.
- They provide heavy duty plastic bin.
- They pick up full bin each service day, and leave an empty one.
- They track waste & compost creation by the pound.
- Members earn compost! Very easy and rewarding… literally.
So, take the leap. It’s super easy and will instantly contribute to carbon reduction!
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Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 9, 2019
by Noreen Wise
Many individual Americans are rushing forward with climate action, doing their best to lower personal & household carbon footprints by targeting the 5 major categories for quick action:
- Home – switching to solar, managing efficiency
- Transportation – Hybrid or EV autos, walk more
- Food – eat minimal dairy & red meat, home composting bins to be applied to garden & forest soil
- Stuff – buy less stuff in general, and buy used whenever possible
- Nature – huge focus in cutting carbon; our oceans can’t hold anymore carbon, we must all become gardeners and planters: trees, flowers, shrubs, ground cover, compost, compost & more compost (nutrient rich soil from compost will enable soil to hold much more carbon)
And now, with the holiday shopping season quickly approaching, it’s time to focus on America’s large corporations with intense scrutiny as we decide where to spend our holiday shopping dollars. Let’s make Climate Action an important criteria for patronage.
For example, Target Stores, one of the huge shopping mecca’s for Black Friday deals, has assured consumers that 500 of their stores will be fitted with solar panels on roofs come November. Go, Target! Your customers appreciate your concern over the rising global temperature. But can you go one step further, and please remove all single-use plastic shopping bags from your cash registers and force shoppers to use reusable bags. Thank you!
There have been several recent headlines highlighting corporations who’ve taken bold steps into sustainability and climate action. From Marriott Bonvoy hotels eliminating single-use plastic toiletries, to Nike opening a massive distribution center that uses 100% renewable energy. And what about Apple’s commitment to lowering carbon levels… is our favorite Apple green or red?
Further, just yesterday, Act One Climate 100 released it’s Corporate Climate Action Progress Report. Act One Climate 100+ is a group of 370 investors managing $35 trillion in assets of the worlds largest carbon emitters . Their website notes that their goal is to:
- Curb emissions
- Improve governance and
- Strengthen climate-related financial disclosures
Awareness and accountability make a significant difference, especially when billions of global citizens are then armed with facts enabling us to separate climate action focused corporations from profit-above-all-else focused corporations and spend our money accordingly.
So this holiday season, before hitting the stores or clicking online, we must first Google to see what each brand and retailer is doing to fight global warming. We only have a few years to get this right. We must act immediately. Numerous companies have created innovative solutions. There’s no time to hesitate, though. If a company isn’t onboard with climate action, then they’re off board. There’s no neutral position. We the consumers hold all the power this holiday season. It’s imperative that we let our climate action feelings be known and simply shout “NO” to inaction by using our wallets to express our feelings and priorities.
© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 4, 2019
by Noreen Wise
Success in reducing atmospheric carbon levels to the targeted 350 PPM from the current 412 PPM will come from tiers of immediate action. If every tier nails its targets, we’ll save the globe and civilization. This should motivate us to Act Now, especially when we consider how basic and easy many of the “actions” are for lowering carbon.
- Individual carbon footprint
- Corporations, businesses & organizations
- Local, state & federal government and agencies
All we have to do as individuals is focus on the tiers that we fall under. The greatest obstacle to succeeding at carbon reduction though, is missing the small, easy opportunities that we fail to recognize. The ones right under our nose that we would be able to execute immediately if we were more aware.
Composting is the best example of a basic missed opportunity. For example, take the Longworth House Office Building dining hall in Washington, DC where thousands of constituents, lobbyists, and House Representatives eat breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday each week. Sadly, Longworth does not currently compost, despite the fact that the US Botanic Garden is across the street and would thrive on weekly fresh compost, as would the massive acres of capitol grounds that are also across Independence Ave.
According to Exploring Green , Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment:
- 51% of “trash” dumped into landfills is compostable
- Annually, the world throws away approximately 1.3 billion tons of food
- 3.3 billion tons of CO2 is released each year to process the wasted food (production, harvesting, transporting and packaging)
- Wasted food thrown away in a landfill releases methane
- Methane increases global warming 21 times that of CO2
- On the other hand, wasted food that’s composted and layered into soil, increases the soil’s nutritional content which increases the amount of carbon it can sequester
Thus, composting uneaten food at home, at work and in restaurants and dining halls is a no-brainer. In fact, many school districts are jumping in. Capitol Hill dining halls would only have to change one of its two trash signs to “FOOD/COMPOST.” This is so easy, it’s scary.
Our oceans sequester approximately 25% of atmospheric carbon and nature 28%. The big challenge with ocean carbon sequestration is that it increases water temperature as well as acidity. The increase in water temperature, melts the glaciers which raises the global water levels. The higher temperature also causes changing climate which becomes that much more extreme.
To save humanity from climate extremes, the focus is now on increasing carbon sink in nature and in soil, and trying to lower ocean temperatures. Nature — which means planting more trees and greens, and elevating the nutritional values in soil — is one of the new climate action touchstones on the carbon sequestration front. In short, compositing has become a vital necessity. Thus, missed opportunities sound the alarm.
Composting has become such a critical factor in the success of lowering our atmospheric carbon levels, that a whole new industry is starting to take shape. CompostNow.org is a compositing service for home, office, and restaurants.
- They provide heavy duty plastic bin
- They pick up full bin each service day, and leave an empty one
- They track waste & compost creation by the pound
- Members earn compost! Very easy and rewarding.
When the carbon facts are this simple and the cost a bare minimum, and #ActNow only a matter of changing signs, it’s unfathomable how anyone would pass on this opportunity. Come on, Longworth… let’s FIX THIS!
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