Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Noise of the New Normal

It's been a noisy week:

An inauguration (with debatable numbers of attendance and a newly invented term: "alternative facts." Thank you Kellyann Conway!")

A Women's March in DC and 600 or so other ones, big and small. I was there in DC. There was a lot of noise & positive energy! I think my favorite speech over all I'd seen (which was all online & nothing at the march as I was midst the throngs of people in the mall) was Kerry Washington in LA. Everyone should listen to it: men, women, republican, democratic.

The news was no quieter as Trump began changing up the White House website, writing proclamations and doctrines, declaring days of patriotic devotion, and starting to put things in motion.

But the roar continued on, leading to the noise of the National Parks, scientists, and my comedic favorite: the @AltNatParkSer Twitter and Facebook account, where facts are posted and can be found by rogue National Park Service employees after hours. (I shake my head--since when is science debatable or censored?!)

We've had a Trump and Pence supported March for Life (as opposed to last Saturday's Women's March--at least by tale of Trump's Twitter feed). State department top employees were unilaterally fired, losing a base of collective knowledge. And, Friday, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Trump issued a refugee ban to some countries but not others (where he interestingly has holdings), and Christians will be the first to be allowed in.


Due to the growing rumble & grumble, some future proposed marches which seem to be growing in number by day:
As if that's not enough noise....the biggest noise too comes from social media. A lot of "us, "them," & "gee, can't we all just be friends."

It's a highly turbulent time. Certainly the most in my children's life time, and perhaps one of the most in mine.

The silver lining is that perhaps it will galvanize people, calling us all out of our li'l cocoons and into an activist world. Perhaps this is our time to "break out and butterfly." Come out of the comfort, metamorphosize, and emerge stronger, more capable, greater than ever before. Maybe through the anger and the action, and in fighting for our beliefs that might be marginalized by this administration, we will indeed make America great again. Not in Trump's ways (which feel akin to the isolationism of "The Dark Side"), but through unity, compassion, understanding empathy, love, and light.

This week in my house, I found my daughter chanting in her own call and response (like most people hum a jolly li'l tune) the words from last Saturday:
"This is what Democracy looks like."
It's contagious and it's true.

This IS what democracy looks like. Sometimes messy and twisty-turned, difficult even dangerous, like a cacophony of noise....but worth working for.

Sounds a little bit like "love."


Video from https://www.facebook.com/thekerrywashington/videos/1377891075574482/; Other images from my camera from The Women's March

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Peril's of Packaging

Even though the holidays are past, online orders aren't, Given Amazon.com and the ease of ordering from your computer, packaging is a bulky problem! This video from Attn: is a good one for showing the pollution perils that come with the territory!

 

But luckily, there's a silver liner amidst all those boxes.

Amazon.com has partnered Goodwill to at least give the Amazon box itself new life.  Following 3 easy steps, you can repurpose your box as you donate items from home and send them along to the nearest Goodwill to you. Here are those 3 easy steps as quoted from Amazon's Sustainability page:
  1. "Open Your Box: Unpack your merchandise from your Amazon shipping box."
  2. "Pack Your Box: Fill the box with clothing, accessories and household goods you no longer need and print your free shipping label from GiveBackBox.com."
  3. "Send Your Box: Let UPS or the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliver your box of donations to Goodwill for you."

While it doesn't solve all the problems, it's a step in the right direction. Kudos to Amazon.com for raising its own bar in helping to keep items out of landfills.

Video from https://www.facebook.com/?sk=h_chr; image from https://www.amazon.com/p/feature/xde6cauvpfp66o2

Saturday, January 21, 2017

#WhyIMarched: Marching Forward Toward Your Beliefs

We've had a full long-weekend here in America.  An inauguration of our 45th President on Friday, and a Women's March on Saturday. And of course, there were tweets and controversy on both and then numbers attending (adding in a joyful new phrase: "alternative facts.")
I took part in one, not the other. Rumor on the DC street was that the two had much different feels from each other--much different energies.


The experience, with my daughter & her friends, was memorable.

Living so close to DC affords one with certain opportunities. Marching in The Woman's March in DC was one of them.






The positive energy and masses of people were incredible. Such a crowded house, yet all so kind, compassionate, and generous as we squished and snaked through the crowds. Not easy for a team of nine in a possible half million people!! Bit of a bummer we couldn't see or hear the rally or Jumbotrons, though in awe of the turnout! Too many to march on the assigned route. Remarkable! ❤☮️\People may think it was a day of hatred toward our new president. I completely disagree. Yes, some people in the mix were angry in that crowd either due to Trump's history of poor behavior (to women & minority groups) over the past or due to the fact that their candidate didn't win...but even given that, they were all powerful yet peaceful.

The crowd today was full of women, men, & children... all of whom were supportive to each other and openly newfound friends. The majority of people there today were concerned for their rights. For themselves and their children. The biggest takeaway was that there are people concerned that they won't be heard going forward because they weren't heard over the 18 months of election. Additionally, they feel as though they haven't been heard since then.

They feel that Trump hasn't invited them conversations to the table since being elected. Rather, many feel dismissed or prejudiced against.

We saw and met people who traveled from dozens of faraway states, from ocean to ocean: Alaskan people standing outside the Native American Museum, Hawaiians who were there, environmentalists, LGBT friends and supporters, people fearful about their healthcare and filled with concerned because their beliefs aren't the same as those of the WASP men on Trump's cabinet. For the first time in multiple decades, there's no Latinos on Trump's cabinet--people want to see themselves represented. Women are disgruntled about the normalization of sexist comments and bodily grabbing that now has become a locker room joke. People are concerned by the questions that have cropped up about our now-President's odd relationship with Russian president Putin who was a former KGB.

People are concerned and want to be heard, not silenced or bullied. People yesterday (in their presence, their posters, and their conversations) showed me they are afraid of that.

Yet they also showed me patience, gratitude, empathy, kindness, caring, and concern.

And that's exactly what we showed to the police officers we encountered, as well as the National Guard and the metro employees.

I am so proud that my daughter and I could share in this moment in history with half a million other marchers in DC and 3.1 million globally on 7 continents. It's something bigger than ourselves, something that showcases exactly what democracy is all about❣  Over 600 marches nationwide! #LoveArmy






 

Images:  Most from my camera, my quote one from using canva.com.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ecovillages: A New Kind of Community

This felt like the most fitting post during this season of Inauguration for 45th President.

As we are entering an era where it has been outwardly stated (both in words, tweets, and cabinet pics) that our next President is about as far from the environment as you can be, picturing a positive utopia of Ecovillages seemed like the best place to rest my brain space.

What is an ecovillage?


Along with "intentional living" as a foundation of their philosophy, common features also include:
  • a return to the nature through community gardens & shared agriculture
  • bartering as a form of economy
  • off-grid energy sources 
  • energy conservation & eco-friendly transportation
  • co-operatives (including homeschooling) & a community of sharing
  • diminishing consumption and maximizing conservation of resources
No, we're not talking communes! But rather, a community based on sustainability.



To learn more about Ecovillages, check out these resources:


As an aside while thinking about a wonderful world of sustainability (a dystopian contrast of what President Trump might envision for America), I do praise President Obama for setting up two new National Parks (Bears Ears National Monument & Gold Butte National Monument)  and making environmental strides in the last month of his presidency.  Some items can be undone, but it will make the de-eco-ing a little bit harder for incoming President Trump. (Insert environmentalist chuckling here.)

May we all have our picture perfect environmental spaces and places, and may we all be environmental activists when needed here in the next 4 years ahead.


Definition image from https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=ecovillages, Ecovillage map from http://www.worldwatch.org/eco-neighborghood-catalystVideo from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yE37hwRfSj0

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Zero Percent: Attacking Food Waste & Hunger

The new year always brings about new plans, new goals, new resolutions, and new game plans.

In the category of "innovation will save our environmental and social issues," technology, apps, and smart phones are once again making a difference.  This time, it's in the category of food waste. Timely here, mid-winter, when it seems to have the greatest impact, especially on the homeless.

Yes, once again, there's an app for that!

Zero Percent is an app that was created in 2013 by Rajesh Karmani in Chicago to help connect businesses with excess food with the people who locally need them. Since then, the concept and reach has extended far beyond just one city.

Their motto:  "Zero waste, zero hunger!" Watch this video to see their vision and mission in action.


 

Environmental stats about our food footprint (or "foodprint") from their website include:

  • 40% of food ends up in landfill that is not scrap or rotten, just excess.
  • Rotting food contributes to methane, which is "21 times more damaging than carbon dioxide."
  • 16% of Americans ar considered "food insecure." This means they do not know from meal to meal where the next one is coming.

When I was investigating Zero Percent, 356,000+ pounds of food had been donated. Way to go.

For ways to get involved with Zero Percent, check out their website. Businesses, join in here.




video from https://www.facebook.com/Upworthy/videos/1530401040334082/, image https://app.zeropercent.us/

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Litterati: The Digital Landfill

We've all heard the catch phrase: "There's an app for that."

The same can be said for the world of windblown trash & litterbugs.

on Earth Day 2016, a new app was launched by social entrepreneur Jeff Kirschner called Litterati. Inspired by his daughter and an initial 2013 Instagram picture of trash, first a hashtag (#litterati) then a crowdsourced digital landfill was born.

Think of it as a pollution-free version of Pokemon-Go!

By having the iPhone app, people can submit data photographically to be collected in Litterati's database. Additionally, people can track their own personal impact and see both where (internationally) and what physical types of trash is abundantly out there. Or shall I say, "was" out there...because half of the beauty of the app is the inspiration to pick up the litter and make the world a better place.


I've always said that innovation was the key to our environmental success.  Here's yet another shining example of how that is true.


To learn more about Litterati and Jeff Kirschner's brainchild, watch the video here



Litterati app photo and screenshot from http://www.litterati.org/; digital landfill gallery from http://www.sagemagazine.org/litterati-a-21st-century-solution-to-litter/; video from https://www.facebook.com/thelitterati/posts/876452159130663

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Common Denominator: Disposable Plastic

As we're still getting used to writing "2017" on our checks and correspondences, we probably still have strong memories of our holiday & New Year's parties.  Good times, good times!

In thinking about that, think about how many of the following you also saw (or used) at these during holiday festivities, along with your good buddies, pals, and family members:
  • Plastic water bottles
  • Grocery store baggies
  • Plastic forks & spoons
  • Zipper food storage bags 
  • Shrink wrap or plastic wrap
  • Plastic or styrofoam plates
  • Take out containers
  • Plastic cups and straws
  • Chip or pretzel bags
And let's not even mention the packaging of food, toys, and probably half the gifts under your tree or beside your menorah.

The common denominator in the list above is plastic. Most of it, merely single-use waste and destined for (hopefully) a recycling center, though probably a landfill (if not "escaping" out in nature, much to the chagrin of the wildlife that "welcomes" it).

As I've stated before, environmentally, plastic is NOT fantastic!  This video details it...sometimes in ways that are far from pretty.


With the new year upon us, maybe it's time to take notice and really reflect upon what we are doing...and what we can do to help!


2017 glasses image from my house, plastic cutlary image from http://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/how-you-can-stop-single-use-plastic-waste/comment-page-4/, Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQTUWK7CM-Y

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Down With Denim? Up With Insulation!

In the spirit of giving, here's another way to "go green" this holiday season... in a way that's actually blue!

In these days after the holidays, I'm picturing a house--perhaps your house. Perhaps it has a bounty of gifts under the Christmas tree, around the Hanukkah menorah, or next to the Kwanzaa kinara. Or maybe, instead of a pleathora of presents, maybe your household just took advantage of some of the mega winter sales. No matter what your seasonal situation, there will come a time when you are rotating your closet, doing away with the old, and shuffling in the new.

Should that be your situation and you have some jeans to offload, don't just let them make it to the "circular file" which will ultimately become the landfill. Some people might want to take their old jeans to their local Good Will Store or Salvation Army to make a donation, but sometimes there's one too many holes in those jeans, and they really should never be worn again.

In that case, you get an opportunity to make a difference.

Blue Jeans Go Green is just the organization to help you do

that...and help you make UltraTouch Denim Insulation. Americans "throw out 25 billion pounds of textiles per year." To keep your denim from landing in the landfill and to learn more about the process, check out their website. It'll make you think twice before you decide to just throw away your old jeans.

To learn where to take your denim, or if you are interested in starting your own denim drive, click here.



Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_Frd0OFBfo; Image from http://heatherahudson.blogspot.com/2006/11/christmas-jeans.htmlhttp://www.thegreenproductscompany.com/thermal_products/ultra-touch-cotton-insulation.htm, and http://celebritiesdogood.com/2015/06/annasophia-robb-sheryl-crow-blue-jeans-go-green-new-orleans/