A gathering of ideas from folks in different Facebook groups, and what I am tackling.
First off, this is my second year throwing myself into climate activism – yes, it all started due to the 2016 election from climate change hell. I realized I couldn’t wait for or prod politicians to take action, as this year’s set in the U.S. is not listening. So I made a good list of 21 different 2017 New Year Climate Resolutions that were mostly actionable, and I finished 14 of them. I did insulate my attic hatch (actually on December 31st). I did divest my mortgage from a bank funding pipelines and found one that didn’t. I did give LED bulbs as gifts. However, writing all Congressman was too large a number and scared me off, but that one and the others I didn’t finish I will carry over to 2018.
I will also continue many of the resolutions I made for 2017, but now not as resolutions, as they have become a part of my normal behavior. For instance, I’ve decided that I love train rides (Training Our-selves). Once you start taking them, you realize how LOUD and UNCOMFORTABLE planes are. Trains rock you gently, you see countryside and people’s backyards (quite fascinating), you can walk around, and you generate almost no CO2.
So what’s next? Well, I asked a number of folks for ideas for 2018 Resolutions. Thank you to the commenters from 4 different FB groups: our own Climate Steps; the March for Science; Climate Change: Science, Mitigation, and Adaption; and Climate Change: It’s Personal. I have listed all suggestions here in addition to my own, including those I will not tackle this year or that I have already done. Since most of the suggesters are from closed groups, I typically list only their first name.
Then I put in blue how I will tackle the ones I plan on taking on as my 2018 resolutions. The key is making them feasible, so that they are actionable and measurable, and could easily become “normal” to me.
My priorities, though, are those Climate Resolutions that help spread the word. It’s not just turn down the thermostat: 60%+ of my climate actions should be visible to others, change industry, discussed among my friends and I, and even with strangers on a train.
I would love to also hear what are your Climate Resolutions in the comment section, especially if you decide to take on any of these! I suggest choosing at least one from each category: 1) Changing Industry; 2) Out and About; 3) Activate; and 4) Personal Behavior. If you have a new idea, please comment here or in the FB group, so others’ can plan their resolutions.
First up: Changing Industry
I am including in this category more of the “big ticket” items that will make a financial impact on at least a small business. Otherwise, I put a change in buying products under Personal Behavior.
- Get solar panels. I will either lease out my roof for or buy solar panels. Carol is also planning on doing this in 2018. Pam also supports as one of the most impactful items. Mylana replaced her water heater with a solar one, which is also a good option.
- Green invest. I will 1) write the damn blog about investing that I promised before, and 2) invest in a multi-environmental-prong company. But here’s a potentially interesting article to help in the meantime.
- Support wind power. I will buy my Dad a mini-turbine for his barn way out in the middle of the field. Right now he uses a diesel generator for lights. (This is leftover from last year, but we just talked about it three days ago – and I’ve got the specs now.)
- Green renovate. In renovating my kitchen, I will aim for 90% green. Most of my cabinets will be salvaged, but for anything new I have to buy, it will be sustainable (FSC wood), reclaimed, and./or energy star/efficient. Thus taking away work from the plastic industry (ewww, vinyl) and giving it to the good guys. (Getting there – just bought both a Subzero refrigerator and solid-wood kitchen cabinets at a salvage yard!)
- Many in the blog stated “Fight the dirtiest industries, break their power.” (Henry, Connie, Jason).
- One suggestion from the FB groups was to create a list of the dirtiest industries so that people can boycott them (via Catherine and Connie). There is an article from 2008 of the 5 dirtiest industries, but I haven’t found a later version. But I did find a list on Ethical Consumer that lists progressive boycotts, and why, for different corporations. http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/boycotts/boycottslist.aspx.
- Laura has already switched her Excel energy bill to Arcadia Power, a renewable energy company; I did a similar thing 6 years ago. It is a quick, powerful change to make, and I only pay $10 more a month for 100% “wind” power.
- Laura and I also both moved our retirement options in our 401Ks to social, more sustainable indexes. (We don’t know each other, btw.) During the recession, my TIAA Social Choice held steady, when others lost money. Last year I moved 95% of my investments to TIAA Social Choice (which is diversified.)
Next: Out and About
Where I can help folks, work with folks, or otherwise help make people aware of some climate steps.
- Volunteer. I will volunteer on climate change action/environmental action at least four times, plus I owe another three times from last year!
- Help those who perhaps can’t afford to fight climate change. Secretly give at least five LED light bulbs to elderly neighbors.
- Travel. Try to replace a trip with a teleconference or train. (Via David. See article. I also did this last year, but now am going to double it. ) Reduce transatlantic flights especially (Adam; Jahnava). Christopher’s resolution is to travel 10% less. (One trip turned to a train trip; one more to go.)
- This is more related to plastic pollution (but again plastic is energy consuming). Go completely straw free – 99% of the time. (Recommended by Portia and Kelly). Will do. Thanks to Portia in our Climate Steps FB group, I did a straw-free challenge for a month. It was fun, but hard. Just me going straw-free is not going to make a huge difference to the straw industry, but buying bamboo straws will help those smaller businesses. But using bamboo straws in public will make an impression on others.
- There are also bendable paper straws (Erin), and metal straws (Kelly)
- And now there is the edible Lolistraw! (https://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/lolistraw-you-can-have-your-straw-and-eat-it-too.html) – thanks Carrie!
- On a related note, Kelly recommended carrying a “go kit” when eating out, “with bamboo silverware and metal straws and a collapsible silicone dish for leftovers” (or Preserve dishes, via Katie). I will start with the straw. (This is turning out harder than I thought! I only remember once the glass is brought to me – usually with a straw already in it. Must….try….harder…)
- A 2017 resolution of mine was to bike to work 2-3 times a week; I didn’t make it because I was traveling so much for work, so will try again this year, for work and for errands. Bike shares in DC have dramatically increased, and some come with great baskets. I am mentioning it here as several other people also suggested it. Related:
- “Ditch your car” is a proposed New Year’s resolution (Heidi) – and I am seriously considering it, even if it is a Prius. I hardly drive it.
- Lorri recommends as a resolution have a “no-driving” day a week.
- Last year, Mandy switched to an electric car.
- Good resolution: Drive a car that gets 30+ mpg (Christopher)
- “If you can afford a new pickup truck (Americans will buy 8 million trucks costing $30-35k) consider buying a less expensive car and invest the difference in solar panels. 30-40 years that investment will still be generating carbon free electricity.” (Christopher)
- Take public transportation or walking for the rest. (Ulrike). I already do this – and enjoy it.
- A good resolution is what I like to call ‘fly the laundry flag,’ and was also suggested by Anna, Katie, and Christina. I’ve been hanging laundry for 10 years, and it not only cuts down on electricity (or gas in my case), but if you are in a city like I am, it makes a visual impact. It could inspire others. I find it very zen. Fyi, a hint was to use the hole in the patio table for umbrella clothes lines support poles; they fit perfectly (Katie).
7. Via Green Neighbors DC,show off environmental solutions for climate change at three farmer’s markets/neighborhood celebrations.
Being an activist, where one makes an effort to alert others to issues and create institutional or social change (REF), can be harder than one thinks, especially when it is cold outside! So I’ll start first with the online stuff:
- Spread the word online. I resolve to:
- triple the size of the FB group (with the help of others hopefully – need to hit 1500.)
- write monthly articles on the blog
- create at least 10 resource pages on the blog for subjects like travel steps
- have at least 2 guest bloggers
- start tweeting for @ClimateStepsUS. (slowly but surely I’ve started!)
- help Green Neighbor’s DC build up their website to 100+ likes by putting on resources, regular postings, and handy hints. Fyi, Catherine suggested “Publish a community guide with all of your ideas so your whole town can participate.” Green Neighbors DC could fill this niche for our community.
- Contact politicians (…shudder…)
- Write letters to Congressmen. I didn’t get this done last year. This year I will start by writing the 5 worst Congressmen – in a reasonable tone that will win them over to helping save the planet.
- Get over my hesitancy of calling Congressmen. Make at least 5 phone calls.
- *Work with your local legislature to actually get things done. As Pam says, “pressure the local legislature to implement clean energy options in your area and buy power from there. Support and push for (clean) public transportation and biking/pedestrian infrastructure in your area.” “Try to get your local jurisdiction to set high [efficiency] standards for homes and businesses, including rental properties.” Through my Green Neighbors DC group, I plan to write a letter/attend a hearing in support of at least one thing to make DC more carbon neutral.
- Write letters to Congressmen. I didn’t get this done last year. This year I will start by writing the 5 worst Congressmen – in a reasonable tone that will win them over to helping save the planet.
- Vote (Bob and Kimberly), which seems a given. And yet 1/3 of folks didn’t November 2016. If you didn’t, please make this your top resolution for 2018, voting for whoever is most likely to save this planet – because there are no jobs on a dead planet.
- Comment on government regulations: if you can show personal harm, this provides support for class action (or other) lawsuits in the future.
- Provide comments on at least 3 federal government regulations.
- Recruit at least 1 other person to comment on each of those 3 government regulations.
- Support activists through events (David) – I intend to go to at least two events (especially as I missed a march last year in my list of resolutions.) One of the first ones will be to support the Green Neighbors DC at the Polar Bear Plunge, January 27th. (No way am I getting in the water myself, but I’ll be there to root for them.) (Aie – failed at that one, as a conflict came up – so need to make up for this!)
- Write my alma mater and ask them to divest from fossil fuels (via David). Last year, I divested my mortgage from a fossil-fuel-supporting bank. Compared to doing that, writing this letter is going to be easy.
- Create local action. Christina and Catherine separately suggested the idea of start a “buy nothing” group to rehome items, which reduces waste. I think I’ll do that in 2019. (Turns out there already was one in my neighborhood – thanks Susan! I’ve joined.)
- Donate to nonprofits, especially those that support women’s education (Planned Parenthood – Bruce; and Dining for Women – Pam)
These won’t change the industry or government much, but will start one on larger paths, and many will reduce carbon emissions. Combine with at least one resolution from the other categories. Then share with friends any personal changes you resolve to do to create a larger impact. Help make it go viral. (For instance, #1 makes a significant impact in your carbon footprint, but it’d make more if you cook vegetarian for others/throw potlucks.)
- Watching what you eat, especially, makes a huge climate change impact. http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7541
- Eat fish/chicken, instead of beef, or go vegetarian (Andy, Andie, Morgan, Candace, Sharon, Mylana, Christopher, Mike). Already vegetarian, so now my next step is to….
- Go vegan (Andrea and others). I can’t handle vegan fully yet, but I will start by going vegan 1-2 days per week. Check out the difference it can make https://phys.org/newman/gfx/news/2012/carbonfootpr.jpg.
- Be careful to eat more sustainable seafood. http://www.seafoodwatch.org/ (Veronica.)
- Throw a potluck dinner. I did this to celebrate 20 years of being vegetarian (I’m now at 25), and people were amazed at how much wonderful food there was. Maybe I’ll convince my vegan friend Max to throw a joint potluck. (I’ve convinced him! Now to throw it this spring.)
- Go zero food waste (Lauren). Again, I am going to start with what’s feasible for my situation, so I will try one week per month as well. https://zerowastechef.com/.
- Under this falls composting (via Morgan), which I do.
- Buy bulk, minimize plastic and other packaging, and thus minimize shipping weight.
- To make this a “S.M.A.R.T.” decision, one week every month during May – November (the dates of our local farmer’s market), I will go completely plastic-, carton-free. Whoa. That means no milk, no OJ – except homemade.
- I will not leave my reusable produce bags in the car! (This is besides the big cloth/recycled plastic grocery-packing bags.) (Andie, Veronica, and April also suggested)
- Buy it dry! (via Lisa.) Use dried beans over canned (if you have an electric pressure cooker, otherwise no difference), powder cleaners over liquid. Ulrike adds – buy dry soap, not liquid. Shipping costs and shelf space are minimized. I resolve to buy condensed products when possible, especially cleaning products, to only buy local lettuce or grow it my own (because lettuce is mostly water), and to never buy a single-use water container again unless I am danger of fainting from heat stroke! I have my portable water containers now – now I just need to use them regularly.
- Cook and freeze your own meals, instead of buying lunch (Veronica and Ulrike). This I NEED to do – I am notorious for going to food trucks right by the office, trucks that idle away, spewing fumes for hours. I will bring my own lunch 2-3 times a week.
- R.E. notes cut/eliminate styrofoam. Completely agree. Fyi – live mealworms digest/break down styrofoam to natural, environmentally friendly compounds. Just keep a compost bin of them and red wrigglers, and mix food scraps with the styrofoam.
- Buy milk in glass (Terry, Pam, Laura); make your own yogurt (Laura, Terry, Katie.) I won’t make this a resolution this year, as trying to go vegan.
- Reuse, then recycle packaging material (Heidi). Reuse the wax bags in cereal boxes, etc… Very useful for holding sharp-edged trash (me) and for keeping cheese longer (Kimberly.)
- Buy/use earth-friendly products. There are, of course climate benefits as well as fighting pollution – and just think how much energy is expended cleaning up the current 1322 Superfund sites in the US (Wikipedia))
- Buy from thrift stores, yard sales, and estate sales (Heidi). Me – always.
- Buy bamboo toothbrushes (Linda); chopsticks (Veronica)
- “Non-chemical cleaning options (vinegar and water, lemon juice) to clean counters and floors,” says Carol. I already do, but it’s a great suggestion; others agree (Kimberly and Katie.) Carol also suggested Dr. Bronner’s soap.
Buy bamboo toilet paper (Eileen, Kelly). Lauren’s is shooting for zero paper towel use, and Carol suggests going Swiffer- and other disposables-free. Andie and Carol say just use cloth towels. (As I have a cat who is sometimes sick, I don’t think I’m ready to tackle zero paper towel use, but will reduce.)
Don’t buy single-use anything. For example, use reusable female “products” (Katie, Beth, Jesy); pens (buy fountain pens with reusable ink – Heidi); cups and forks (Ulrike); hankies (Katie); cloth diapers (Katie). Don’t use squeezee baby food/drinks (make your own and put in resealable silicone pouches (Katie, Laura). I plan on writing at least one company (okay, Clorox) about their promotion of single-use toilet sponges. I mean, really?! (Done.)
- And “don’t buy plastic.” I assume by that that Jamie and Catherine meant don’t buy a product that’s plastic, because of course, we also have to deal with plastic packaging for most things at the moment (but see above). Examples:
- Buy less polyester: “The synthetic fibers shed off during wash cycles and pollute our environment.” (Jess). Buy natural fabrics (Ulrike). I agree and resolve.
- Don’t buy stuff with microbeads (Katie). I don’t run into these much now.
- Buy biodegradable bags for your trash, for the dog, for everything (via Tracy.)
- As a start, I vow to not buy plastic products except for health situations for at least six of the 12 months.
- Keep up with what can be recycled in your local community (Kimberly and Katie)
To sum up: Reduce, reuse/renew, recycle/compost (Kimberly)
- Support fresh, local, organic.
- I already buy the majority of my groceries that way, but I will give up something I have eaten since I was a little girl. I hereby give up Honey Nut Cheerios. (weeping emoji).
- Spend at least one full day doing something (aie, ill-defined, meaning less actionable) to support my Mom with her organic veggies/herbs or help her with running/marketing the Farmer’s Market in Henderson, E. Texas.
- Picture of the Farmer’s market once I find it.
- Plant your own vegetable garden (via Katie). I do most years – and am taking up more and more lawn each time. I even planted a pear tree and a plum tree last year!
- Plant native plants. (Veronica). And from me: please only plant annuals (native) from seed. Pansies! How much money and chemicals must go into short-lived pansies?! This is an easy resolution – I swear to never buy pansies.
- Choose non-toxic garden supplies: “Use vinegar and a drop of dish soap to kill weeds in an eco-friendly way.” (Veronica)
- Kimberly Davis wins the best quote of the day. “Boiling 75/25 water/white vinegar is great on taproot and tuber-rooted weeds like nutsedge. (It helps if you scream, “Die! Die!” as you pour it on it.) I keep a separate tea kettle just for this purpose, so the vinegar doesn’t taint my tea.”
- Conserve electricity, [Added note 1/2/2018: critical if your electricity is based on combustion from coal, gas, waste products, but also most electrical products generate heat directly]:
- “Be aware of vampire power and what can be unplugged for long stretches of time.” (Katie)
- Turn down the thermostat, close the blinds at night in winter, during the day in summer, weatherize. (Pam)
- Don’t use AC! (via Pam, although she used all caps. Also Ulrike.) Myself, I see AC as a triple climate threat. It uses coolants, which cause climate change. It uses electricity (generally from coal) to cool the air. And in the process of cooling the air, the motor outside of the house produces heat. I already don’t turn on the AC until it hits 88 usually, this year I will not turn it on until it hits 90, if at all. There are ways to avoid AC use: https://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/10-overlooked-low-tech-ways-of-keeping-your-home-cool.html.
- Check kits out of the library (Denver, CO, and Arlington, VA, libraries have them; others must) to test which appliances use the most electricity (Laura.) I’ve done this, and will do again after I renovate my kitchen, so 2019 or so.
- Conserve water (we’ll need it to survive climate change.)
- Shower less, and especially wash hair less – it’s healthier (Katie, Sharon, me).
- Get a rain barrel (Katie). I did 6 years ago, but might get one for the front yard.
- Get trained
- Sign up (and attend of course) for training in climate communication, climate leadership, lobbying, or other. I will sign up for at least 8 hours of classes.
- Read Project Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken. (Has 100 concrete climate actions, ranked). Amelia also recommended. I will talk about at least 10 items from this book in the Facebook group or blog.
Whew, it seems like a long list: 39 that I actually resolve to do. Okay, it is a long list. But really, reading it – they are all quite different, and I think I’ve chosen a feasible number that are easily actionable in their own ways. I just can’t postpone most til the last month!
In sum, at all opportunities, I will take business away from fossil fuel folks, polluters, etc., and put my money towards green. I, as a citizen of the planet, hereby resolve to help save the world!
I hope you can each take on a New Year’s Climate Resolution or two for 2018 – and will share. Sharing the news is the key for climate action to go viral even within everyday life. Good luck to us all in 2018 in fighting the good fight.
- Consuming less: (via David) https://myriapode.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/home-revolution/
- Travel: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2017/11/02/plane-pollution/
- Vegetarian and other food handy hints.
- https://cleanfooddirtygirl.com; (Thanks Vee)
- http://www.foodmatters.com/ (Vee again)
- https://ir.uiowa.edu/poroi/vol11/iss1/4/ (haven’t read yet, but “an analysis of vegetarian rhetoric.”)