Are HOAs as Much the Villain as Fossil Fuels? | Climate

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 16, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

From climate action landscaping to white roofs and solar panels, Americans are heeding the warning of the IPCC Report released on August 9, 2021 and jumping into action. Code Red for Humanity. We only have until 2030 to dramatically slow our current global warming trajectory of 4.4ºC above pre-industrial levels, and get it down to 1.5ºC. 

System change is the way out of this nightmare. As we rush to apply the climate action tips we see on social media platforms and online webinars, we find themselves eventually getting all tangled up with our HOA. In fact, HOAs and its members have been battling over climate action in courts for years, with homeowners typically being on the losing side. That is, until recently. “The impacts of climate change have become clear to the person on the street,” explains Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, and Director, Earth System Science Center at Penn State, as well as one of the lead authors of the August 9, 2021 IPCC Report. HOAs now have their backs against the wall. They have to quickly decide between two options.

We only have until 2030 to cut carbon emissions by 50%. Half the battle is knowing what to do first. Reach out so we can help you figure out the best path forward.

(1) Give it up and let their members rush forward with:

  • solar panels
  • no mow permaculture lawns filled with biodiversity
  • pollinator gardens
  • composting 
  • white or light roofs
  • light colored driveways

(2) OR, continue with their hardline approach and decline most, if not all, requests to establish new breakthrough standards in order to create sustainable systems in the community.

Currently, the HOA system running through the bedrock of our local communities, has been exposed as one of the greatest barriers to keeping global warming below 1.5ºC, which is the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement. With Biden recently announcing that we only have 10 years to turn things around, HOAs are now the obstacle to immediate action and have to accept the reality that they have no choice but to change the bylaws.

“When our mind is clear…Joy follows.”

Heart of the matter. For more than 10,000 years, planet earth has fluctuated between +/- 1ºC. Under these stable conditions of reliable seasons and predictable weather patterns, humankind has prospered. Being at 1.2ºC, for the first time in the history of human civilization, we now find ourselves in uncharted territory. Predictions are difficult if not impossible. Weather patterns are very unreliable. We see how dangerous and deadly 1.2ºC is, and most humans instinctively know something has to give. The majority realize that the extreme weather events this past summer were absolutely dreadful and don’t want to find out how dangerous life above 1.2ºC might be. 

According to HOA-USA, there are more than 370,000 HOAs in the United States that represent over 40 million households. If our current trajectory is 4.4ºC, which is technically uninhabitable, and we only have ten years to cut carbon emissions by 50 percent, we must move quickly to uproot the existing systems that have landed humans on the endangered species list.

Existing HOA landscape and roof color policies have been a major contributor to climate change.

States have begun passing laws that prevent HOAs from restricting homeowners from acting on climate:

  • Virginia passed SB 504 Virginia Energy Plan in March 2020, limiting HOA restrictions on solar panels.
  • Maryland passed HB 322 The Low-Impact Landscaping Legislation in May 2021, allowing “bio-habitat gardens and other features designed to attract wildlife; pollinator gardens and other features designed to attract pollinator species.”
  • Minnesota appears to be one of the most advanced states in creating a path forward into the world of new sustainable systems with lower carbon emissions. Minnesota has established an impressive stepped ascension called the Minnesota GreenStep Cities and has a list of Model Ordinances for Sustainable Development that helps towns navigate the legal side of things. IE, Minneapolis: “…the right to install and maintain a managed natural landscape.”

These are just a few of the many examples that show the momentum of the climate action transformation and should provide homeowners with confidence that the law, and global community, are on their side. The strong, positive momentum empowers members in every HOA community to let their HOA know that the HOA is obligated to be resilient, adapt and change the rules, and policies that have helped cause global warming, and are thus now outdated. 

NEXT STEPS:

  • Review your HOA bylaws that pertain to landscape, solar panels, roof and driveway color.
  • Contact your HOA and explain your plans and ask for approval.
  • If they say “No,” then meet with your neighbors and start a petition in your community, aimed at getting 100 percent of the families to sign the petition.
  • Inform the public on social media about any challenges you might have with your HOA, (HOAs hate bad publicity).
  • Outline the details of any difficulties you might have with your HOA on Google reviews.

Sadly, we can’t rely on our politicians to uproot all the systems. With extreme polarization, getting legislation passed will likely take longer than 10 years. Thus, we the people have to uproot the system. Let’s begin with HOAs. 

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

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Composting | A Major Climate Solution

Washington (GGM) Analysis | July 20, 2021 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.

Perspective is everything. Composting can seem like a daunting task or a simple way to make our soil much more healthy. The benefits of composting for the climate and the environment may persuade you to get on board, to learn something new, and to contribute to a growing movement to give back.

What’s the heart of the matter? The wisdom of composting goes back to the days of Ancient Greece and Rome, and soil cultivation has been in practice ever since. The Founding Fathers realized the importance of renewing the soil of their farms and gardens. Washington, Jefferson, and Adams (among others) treasured the land for its abundance and permanence; fields were not something to be used and abandoned. Because tobacco had depleted the soil of many estates by the late 1700s, Washington began planting crops that could anchor the American agricultural economy. To replenish the soil for wheat fields and orchards, he experimented with manure, Potomac mud, and fish remains. In the end, Washington operated five farms in Virginia and was one of the most successful farmers of his time. 

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How does this impact you personally? Composting is a practical way to improve the health of the soil and reduce our carbon footprint. Over the centuries, the basic principles of composting have remained consistent and have yielded the same predictable outcomes for sustaining our planet. The knowledge and tools are at our fingertips. Using the wisdom garnered over the ages, we have the chance, without too much difficulty, to create a thriving environment and help planet Earth.

Composting:

  • adds microbes to dirt and soil, enabling it to store loads of carbon that thwarts climate change.
  • reduces methane-producing waste in landfills
  • creates vibrant soil that supports the ecosystem
  • retains water in the soil, reducing the need to irrigate
  • promotes disease-free plant growth
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What can you do about this? Whether you live in a noisy urban neighborhood or on a quiet rural road, composting is possible. To keep it simple, deliver your food scraps to your community compost collection site. (See the list of Virginia composting facilities at the end of this article.) Or, find a compost company that picks up your food scraps. Check to see how the company uses the compost, and find out if they return compost to you. Make your own compost by following simple daily guidelines. (Click here to see a short how-to video.) You can make a difference for your family, your community, and the planet. Remember the Founding Fathers: The success of the new nation hinged on its fruitful harvests. Did they ever imagine how critical their organic practices would be for the health of the planet?

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Next steps:

  • Begin saving food scraps in a compost bag in your refrigerator, a cool garage or in a clamped container.
  • Gather both green materials (fruits, vegetables, tea, egg shells, coffee grounds) and brown (newspapers, egg cartons, twigs, and dried grass). 
  • Avoid oils, dairy, meat, and bread.
  • Decide if you will create the compost yourself or donate your scraps to your community, or
  • Find the most eco-friendly company to pick up your scraps and use them to benefit soil health.

Virginia Composting Facilities by Area

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

References:

“Benefits of Compost.” U.S. Composting Council, http://www.compostingcouncil.org/. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

Simon, Julia. “How to Start Composting.” NPR, 2021, http://www.npr.org/2020/04/07/828918397/how-to-compost-at-home.


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Sustainability Hacks | Eggshells

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 4, 2021 by author and journalist Noreen Wise

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.

Buying an Eco Green Tee helps educate the public about what we must all do to lower global warming and restore our children’s future.

Many or our international allies are well on their way to fully transitioning to a sustainable national culture, with the vast majority of citizens already immersed in refuse-reuse-recycle, as well as weekly curbside compost pick-up, growing their own food, gifts wrapped in cloth and tied with a reusable ribbons, upcycled treasures, etc. I was wowed by the good fortune of spending nine months in Canada during the worst of covid, living this idyllic dream culture that some refer to as Utopia. This eco-friendly lifestyle is refreshingly invigorating. I was amazed at how happy Canadians are, much happier than most Americans. The positive, upbeat vibe seemed to be one of the many beneficial side effects of sustainability. The personal well-being impact became a powerful motivator for me to stay the course when I returned to Virginia.  

Get daily climate action tips by joining Act Now for the Earth Cafe and have fun learning the amazing & valuable tips that will help the earth recover from the staggering damage of climate change. Cafe communities are the new big thing. Sustainability is all about community. We’d greatly value you being part of our ecosystem by CLICKing here today and joining the conversation at  Earth Cafe!

Heart of the matter. The devil is in the details. Now that I’m back, with this whole new perspective, I was jazzed to discover a fabulous sustainability subculture in the United States, thriving in its simplicity and vitality. Many of these eco-innovators are eager to share tips they hope will inspire others  to commit to this climate necessity transformation. One particular woman is Rose Tenaglia Dunn, who lives on cape Cod. Rose is the host of the very popular Eaarth Feels podcast, which I highly recommend.

Rose provided tips for simple and easy ways to reuse the eggshells that are daily staples in most households. She’s been using eggshells regularly for eight years:

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  • Throw the eggshells into a jug and add water. Rose calls this “eggshell tea,” one of her dad’s gardening hacks. He would use the tea to water the house plants which Rose marveled were always “healthy and lush.” But, the tea is stinky, so you may want to store in the garage or outside.
  • Rinse the eggshells and store in a carton under the sink. Once the carton is full, transfer the eggshells to a bag and crush them until they’re “miniscule.” Rose uses a rolling pin. Feel free to be resourceful and use whatever you have at your disposal. Because eggshells are rich in calcium and protein, Rose uses the crushed shells as a toxin-free fertilizer and sprinkles them on the vegetables in her garden, particularly: tomatoes, spinach, eggplant, peppers, and Swiss chard.
  • Eggshells can be used as tiny seed pots, and Rose is currently experimenting with this. She just planted pepper and corn seeds in the eggshells and will transfer the little glob directly into the vegetable bed once the seeds have sprouted and grown (about 3 to 4 inches and have their second set of leaves). Rose explains that the eggshell will serve as the fertilizer.

See what I mean about ingenuity and resourcefulness? Tasking children to help think of clever, beneficial ways to use “stuff” that would otherwise become waste will help develop these often dormant life skills. 

Next steps:

  • Our food system is a great place to begin the deep dive into sustainability.
  • If you’re not already composting kitchen scraps, you may want to start here. It’s a wonderful launching point that will have immediate benefits.
  • Eliminate all products packaged in plastic, which are usually condiments like ketchup, and many bottled drinks, etc.
  • Replace the plastic personal care products (tooth brush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, switching to bamboo or bars).
  • Make sure you have non-plastic reusable water bottle and coffee mug for Starbucks visits.
  • And so many more ideas. The list is endless really.
  • #actnow
No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Becoming 100 percent sustainable is a long and winding road. It will take time. But starting the journey is very simple and quick. You can gain today by rinsing a carton as well as today’s  eggshells and placing them under your sink. Good luck and have fun with each new discovery.


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We’ve Had 51 Years of Earth Month, Yet Carbon Level Reached 420 PPM

Washington (GGM) Analysis | April 3, 2021 by author and 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. 

Earth Day began in 1970 when Nixon was President and our atmospheric carbon level was only 325.68 PPM. Imagine. It’s absolutely mind-bending that carbon levels could explode so significantly in 51 short years. Today the atmospheric carbon level is a staggering 420 PPM. An unfathomable number, especially when compared to the pre-Industrial Revolution carbon level of 280 which dates back to 1760. The accelerated pace of the rising carbon level is what has so many scientists concerned. One hundred and ninety years to climb approximately 46 points from 280 to 325.68. But only 51 years to skyrocket 94 points. If that’s not a huge wake-up call, then we have to get much more creative with public messaging so we can overcome the towering obstacle of willful ignorance.

The heart of the matter. The accelerated rise in atmospheric carbon levels cannot go unchecked. The impact of global warming on low lying areas acround the globe, that are now submerged, as well as agricultural regions that can no longer produce the necessary crop yields when plagued by the staggering heat and extended droughts, is life-disrupting. Migration to safe ground has already begun. We see this at our own southern border as families from Central America send their children to the United States border crossings in the hopes they will be allowed in and given hope for a brighter future.

Every single one of us has to do our individual part in reducing our carbon footprints so that we can get the atmospheric carbon level back down under 400 PPM — hopefully down to 375 — as quickly as we saw it rise. Blind indifference to the suffering we’re causing others is the reason why foreign countries have begun taking action against the US. 

There are two sides of the coin to lowering our carbon footprints. Cutting carbon emissions on one side (solar energy, EV cars, circular economy), and storing more carbon in our yards and our communities, by boosting soil health and restoring our habitat, on the other.

What’s the solution? Healthy soil is Gallant Gold Media’s primary focus during Earth Month. Soil health will enable soil to be a massive carbon reservoir that can eliminate a significant amount of atmospheric carbon. But this level of carbon storage is only achievable if we each do our little bit.

Healthy soil is filled with life, with microbes, and is easy to spot due to its very dark, rich chocolate brown color. The healthier the soil, the more carbon it can store. Healthy soil has a high-water infiltration rate, and thus holds more water for a longer period of time, which is a great benefit during the long, hot, dry warm weather months. Healthy soil also maintains a cooler temperature which is equally as beneficial during our long, hot dry spells. Our food supply is threatened unless we can offset the negative impact of heat on our crops.

Compost and red wiggler composting worms are both vital in maintaining healthy soil in our communities. All homeowners and land owners should take advantage of these vital tools to improve the soil on our properties.

Next Steps during Earth Month:

  • Home composting is an absolute MUST. Your neighbors are composting, are you? Compost added to the soil in our yards and communities quickly boosts soil health.
  • Red wiggler worms are soil engineers. Their castings enrich soil health very efficiently, boosting soil microbes at a rapid pace, resulting in a positive impact above and below the surface. The can be easily purchased and sent to you at home. Red wigglers make awesome pets.
  • Keep the soil covered to lock in the moisture and carbon. If possible, plant a mix of diverse cover crops for the yard.
  • Never plow/till your yard. All the stored carbon will be released.
  • Plant diversity is critical. Not only does it contribute to soil health, but it blocks pests, which dramatically reduces the need for pesticides. (Pesticides kill microbes and diminishes soil health.)

Good luck. Have fun. And be sure to check back for more carbon sequestration tips.

Home composting boosts soil health, saves our food supply, our planet, and millions of lives. We all have to get on board! 

© Copyright 2018 – 2021. ALL Rights Reserved.

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Winter Activities for Kids | Climate Change

Washington (GGM) Analysis | January 31, 2021 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.

It’s cold out there! You might be wondering about how to keep the kids busy, active, and productive. While remaining tucked away in the warm, cozy house, you can occupy them as they get ready to be Climate Superheroes! The hope of spring can inspire everyone to dig in and prepare for the near future, a future made better because you are helping fight climate change.

What’s the heart of the matter?

Climate change demands our attention now, and the new administration is on board. Discussing his executive actions on climate change, President Biden confirmed his commitment. “It’s about coming to the moment to deal with this maximum threat that is now facing us, climate change, with a greater sense of urgency.” Every person is needed in the fight, adults as well as children. Utilizing fun, creative activities, we can guide the younger generation to a great appreciation of trees, plants, and soil. 

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How does this impact you personally?

Engaging children in climate activities early on will help them internalize the message that they can make a difference in the world. Composting is one activity that allows children to get their hands dirty, literally. From placing food scraps in a jar to turning over compost in a barrel, each step draws youngsters into the process. If you are short on outdoor space, consider gathering food scraps for the community. Your town may have a drop off spot nearby. Composting is more than just a way to keep the kids busy during frosty winter days; it also educates them about the importance of cultivating soil so that it can store more carbon.

Some quick facts:

  • Adding compost to the lifeless dirt transforms it into microbe-filled soil, which stores a giant amount of carbon.
  • Not only does compost increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil, it boosts the nourishment of plants that feed off the soil, enabling the plants to store that much more carbon.
  • Now more than ever, the soil needs more microbes, especially if the US is to be the climate role model for the world, as Mr. Biden hopes. 
  • One of the main goals of the Paris Climate Agreement is soil health. Increasing carbon storage in the soil is the way to achieve this. As countries around the world strive to reach the target carbon neutrality goals set forth in the agreement, composting becomes even more important. The only way to hit our targets is if every household composts.
  • Remember: compost nourishes plants and prevents pests.
  • Compost can be donated to your community for fertilizing common areas.

What can you do about this? 

Start by talking about composting as you make a salad or chop vegetables for soup. Specific elements of compost are right at hand! Reading age-appropriate books about the life of plants, from seed to fruit, will grab the attention of some children. Helpful videos are also available, if your children aren’t maxed-out on screen time. 

Hands-on activities make time fly. Building a climate change project using long-forgotten resources in the attic or garage can lead to a meaningful learning experience for your child. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Primary age children could write and illustrate a book explaining composting. (Your compost jar provides a helpful visual aid.) 
  • Challenge your eight to twelve-year olds to create a game board about composting and its benefits for the climate. Game pieces can be made of card-board or even repurposed barrettes, action-figures, thimbles and who knows what? 
  • Young writers can compose a poem or song about composting. 
  • Budding scientists can keep a record of what goes into the compost bin, carefully observing the color, texture, and smell over time. 
  • Young teens might make a documentary explaining the importance of composting in the fight against climate change. 

These types of projects challenge young people to use 21st Century skills of critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration and they might have fun along the way!

What climate change project are you involved with? We hope you’ll be part of ours! We’re growing a forest in North Dakota. CLICK to find out the awesome details.

Next steps

  • Start gathering your veggie, fruit and other food waste for composting
  • Investigate compost collection methods in your area
  • Find high-interest resources to engage your child (See below)
  • Plan an activity your child will find fun and engaging

Resources

Climate Change for Kids website:

Start Learning

NASA website for kids:

The Greenhouse Effect: Keeping the Balance

VideoWhy all life depends on plants (3:06):

https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/videos/spectacular-science/#/1019900995730

Video about composting for young children (5:00):

Composting for Kids With Peppa Pig

SciShow Kids video for kids 8+ (5:00)

Make the Most of Compost!


© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.

Compost Boosts Carbon Sink | Climate Action

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.

Peat is a compost. It looks very much like soil, but is simply partially decaded vegetation rich in nutrients. These nutrients are what enable the increased absorption of carbon. Peatlands are only 3% of our global lands, yet they store approximately “30% of the earths soil organic carbon.” In light of our extreme #ClimateCrisis, peat should never be removed from its environment to be sold to consumers for profit.

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The ever increasing carbon levels as the global population continues to grow, demands that we each do our own part in every way possible to curb carbon, especially in light of the fact of how simple and easy this actually is.

As we hurry to build infrastructure to support solar energy and EV autos, it makes sense to simultaneously rush to improve our natural carbon storing assets, which will further the lowering of CO2 in our atmosphere.

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Creating compost bins wherever possible can provide the much needed extra compost for forests, home gardens, public gardens and parks. It was exciting to see a “Compost” bin at the restaurant where I ate today. It was lined up with the other options at the recycling and garbage hub. I always feel so hopeful when a business “gets it” and does it’s little part. The care and maintenance of a compost bin in a restaurant is minor, but the benefit to society is huge. It pretty much follows the same ratio mentioned at the top of the page: 3% / 30% .

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We can do this!


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Let’s Rush to Win One Eco Battle | Commit To Zero Waste 2021

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.

Let’s nail the waste scene as soon as possible. It’s not complicated. It just takes focus.

I look forward to 2021 super jazzed to be living a circular economy life. I took the leap year ago, and was pumped to have it nearly perfected by December 2019, which is when I successfully managed a zero waste month. I felt like I’d won an olympic gold medal, not to mention the excitement of having extra money in my pocket the way Wall Street geniuses always do.

Waste is something we can all manage on our own without being forced by laws. We just wake up one morning (this morning hopefully) and say, “I’m in!” And voila, we’re three quarters of the way there.

A zero waste life is about setting up a defined circular economy zone in our households where we can easily breakdown everything we consume so that it can quickly be turned around for multiple uses. The goal is:

  • Refuse
  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle & Upcycle

Refuse is a big deal. We have the power to motivate businesses to do the right thing very effectively by refusing to buy certain products that create waste. For example, back at the beginning of October 2019, I made the decision to never buy ketchup packaged in plastic again. This was very difficult, because Heinz has cornered the market and there were no glass alternatives. I called Heinz, but Heinz refuses to sell ketchup packaged in glass in the US the way they used to. So I made the bold decision to switch to BBQ sauce, 85 percent of which is packaged in glass.

HillReport2-6-2020

•A month later, Red Duck created a brand new product, ketchup in glass. It’s delicious, so much healthier. And it’s organic too. Thank you, Red Duck! A responsive American corporation meeting consumer demand.

•Additionally, I now use the recyclable paper towels made from bamboo that can be washed a hundred times. They dry on the counter so quickly. This has dramatically reduced our household waste.

•In 2020, wonderful new eco-products have been rolled out, shunning the standard plastic packaging and using paper instead: toothpaste tablets, laundry detergent sheets, shampoo and conditioner bars, and more.

•I recently purchased my first vegan leather tote bag, handmade from cork in Portugal. Vegan leather is a massive new industry. No more animal cruelty.

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We must all transition to these new basics. We hold all the power in this climate crisis. By wielding our money in the right direction, we can preserve our children’s future.

Composting kitchen scraps is a very big deal. Our oceans are stuffed with carbon and can’t handle one more ounce. We lost billions of trees in 2020 as a result of the infernos out West. We suddenly find ourselves at a staggering loss in the ability to sequester the carbon we emit in the US. Soil holds 70 percent of the carbon stored in forests. We must rush to plant tons of green —trees, shrubs, ground cover, flowers — as well as fill the soil with compost from home kitchen scraps in the hopes that we can move the needle at twice the speed we’d otherwise be able to do. This is life or death. It’s an imperative.

US household kitchens should have multiple bins just like in Canada and the EU:

  • Composting for food scraps, coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Paper recycling
  • Plastic recycling
  • Glass recycling or reuse for storage containers, drinking glasses, vases, etc
  • Aluminum recycling

Once this is all set up, you’ll soon find that you have no garbage. It’s startling. A year ago, on New Years Eve 2019, I lifted the lid and my garbage bin was completely empty.

We’ve got this. Let’s rush!~

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Move Over Pumpkin Spice Lattes— Fall is Time to Change Up Your Family Garden

Washington (GGM) Analysis | September 8, 2020 by Sarah J. Kings

Creating a garden together helps families form long-lasting memories and allows each family member to explore the beautiful and bountiful side of Mother Nature. According to Reuters News, home gardening, seed sales, and community gardening have become very popular during the last few months. In an interview with Market Watch, Linda Look, owner of an Arkansas-based seed store, The Seed Guy, said that sales and demand were unprecedented this spring. “This year has been unique because of COVID-19,” she said.

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Instagram- @itsthymetogarden 

Those of you who have started gardening and composting with your kids this spring and summer might be wondering how to continue these comforting and joyful family moments in the fall season. Don’t fear, September and October aren’t just for Pumpkin Spice Lattes. In fact, there are plenty of delicious foods that thrive as the temperature drops, and experts say that fall is the perfect time to start composting!

Top 5 Foods to Plant This September

  • Spinach 
  • Radishes
  • Carrots 
  • Kale
  • Snow Peas

Swapping out your cucumbers and tomatoes with these veggies and leafy greens will help you keep up the conservation conversation all through the fall season!

5 Steps to Make The Best Fall Compost Pile Ever

  • Collect your fall leaves
  • Collect the extras from your summer garden
  • Layer them with drying flowers, old tomato plants, & grass clippings
  • Reserve extra leaves in a separate pile & as a “brown layer” in between compostable kitchen food
  • Keep a tarp ready to protect your pile from getting soggy as the rain comes in 
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So as September rolls into October and you sip your beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte, don’t let the golden and orange leaves fool you. You don’t have to say goodbye to your family garden. Switch up your produce, and teach your kids how to make the perfect fall compost pile. You will make wonderful memories, and your kids- and Mother Nature- will thank you!

Come back every Tuesday for more Eco-Friendly Parenting tips!

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Climate Change & Education | US Botanic Garden in DC

Washington (GGM) Analysis
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

With Italy’s official announcement at the beginning of the new year, that all schools will now teach sustainability & climate change, many American educators are looking for ways to incorporate climate change lesson plans into their curriculum.

This is a big deal. Education will curb the fears that many young students harbor when they hear repeated warnings about the future. News flashes on phones about apocalyptic wildfires that killed a billion animals, and destroyed thousands of homes, is massively anxiety provoking. Lack of information fuels their concern, and action oriented facts curb it.

With this in mind, it was very exciting to see the impactful event at the US Botanic Garden on Capitol Hill Thursday evening January 30, 2020 for teachers in the Washington DC and outlying suburbs. Interactive tables, featuring climate change lesson plans, were spread throughout the breathtaking flora. Sustainability, the environment and nature were also included. Very inspiring. Nature itself is therapeutic. Studying nature along with climate action will improve the mental health of our youth as we rush to adapt to the crushing reality of the climate crisis.

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Modeling the importance of composting was powerful, especially on Capitol Hill where Mitch McConnell is blocking compositing in the dining halls in the Senate and House office buildings.

The following are several of the innovative lesson plans featured at the event:

  • Renewables and Nonrenewables, Oh My!
  • Waste Less, Recycle More
  • Greenhouse Manual by the US Botanic Garden: “exploring ways to incorporate a greenhouse as a hands-on learning environment for students of all ages.”
  • School Tree Planting Program
  • Native Knowledge, Teaching America’s Whole Story – created by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian
  • Living Earth Teach-In: Sustaining our Future through Indigenous Knowledge
  • Air Quality Action Guide
  • What You Should Know About Ground Level Ozone and Particle Pollution
  • An Educators Guide to the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE)
  • Oh, and creating seed pizzas that will make spring planting so much easier (this was amazing)

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Let’s Commit to Zero Waste in 2020 | It’s Very Simple

Washington (GGM) Analysis
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

Let’s nail the waste scene as soon as possible. It’s not complicated. It just takes focus.

I began 2020 super jazzed to be living a circular economy life. I jumped in running the last three months of 2019, and was pumped to have it nearly perfected by December, which is when I successfully managed a zero waste month. I felt like I’d won an olympic gold medal, not to mention the excitement of having extra money in my pocket the way Wall Street geniuses always do.

Waste is something we can all manage on our own without being forced by laws. We just wake up one morning (tomorrow morning hopefully) and say, “I’m in!” And voila, we’re three quarters of the way there.

A zero waste life is about setting up a defined circular economy zone in our households where we can easily breakdown everything we consume so that it can quickly be turned around for multiple uses. The goal is:

  • Refuse
  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle & Upcycle

Refuse is a big deal. We have the power to motivate businesses to do the right thing very effectively by refusing to buy certain products that create waste. For example, back at the beginning of October 2019, I made the decision to never buy ketchup packaged in plastic again. This was very difficult, because Heinz has cornered the market and there were no glass alternatives. I called Heinz, but Heinz refuses to sell ketchup packaged in glass the way they used to. So I made the bold decision to switch to BBQ sauce which is 85% packaged in glass.

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A month later, Red Duck created a brand new product, ketchup in glass. It’s delicious, so much healthier. And it’s organic too. Thank you, Red Duck! A responsive American corporation meeting consumer demand.

Additionally, I now use the recyclable paper towels made from bamboo that can be washed a hundred times. They dry on the counter so quickly. This has dramatically reduced our household waste.

Household kitchens should have multiple bins:

  • Composting for food scraps, coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Paper recycling
  • Plastic recycling
  • Glass recycling or reuse for storage containers, drinking glasses, vases, etc
  • Aluminum recycling

Once this is all set up, you’ll soon find that you have no garbage. It’s startling. On New Years Eve 2019, I lifted the lid and my garbage bin was completely empty.~

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