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Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Good start. But we need a few more letters.

On the front end, I propose, let’s add an R for “Refuse.”

The world’s climate change challenges aren’t going to be solved by doing better while we still take and make too much. Speaking as a First World citizen, at the heart of it, we have to use less. Of everything.

With that out of the way, let’s look at the back end. After the R for Recycle, let’s make room for Rot.

As in, whatever you can’t recycle, please send to compost. (Feel free to quibble to be had that composting is already rolled in to Recycling, but I feel it bears special attention.)

Which brings us to the most important R of all: Restore.

There’s a compelling case to made going past doing less harm, or slowing the rate of harm, or ceasing the harmful activities entirely.

If the next generation is going to have a world that they can thrive in, or any world at all the ways things are going, we have some cleaning up to do.

The next active step is to heal, to fix, and Restore our natural world, ecosystems and communities to sustainable, balanced health.

I’m starting to see examples of  this in the business world with Sustainability commitments that explicitly address Restoration.

As an example, IKEA just issued new 2020 Sustainability targets to increase the availability of clean water where it operates.

Via edie.net:

IKEA to become ‘water positive’ by 2020
IKEA Group has revealed its new sustainability strategy which includes measures to balance its water footprint and contribute to the increased availability of clean water in the communities where it operates.

A Restore mindset is about leaving the world a better place, which is exactly how American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson defined success:

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot, Restore.

I’ll be on the lookout for more Restore examples like this one from IKEA.

Sustainability is SOP.

At least in NYC.

The City’s government just appointed a new Sustainability Chief to oversee its ambitious plaNYC 2030 environmental agenda.

Via NYTimes.com:

A New Sustainability Chief for New York

In a few weeks Sergej Mahnovski, the current director of energy policy for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, will take over the sustainability office, which puts changes into effect related to the mayor’s PlaNYC environmental agenda.

This plan goes well beyond nice green spaces. The plaNYC agenda looks to fundamentally recreate how the city operates and meet the challenges of climate change, growing populations, unsettled economics, and an aging infrastructure.

NYC’s reputation as the Greatest City in the World has long rested on its grittiness. Now it’s being reinvented as a great place to live, work and place for its greenness.

Change is hard. Unless you make it easy.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has issued revised, updated “Green Guides” to help U.S. businesses ensure that the claims they make about the environmental attributes of their products are truthful and non-deceptive.

In other words, to avoid green-washing.

Via FTC.gov:

FTC Issues Revised “Green Guides”

Will Help Marketers Avoid Making Misleading Environmental Claims

These guides provide sensible, practical, middle-of-the-road direction for businesses.

Helping to make the right (and legal) way simple to understand is a triple win for businesses, consumers, and the planet.

Sometimes being a big zero is a good thing.

Kudos to UK-based Waitrose food retailer for achieving its zero-food-waste-to-landfill goal ahead of its year-end schedule.

The chain’s 280 locations now re-purpose, donate, and recycle everything that would otherwise go into the trash.

Via Environmentalleader.com:

Waitrose Sends Zero Food Waste to Landfill

Waitrose has achieved its target of sending zero food waste to landfill two months ahead of schedule.

For everyone who says it’s “too hard” to achieve sustainability goals in a tight-margin business like food delivery, Waitrose shows it can be done.

Big Data is cool.

Not just any computer can handle massive data sets and circuit frying calculations

It take a special kind of computer. Super, actually.

Enter “Yellowstone”:  a new supercomputer solely dedicated to climate science at the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s (NCAR) Wyoming Supercomputing Center

Via treehugger.com:

World’s Most Powerful Supercomputer Devoted to Climate Change Turns On

The 1.5 petaflop IBM computer can run an astonishing 1.5 quadrillion calculations per second, ranking it in the top 20 most powerful computers in the world. As Time Techland reports, that means a mammoth amount of computing power will now be dedicated to “studying everything from hurricanes and tornadoes to geomagnetic storms, tsunamis, wildfires, air pollution and the location of water beneath the earth’s surface.”

Yellowstone gives climate scientists a powerful new tool for forecasting weather patterns, modelling climate change impacts, and precipitation changes.

 

 

 

Climate Change. Hasn’t come up in the debates.

Via ScientificAmerican.com:

Climate Change a No-Show at Presidential Debate, but Candidates Clash on Energy

Three debates down and one to go, and climate change has still not been addressed by the presidential candidates and their running mates in face-to-face confrontations.

I’m hoping there’s a “yet” at the end of that sentence. Hasn’t come up in the debates yet.

There’s one more chance on Oct. 22 for the top men on the ticket to grab the reins.

Will climate change will become a top national energy and security focus, or not?

If I were going to handicap the bet, I’d put my money on President Obama.

The 2012 Republican platform doesn’t even include the words “climate changes.”  (In a sharp contrast to the 2008 platform.) Hard to discuss something you don’t acknowledge.

President Obama’s 2012 Democratic platform speaks the word, and loudly:

2012 Democratic Platform

We know that global climate change [emphasis mine] is one of the biggest threats of this generation—an economic, environmental, and national security catastrophe in the making. We affirm the science of climate change, commit to significantly reducing the pollution that causes climate change, and know we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits.

Not that the future-looking business world needs any convincing.

Among the sustainable business community, climate change is a top 3 priority.

Via Environmentalleader.com:

Climate Change Among Top Sustainability Priorities for Business, Poll Finds

Human rights, workers’ rights and climate change are the top three sustainability priorities for companies in the coming year, according to a poll of 500 business leaders.

Tens of thousands of citizens agree and want to hear the candidates talk about climate change at the last debate. This is one of the many petitions circulating on social media.

We can’t afford to wait anymore for government to fully partner with business and civil society on climate change.

There’s precious little time left for “yet.”

 

Here’s a guest post I wrote for the NJ Audubon’s Weis Ecology Center Sustainability blog.

I enjoyed writing this educational, consumer-focused piece for visitors to the NJ Audubon website.

7 Ways Sustainability is Positively Changing How We Work, Live, and Raise Our Kids

Have you heard the “S-word” recently? Sustainability. It may have come up on a company’s website under Corporate Responsibility, or your town’s environmental commission. At its simplest, Sustainability means living and working today so that future generations can thrive.

Sustainability grows out of what we used to call being “green” or “environmentally friendly” at home and at work. But, Sustainability is bigger to embrace global challenges.

When we talk about Sustainability, we are talking about combating climate change, building green cities and businesses, improving human health, shifting to renewable energies, and preserving the environment, as a start. These are the things we need to do to leave our children a greener, bluer world.

Whatever you call it, Sustainability is changing how we work, live and raise our kids for the better. Here’s 7 ways—big and small—to get you thinking:

1. Healthier homes: Once hard to find, less-smelly and less-toxic “low VOC” paint is now available at every home improvement store. Safe, effective cleaning products without poison are on every supermarket’s shelves. While still pricier, growing demand for organic milk, eggs, produce and everything else has brought it into reach for more families.

2. Renewable & Clean Energy for Everyone: If someone in your neighborhood, town, or schools doesn’t have solar panels already, you will soon. You might not drive a hybrid car but odds are you know someone who does. More municipal vehicles are being run on lower-polluting natural gas.

3. Savvier Workplaces. Being green is good for business, so companies of all sizes have learned to cut expenses with more efficient CFL and LED lighting, less packaging, starting recycling programs and being more conscious of environmental issues. Don’t see this happening at your job? Start a Green Team and show the bosses how Sustainability helps the bottom line.

4. Lower Energy & Water Bills—We all know that it’s cheaper to save energy than to make it. Put that into practice with energy efficiency fixes like low-flow showerheads, and draft-sealing kits that save you money immediately. Shopping for new home appliances? Energy Star-rated appliances use less electricity, less water, and need less detergent to run well.

5. Technology Connections—From long-distance learning on Ipads to Skyping and live-streaming content, technology brings us together even when we are oceans apart. An amazing pay-by-text app let us donate money to help victims of a natural disaster within minutes. None of us would have been able to imagine that 10 years ago.

6. Stronger Communities—Sustainability helps us take action locally to make our neighborhoods and communities better. Take a look at the Sustainable Jersey program for inspiration about how NJ citizens are taking action to make their hometowns healthier and better places to live.

7. Belief in a better tomorrow for our kids. Here in New Jersey, we just came out of the hottest summer on record. Climate change from increasing carbon emissions is heating up our planet and impacting our lives today. While sobering, I choose to believe that the tide has turned and we can—and are—taking action before it’s too late. I see this truth in school gardens popping up all over, corporate giants like Wal-Mart installing acres of solar panels, recycling becoming normal, and kids who can name 20 kinds of birds on the wing.

In every area of our lives, from work, home, in our town, and at school, Sustainability is about the solutions we are finding together.