ArchivesJuly 2016 - 3E Strategies

Who Needs New? — A Little GoodWill Goes a Long Way

July 27th, 2016

Secong hand shopping  The Buy Local movement has a fair bit of traction and I certainly support it, but if your intention is to reduce your environmental footprint then an even bigger step is to Buy Used. Yep, good old second hand and thrift stores are one of the biggest environment protections ever created!

The single biggest source of damage to the Earth comes from how humans produce and consume stuff. In our hugely consumer-oriented, stuff-filled society it is easy to forget that every single thing we eat, wear, put on our skin, drive in and put into the thing we drive at some point has been extracted from the Earth. And, the waste by-products from all of those things will be put back into the Earth.

Clothing is a huge example. Through some recent consulting work I’ve been providing I learned that the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, second only to the oil industry.  I was shocked until I really thought about all the resources required to grow the cotton and other materials, processing, dyeing, shipping and transporting involved. Not only do we now have 7 billion of us humans to clothe, but many of us in wealthier parts of the world have more clothes and shoes than we could wear in a year if we wore something different every single day! I was even more shocked to learn that the reach of textile and apparel is so big in fact that globally, by some estimates, 1 in 6 trackable jobs are in that industry!

The other day I was greatly in need of some new workout shorts and tank tops (seriously, my brother recently bought me a new pair of shorts and pulled out my old ratty, tattered pair and wrote a note that said, “Please replace these with these!” with arrows pointing from my old rags to the new shorts!).

Truth is I’d been looking for new workout stuff, but I am really particular about my shorts. I don’t like anything to tight or too poofy. I like the sort of boarder-style not at all tight around the waste shorts. They are hard to find. Moreover, it just doesn’t sit with me to spend $25 on a slip of cloth called a tank top that I am merely going to sweat in several times a week.

I regularly drop off things that I am no longer using at the local Goodwill. This time I thought, “why not go in and look for workout stuff?”   Pay dirt! Two shorts, 4 tank tops for $40.

The ultimate recycling is reusing – it’s just less stuff that has to be pulled from the Earth to consume. On top of that, the proceeds that Goodwill brings in are used to deliver job training and employment to people with disabilities. In a sense they recycle stuff to help people recycle challenges into new opportunities.

Other thrift stores support the Humane Society and various similar good causes.

I know in our society, where so much of our own sense of “value” is based on our wealth and the stuff we have, it’s easy to feel a bit embarrassed going into second hand stores. But when I feel that pressure I ask myself, how could it be embarrassing to support people with disabilities or abandoned animals and other good causes? What’s wrong with being frugal? Why would any of us be ashamed to make consumer choices that avoid trashing our planet? These are times when I am grateful for my very modest upbringing in which my mom showed me how to make the most of a thrift store!

I always love that spending money in these establishments means I not only spend a whole lot less money but the money I do spend is directly helping my fellow beings, all the while reducing my footprint on the planet. It’s a little retail therapy without any guilt!

Cylvia Hayes

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Posted by Cylvia Hayes at 7:25 pm

Resistance to Fossil Fuel Exploitation Grows

July 7th, 2016

WedIndigenous protest fossil fuelsnesday marked the three-year anniversary of the worst Canadian rail accident since 1864. It was an oil train explosion. A 74-car oil train carrying 30,000 gallons of crude oil rolled into the quiet town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, ran off the rails and blew up, killing 47 people.

On May 31st I posted a piece in Huffington Post about how it was a matter of time before we had an oil train disaster on our iconic rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Three days later it happened in a spectacular fireball in Mosier Oregon on the Columbia River. Local officials have said the town dodged a bullet in that the explosion missed downtown and most of the spilled oil missed the river.

Studies report a 5000-percent increase in oil by rail in North America since 2008. With this rapid increase in traffic has come an enormous uptick in derailments, spills and explosions.   Recent studies show approximately 25 million Americans live within the blast zone of oil train routes.

Despite the push for expansion by oil companies and the challenges for local and state governments to force regulations on the wildly powerful railway industry, resistance to oil trains is growing fast.

This week dozens of protest are taking place in cities across North America as demonstrators take aim at stopping crude oil trains. Many of these actions can be seen at the tag #StopOilTrains. In honor of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy on Wednesday, environmental and climate activists delivered a letter addressed to President Barack Obama demanding companies stop transporting crude oil by train, signed by 144 emergency responders, officials, and public interest groups.

One of the most promising elements of the resistance movement is that of Indigenous Peoples exercising their sovereign nations status and treaty rights to stop fossil fuel extraction and transport projects. All across North America and South America, Indigenous Tribes are pushing back against big oil rampaging across tribal lands.

  • The Lummi Nation were the lynchpin in stopping a massive coal export facility in Vancouver Washington.
  • In 2015, the Lax Kw’alaam First Nation in British Columbia turned down a Malaysian energy company’s offer of nearly $260,000 for each tribal member as compensation for building a natural gas export terminal on ancestral lands. The Lax Kw’alaam said no to the $1 billion+ offer by unanimous community vote due primarily to the risk to local salmon habitat.
  • The Yakama, Warm Springs, Nez Perce Tribes and Umatilla Tribes were critical in blocking a coal export facility in eastern Oregon.
  • The 57 nations that make up the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians have stated their official opposition to all proposals for the transport and export of fossil fuels export in the Northwest.
  • Tribal rights in Brazil have stopped fracking projects.
  • The Indigenous Environment Network is working hard on these projects and issues.

I believe the expansion of the use of Indigenous Peoples’ treaty rights to stop fossil fuel projects could be one of the most important developments in the history of the movement to address global change and evolve beyond fossil fuels. I will covering it much more in the months to come.

Cylvia Hayes

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Posted by Cylvia Hayes at 11:46 pm
Cylvia Hayes
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Cylvia has over 20 years of professional experience in sustainable energy, economic development, workforce development, green building, waste prevention and sustainable forestry and agriculture.

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