Author Archives: Margaret Bissell

The trouble blowing around wind energy

Windmills

Just recently, federal regulators have requested a Maryland wind farmer to curb the number of planned turbines from 50 to 30 due to the potential threat towards bald eagles. In the past many environmental groups focused on dwindling bat and songbird populations to prove the detrimental impact of large wind turbines. Numerous lawsuits and litigations since 2009 alone sited undue risk to flora and fauna, halting the development of many planned wind farms. The final nail in the coffin might occur now that our national bird is also under quixotic attack. Continue reading

The impending risk to our national and state forests

Last week I visited Protestor’s Falls in Nightcap National Park in New South Wales, Australia. The waterfall is named for the 1979 sit-in to prevent loggers from clear-cutting the surrounding forest. Due to the biblical amounts of rain of the previous two weeks, the falls and surrounding rain forest were bursting with beauty. It was easy to see why the protestors were so keen to save the area, even going as far as placing themselves in harm’s way in front of the bulldozers. Given recent developments concerning our own national forests, the 1979 Australian protestors might soon be called upon for inspiration.

That moment in 1979 became a panicle event for Australian civil disobedience. It is mirrored in the United States by Julia Butterfly Hill’s redwood sit in in 1997 and 1998. Both events reflect a disturbing need to protect national parks and forests from logging and clear-cutting despite being areas defined as places of conservation. Continue reading

Best of Spring of Sustainability: Gary Malkin

Spring of SustainabilityThis past spring, Sustainable World Coalition co-produced the largest sustainability education and engagement initiative ever – the Spring of Sustainability, which began March 26 and continued through June 22.

The Spring of Sustainability brought the biggest names in sustainability to the world through half-hour daily teleconference presentations, one-day teleconference summits, live events, and telecourses.

Each week, in the Best of Spring of Sustainability feature, we will review the highlights of one of our favorite episodes. If you like what you see, head on over to our upgrade page for a special offer to own the entire Spring of Sustainability series. Enjoy!

gary malkin SWCoalition

For twenty years, Gary Malkin has created the soundtrack to accompany the environmental movement. From TED talks to the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium, he has lent his immense talents to use music as a tool to rouse his audiences into action.

At last year’s Spring of Sustainability, entitled Restoring Inner Ecology: How Transformational Media is Seeding the Great Turning, Malkin introduced us to his company, Wisdom of the World. Through media projects, keynote presentations, workshops and performances, Malkin believes he can inflame the the hearts and minds of people around the globe to live more sustainable lives.

The plight of the Monarch butterfly

February wasn’t the month of love just because of Valentine’s Day: it also marked the beginning of Monarch butterfly mating season. Butterflies throughout the Mexican state of Michoacan are awakening from their winter slumber to mate this spring and begin their mysterious migration north. The spectacle attracts spectators from around the world but this yearly event is being threatened by changing seasonal temperatures. Continue reading

Best of Spring of Sustainability: Hunter Lovins

This past spring, Sustainable World Coalition co-produced the largest sustainability education and engagement initiative ever – the Spring of Sustainability, which began March 26 and continued through June 22.

The Spring of Sustainability brought the biggest names in sustainability to the world through half-hour daily teleconference presentations, one-day teleconference summits, live events, and telecourses.

Each week, in the Best of Spring of Sustainability feature, we will review the highlights of one of our favorite episodes. If you like what you see, head on over to our upgrade page for a special offer to own the entire Spring of Sustainability series. Enjoy! 

SWCoalition Heather LovinsIs it possible to make capitalism ecologically sustainable? Hunter Lovins believes it is: she explored this question at last year’s Spring of Sustainability. She argued “businesses that are the leaders in sustainability have higher stock value and higher market capitalization,” offering up one example  Dupont, which saves $1 billion a year through its sustainable practices.

Lovins shared her experiences as the president of Natural Capitalism Solutions (NCS) which takes her around the world working with numerous business firms and governments. She drew heavily from her 2012 book, The Way Out: Kickstarting Capitalism to Save Our Economic Ass, a sequel to her international best-selling book, National Capitalism, which has become a staple in green business education.

Lovins’ talk with us, at the 2012 Spring of Sustainability, brought many new concepts to the sustainability table – mainly bringing about change from within a traditionally polluted system. These ideas and her years of experiences have made her a powerful force in the struggle to create a world where economic growth can coincide with nature’s. We look forward to hearing more from her this April during the 2013 Spring of Sustainability!

 

A worrying walking trend

Last year, NPR reported on Tom Vanderbilt’s exploration into American walking habits.  He announced that American’s now walk the least out of any industrialized nation, preferring instead to drive. The trouble with this trend, Vanderbilt muses, is increased weight, higher stress and less poignant thoughts. Douglas Adams summarizes the environmental impact of choosing driving over walking in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

 “The trouble with most forms of transport…is basically one of them not being worth all the bother…The disadvantages involved in pulling lots of black sticky slime from out of the ground where it had been safely hidden out of harm’s way, turning it into tar to cover the land with, smoke to fill the air with and pouring the rest into the sea, all seemed to outweigh the advantages of being able to get more quickly from one place to another—particularly when the place you arrived at had probably become, as a result of this, very similar to the place you had left, i.e. covered with tar full of smoke and short of fish. “

Often, however, it is not very simple to choose walking over driving; infrastructure for pedestrians is lacking in many American cities. The Alliance for Biking and Walking is working on the problem by uniting many localized cycling and walking advocacy groups on a national level. Likewise, America Walks is a coalition of many organizations petitioning and campaigning to improve America’s walkability.

In order to improve your health and protect the environment now, consider your Walk Score, next time you move or look for a new area to explore in your city. This Seattle-based organization rates addresses by how easy it is to navigate streets by bicycling and walking on a score from 1 to 100 as well offering a nifty smart phone app that allows you to plan ahead for your walking or cycling trips.

America’s dislike for walking cannot last: it is neither environmentally sustainable nor good for one’s physical and mental health. Get involved to help demand better infrastructure and choose to strut your stuff every chance you can!

Douglas Adams summarizes the environmental impact of choosing driving over walking in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

 “The trouble with most forms of transport…is basically one of them not being worth all the bother…The disadvantages involved in pulling lots of black sticky slime from out of the ground where it had been safely hidden out of harm’s way, turning it into tar to cover the land with, smoke to fill the air with and pouring the rest into the sea, all seemed to outweigh the advantages of being able to get more quickly from one place to another—particularly when the place you arrived at had probably become, as a result of this, very similar to the place you had left, i.e. covered with tar full of smoke and short of fish. “

Often, however, it is not very simple to choose walking over driving; infrastructure for pedestrians is lacking in many American cities. The Alliance for Biking and Walking is working on the problem by uniting many localized cycling and walking advocacy groups on a national level. Likewise, America Walks is a coalition of many organizations petitioning and campaigning to improve America’s walkability.

In order to improve your health and protect the environment now, consider your Walk Score, next time you move or look for a new area to explore in your city. This Seattle-based organization rates addresses by how easy it is to navigate streets by bicycling and walking on a score from 1 to 100 as well offering a nifty smart phone app that allows you to plan ahead for your walking or cycling trips.

America’s dislike for walking cannot last: it is neither environmentally sustainable nor good for one’s physical and mental health. Get involved to help demand better infrastructure and choose to strut your stuff every chance you can!

Best of Spring of Sustainability: Van Jones

This past spring, Sustainable World Coalition co-produced the largest sustainability education and engagement initiative ever – the Spring of Sustainability, which began March 26 and continued through June 22.

The Spring of Sustainability brought the biggest names in sustainability to the world through half-hour daily teleconference presentations, one-day teleconference summits, live events, and telecourses.

Each week, in the Best of Spring of Sustainability feature, we will review the highlights of one of our favorite episodes. If you like what you see, head on over to our upgrade page for a special offer to own the entire Spring of Sustainability series. Enjoy!

SWCoalition Van JonesVan Jones just released his new book, Rebuilding the Dream. This book elevates the conversation about rebuilding Dr. King’s Dream and the American Dream (2.0 for the 21st Century). As the first former Obama official to release a book, Van Jones offers a unique insider-outsider perspective.

He explains SEVEN crucial missteps by the White House and by social change movements since 2008. He brilliantly analyzes the rise of the Tea Party and Occupy movements and lays out a strategic game plan for the next chapter –turning anger into action, protest into power, and suffering into solutions.

Rebuild the Dream is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how the “hope” bubble burst–and how to re-energize our movement. By ordering NOW, we can put economic justice on the bestseller list and help to rebuild our movement.

Gatsby’s Green Light performs for the Earth

Gatsby’s Green Light’s new EP, Annalee is a fun, hanging-out-in-the-mountains type of music that you’ll feel even better about purchasing: thirty percent of net album sales is donated to environmental causes. Self-described as a “genre-less musical storytelling experience”, GGL sounds a lot like Pittsburgh favorites The Clarks with more banjo. Take a listen to the title track yourself:


The band believes that sustainability means integrating environmental practices into your everyday life. GGL uses their music to inspire their audience to make life choices that consider their environmental impact. They sing about environmental themes, perform at local farms and community centers, and donate to and support many sustainable-food related causes including:

GGL performs throughout the Northeast, check them out on Facebook for up to date news and more information about how you can help them help the Earth!

How green is the music industry?

Sony BMG: The label distributes music from 50 of its US artists in renewable and recyclable paperboard cases, and offers similar packaging for 40 Canadian artists and 22 UK artists. The company has also reduced the carbon footprint of its New York City offices by 31 percent through a “reducing, reusing and recycling” program.

Warner Music Group: CDs and DVD liner notes contain 30 percent post-consumer paper made from wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC); however, the inserts are packaged inside jewel cases. The label offset its 2008 Grammy after party, an event that included CFLs, biodiesel generators, recycled paper products, locally grown food, and organic soaps. This year, WMG offset CO2 emissions from its New York City offices and started WMGreen, its ongoing green initiative with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and renewable energy company NativeEnergy. “For us, [environmentally responsible behavior] has proven to lower the cost of paper and waste as well as strengthen employee morale,” says John Esposito, WMG’s US sales and retail marketing president.

 

Smaller labels:

While the major labels efforts may seem paltry at best, these smaller labels are beefing up their eco-conscious efforts.

Parks and Records: The Bay Area-based label packages CDs in recycled office paper and donates 5 percent of each $8 CD to groups like Friends of the Urban Forest, the National Forest Foundation, and the National Arbor Day Foundation. The company also makes its own mail-order envelopes using catalog and magazine covers, bags, and other reclaimed paper. Parks and Records is “making the planet greener one song at a time,” says founder John Fee.

Brushfire Records: The label, founded by singer Jack Johnson, powers its office and recording studio with solar panels, insulates its walls with 100 percent post-consumer waste (like blue jean scraps), and uses recycled shingles on the roof. Brushfire CDs, which are manufactured and distributed by Universal, come in recycled plastic trays.

Sub Pop Records: The Seattle indie stalwart has purchased renewable energy credits from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation since 2006. The label also ships advance copies of new releases in plastic-free, recyclable paperboard.

Earthology Recordings: A Minnesota organic farm powered by geothermal and wind power houses this not-for-profit label. CDs are packaged in a combination of recycled, soy-ink paper and 100 percent recycled/reclaimed jewel cases. The recording studio itself is crafted from reused materials like chicken coop wire and “other odds and ends,” founder Craig Minowa recently told MTV. In addition to being a member of the indie band Cloud Cult, Minowa is an environmental scientist with the Organic Consumer’s Association.

Green Owl Records: This Manhattan-based label packages all CDs in 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper, and is donating 100 percent of profits raised from a compilation released this April to the Energy Action Coalition. The label recently took three of its bands to Austin’s South by Southwest in a tour bus powered by vegetable oil, and another band, The So So Glos, is touring this fall in a veggie oil-powered bus. Green Owl purchases carbon offsets from NativeEnergy, and offers customers the chance to recycle their used CDs for free. “We’re doing the best we possibly can right now,” says president Stephen Glicken. “We spend more money doing things this way, but it’s better to act as an example now because there could be a sea change some day.”

 

 

But while the biz lags behind, a lot of individual bands and musicians are taking eco matters into their own guitar-strumming hands. Check out which artists are making a difference:

Artists:

Radiohead

The band’s blog, “The Gigantic Flying Mouth For Sometime,” chronicles the group’s experimentations with solar-powered amps, biofuel-powered buses, LED stage-lighting rigs, and battery-and wind-powered performances. The blog is a green diary that charts the band’s research on how things like off-site power grids and efficient truck-packing all factor into leaving a smaller carbon footprint while on tour.

Pearl Jam

Through its Carbon Portfolio Strategy, the band donated $100,000 to groups in the Pacific Northwest like the Cascade Land Conservancy and the Washington Clean Energy Initiative. In 2004, guitarist Stone Gossard helped raise $77,000 to fund small-scale renewable energy projects in states the band toured through that year. In 2006, the band started switching to biodiesel-powered tour buses.

Jack Johnson

The shoe-less, worm-composting, 2008-Coachella headliner records in a solar-powered studio and requests that venues he performs in use CFLs and recycling bins. Johnson also sells organic cotton T-shirts and organic foods at shows, and started a social action network called All At Once that links fans to environmental nonprofits and volunteer opportunities at green events.

Willie Nelson

The country singer tours the nation in a bus powered by his own BioWillie brand biodiesel. “We don’t have to send our money over to the Middle East to fill up our cars and trucks,” Nelson said in a CNN interview. “We can send it to the farmer over here.” BioWillie diesel powers the artist’s Mercedes, too.

The Fray, Bon Jovi, Incubus

The three groups all work with environmental organizations like Heal the Bay, the Sustainable Minded Artists Recording and Touring program, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to green their concerts by serving organic food backstage, selling organic cotton T-shirts, printing posters and flyers on 100-percent post-consumer recycled paper with soy ink, and asking venues to increase recycling. The bands also fuel their tour buses with biodiesel.

 

  

Copyright Environ Press 2008