The effect is melodic — clankety clank, clankety clank — the sound of bicycles plugging along. At first you don’t notice — the absence of taxi horns squawking with ire, or tailpipe exhaust assaulting your lungs, or stressed-out drivers mouthing invectives behind the wheel – but as soon as you do, as soon you notice the beauty of a car “light” society, it becomes your new optic. NOW I see. Cities like Los Angeles and Manhattan truly suck.
In this year’s presentation, one of the major themes she identifies is the rise of the “sharing economy” or as Mary calls it, a shift to an “Asset-Light Generation.”
A simple translation of this term is: Americans buying less stuff. It is a trend that should not only inspirit sustainability advocates, but Americans all-around. Asset-heavy consumption has led our country to experience a rise in obesity, a rise in pollution, and a rise in debt, with a net impact of a decrease in quality of life.
So cheers to the rise of the “Asset-Light Generation” — there’s hope for us yet.
Ohio Stadium is the largest stadium in the country to attempt zero waste. With 105,000 seats and a massive tailgating section this is a challenge. Their goal is get near-zero waste with 90% of the trash turned into recycling and compost.
The success has been fast and big with a 61% reduction in trash sent to landfills in 2011, the first year of the program. And an incredibly high season average of 75.3% for recycling and compost for an average of 105,231 people.
The best part is how fast this is all moving. When the program began they weren’t sure what they could do, and labelled zero waste as “pretty impossible”. Now, they are hoping for at least one game in the 2012 season with 90% diversion rate, their standard for zero waste.
An incredible achievement that shows zero waste is possible, can happen fast, and without interrupting all the fun.
Living a zero waste lifestyle isn’t hard if you start simple. And the first step is to get rid of some of the trash cans in your home. Leave a few in the major areas and make sure to leave one for recycling. Soon you will find the majority of your trash to be recyclables and the trash you send to the landfill dropping like the rain.
When I made this change, I found a trash can in each room. Most contained only a few pieces that I had to empty every week. I thought about it and determined that the kitchen and the bathroom were key places to keep a trash can. Everything else was put in storage, or converted into a recycle bin. The fewer trash cans freed up a little time and allowed me to focus on what I was throwing out.
It happened that I wasn’t recycling enough. I visited the website of my trash company and found their list of approved recyclables. I was recycling only half of what I could and quickly doubled the amount in the recycle bin. It’s amazing how this one step – reducing the trash cans – led me to the easiest and biggest step towards zero waste. I was halfway there.
The next step was a little harder. No big reductions, just making one small change at a time. I noticed my shampoo and conditioner bottles weren’t recyclable, so I switch to a brand that was. The little yogurt cups weren’t recyclable but the big ones were. I began paying attention to each item I was sending to a landfill, and found that each had a recyclable alternative.
And that’s it. The path to zero waste is simple and easy. At first glance it sounds like an extreme lifestyle and impossible to do. But it’s not and everyone I recommend this to is shocked at the simplicity. A little step in the green direction and we all do our part.
More reading on zero waste:
- What Does ZeroWaste Mean?
- Zero Waste: Stopping all that junk mail
- Zero Waste: The recycled toothbrush
- Zero Waste: The coffee maker
- Zero Waste: Moving boxes – Recopack
This will be the fifth manifesto I’ve written. And every one of them has had a noble goal and ambitious hopes. I like to shoot for the stars and see where I end up.
My goal is to be the Zeitgeist of sustainability.
Zeitgeist – “the spirit of the times” or “the spirit of the age.”
– the defining spirit of a particular period as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.
I want to create a spirit of sustainability that spreads across this country. An idea that people can believe in and feel proud of. And this goes beyond Republican or Democratic differences. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Texan in a drought or a New Englander in a Prius. We can all agree on sustainability.
But we don’t agree and that’s the problem. There are too many messages out there and each one points in a different direction. Leaving us in a state of confusion, unsure of what to do but wanting to do something.
And I know this is true. I talk to many people and all of them want to do something. They agree with the principles of sustainability, but none of them agree on global warming, climate change, organic, energy, etc.
And they don’t need to. It’s all for the same cause. We just need to keep the focus on sustainability. That is where the Zeitgeist comes into play. A German word that is almost mystical in how it happens – millions of people coming together because they feel the same way about something. It doesn’t happen often, especially without war, but it is happening here.
We just need someone to write about it. To say what everyone is thinking and make it so well known that it becomes the new way to do things.
That is my job and I have spent years studying and learning about sustainability. I’ve been to the White House for discussions and into people’s garbage. Surprisingly, the whole thing breaks down into four topics:
- Overcoming obesity
- Living zero waste
- Strong local economies
- Clean air
The first one, obesity, is the most important of them all. It is impossible to be healthy and pollute the planet. And that’s the message I want to convey. This isn’t about sacrifice and loss, nor hard choices and spending money. All that is noise pollution and marketing.
The truth is that when you improve your life, you improve the planet. And this blog will teach you how to do so. With all the relevant facts and personal stories – plus the bigger picture to let you know you are affecting the world.
And all you have to do is make your life better.
In every election the presidential candidates are forced to make a bold statement, one way or the other, on the environment. And since this blog is focused on sustainability their positions are an important topic. Here are three of them – climate change, renewable energy, and the EPA – from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
I apologize for the strong Democratic Party bias in this piece, but the Republican Party has yet to embrace sustainability. There are glimpses of it from Mitt Romney, but he is backing away from many of those. And honestly, we need the Republican Party to adopt sustainable ideas to make real progress in this country.
- Supports international efforts to forge a climate change agreement.
- Enacted regulations to double the fuel efficiency of vehicles by 2025.
- Directed the federal government to reduce emissions from its buildings and vehicles by 28 percent by 2020.
- Wary of international climate negotiations.
- Opposes Obama’s new fuel efficiency standards as extreme.
- Believes climate change is happening but not due to human efforts.
- Invested billions in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
- Set ambitious clean energy goals, vowing that 80 percent will come from renewable sources by 2035.
- Supported legislation, now set to expire, that extends production tax credits to the wind industry.
- Opposes extending the tax credit for the wind industry and has vowed to end federal subsidies for renewable energy projects.
- Supports nuclear, coal, oil, and gas in equal amounts to solar and wind.
- As governor of Massachusetts, supported renewable energy authorizing the investment of $24 million.
- Empowered the EPA to draft stricter CO2 emissions standards for power plants.
- Supports proposed EPA regulations limiting emissions of mercury and other toxics from power plants.
- Supports continued federal regulation of oil and gas drilling on federal lands.
- Opposes EPA regulating carbon dioxide emissions.
- Says the states, not the federal government, should exercise control over oil and gas drilling on onshore federal lands.
- Has called for fewer regulations on the nuclear power industry to help revive it.
1X57 is a daily publication about sustainability, and all the related topics. The primary subjects are zero waste, farmers markets, and clean energy. Beyond that is an array of fun topics like: do-it-yourself (DIY), crafts, sports, art, and creativity.
We talk about all of them and, of course: reduce, reuse, recycle.
5-6 pieces a day are published. A few are opinion pieces written from an expert point-of-view following research, experiments, and field tests. Comments, criticisms, and queries for help are welcome.
The remaining content is blend of support pieces and fun stories. The support pieces are studies, other experts and their opinions, and facts that support each opinion piece. They are designed to give you a broader perspective while also bringing together the best knowledge available.
These are the topics we are passionate about, and would normally be gabbing to our friends about. This publication is the perfect way to share our obsession and invite you to become our friend. Enjoy!
I am often frustrated by the lack of depth in articles about sustainability. It’s as if all writers and “experts” are recycling the same content. We all feel this impending sense of climactic doom and want to make changes, but then we are fed the same tips we already know. I think I’ve discovered why this is happening.
It’s because the next steps are unknown, a vast unexplored area of low-carbon living. Heretofore, those pioneering this lifestyle ended up far off the grid, eschewing normal lives. Where are the pioneers looking for ways to be low-carbon while driving a car in a city?
I am one and there are not many of us. It takes a bold, rather radical, person to examine ones own lifestyle. To make changes considered gross, unsanitary, or socially weird. Which makes me the perfect person for such explorations because I have a strange lack of mindfulness for society at large and gross things (does that also make a sociopath?).
That also explains why those already with fame and a voice are struggling with these next steps. Al Gore comes to mind as the great voice of global warming, but his encore, the solution to the problem never appeared. This is nothing against the man, he did the world a great service, he is a champion of causes, he invests in green businesses, but he is probably not a radical pioneer of solutions.
I like to think of it as the Christopher Columbus problem. In 1492, there were plenty of great sailors and adventurous men, but very few willing to go beyond the horizon. I think we are at the same point now. Everyone wants to be green, some even desperately so, but who is willing to go beyond the horizon?
Not many, I suppose, and that’s the way it has always been. The world moves forward thanks to those crazy thinkers, like Albert Einstein, who have the right mindset, motivation, and skills to do so. They will be the ones pioneering the low-carbon lifestyle and showing the way for the rest of us.
We probably won’t find those folks in the mainstream media or in our celebrity roster. Instead, they will be found on the fringes writing on a blog. Talking about crazy things like an all farmers market diet or living zero waste. Sharing tips like how to drink coffee or making your own sunscreen. All that we crazies ask of you, the reader, is to show your support. Let us know what you need help on, comment with your experiences, and email us your questions (steve [at] 1X57.com).
Here’s to the crazy ones:
Pulled from the London 2012 Olympics Sustainability report (pdf):
If everyone lived as we do in the UK we would need three planets.
Our unsustainable lifestyles have meant that for the last 30 years we have been ‘eating into the Earth’s capital’ rather than ‘living off its interest’.
The promotion of sustainable development has become one of the fundamental objectives of the Olympic Movement…through its Agenda 21– Sport for Sustainable Development.
London 2012, WWF and BioRegional have developed the concept of a One Planet Olympics.
Staging a One Planet Olympics in London would help achieve the ﬁrst sustainable Games. Sustainability has been at the heart of the London 2012 Bid and Masterplan.
The principles, goals, and legacy of the One Planet Olympics:
Developing closed resource loops. Reducing the amounts of waste produced, then reclaiming, recycling and recovering
- No Games waste direct to landﬁll – all treated as a resource
- Zero waste target a pivotal procurement driver
- Closed-loop waste management at all venues
- Public information campaign to promote high quality front-of-house waste separation
- Zero waste policies extend across East London based on high recycling rates and residual waste converted to compost and renewable energy
- Increased market for recycled products
- Closed-loop waste management to be standard practice for major sports events
Local and Sustainable Food
Supporting consumption of local, seasonal and organic produce, with reduced amount of animal protein and packaging
- Promotion of local, seasonal, healthy and organic produce
- Promotion of links between healthy eating, sport and wellbeing
- Partnerships established with key caterers, suppliers and sponsors
- Composting of food waste as part of Zero Waste plan
- Increased markets for farmers in the region
- Markets, catering and retail outlets supplying local and seasonal food
- Composting facilities integrated into closed-loop food strategy
Reducing the need to travel and providing sustainable alternatives to private car use
- All spectators travelling by public transport, walking or cycling to venues
- Low/no emission Olympic vehicle ﬂeet
- Olympic Park Low Emission Zone
- Carbon offset programme for international travel
- Individualised travel plans as part of integrated ticketing process
- Increased connectivity across and between legacy developments and neighbouring communities
- Reduced car dependency
- Car free events policy adopted for other major events
- Greater market for zero carbon transport