Speaking of the Fresh Express mobile deliveries in the Phoenix, Arizona area, Elyse Guidas says, “For a lot of our customers, this is one of their only lifelines and access to healthy food.” And it's not only inner-city lives that are affected. When we traveled across the United States a couple of years ago, along the East Coast and through the back roads of the Midwest, there were many rural, desolate areas where factory farms grew food for people far away and the people who lived there had to travel long distances to find anything other than convenience-store food.
Turning vacant lots into community gardens, delivering fruits and vegetables to community centers, and setting up urban farmers' markets are all examples of bringing the earth's gifts to barren food deserts and the people who live in them.
Shareable.net, "A model of community-supported agriculture in western Massachusetts is going strong"
One of the reasons we moved to western Massachusetts was the bounty of small farms in the area. Living here we could support the farms, simultaneously helping the local economy and reducing the carbon emissions caused by long-distance movement of food. Indian Line Farm in Great Barrington, Massachusetts is located in the Berkshire Mountains west of where we live. It serves as an example of long-term farm planning that brings together community-shared agriculture, land protection, and incentives for investing in local businesses.
Members of the community can purchase shares in the coming year's crop. When they purchase those shares with BerkShares, the local currency, they effectively receive a 5% discount, thanks to the incentives for using the currency to make purchases at local businesses.
A model like this that helps local farmers, businesses, and community members is one that we believe is the foundation of future resilience.
Mother Nature Network, "Remember that kid who invented a way to clean up ocean plastic? He's back, and it's happening"
Boyan Slat, a Dutch high-school student, was so distressed by the amount of plastic floating in the ocean during a diving trip in Greece six years ago, he decided to do something about it. "I finally decided to put both university and my social life on hold to focus all my time on developing this idea. I wasn’t sure if it would succeed, but considering the scale of the problem I thought it was important to at least try," said Slat.
Two years later, after conducting a two-year feasibility study of his ingenious invention and receiving $320 million in donations, his first booms will be launched in 2018. Working with scientists and computer modeling, he predicts his booms will be effective enough to clean up half of the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch in just five years.
With young people like this, we may yet have a chance to clean up our world.
An inspiring group of ten teenage girls from San Fernando High School in California didn't have the money to help the many homeless people they encountered on their way to school, but they knew they wanted to help somehow.
See the article for many more photos of the girls in the process of making and testing their invention and for anecdotes about what this experience has meant to them and their dreams for the future.
Thanks to the Clean Water Act of 1977, the waters around New York City are now cleaner than ever. The food system that whales depend on has improved dramatically. Increasingly more humpback whales are being spotted in the water, so much so that ferry services are now offering whale-watching tours. Here's yet more inspiration and evidence that environmental protection works. We must keep protections in place on land and at sea.
A simple, yet generous idea: providing a neighborhood cabinet kept full of food and hygiene products for anyone who needs them. Neighbors who need items and neighbors who give items have a chance to meet and learn from each other. The founders say at least 100 people pass by every day. They learned about the community cupboard idea online from someone else and now they're planning to offer help and ideas for other people who want to do it. Their Facebook page is Fountain Street Community Cupboard if you want to follow them.
This might be a good idea for our neighborhood, which is in the middle of a double cul-de-sac that combines rental properties and single-family homes with a mix of older people and families with young children.
The inspiration and hard work of one man in Mumbai, India and his 84-year-old neighbor turned into a two-year beach cleanup project with over a thousand volunteers. The beach that was unwalkable in 2015 has now been returned to its former beauty and the momentum of this success is leading to plans to clean up more of India's shoreline. Whenever you start to think that you can't make a difference on your own, remember Afroz Shah and his dream, and know that you can.
NPR.org, Millions of Pieces of Plastic Are Piling Up On An Otherwise Pristine Pacific Island
Sarah Wilson Blog, 8 bits of plastic you can quit right now
Recycling plastic is not enough. We need to replace plastic use with other ways of storing and delivering products. This one beautiful island in the Pacific's Pitcairn Island chain is a minuscule example of the trash dumped into waterways that is hurting marine life and birds and destroying habitats around the world.
Sarah Wilson shares these easy tips for starting to make the switch:
Glass containers; plant-, paper-, and cloth-based containers; and unpackaged goods are all alternatives to using plastic. In our own home, we are starting to realize how many plastic containers we recycle each week from store-bought beverages and we are starting to try using concentrated juices that have less packaging and making homemade beverages in our own reusable containers.
This new economic model, developed by Kate Haworth, takes into account the finite limits of our one planet and the basic needs that humans must have to live safely to show the "sweet spot" for how our world economy must function going forward. To learn more, see the TED Talk video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BHOflzxPjI
Sustainable practices are beginning to make their way into large events and we hope they will continue to become commonplace at all events, not just when the event has a "green" theme. Examples of good ideas we've seen at events are providing reusable or compostable plates and cutlery, composting food waste, and making recycling containers available.
Another sustainable practice at large events is to provide water coolers for attendees to refill their glasses and water bottles rather than wasting hundreds of plastic water bottles that have to be recycled later. We were at The People's Climate March in Washington, DC in late April. With over 200,000 people marching together and temperatures in the high 90s on a sunny day, there was a desperate need for water, lots of water.
With all of us toting our reusable water bottles, it was thoughtful and appreciated that the march organizers provided huge water reservoirs, called Water Monsters, and kept them refilled throughout the day. They were perfect for the huge crowd, with multiple spigots on each barrel. Thank you to all who helped keep us hydrated and comfortable without using wasteful plastic. It was a perfect way to take our water to go as we marched to raise awareness of climate change and the need for making changes to live lightly on the earth.