climate change

What I Read This Week | 4


I've had a couple whirlwind weeks, with family visiting two weekends ago and a 5 day trip to NYC last week (I met some fellow ethical bloggers!). Trying to catch up on regular blog stuff, but the good thing about train rides is that you have plenty of time to read. Here's what I read this week...

Ethical Fashion

Why I Think Ethical Fashion is a Privileged White Girl Thing - You don't have to agree with all of her points to get something out of this one

Rwanda will proceed with the ban on used clothes despite threats by the United States


Relationships + Self Formation

The Golden Age of Bailing

Future Self (podcast) - explores what can happen if your idea of your future self is too rigid

Can one person make a difference?



Charlottesville KKK Rally

Protesters drown out KKK rally in Charlottesville - so proud of my friends, my church, and my community for their work on Saturday


Environment + Climate Change

The Uninhabitable Earth

Are We as Doomed as That New York Magazine Article Says?


On the Blog Last Year

The Moral Wardrobe: Sporting

I Was a Climate Change Denier: Why I Changed My Mind

Climate Change and Christianity, Partnership with UNDP
Ice Caves like this one could be gone in 5-10 years due to global warming.
This article is part of a collaboration between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ethical Writers Coalition.

In the 12th grade, my Economics teacher, who also happened to be the women's track coach, decided to work on tallying track scores instead of filling us in on the wonders of microeconomics (You will not be surprised to hear that very few of us passed the AP Econ exam that year).

Like all overworked or borderline disinterested instructors, he popped in a movie for us to watch. But this wasn't your run-of-the-mill classroom film.

This was An Inconvenient Truth.


You may be thinking this was the aha moment for me. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. I distinctly remember laughing as the animated polar bear fell off her animated, melting glacier. "Absurd!" I thought, and not just because the anthropomorphized polar bear cartoon was frowning at me as she fell into the icy water. I was so smug in my knowledge that global warming was not happening - and bolstered by the other students at my southern, largely conservative school - that it was easy to overlook the science and find something to ridicule.


Let me give you some background.


I grew up in a Christian community that believed in Young Earth Creationism. In this model of the universe, God literally created the earth and all that is in it about 6,000 years ago, Noah's Ark miraculously held every variety of earth's creatures as it rose above the global flood, and - I kid you not - the Loch Ness Monster was proof positive that dinosaurs coexisted with humans. As a kid, I was fascinated by that last point, and I still have trouble letting go of such a whimsical idea! Doesn't everyone want to ride a dinosaur?

For one to hold the ideas of Young Earth Creationism as true, one must create a partition between some forms of "obvious" practical science, like gravity and the flu, from other forms of science, namely the ones that tell us something about the long game. We were wary of evolution, carbon dating, and climate change (read more about the tenets of Young Earth Creationism here). To us, they represented the ills of secularism, a world that searched in the wrong places for meaning when it could easily just open the Bible and read the "plain truth."

The problem with this, I know now, is that the "plain truth" of the Bible (this reading is called Biblical Literalism) isn't so plain once you've actually read it. When I majored in Religious Studies in college, I learned to apply literary and historical criticism to the Biblical texts. I parsed out genres; learned Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek; and compared the religious texts of neighboring civilizations.

Contrary to my parents' fears, I did not lose faith. But it changed dramatically. Over time, the humanity of writers' and Biblical characters became more apparent. And humans, as we all know, are inherently nuanced and often hypocritical. It became clear to me that the Bible, like all texts, required interpretation.

Eventually, I realized that science could be reconciled with religious belief. Climate scientists and evolutionary biologists weren't out to get me after all.

I was finally able to tear down the shoddily built wall between Christianity and Science, and it allowed me to appreciate both in new ways. 


It was a long road, but it was ultimately my Religious Studies program that allowed the world to expand for me, to embrace the work of scientists who work tirelessly toward a better world. Their end goal is not all that different from the broader message of my faith tradition: to be good stewards and to leave the world habitable for future generations.

This is what we know about climate change (also called Global Warming), according to the United Nations Development Programme:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity mainly include carbon dioxide and methane. They form a "shield", which blocks a certain amount of solar radiation and causes global warming. 
  • Human activity has caused the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to increase. 
  • Since 1990 global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by almost 50%. 
  • Fossil fuels – oil, coal and gas – that power our cars, heating/air conditioning, cooking and lights are the main cause for greenhouse gas emissions. Each day we spew 110 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. 
  • From 1880-2012 the planet's surface temperature has increased an average of 0.85 °C [1.5 °F]. 
  • Global warming itself is accelerating. During the past year, measurements taken across the globe during various periods have reported abnormally high temperatures. The year 2016 is the hottest on record, with average temperatures nudging towards 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. 
  • Without action, the world’s average surface temperature is projected to rise and surpass 3°C (and more in some areas of the world) in the 21st century.

Climate change must matter to us because rapidly rising global temperatures wreak havoc on ecosystems and agricultural industries. Melting snow caps cause ocean levels to rise, eroding inhabited land (Miami is already preparing for the worst); erratic weather destroys people and communities; and rising temperatures will soon make growing food impossible in some regions of the world. Additionally, climate change disproportionately impacts the poorest countries, where temperatures tend to be higher and the landscape more difficult to til.

This is more than ecological destruction: this is profound injustice. 


Climate change must matter to me and you, to Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Atheists, and Secular Humanists alike, because it affects all of us. And if we are people who claim a moral stance, it's high time we consider what we can do to slow the effect of global warming before it's too late. 

The United Nations Development Programme has committed itself to fighting climate change at a global level. It supports countries in their efforts to transition to renewable energy, protect forested land, and prepare for the and future effects of climate change. 


But what can we do?


First and foremost, we can support policies and politicians who make climate change remediation a priority. We can encourage investment in renewable energy sources at the local, state, and household level. 

On a personal scale, we can commit to living low-waste lifestyles, recycling, using public transit when possible (and lobbying for better public transit options), using less water and utilities, and eating less meat

And we can be messengers of the cause in big and small ways to our circles of influence. 


If you come from a background like mine, I encourage you to find ways to engage with your faith community about science in a constructive and positive way. Help people realize that this fight needs all of us, and that there's no reason to fear science, or the intentions of climate scientists who are simply doing their jobs. 

Delaying the effects of climate change will be hard - it will be inconvenient - but I have no doubt that climate change, in an age of alternative facts, is a truth we must defend. Now that I am empowered with that knowledge, I refuse to turn back.

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For tools, news, and resources, visit the UNDP website.

EWC Zero Waste Challenge: Paying Attention Counts for Something

zero waste challenge

This week of the Zero Waste Challenge was harder and easier at the same time. I know that doesn't make sense, but here's why. On the one hand, there were some unavoidable trash moments because I attended both an open house through my work and a launch party for new business, Hem and Haw. Where finger food is, you'll almost inevitably find disposable plates and cups and obviously I wanted to eat, drink, and be merry, so I used a couple of cups and a paper plate.

On the other hand, I think I've come up with a long term strategy for reducing my waste.

It's called paying attention


I'll totally overwhelm myself if I cut everything out at once, but several of you have suggested some easy alternatives to things I wasn't sure I could let go of:

  • I currently use cotton balls to apply toner at night. This week, I opted to tear them in half to reduce waste. As soon as I'm out, I'll switch to a crochet ball variety that can we washed and re-used (I previously purchased cotton pads for this purpose, but they weren't absorbent enough). I'll either purchase from an etsy seller or beg my mom to make some for me. 
  • There are some produce items and food that don't really need to be sealed shut in the refrigerator. As Teresa suggested, I will dedicate a plate or container to half-used onions and cover leftovers with a ceramic plate instead of wrapping everything in plastic wrap. I think I'll also try to stock up/save wide mouth jars, as Eimear suggested, to store bulk items and leftovers.
  • At home and at work, I use too many paper towels. As Rebekah suggested, I'll grab some unsellable donations from the shop to cut into rags for cleaning and make sure to put a towel in the bathroom at work for employees to dry their hands off with. 

Did I manage to stay abreast of any of these zero waste innovations this week? No, unfortunately. When things get busy, I start to forget that I'm supposed to be reducing personal waste. I've decided to be gracious with myself but move forward with achievable goals. 

I didn't keep a proper tally of my waste this week, but it's fair to say I used several paper towels, toilet paper, and a few cotton balls. Additionally, there was one unavoidable straw and napkin at a restaurant, a couple of plastic cups, and a cardboard frozen dinner carton.

The good news is that I triumphantly avoided a disposable cup at the coffee shop this morning! I had to catch the barista quick before he made my cafe au lait.

What I've Learned:

Generally, I've approached this challenge the way I approach food. I eat mostly vegetarian/pescatarian at home, but I won't put on a dramatic monologue and refuse "unacceptable" food when it's offered to me at parties and people's homes. In the same way, if a server puts a straw in my drink, I'm not going to throw a tantrum. 

I make the choice when I have the choice to make, but I don't want to harass people or shame them. Ultimately, reducing waste must be a collective, systematic goal. We need to change our food and manufacturing systems, prioritize local and bulk options to reduce packaging, and make the long term effects of trash more apparent. Honestly, we should probably live closer to landfills. It would help to see that it doesn't just go away after we've tossed it.

Additional Reading/Viewing:



Check out the triumphs and struggles of other members of the Ethical Writers Coalition on their blogs:

Small Steps Toward Zero Waste Living

Zero waste living tips and climate change discussion


As I've learned more about the long term environmental consequences of over consumption in the clothing industry - from carbon emissions that contribute to catastrophic climate change to polyester fibers entering our oceans - I've simultaneously started bumping up against similar issues in my everyday consumption of hygiene products, toiletries, and food.

I'm ashamed to admit it now, but as a teenager I had this weird compulsion to leave just a little little bit of shampoo, lotion, and other liquid toiletries in their containers when I tossed them into the trash (strike two is that I rarely thought to take the bottle down from my bathroom to the recycling bin). That type of behavior was wasteful and unthinking no matter how you look at it. I'm training myself out of it, trying to remember to add a little water to the solution to get every last drop and always recycling my containers.

And, while I'm not fully on board with the Marie Kondo minimalism trend, I think we can take an important lesson from all this clearing out and wasting not hype: 

Reducing our consumption in small and big ways matters.


Every single thing we consume must be created from raw materials, produced or processed in a factory, and shipped to us from who-knows-where. All of this takes energy. And then when we're done consuming the product, whatever it may be, we're left with plastic bottles and wrap, paper packaging and single use containers. 

This isn't just about the environment - though I think at this stage, when climate scientists say we're experiencing the hottest year on record and it's too late to correct course, we must start seeing the environment as more than an object for our use. This is about ecosystems and animals and people, and it's about the entire system working correctly to biodegrade waste, filter the air, and bring us nutrient rich food.

While I suspect I'm preaching to the choir here, I want to reiterate that caring about the environment and "believing" in global warming (i.e. taking the evidence collected and analysis of trained scientists seriously) is not a political issue. It is a "I don't want everything I love about this planet to suffer" issue, and I think we can agree on that. Making personal changes won't change everything - we need to elect leaders who will take renewable energy and other forms of pollution reduction seriously (ahem, and caring about clean water for Indigenous peoples - sign the petition here), but we can start somewhere.

I'm also well aware of the fact that choosing sustainable options is often a matter of class and privilege. For one, having the time and money to discern between products and lifestyle habits isn't always possible, and there are lots of towns and neighborhoods that simply don't have infrastructures that assist in living a more environmentally friendly life. If everything at your grocery store is wrapped in plastic, you can't immediately do anything about it, but perhaps over time you can help influence store and local policies on plastic waste.

That being said...

This fall, in addition to being an aware and active citizen, I'm ready to take the leap to a zero waste lifestyle. It won't come all at once, and I don't anticipate being entirely zero waste for a very long time, but I can continue to make small changes that add up. 


I've already switched to cloth menstrual pads and it's been an amazing, practical, easy experience overall. I don't buy plastic water bottles. I've also stopped using as much plastic wrap to cover leftovers, instead covering my ceramic bowls with small plates to keep out any dust and debris in the fridge. I use cold water when I wash my face instead of waiting for the hot water heater to do its job, thereby reducing my water usage. And I buy lots of my toiletries in bulk to reduce overall packaging waste. At the suggestion of a reader, I'm being more mindful about how much and what type of packaging ethical companies use to ship their products, too.

But there's plenty more I can do. I learned a lot from my friend Holly's recent video about her Zero Waste Sustainable Switches, so I encourage you to watch it below...





Have you reduced waste in other ways? I could use some more suggestions! It's easy to overlook things.

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If you found this post useful, perhaps you'd like to:

Every day is Earth Day for the EWC

ethical writers co earth day shenandoah national park
This year, members of the Ethical Writers Coalition banded together to share ways we honor the earth every day of the year. We get lots of pitches this time of year from brands who think today might be the only day we care about their nontoxic, zero waste, renewable-energy product, but in reality, the 65+ members of the EWC think about this all the time, so why not share it?

I mean, it's great that the earth has its very own day, but in light of the news last month that 95% of the Great Barrier Reef is now bleached due to rising water temperatures and the reality that Americans throw away 65 pounds of clothing per person per year, I think we can agree that honoring the earth is something we need to be actively pursuing on a daily basis. I hope the below statements inspire you and help you find small ways you can make a difference.

Mine: 

I honor the Earth throughout the year by using cloth menstrual pads instead of disposables and washing them with eco-friendly detergent.

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Alden Wicker, EcoCult

I honor the earth every single day, by always packing a reusable water bottle, a reusable handkerchief, and a reusable bag in my purse – they are as important as my wallet and keys!

Emily McLaughlin, Gathering Green

I honor the earth all year, beyond Earth Day, by being mindful of where my food is sourced, joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share, and educating myself on modern farming practices.

Stephanie Villano, My Kind Closet

I honor the earth every day by wearing my clothes more than once to save water with fewer washes, and sourcing my food locally whenever possible - even growing my own produce in the summer and fall.

Danielle Calhoun, Black Sheep Bride

I honor the earth every day by teaching my children the importance of picking up trash and recyclables in on our daily walks around the neighborhood and showing them the value of eating what’s available to them in our own environment (in our case fish from the Gulf of Mexico we catch).

Annie Zhu, Terumah

I honor the earth by buying organic and supporting local farmers.
  ethical writers co earth day
Catherine Harper, Walking with Cake

I honor the earth every day by teaching my boys to recycle, using what we have instead of always buying something new, and eating locally-grown foods.

Faye Lessler, Sustaining Life

I honor Mama Earth every day of the year by always being mindful of my actions, asking questions before I purchase, and appreciating the beauty of life.

K. Chayne, Kamea World

I honor planet earth every day by using a holistic view of health—one that encompasses the health of our minds, bodies, and our collective environment—to shape my thought processes, habits, and consumer choices.

Jacalyn Beales, Out of Wilderness

I honor our Earth everyday by striving to use products which don’t violate the rights and welfare of our planet’s wildlife.

Hanna Baror Padilla, Sotela.co

I honor the earth every day by creating timeless clothing with eco-friendly fabrics that is made in the US.

Chandra Fox, These Native Goods

I honor the earth every day by appreciating everything she has provided us with and by reducing my family's waste through more conscious shopping practices, when selecting our food and goods -less packaging, less chemicals, less impact.

Nichole Dunst, Green or Die

I honor the Earth by abstaining from products, materials, and practices that rob it of its precious natural resources, by getting out and enjoying the natural beauty that it has to offer, and by practicing compassion towards all of its creatures.

Renee Peters, Model 4 Green Living

I honor the Earth every day by not consuming animal products, walking and taking public transportation, consuming products responsibly and wasting less, and by using my platform as a model to spread my message...The little things that we, as individuals, do everyday all add up to combat climate change. Never underestimate the power of small, daily actions that add up to be a huge reduction in our carbon footprint.
  florida seagulls ethical writers co earth day
Eleanor Snare, Eleanor Snare

I honour the Earth each day by spending time outside, fully absorbing what’s around me, reducing my impact on the planet and learning to interact with the planet in new ways through planting, growing and nurturing.

Elizabeth Stilwell, The Note Passer

I honor the earth everyday by treading lightly on her resources and inhabitants as I practice minimalism, veganism, and use public transportation as much as possible.

Addie Benson, Old World New

I honor our one and only earth every day by making old things new again, such as thrifted fashion finds, thereby not encouraging the use of our finite precious natural resources.

Sara Weinreb, IMBY

I honor the earth everyday by using plastic-free packaging that is made of recycled and recyclable materials when I ship out new orders of our Made in USA clothing.

Abby Calhoun, A Conscious Consumer

I honor the earth every day by taking in as much as information as I can about her resources, climate change, and our role as consumers in the ‘bigger picture’. I promise to never stop asking questions and having conversations, and will always look for alternative consumption practices to relieve the pressure we are placing on our planet.

Juhea Kim, Peaceful Dumpling

I honor the earth every day by composting and eating vegan. I’ve been vegan for almost 10 years and composting for 5 years. These two activities ground me and make me feel more compassionate, conscientious, and connected to the earth.

Greta Matos, Greta Matos

Quiet moments to watch the sunrise, daily hikes in wild places, conscious and focused appreciation for the abundance of this planet and my connection to it- these are my daily rituals to honor this incredible Earth! I also fold this appreciation and respect into all aspects of my work- whether I am writing and sharing my adventure stories, publishing photos, or consulting on ethical supply chain strategy, I am inspired in my work by the beauty of nature and honor it throughout.

Dominique, Let’s Be Fair

I honor the Earth by loving the people on it and enjoying the beauty of the world with them as grateful stewards.

Kasi Martin, The Peahen

I show my love for the Earth by talking her up! You can eat vegan, live as minimally as possible, and do your homework when it comes to clothes, but when others know the motivation for your lifestyle choices they can also be inspired to action.

Holly Rose, Leotie Lovely

I honour Mama Earth each and every day by being mindful of how my actions and purchases affect her, from my clothing and food to my toothbrush and detergents.

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There are a lot of ways to make a change and we're not all going to have the exact same priorities, but the important thing is that we're trying, and that we're working together for a better world.

How do you honor the earth every day?


*All photos belong to me

the moral wardrobe: it's snow time

krochet kids pocket teekrochet kids pocket teeethical outfit
It's blizzard time! Charlottesville, as I've mentioned before, is obsessed with talking about, photographing, and anticipating weather. The TV is on in the background and the weather man has said the word, "snow," about 20 times in the past 3 minutes. News correspondents are commenting on the presence of children playing and people walking their dogs in the snow. The grocery store lot was packed full this morning with people doing last minute emergency preparedness shopping in case the power goes out (I was buying dish soap - I did my shopping two days ago).

We actually do have a reason to care this time around, though. With 24 inches of snow forecasted for the next 24 hours, this could be the biggest snow storm on record for our area. As the weather man just noted, we have a reason to enjoy it for now, but things could take a turn for the worse this evening, especially if power lines get weighed down and we lose electricity. Crossing my fingers that everyone stays safe and warm.

snow storm outfit Ethical Details: Top - Krochet Kids*; Cardigan (similar at Everlane), Coat, and Boots - thrifted; Hat - locally handmade (similar at Krochet Kids*)

Climate change is going to make all of us talk about the weather more and more. It's something I'm still learning about and trying to process, having grown up in a staunchly "Climate change isn't real, the liberal media is lying to us" household. For now, I'm trying to enjoy the novelty of heavy snow while acknowledging that the severity of this weather is a sign of things to come. Reducing meat consumption and trying to use less gas and plastic are a few ways I'm trying to keep climate change at bay, but it's nowhere near enough. It's important that we vote for initiatives and politicians who make tackling climate change a priority.

*indicates affiliate link