“It’s like a modern art installation. So fabulous—the people and machines and objects of our lives all working together.” That was Italian consul general Mauro Battocchi speaking about (wait for it…) a recycling facility. The “trash tourism” circuit, with little to no marketing, has apparently taken off, with officials from around the world visiting world-class recyclers in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and other locales to learn more about “Zero Waste” or “Circular Economy” infrastructure.
Just in case you were feeling optimistic about life because the sun finally came out this week in our lovely Cascadian slice of the continent, here’s a little something to dampen your mood: three recent studies show climate change is happening even faster than we anticipated.
Vox has a helpful explainer on what “cage-free” really means on your egg cartons (spoiler: not much at all… except that your retailer is happy to make big bucks selling them to you).
Puget Sound Sage’s executive director Rebecca Saldaña wrote a great piece in the Huffington Post that takes a look at Seattle’s racist housing history and current equitable and sustainable growth strategies in the city. (Shout-out to HALA and Seattle for Everyone!) I was particularly disturbed by this portion of a Broadmoor property deed in 1928 that clearly reveals Seattle’s exclusionary housing legacy:
No part of said property hereby conveyed shall ever be used or occupied by any Hebrew or by any person of the Ethiopian, Malay or any Asiatic Race, and the party of the second part his heirs, personal representatives or assigns, shall never place any such person in the possession or occupancy of said property…excepting only employeees(sic) in the domestic service on the premises of persons qualified hereunder as occupants and users and residing on the premises.
Speaking of creating inclusive neighborhoods… new research confirms that your childhood neighborhood is a major determinant of your economic success later in life. In fact, the effects of your neighborhood may play a much larger role in your success than it has ever been understood before. City Observatory recently used this research to prove why mixed-income neighborhoods matter.
Flint isn’t Michigan’s only disaster. Environmental racism is taking black lives in Detroit (and everywhere in America). This Newsweek piece is a must read.
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Don’t miss environmental author and activist Bill McKibben speak at Seattle Town Hall this Monday, April 4th. He will offer an update from the global frontlines, touch on the Exxon scandal, and explain how you can join the fossil fuel resistance. You can even join for a special Ales and Appetizers reception with Bill before the talk! Get your tickets here.
One thing that drives me crazy is our reliance on plastic products, which feeds our addiction for petroleum since plastics are synthesized from these hydrocarbons and need to burn hydrocarbons to produce them. There are some alternatives out there. Ecovative, a firm located on the East Coast, takes mycelium (remember that term from high school biology?) and combines it with agricultural waste to make mushroom-based materials such as particleboard, plywood, fiberboard, Styrofoam replacement, and more. They are free of harmful resins such as carcinogenic urea-formaldehyde and can achieve fire resistance without added chemicals. So not only do fungi include the world’s largest organism, but perhaps they can break our dependency on petroleum products. If only we could make items to wrap and store food not made from plastic.
In our post a few years ago on Is Meat Sustainable? we reported on Allan Savory’s advocacy of “holistic grazing management,” along with an acknowledgement that his approach has some critics. I recently ran across some material offering different opinions on meat and the environment. The Guardian contains a point-counterpoint on the topic from commentators George Monbiot (critical) and L. Hunter Lovins (supportive). Along with her arguments Lovins provides links to professional papers that back up Savory’s approach.
A recent Grist article reported on a study finding that cutting projected world meat consumption in half would have positive effects in reducing greenhouse gases and reduce human diseases as well. But the same article also linked to an earlier Grist piece that described real efforts to raise more sustainable meat. I hope this collection of reads may be useful to those who wish to explore both sides of the question.
John Abbotts is a former Sightline research consultant and Louis Poncz is a Sightline volunteer; both occasionally submit material to Weekend Reading.