Have you heard about the global movement “Fridays For Future“? It is spearheaded by Greta Thundberg, a 16 year old student who last year spent many weeks striking in front of the Swedish Parliament. A lot has happened since:
Greta was invited to speak at the climate conference in NY in September and again in Madrid in December. Time magazine just announced her as Time person of the year 2019.
She triggered a movement around the world to strike for climate change on Fridays. We want to encourage Roy Cloud students & parents to, instead of striking, take the next step , & get informed about a few changes in their lives that they can take in order to stop climate change.
We started this series last September as part of climate activist week. These were incorporated into the weekly Thunderbolt newsletter. Did you not have time to follow up on them as they came along? Here’s the list for you to read up on in your time and…. Hopefully implement them now!!
Do you notice something around school that you think could be improved to reduce the school carbon footprint? Let us know your ideas here . From Gretas story we know, that if she can become a climate activist , you can too – or at least join her movement and become more climate-change aware.
- RC FfF #1 – Walk to school (Thunderbolt 09/26/2019)
- RC FfF #2 – Pick up one piece of trash every time you are outside (Thunderbolt 10/03/2019)
- RC FfF #3 – Eat up!/only buy what you eat (Thunderbolt 10/10/2019)
- RC FfF #4 – Reduce Energy Consumption (Thunderbolt 10/17/2019)
- RC FfF #5 – Recycle/Reduce/Freecycle (Thunderbolt 10/24/2019)
- RC FfF #6 – Compost (Thunderbolt 10/31/2019)
- RC FfF #7 – Garbage free lunch (Thunderbolt 11/07/2019)
- RC FfF #8 – Know your Carbon Footprint (Thunderbolt 11/14/2019)
- RC FfF #9 – A Carbon reduced Thanksgiving ( Thunderbolt 11/21/2019)
- RC Black FfF #10 – (Thunderbolt 11/28/2019)
- RC FfF #11 – Like Roy Cloud, REI Shares Simple Weekly Challenges for Climate Action (Thunderbolt 12/05/2019)
- RC FfF #12 – no more junk mail!! (Thunderbolt 12/12/2019)
- RC FfF #13 – turn your art projects into wrapping paper (Thunderbolt 12/19/2019)
1. RC FfF #1 – Walk to school (Thunderbolt 09/26/2019)
Have you heard about the global movement “Fridays For Future“? It is spearheaded by Greta Thundberg, a 16 year old student who last year spent many weeks striking in front of the Swedish Parliament. She as invited to speak at the climate conference in NY last week and gave a very emotional speech – this has triggered a movement around the world to strike for climate change on Fridays. We want to encourage Roy Cloud students to, instead of striking, take the next step , & get informed about a few changes in their lives that they can take in order to stop climate change.
Take the first step, ditch the car and WALK to school, at least some days of the week. Burning one gallon of gasoline creates about 20 pounds of CO2—which means the average vehicle creates roughly 6 to 9 tons of CO2 each year. So students – you do the math… How many miles/gallon does your family car need? How many miles do you ride to get to school every day? What is YOUR transportation carbon footprint?
2. RC FfF #2 – Pick up one piece of trash every time you are outside (Thunderbolt 10/03/2019)
By 2050, the World Economic Forum predicts there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish
Our current Kindergartners will be 35 years old by that time, and all coral reefs and almost 50% of our current sea life will be extinct.
Marine animals eat the plastic that lands in the ocean or get entangled in it.
The Great Pacific Garbage patch off our coast has reached twice the amount of Texas already today. With the rainy season starting soon, the trash lying on the streets will eventually land in the storm drains and make its way exactly to that garbage patch.
We can easily stop this trend – Can you imagine, if every human , every time they went outside just picked up one piece of trash and dispose of it properly? An interesting concept, extrapolated to the millions here:
To make it interesting for our youngsters, they can even register their trash here and see how much they are contributing.
Students , once more you can do the math: 750 Roy Cloud students (plus parents!) go outside at least 4 times a day (drop off, pickup, 2 recesses) If we picked up just one piece of trash every time (after making sure we don’t drop anything by accident, of course) – How much trash will we save from landing in the ocean?
3. RC FfF #3 – Eat up!/only buy what you eat (Thunderbolt 10/10/2019)
Whether it’s left on your plate or rotting in your fridge, wasted food is a big problem – 38 million tons of food gets thrown away in the US each year, according to the EPA. Not only do we have to be aware that 95% of this wasted food lands on landfill and produces methane gases, but also the secondary carbon emissions of growing and cooking this wasted food (water, energy, transportation) has to be considered in your carbon bill.
Producing the food we throw away generates more greenhouse gases than most entire countries do.
Often food is tossed only because of the manufacturers expiration date. Read here the truth about food dating.
Luckily, small changes to your routine can make a big difference. Here’s a great list of ideas for saving food, including ways to be thrifty and smarter about storage and preservation.
At school use the share cart to place the school lunch food items on you know you are not going to eat – other students may appreciate the things otherwise would get wasted.
Don’t pack more than you can eat and spend the time to eat what you packed – lunch that comes back home will most certainly land in compost or trash.
Take the food waste challenge and record all the food wasted for a period of time.
- Wasted food is a social problem: In 2013, 14.3 percent of U.S. households were food insecure at some time during the year. That is 48 million Americans, of which 16 million are children, living in food insecure households. Wholesome, nutritious food should feed people, not landfills.
- Wasted food is an environmental problem: Food is the largest stream of materials in American trash. Once wasted food reaches landfills, it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
→ if you absolutely have to trash food, make sure you put it in the compost bin
- Wasted food is an economic issue: It is estimated that at the retail and consumer levels in the United States, food loss and waste totals $161 billion dollars.
4. RC FfF #4 – Reduce Energy Consumption (Thunderbolt 10/17/2019)
With less than 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. consumes 17% of the world’s energy. Only 11% of the electric energy used is from renewable sources. So even if your vehicle or heat source is electric, your secondary carbon bill is not (yet) green. We can vastly reduce our carbon footprint by increasing the energy efficiency of our home.
This weeks’ challenge: make a conscious effort in switching off and unplugging unused appliances and turning off electronics rather than using standby – both tasks do not cost a dime to start with.
Fully turning off just one LCD TV (rather than leaving it on standby) for 18 hours a day will save about 5kg CO2 a year!!
Ready to invest more time in this? Check out an energy saving toolkit at the RWC public library, which contains tools like a kill-a-watt device and an infrared laser thermometer which will help you monitor energy usage and find thermo leaks.
The most efficient ways to reduce your electricity usage can be found here
5. RC FfF #5 – Recycle/Reduce/Freecycle (Thunderbolt 10/24/2019)
Landfill is composed of the following waste, which could easily be recycled:
- 21% of food, the largest component of landfill (discussed in last week’s Thunderbolt edition)
- 14% of paper and paperboard
- 10% of rubber, leather and textiles
- 18% of plastic
254 million tons of trash are being generated in the US each year. That’s a lot to find room for. There’s simply nowhere to put it all. The current recycling rate is only 34%. The effects of everyone making a conscious decisions on which bin to throw their trash in would be humongous. See here how ONE can make a difference Unsure where to place an item? Check out what goes where and what bin, 2 sorting guides Recology offers.
Better yet, reduce the use of items that later land in trash/recycle.
Bring your reusable water bottle to every event and make when purchasing items, check for recyclable materials.
Planning a Halloween/thanksgiving/kids birthday party? Consider checking out a zero waste party pack from the city of Redwood City – we have a host in walking distance from Roy Cloud!!
Find information here on what to do with your Halloween items in November.
6. RC FfF #6 – Compost (Thunderbolt 10/31/2019)
Whatever you don’t eat, don’t let it end in land fill. Transforming food scraps, lawn clippings and leaves into fresh, nutrient-rich soil gives home gardens a boost . Roughly 20 to 30 percent of what we normally throw out can be composted. You wait, and while you do, you create rich soil, save the city money on shipping organic waste to landfill where methane.
Starting a compost in your backyard is EASY: Find out how to make an easy compost bin with your kids and also find out what type of food should go in the compost bin. More benefits about composting and where to get free compost for your garden can be found here
Halloween pumpkins are very nutritious food for worms and decompose within days!!
7. RC FfF #7 – Garbage free lunch (Thunderbolt 11/07/2019)
It is estimated that on average a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. A recent study in the San Francisco Bay Area found that food and beverage packaging made up 67 percent of all litter on the streets. Single use food containers are a big issue not only in school but in our every day life. Let’s at least try to leave the biggest offenders out of school (click on the links to see the effects they have on the environment)
- sandwiches in disposable plastic bags
- fruits and vegetables in plastic bags
- prepackaged chips, cookies, fruit bars, granola bars, cheeses, and fruit leathers
- single-use yogurts, applesauces, and puddings
- Plastic forks and spoons
There are endless possibilities to reduce this list to zero waste, here are some examples:
- Pack sandwiches and other main dishes in reusable sandwich bags
- Use reusable plastic containers for fresh fruits and, fresh vegetables,
- Make your own bag for snacks and treats out of an old bandana
- Carry reusable silverware everywhere with you
- Use reusable drink containers – and ALWAYS ban straws
8. RC FfF #8 – Know your Carbon Footprint (Thunderbolt 11/14/2019)
The average American’s carbon footprint per person in 2014 was 21.5 metric tons CO2 This is an increase of 7% compared to a study conducted 25 years earlier. It remains the highest in the world since industrialization.
An MIT study shows that even the most conserving Americans still produce double the amount of Carbon than the world average.
How does your household compare to this? Use this online tool to calculate and track your carbon footprint, and even get an idea on what could positively influence it.
Using a calculator to work out your carbon footprint is only the beginning of the journey, however it is a very important step. Using this information, a road map can be drawn indicating the best way to reduce carbon emissions and help slow down global warming and the greenhouse effect.
Are you planning on flying togo on vacation or see family over the holidays? One round-trip flight between New York and San Francisco contributes an average of 2 metric tons more to your bill. Several airlines and other organizations now have an option where you can buy carbon offsets— which does make a difference, and experts say it’s a valid way to even out.
9. RC FfF #9 A Carbon reduced Thanksgiving ( Thunderbolt 11/21/2019)
Turkey, Travel, Football – all things many do not want to miss on Thanksgiving.
As we approach the Thanksgiving break, many of us are planning travel and meals for Thanksgiving day. Any guesses what out of the above mentioned Thanksgiving favorites adds the most to your carbon bill?
It turns out that your food isn’t the biggest holiday culprit — traveling for the meal is.
Four people flying a 600-mile trip is the equivalent of 10 times the CO2 emissions of the Thanksgiving meal. Of course we would not want you to celebrate alone – so, like mentioned last week, consider purchasing carbon offsets for your travel.
As for the food – while pulutary is amongst the most carbon friendly proteins you can eat, if you can do without, it will definitely help – “The carbon footprint of a 16-pound turkey is the equivalent of one dish of turkey gravy, cranberry sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, rolled biscuits and apple pie combined.”- And Then There’s The Issue Of Food Waste
While Thanksgiving is a time of abundance and celebration, ,according to the USDA, 30 to 40% of America’s food supply is wasted, making a good argument for selecting a few key dishes to ensure more is eaten
10. RC Black FfF #10 (Thunderbolt 11/28/2019)
Do you have your shopping list for Black Friday and Cyber Monday ready?
Here are some tips to make your shopping more sustainable
- Combine shipping
Rather than picking the fastest shipping method, wait a day longer and get everything shipped in one box.
- Do you really need that new smartphone, laptop or TV? The newest model often only adds little features compared to the previous model- If your current model still works, think twice if it is really worth the upgrade. Does your current model have a minor problem? Get it repaired instead of upgrading.
- Add ‘Small Business Saturday, ’ to the top of your 3-day shopping spree list and help local businesses and your community
- For every product you get, ask yourself a million questions about how the item got there, how it was packaged, who made it, and how they made it. The more you buy from vendors that work on reducing their carbon footprint, the more companies will better serve our desire for a better planet.
- Don’t forget to bring your shopping bag to the Black Friday Sale!
11. RC FfF #11- Like Roy Cloud, REI Shares Simple Weekly Challenges for Climate Action (Thunderbolt 12/05/2019)
While REI a few years back made some of us join their efforts to NOT participate in Black Friday and enjoy the day outside (#optoutside) , their mission this year is taking it one step further with their #opt-to-act action plan – 52 weeks to little by little make changes to our every day actions for a better planet – very much the same way as Roy Cloud has started it with these posts. Watch the video here to start. A checklist with the weekly activities can be found there as well as a description of the activity to perform every week – little by little – and you can even get a calendar reminder every week to work on your activity.
Other than at REI’s, a study shows that climate change wasn’t a popular Thanksgiving table topic Only 9% brought it up at the dinner table, but 40% of the participants in the study said that they talked about it with their friends during the last year – We hope that in the Roy Cloud community, with these weekly updates, it was 100% !!
Thanksgiving week also the 2019 Emissions GAP report was published. According to the report, current measures will not keep global temperature increases within the 1.5-to-2-degree Celsius range that scientists urge us to try and accomplish. To get back on that goal, global greenhouse gas emissions must fall at least 7.6% every year to remove 32 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The 25th United Nations Climate Change conference is progress this week and hopefully the world leaders will come up with a plan for us to reach this goal – but until then – lets continue to do our part- Follow the REI plan for this week and pick up the trash we see lying on the street – with the rain, it will all flow to the bay otherwise! – very much as we asked for in our Roy Cloud Fridays for Future #2 – pick up one piece of trash every day
12. RC FfF #12 – no more junk mail!! (Thunderbolt 12/12/2019)
According to a statistic by the University of Indiana , The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees. That’s roughly 2,000,000,000 trees per year! The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.
The most alarming is, that out of these, 4 million tons are junk mail – unwanted, not asked and not even looked at!! Over 50 percent of this unsolicited mail ends up in landfill. While we know that most of you are choosing recycling over trash, you can also put a stop to even receiving these – for the price of $2 and 10 minutes of your time!
We are aligning this week’s Roy Cloud action plan once more with REI’s #opt-to-act action plan. Stop this waste of paper using this easy guide:
- visit OptOutPrescreen.com to stop receiving credit card and insurance offers.
- for $2 you can block unwanted mail from the Data and Marketing Association who are responsible for all the catalogs, and magazine offers you get all the time
A similar service is also offered by https://www.catalogchoice.org/
- If you no longer want to receive these coupon packs , you can stop them here. The Federal Trade Commission also provides a detailed guide for stopping a whole host of unsolicited mail.
- Get a ‘no junk mail’ sticker to put on your mailbox – this won’t help in the junk mail to be produced, but at least it will help your mailbox to remain more controllable. Get another one for your friends and neighbors too!!
- Go to https://www.yellowpagesoptout.com and put an end to these 1k pages landing on your front porch
- You can use an app like PaperKarma that lets you take pictures of unwanted mail and they will unsubscribe you
- While not as bad to the environment, but equally annoying, get on the donotcall list here to get rid of these unwanted telemarketer calls
13. RC FfF #13 – turn your art projects into wrapping paper (Thunderbolt 12/19/2019)
Wrapping paper contains a lot of foreign materials to make it shiny, and therefore is very often not recyclable – why not use these coloring book pages from first grade to wrap your presents in? Or wouldn’t it be fun to solve one or the other math equation when unwrapping presents out of your recycled math workbook? The Sunday funnies can in some situations make the wrap as interesting as the content. The opt-to-act-plan has numerous additional ideas on what to use as a wrapper – old towels, bedspreads, recyclable brown paper , or reusable shopping bags are just some more examples. If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
Do you also want to give a present to Earth? According to this article, the best you can do is to cut down on holiday waste. A Stanford University report.states that 25 million extra tons of garbage are produced in the US between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Find some tips on how to limit the amount of garbage produced over the holidays here