Green Cross Study Tour to Fukushima: Dealing with Long-Term Radiation and Refugees

October 23rd, 2014 by Paul Walker No comments »

I was fortunate to participate earlier this month in a study tour to Fukushima, Japan and the surrounding evacuation zones, organized by Green Cross Switzerland.  There were 35 of us from the US, Europe, and Asia, including several Swiss and other parliamentarians, and we were joined by our colleagues from Green Cross Japan.  Green Cross continues to be very involved in helping the large refugee populations surrounding both the 1986 Chernobyl and 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant catastrophes in the Ukraine and Japan respectively.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on Japan Coastal Cleanup2 (Duncan)March 11, 2011 was catalyzed by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the subsequent tsunami which hit the east coast of Japan.  Three of the six nuclear power reactors (Units 1, 2 & 3) at the Daiichi site experienced severe damage, what some would call a nuclear meltdown, and released hydrogen and radioactive materials in massive explosions and fires.  Reactor Unit 4, which was shut down and undergoing maintenance at the time, did not melt down but lost cooling water for its large spent nuclear fuel pool which ignited shortly thereafter, also spewing radiation from its 1,500 nuclear fuel rods.

Over three and a half years later, this nuclear catastrophe continues to threaten a large portion of Japan and its inhabitants.  Some 160,000 Japanese citizens remain evacuated from an area of over 47,000 square kilometers (18,000 square miles), about the size of Massachusetts and Vermont combined.  Radiation must still be carefully measured and monitored throughout this region, and we were all surprised to see solar-powered highway displays for real-time radiation readings, different from the typical speed readings along US highways.

Japan Family Meeting GC Club Koriyama (Duncan)The study group was able to visit with families who have been evacuated from this region, all wondering if they’ll ever be able to return to their homes.  When they evacuated over 43 months ago they had to leave everything behind – houses, clothes, furniture, and cars.  Because all of these things are suspected of being too radioactive, they may never be able to recover any of their personal belongings left behind.  Our dosimeters and Geiger counters continued to display higher-than-normal radiation readings well over twenty kilometers away from the reactors, and we had to leave a few “hot spots” when readings spiked.  We were told that the radiation readings were about 3 microsieverts/hour Japan Radiation Monitor (Duncan)shortly after the accident, but were now reduced by about 50%.  The readings we saw were in the 0.2-0.5 microsieverts/hour; very low but still a serious risk if one were to live full-time in the evacuated and irradiated area.

These evacuated families are continuing to live in tiny trailers set up by the Japanese government in cities such as Koriyama, over fifty kilometers from the Daiichi reactors in the Fukushima Prefecture, and about a 3-hour drive north of Tokyo.  A city of some 300,000 people, Koriyama still advertises itself as a city in “harmony between people and environment” and one “full of frontier spirit.”  However, since the March 2011 nuclear disaster, most evacuees refuse to allow their children to play outside, given the ongoing elevated radiation readings, so the city has now developed large indoor playgrounds to allow children to exercise.  While some of these concerns about the long-term impact of low-level radiation may be unfounded, many Japanese remain very distressed about the largely unknown health consequences of radiation and are reluctant to return home, should parts of the evacuation zones be re-opened in the future.  The 2011 earthquake and tsunami killed an estimated 15,900 people, and there are still 2,600 missing persons.  Thyroid cancer, especially among children, has also spiked, far above prior estimates, and a recent Japanese government report estimates that physical losses will total over $200 billion.  This will no doubt mean that almost one-eighth of Japan’s territory may take decades or centuries to recover from the 2011 catastrophe.

Japan Hot Zone Gates (Duncan)

A nuclear engineer who used to work with General Electric, Tepco, and Toshiba on boiling water reactors and lived a few kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi site warned that radiation remained very high in Daiichi reactors 1-3 which suffered meltdowns, and there still remain enormous challenges about how best to clean the site, dispose of radioactive water, and cool down the fuel bundles.  He also worried about the vulnerability of the Daiichi reactors and fuel pools to future typhoons, tsunamis, and other possible disasters that could still further exacerbate the current dangerous situation.  He added that fish remain contaminated at least within an 80 kilometer radius, and that it will take at least three decades just to remove the nuclear fuel from the site.  Everywhere we looked in the evacuated zone, we could see hundreds of large plastic bags of contaminated debris, including soil and vegetation, which no one yet knows how to handle or store for the longer term.

Our few days spent in Japan this month have been a sobering experience about the dangers and costs of nuclear power, the enormous and long-term socio-economic and humanitarian impacts of the nuclear fallout from the reactor meltdowns, and the unknown public health risks to millions of Japanese citizens.  As one citizen commented, “we never imagined that radiation would reach us, some 58 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors, falling like snow in Koriyama City.  But it did, and we never want to see another nuclear power plant operating in Japan.”

Images by Jeff Duncan

 

Global Green’s New Partnership to Promote Energy Efficiency in California

October 23rd, 2014 by Gina Goodhill Rosen No comments »

How much energy do you consume each year? Do you know how that may correlate to greenhouse gas emissions? How many tons of green house gas emissions do we emit by leaving our lights on? By taking long showers? By running our air conditioners during these record dry summers? In California, Global Green USA is working to more easily connect consumers to these questions and answers.

In 2009, California passed Assembly Bill (AB) 758, sponsored by Global Green USA and authored by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner. AB 758, or otherwise called the Comprehensive Energy Efficiency Program for Existing Buildings, requires the California EUC BannerEnergy Commission to create and execute a program that will help our state manage energy efficiency in existing buildings.  Energy Upgrade California™ is the state’s response to AB 758. The state initiative educates and incentivizes California residents and small businesses to engage in energy efficiency and manage their energy use. After helping pass AB 758, Global Green has recently become an Energy Upgrade California Ambassador, to further commit to helping reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions.        

Although many Californian’s are interested in using their energy more efficiently and saving money on their utility bills, the process can seem overwhelming and many don’t know where to start. Enter Energy Upgrade CA, a one-stop shop that allows California residents and small business owners to learn how to manage their energy usage with new technology and state incentives. Available rebates, financing options, qualified contractors, interactive learning materials and more are all in one place. Many energy efficient initiatives in the past have focused on infrastructure and LEED certifications for new buildings. However, Energy Upgrade CA is focused on retrofits for existing homes and commercial buildings, many of which were built before California’s energy code was created, and therefore waste a lot of energy.

The solutions under Energy Upgrade CA extend far beyond just California. For example, if every American home replaced one incandescent light bulb with a new ENERGY STAR energy saving bulb, the EPA estimates that we could save enough energy to power three million homes for a year, save about $680 million in annual energy costs, and eliminate nine billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

As Energy Upgrade CA ambassadors, we want to help save residents billions of dollars and avoid millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Educating residents and instilling energy efficient habits will make a great difference.

Energy efficiency is also one of the easiest and most effective tools we have to tackle climate change. AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, requires the state of California to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The incentives and advice available through Energy Upgrade California will be a key part of achieving these goals. Climate change in California means a lot of different things. Changing rain patterns, rising sea levels and more forest fires are a few of the concerning issues we face. Some of these issues, like rolling blackouts, can be largely prevented by making our buildings more energy efficient and thereby reducing strain on the electrical grid.

California has long made clean energy a priority, and Energy Upgrade California is the next step in an extensive history of leadership. We’re looking forward to helping more Californians take advantage of this program in order to do their part towards a greener, more energy efficient future.

Learn more about Energy Upgrade California at EnergyUpgradeCA.org.

Support Global Green by Bidding on Volkswagen’s e-Golf Vehicle!

October 23rd, 2014 by Katie Morgan No comments »

At Global Green USA, we are proud to have been the first environmental non-profit organization to partner with green cars. In fact, we have had a long history of supporting hybrid and electric commuter vehicles. For many years, we employed a Red Carpet/Green Cars campaign at our Annual Pre-Oscar Party, which offered up electric or hybrid vehicles to our celebrity guests as a means of transportation to and from the exclusive event. This campaign featured various fuel-efficient vehicles over the years, both trendy and practical, and was considered a raving success by all who experienced this innovative VIP transportation method. We know that transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in California, which puts our health and environment at risk. This is why Global Green has long advocated for transitioning to fuel-efficient vehicles as the key to achieving a clean energy future.

As fuel-efficient vehicles become more innovative yet practical to drive, Global Green aims to expand partnerships with car companies that are giving drivers an eco-friendly method of personal transportation. As a result, we are pleased to partner with Volkswagen as they introduce their exciting new all-electric e-Golf vehicle to the U.S. Hailed as one of the most efficient electric vehicles in its class, the e-Golf features a 24.2 kWh lithium-ion battery and electric motor producing 115 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. Fitted with LED headlights and a 7.2 kW onboard charger, the versatile vehicle will offer the most interior space of any compact EV in its class, and takes on a holistic approach to sustainability and efficiency that includes a carbon offset program. The e-Golf is estimated to have a 70-90 mile single-charge capacity, produces zero tailpipe emissions and requires no trips to the pump! Gorgeous Green Gala

Through this partnership with Volkswagen, Global Green USA is thrilled to be the beneficiary from the e-Golf CharityBuzz auction, featuring the first of its kind sold in the U.S., which is live from October 8 – October 29. At this month’s 10th Anniversary Gorgeous & Green Gala at the Bently Reserve in San Francisco, we proudly displayed the vehicle as one of our auction items, and for our VIP guests to have an exclusive first-look. The electric vehicle was a great addition to the event, which aims to advance smart solutions to climate change by showing that you can be green AND fabulous, as long as you make conscious decisions about what you eat, what you wear, and of course, what you drive.

So if you want to be the very first person in the U.S. to drive the all-electric 2015 e-Golf AND show your support for Global Green, head right over to the VW e-Golf auction, ending October 29. You can bid on this amazing new car while benefitting Global Green USA’s efforts to advance smart solutions to climate change.

A Closer Look: Food Hubs Helping to Alleviate Food Deserts

October 23rd, 2014 by Global Green USA No comments »

By Lily Kelly, Gina Goodhill-Rosen, and Walker Wells

Graphics by Tim Bevins

In our first blog in this series, we explored what food hubs are, and how food hubs like the Detroit Eastern Market can help bring fresh, heathy food into neighborhoods where it is not readily available.

In this post, we’ll explore in more depth some food hubs that serve the dual purposes of helping bring food to low-income neighborhoods while also supporting farmers with access to markets both inside and outside the food desert. This two-pronged approach to supporting local food systems is a big part of what makes food hubs stand out from other food distribution mechanisms, such as traditional grocery stores, or farmers’ markets. Because of the diversity of both the producers and sellers that they support, food hubs can create a stable platform that makes it possible to distribute healthy foods in a wider variety of ways, and to a wider variety of neighborhoods.

 

Food Hubs In a Food Desert

In many cases, food deserts form because the economics of a grocery store in the area are not favorable. Food hubs can generate revenue through both retail and wholesale produce sales, or even through philanthropy, as in the case of some non-profit food hubs.

Food hubs are generally most valuable when a retail area is included in order to sell directly to residents, along with additional space to provide various fresh-food-related services to local residents, such as cooking classes or urban gardening workshops. A leading exampleCaseStudy_2 of this model is Jack & Jake’s, a for-profit food hub located in Central City, New Orleans. They currently make nearly all of their revenue through selling to wholesale buyers, such as hospitals and schools, but they are in the process of renovating a 27,000 square foot school building into a retail space that will rest on a larger 65,000 square foot site, all located within a large food desert in central New Orleans.

In the retail area, customers will be able to buy both raw and prepared foods directly, while in the wholesale area, Jack & Jake’s will continue to consolidate deliveries for restaurants, hospitals, and other food buyers. The fact that they have several revenue streams helps to ensure their stability, and make it possible for them to provide additional services to residents, including workshops and cooking demonstrations.

In addition to providing a supply of fresh produce and meats, Jack & Jake’s is also building demand for healthy foods in two ways. First, they offer training for residents in their educational kitchen to help them understand how to cook potentially unfamiliar healthy foods, in particular traditional New Orleans cuisine. They also plan to partner with local non-profits, including the Tulane School of Public Health, to increase outreach and education concerning the benefits of a diet rich in healthy foods. Second, they partner with organizations that teach residents urban farming techniques, in order to build the necessary knowledge base within the neighborhood to empower residents to grow some of their own food.

 

Food Hubs Outside a Food Desert

A food hub doesn’t necessarily have to be in the food desert in order to benefit it. The Detroit Eastern Market, which we mentioned in our last blog post, is not located in a food desert, though many of its services, such as providing a wholesale night market that serves as a “one-stop shop” for small neighborhood grocers to purchase produce, are designed to assist residents who are.

CaseStudy_3Similarly, the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture,[1] located in Alexandria, Virginia, operates a mobile market that brings fresh produce directly to food deserts, supplied from both their own educational farm as well as other local farmers as a means to increase healthy food access in the Washington, DC metro area. Arcadia operates as a non-profit entity, earning 18% of their revenue from sales, with the other 82% coming from contributions, sponsorships and grants. Currently, they own and operate a 5-acre educational farm, and a mobile market, and are preparing to open an aggregation center for the 15 local farms they serve. For these producers, Arcadia coordinates deliveries of produce to area restaurants and grocers, and includes some of their produce in the stock for their mobile market.

Arcadia’s mobile market vehicle is a converted biodiesel-powered school bus that sells fresh produce on a weekly schedule. The stops include schools, senior and low-income living facilities, community centers, parks, and other accessible locations in food deserts in the DC metro area. The mobile market accepts multiple forms of public assistance, including Federal food subsidy programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. They supplement this with a “Bonus Bucks” program, which uses corporate donations to match every dollar of public subsidy with an additional dollar of purchasing power. They provide a wide variety of heathy fresh and prepared foods, from raw kale to whole chickens to pre-mixed salads.

To maximize impact, Arcadia also hosts cooking and nutrition classes at elementary and middle schools, and partners with other local non-profits to increase awareness of the mobile market and , farming classes.. They are partnering with another mobile market operator, which will add another 8 stops to their weekly route. The mobile market is self-supporting through both sales of produce and sponsorship from local businesses.

Food hubs provide a variety of services, some of which are not possible using more standard food sales models such as grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

Food hubs provide a variety of services, some of which are not possible using more standard food sales models such as grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

 

Whether they are located in or near a food desert, food hubs have a great opportunity to provide a variety of services that can help increase fresh, healthy food access for the nearby residents. For our next and final post, we will be exploring some of the policy and financial opportunities to increase the presence of food hubs in the places where they are needed most.

 

 

[1] Mulder, Matt. Director of Development and Communications, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture. Personal Interview. 18 April 2014

Ramping Up: Expanding our Los Angeles Food Scrap Recovery Pilot to the Old Bank District

October 22nd, 2014 by Lily Kelly No comments »

For those of you who have been keeping up with Global Green’s Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR), you know that just a couple of months ago we helped launch a food scrap recovery system at a 16-unit apartment complex in Lincoln Heights – the first time food scrap recovery had been implemented in Los Angeles at a multi-family residence larger than 4 units. Now, we are expanding the pilot even further, to the 71-unit complex in LA’s beautiful Old Bank District.

On October 4, 2014, Global Greentabling and CoRR members Athens Services and EcoSafe Zero Waste set up a table in the building’s lobby to educate the tenants on the new program and provide them with a small kitchen bin and compostable bags. Tenants were directed to deposit their full bag of food scraps into a central green container located in each trash chute room of the building. There, they can pick up a replacement bag from the compost bag dispenser. 

american-organicsEach day the maintenance staff will empty the green containers into a 3-yard dumpster, where Athens Services will then collect the material for processing at their compost facility American Organics. Throughout the kickoff event, the implementation team found the tenants to be very receptive to the new program and excited that their food scraps would be turned into valuable soil amendment.

After the outreach event, Global Green sat down with Gilmore Associates’ Justin Schoenfelder, the property manager for the building, and got his take on why providing food scrap recovery to their tenants is good for their company as a multi-family building owner and operator. 

 

What has been your favorite part about launching food scrap recovery at your building?

The best thing is that Global Green has teamed up with Athens and EcoSafe to offer this pilot program. We can try it, see how it works, learn along the way, and make changes if we need to, without any risk. This is an amazing opportunity that you’re providing for us. It really is all about partnerships, and working together to find solutions.

It’s actually hard for me to imagine anyone saying no to this, because it’s all benefit. There’s just no downside.

How are your tenants responding?

It has been great seeingSFBldg our tenants coming up to the table today [to speak to the Athens Services, Ecosafe, and Global Green representatives] and responding so positively to the program, saying, “Oh, that’s really cool,” and walking back to their apartment with their new kitchen bin. That’s when we know we’re on the right track. We didn’t need to wait for the tenants to come to us, or even ask them if they wanted to do it. We went ahead and launched this with you and now we can see that there’s a real need for it, and a desire to do it.

Actually, one of the prospective tenants who came through today and saw you all giving out the bins made the comment of, “Oh, that’s so cool. They don’t have that where we live.” You can really see when it hits somebody, that feeling of, “Oh, that seems so obvious now.” It was definitely a very positive attribute to them.

Is this something you would like your other properties to get on board with as well?

We have three properties downtown, and a few other places where we’re expanding. Since this matches so well with our culture of constant improvement, this really is something that is part of our mission and we want to do it in as many of our properties as we can.

What advice do you have for other property management companies?

I think it starts with asking the right questions. Will this work? If not, what will work? Asking questions and really exploring your options, especially as part of a partnership like this project, is what will lead you to the best solutions for your specific situation. I believe if you see something being done better that what you already do, even if you can’t do the exact same thing, you can still learn from it and do it better in your own way.

Event Report: Feeding The 5000 Oakland

October 20th, 2014 by Lily Kelly No comments »

Presentations at Feeding5kOne of my favorite things about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is that there are so many organizations around here who are also doing fantastic work on environmental projects, and who are happy to join forces to achieve great things. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to team up with EndFoodWaste.org, which hosted an event in downtown Oakland called Feeding the 5000. For this event, perfectly good produce that had been destined for disposal was instead cooked into a delicious sweet-potato-carrot-onion-celery soup, and given away to the first 5,000 hungry folks who came by.

Each year, approximately 40% of the food that is grown or produced in the US is wasted, much of it due to cosmetic imperfections or the misconception that “sell by” dates mean that the food has spoiled after the “sell-by” date listed (Pro Tip – it doesn’t! According to the USDA, that is the date when it is at “peak quality” – it’s not about food safety). At the same time, 46 million Americans are food insecure. Feeding the 5000 was founded to raise awareness around opportunities to divert some of this food to those who need it the most.

Zero Waste at Feeding5kSo what did Global Green’s Coalition for Resource Recovery do to help? In addition to spreading the word about the event through our blog and social media, as well as friend and volunteer networks, yours truly also served as the event’s Bin Crew Leader. With a dedicated team of volunteers, we made sure that all recyclables and compostables were put in the right bins so they can be recovered as new products, including nutritious soil for California’s farms.

But the resource recovery doesn’t stop there. Over the next few months we will be rolling out multi-family food scrap recovery pilots in the East Bay, and while we’re at it, exploring ways to help prevent that food waste in the first place. Stay tuned for more resource recovery adventures!

Re-Imagining the School Lunch Tray in New York City

October 8th, 2014 by Matt de la Houssaye No comments »

In the 2013 Fall semester, Global Green USA and Parsons the New School for Design held a class focused on re-designing New York City school lunch trays. With over 830,000 lunch trays sent to landfill each school day in NYC, the challenge is: Can we transform trays currently made from unrecoverable expanded polystyrene foam into aesthetically pleasing, functional, recyclable, and compostable lunch trays?

The curriculum for the class, taught by faculty member Daniel Michalik, was designed in conjunction with Global Green USA’s Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR). This school lunch tray project builds upon Global Green’s groundbreaking work in New York City to develop and pilot recyclable food packaging recovery systems with quick-service restaurants such as Pret A Manger, Jamba Juice, and Starbucks.

This semester-long class provided a valuable applied educational experience for undergraduate design students; it brought experts in the field of foodservice packaging design and paper fiber together with young student designers who bring a fresh take to a timely issue in NYC. Parsons students worked both individually and in groups to research the design constraints associated with these trays. Global Green coordinated school visits to see trays in use and tours of manufacturing or recycling facilities, and arranged for product samples and presentations from industry professionals.

The objectives of the class were to provide a hands-on educational experience for design students, to inform the design of prototype trays that would, if produced and used en masse, enrich the lunch experience for New York’s school children by giving them the chance to act responsibly for the environment, and to reduce the ecological impact of school lunch.

Global Green is currently in the process of completing follow-up on the project by directly communicating the results to school boards, parents and other stakeholders to raise awareness of recyclable and compostable alternatives to unrecoverable trays, and share lessons learned from this project. Tell us what your school is doing and stay tuned to hear more about our project!

Watch the video here!

Zeroing Out Food Waste and Feeding the 5000

September 26th, 2014 by Lily Kelly No comments »

Feed the 5000

Everyone knows the “three R’s”: reduce, reuse, and recycle. However, not as many know that these actions are literally listed in order of priority. When you are faced with the potential for waste, the most environmentally—and financially—sound thing to do is keep that waste from happening in the first place.

For food, this is especially true. In a report produced by Global Green USA’s Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR), entitled Guiding Principles for Recovering Value from Commercial Food Waste, we emphasize smart purchasing as a great way to reduce food waste.

But what happens when a deli or a restaurant orders more than they can sell? Or what if a farmer has some weird-looking carrots that the grocer doesn’t want? As families across the US struggle with hunger and farmers battle an historic drought, excess edible food can and must be put to its highest use wherever possible.

Enter the Zero Food Waste Forum and Feeding the 5000, events that are helping to raise awareness about reusing—as well as avoiding the production of—edible foods that can’t be sold and are usually thrown away. By expanding the use and sale of “cosmetically challenged” produce; by educating businesses and the public about smart buying, cooking, and food storage practices; and by using new technologies to connect those with food to those without; we can take a big bite out of our nation’s hunger and food waste (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun!).

For the first time in the United States, the Zero Food ee89d3e8a9105487d260355e6f0eb995Waste Forum and Feeding the 5000 will be hosted here in beautiful Berkeley and Oakland, California on October 16-18. The Forum will bring together leaders in food waste prevention for a discussion on strategies and next steps for preventing waste. Feeding the 5000, a related and 100% free awareness festival, will use rescued food to feed 5,000 people who come to Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza on October 18. I’ll be there helping make sure every inedible food scrap gets composted (i.e. recycled), and I hope you can come too!

You can register for the Forum here and find more about Feeding the 5000 here. Be sure to stay tuned for Global Green USA’s conference report after the event.

Board Spotlight: Zem Spire Joaquin

September 26th, 2014 by Global Green USA No comments »

zem-global-green

Sitting down with Global Green USA Board of Directors Secretary, Zem Spire Joaquin, Entrepreneur & Activist.

 

10 years ago, you joined the Board of Global Green USA. What inspired you to get involved?

I had two children suffering from severe asthma, and after trying everything else, I set out to a healthy home for them. I found Global Green to be the best resource and wanted to help other families get access to better materials and information, especially if they couldn’t afford to hire someone to assist them. I was impressed with the work Matt Petersen and his dedicated team were doing at Global Green USA, and was also in awe of the vision President Gorbachev and Diane Mayer Simon had for Green Cross International.

As the founder of Ecofabulous.com and now Editor-at-Large of Home & Lifestyle for the Huffington Post, you know “eco-chic!” How do you define that concept, or way of life?

Jordan Harris, the same board member that recruited me to join Global Green, was the genius who introduced me to the term “eco-chic,” but I own the URL. Many years ago I was the eco-editor of House and Garden Magazine, which had the tagline, “for the well-lived life.” The magazine was my visual muse, but a life surrounded by gorgeous things that could be making you and the planet sick just didn’t seem well-lived to me. Eco-chic is about really living well! It is about true luxury. Examples are the Tesla, Jennifer Dawes recycled gold jewelry, Stella McCartney dresses, Tatcha skincare, Simon + Krull bags, Kenneth Cobonpue furniture, and the new Mercedes Electric B-Class vehicle, which I have just signed on to be the spokesperson for! Ecofabulous is more inclusive, though. A toothbrush can be considered fabulous but is unlikely to be considered chic (there are exceptions, of course).

In addition to joining the board, you also began hosting the Gorgeous & Green Gala, one of Global Green USA’s four title events. How has the event evolved over the years?

The first year I just set out to introduce Global Green’s work to San Francisco and many of my amazing friends there. It was met with open arms, wallets and minds. I realized that the event could also be a platform to showcase the wonderful products that I was writing about on Ecofabulous. I wanted people to see that a healthy lifestyle did not have to be devoid of…well, style! Nadine Weil and Christopher Bently then stepped up to help what would become one of the most revered eco-events in the country. Lily Achatz produces a fashion show to rival Paris, if Paris was conscious (I hope that it will be in the future!).

What is in store for guests at the 10-year celebration of Gorgeous & Green this year?

There are so many things to look forward to at our anniversary Gorgeous & Green Gala this year! We have themed the “green tie” event Emerald City, with a guest performance from Broadway star Shoshana Bean, most known for playing Elphaba in Wicked. There will be a delicious -course meal by celebrity chefs Dominique Creen (Atelier Crenn), Parke Ulrich (Epic Roast House and Waterbar), and Ethan Howard (Cavallo Point). The auction will feature many phenomenal items, including a painting by renowned artist Zio Ziegler, and guests will have access to an exclusive gifting suite. You don’t want to miss Gorgeous & Green this year!

For more Gorgeous & Green Gala information, and to purchase tickets, click here!

 

 

Encouraging Reflections on the Monumental People’s Climate March

September 24th, 2014 by Global Green USA No comments »

By Paul Walker and Matt de la Houssaye

March Photos2

Left: Matt de la Houssaye, Paul Walker and Deborah Klein Walker      Right: Paul Walker and Matt de la Houssaye march proudly

 

Climate change continues to threaten the planet and humankind. As the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported this year, increasing carbon emissions from China, India, the US, Europe, and elsewhere, threaten life as we know it today. Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, agricultural production is down in many areas due to drought, overall temperatures are rising, and climatic disruptions are intensifying, all causing enormous negative impacts on the earth and humanity. We were therefore very committed to joining the “People’s Climate March” in New York City on Sunday, September 21st, and helping to represent Green Cross International, its US national affiliate, Global Green USA, and the other 30+ Green Cross affiliates which have all been working for two decades now to raise public attention and action on climate change.

While predictions for the march talked about “tens of thousands of people” joining the demonstration that day, we realized as we entered the New York subway at Penn Station (34th Street) on Sunday morning and saw the packed platforms, that the turnout appeared to be much heavier. By the time we reached 81st Street on the west side of Central Park, towards the tail end of the march, we witnessed the vast throngs of marchers and could barely even exit the subway! We squeezed into the crowds which covered both sidewalks and the street and waited for the march to begin.

The crowds, although overwhelming, were all in high spirits and anxious “to speak truth to power,” to march that afternoon and tell the world leaders, convening in two days at the United Nations to discuss climate change, that we wanted action, not just words, to help address this growing global crisis. The marchers were a remarkably diverse mix of young and old including infants in strollers, high school and college groups, and elderly with walkers and canes. Many demonstrators were also costumed to represent melting icebergs, coal-burning plants, “drowning clowns,” and other innovative characters. Drummers were beating out invigorating rhythms, and innumerable signs and banners demanded “no nukes,” “no Keystone XL pipeline,” “no LNG ports and tankers,” “energy conservation,” “sustainable energy,” “clean air and water,” “divestment in fossil fuels,” “no Planet B,” and many other calls for tackling climate change, protecting the environment, and improving security, safety, and public health.

March Photos1

The back end of the march at 81st Street did not begin moving until about 2 in the afternoon, given the enormous crowds in the 30 or more blocks ahead of us. We all welcomed the opportunity to begin moving after standing in place for over two hours, and marched down the west side of Central Park, then down Avenue of the Americas past Rockefeller Plaza and Radio City Music Hall, well into the late afternoon. The whole march, some 40 blocks long, was very peaceful and joyous, with everyone sharing snacks and water, and well organized by the City of New York. It reminded me (Paul) very much of the large and historic anti-nuclear march my wife, Debbie, and I, along with our first son, Ian, at age 18 months, joined in New York City on June 12, 1982, to protest US President Ronald Reagan’s dangerous nuclear weapons build-up and threats of nuclear war. Just as that large public demonstration, with well over one million marchers, led to Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev agreeing to nuclear abolition at the October 1986 Reykjavik Summit, we expect that this historic public outpouring of commitment and concern, matched by hundreds of other demonstrations around the world, will put pressure on the world’s leaders and parliaments to take climate change seriously and act accordingly.

We all need to think globally, but act locally, and some 400,000 or more of us did this past weekend in New York City. As many of our signs and statements on Sunday underlined, we need to act now, not just continue debating until it’s all too late.