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Category Archives:

Sustainability

On a Mission to Make Compost Cool

Domingo Morales was a young father living in public housing in East Harlem when he saw a flyer from Green City Force, a Brooklyn non-profit and longtime Solar One partner that trains young people for green careers. He signed up for the program and fell in love with composting. Last week, Mr. Morales and the program he created and runs, Compost Power, were featured in the NY Times.

His story is an inspiring example of how green workforce training and environmental education can have a huge impact on individuals, families and communities.

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Demystifying Plastics Recycling

Hard, soft, colored, clear, film, food safe, medical and on and on- the variety of plastic products in our lives is extensive to the point of being overwhelming. Plastic particles have been found in the middle of the Pacific ocean, in the stomachs of animals, fish and birds, and even in human lungs and bloodstreams. And as oil companies look toward a future with much less dependence on their products as fuel for heat, electricity and transportation, it’s expected that the production of plastics is going to increase over time, at least in the short term.

Even though plastics recycling has been mandatory in NYC since 1989, it can be difficult to understand the rules. Overall, less than 50% of recyclable materials are recovered. Plastic dishware, including cups, plates and utensils, which can be recycled as rigid plastics in NYC, have only a 5% capture rate.

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Just in Time for Earth Day, NY-Sun Initiative Expansion Is Approved

Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new framework for New York State to increase its distributed solar capacity to 10 gigawatts by 2030- enough to power 700,000 homes. NYSERDA and the Public Service Commission have created a new roadmap to show how these numbers can be achieved, making the NY-Sun Initiative one of the largest and most inclusive programs of its kind in the US.

“The existential fight against climate change demands historic investments in renewable energy to bring us closer to a brighter, greener future,” Governor Hochul said. “This roadmap to expand the NY-Sun initiative into a nation-leading blueprint for the development of distributed solar meets the moment to supercharge our economy and advance our climate goals.”

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“Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow”

March is Women’s History Month, March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s Day, and the theme for 2022 is the quote above: “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”. Globally, women and girls, especially those in marginalized and impoverished communities, are feeling the effects of climate change more directly and profoundly than others. Since women are most often responsible for tending to domestic issues like food and water procurement, cooking and nutrition, collecting fuel sources and maintaining gardens, when climate disaster strikes their communities, these necessary tasks become more difficult and time consuming, leaving women farther behind in terms of education, resources and decision-making power.

At the same time, because women feel these impacts so strongly, they often respond to these challenges by becoming leaders in their communities, spearheading the fight to maintain those communities and rally their neighbors to come up with innovative solutions to address these dire problems.

Furthermore, those who do have the opportunity to advance their educations and develop professionally often dedicate their careers to supporting those who lack those opportunities, sometimes in the communities where they grew up. At the Columbia Climate School and in the broader Columbia University community, women are leading the way in the fields of climate science and adaptation, and working to promote equity, sustainability and resilience around the world.

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Non-Profits Partner to Bring Solar Power and Utility Bill Savings to Brooklyn Homeowners

Barrio Solar InstallationFifth Avenue Committee, in partnership with Solar One and with support from Enterprise Community Partners, has launched Barrio Solar, a program to provide financial assistance to low- to-moderate income Brooklyn homeowners to help them install rooftop solar panels. Solar can help homeowners lower their Con Edison bills, lower their property/income taxes, and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The campaign is open to all Brooklyn homeowners, and participants will receive free solar consultation from trusted non-profits and discounted pricing through a solar purchasing group. The first 25 low- to moderate-income homeowners that sign up will receive a campaign-specific incentive of $3,500 to apply towards the cost of solar panels or roof repairs, helping make solar affordable to the homeowners who can benefit most from the savings. Barrio Solar is also connecting homeowners who can’t install solar with local community solar projects that provide guaranteed utility bill savings.

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Black Contributions to Sustainable Agriculture Have a Long History

Photo: Corinne Singer/Edible Magazine

As we come to the end of another Black History Month in the US and Canada, it’s a great time to reflect on the enormous contributions that people of African descent have made in the realm of agriculture and farming. Since the colonial period, when so many Africans were forcibly brought to the Americas to provide slave labor, Black people have influenced and created innovative and highly successful farming techniques and practices, and introduced new foods- despite controlling less than 2% of the farmland in this country to this day.

While concepts such as sustainable agriculture and community farming may seem like recent developments, they are rooted in ancient land practices that Black and Indigenous farmers have been perfecting for centuries, and in many cases, we have BIPOC activists to thank for keeping those traditions alive and relevant in the present day.

This photo, taken by Dorothea Lange for the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, shows a man and his son watering their mules on their family farm, owned by the man’s father. While some of the Black farmers Lange photographed in this series shot in North Carolina were tenant farmers and sharecroppers, others owned their own farms and worked their own land.

Here are some of the innovations that we can thank Black farmers and activists for introducing to our agriculture system:

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