Skip to content

We’re Dreaming of a “Green” Christmas

The holiday season can be a time of joy, time spent with friends and family, gift giving, good food, and rewatching our favorite comfort movies.  It’s also a time when thinking about and acting on sustainable alternatives is important! 

Holidays bring about plastic and paper waste, increased travel emissions, food waste, and the never-ending debate over plastic versus real trees. Check out some our tips for navigating this holiday season as sustainably as possible! 

Shop local: 

We’ve talked about the importance of shopping local for our food, but shopping local for gifts is also important! Keeping our shopping to our local, small businesses helps support the local economy. Additionally, shopping locally minimizes carbon emissions because travel is minimized for consumers and purveyors.  Supporting small, local businesses also helps to sustain our town centers and can help reduce sprawl and automobile use

Food waste: 

Food waste is a major issues even outside of the holiday season- about 40% of all food produced in the US never gets eaten.  This amount increases by an additional 25% between Thanksgiving and New Years! Here are a couple of easy ways to minimize your food waste: 

  • Plan a head! Figure out your menu ahead of time and plan for the amount of people who will be attending your event. Try and plan foods that you will enjoy eating as leftovers or can repurpose into other dishes (like turkey soup, curry, or sandwiches!). Consider doing more plant-based options for an increased impact! 
  • Compost! Any of the raw fruit and vegetable scraps created in the cooking of your delicious feast  can go into your compost bin to be turned into compost for you to use during the next planting season! Learn more about composting in SLC here
  • Send people home with leftovers! Tell your guests to bring their own to-go containers to help you eat through any remaining leftovers. 
Read more

A Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be a difficult holiday for those practicing vegetarianism or veganism- with food being such a focal point and the main dish often being meat based. While there are other ways to contribute towards a sustainable lifestyle, how we eat is a major player in our individual carbon footprints. In Utah, these choices contribute to nearly 25% of our  household carbon footprint. Learn more about Dining with Discretion and the importance of understanding the intricacy of our food systems!

A vegetarian Thanksgiving can be easy, there are vegetarian/vegan roasts you can get at the store, but there’s something about creating a flavorful dish to share with your guests that took preparation and dedication. We wanted to make this holiday a little easier for our vegetarian and vegan friends this year so we made a menu, just for you!

Appetizers:

Stuffed Mushrooms

Kale and White Bean Artichoke Dip*

Candied Spiced Nuts

Pastry Wrapped Cranberry Brie

Read more

Salt Lake City BIPOC-owned Westside businesses to receive funding to go solar

PRESS RELEASE: November 17, 2022

A year-long effort to create solutions for Black-, Indigenous-, and People of Color- (BIPOC) owned businesses on the Westside of Salt Lake City to pursue rooftop solar and battery storage has received a significant boost thanks to a commitment from American Express.

American Express recently announced a $5 million global commitment to help cities build resiliency and fight climate change ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference which took place in Egypt last week. The Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) has been awarded $1.2 million to work with three cities, including Salt Lake City, to install solar energy systems in our community.

American Express will provide $325,000 in philanthropic support to complement other incentives and financial strategies to help install solar with optional battery systems for small businesses on the Westside. These systems can lower energy costs for residents and businesses, can be more resilient than standard electric sources during extreme weather, support local clean energy jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

View of the Utah State Capital Building from 500 North.

“I’m thrilled with American Express’ generosity, which will build off the hard work our City team and partners have done to advance solar on our Westside,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “We have the tools to reduce climate emissions, strengthen community resiliency, and save our businesses and residents money through clean energy, and this collaboration is a perfect demonstration of that.”

Read more

Inversion season is here! What can we do?

November 1 is the official start of inversion season along the Wasatch Front and it certainly feels like  winter is settling in around us!

But what exactly is an inversion? This natural phenomenon occurs when a high-pressure system is setting up, trapping cold air on the valley floors with warmer air above it. This warm air also traps all our pollution with the cold air, keeping it contained in the valley until the inversion breaks. 

What causes an inversion? 

Meteorologists on the news and the Utah Division of Air Quality will  warn you in advance before an inversion happens. Here are some signs that you can keep a look out for: 

  • Calm winds: this reduces the natural mixing of air temperatures. 
  • Clear skies: this increases the rate of cooling for air close to the ground. 
  • Long nights allow the cooling of the ground to continue over a longer period of time, resulting in a greater decrease in temperature near the surface. 
  • The sun is lower on the horizon during the winter, so it supplies less warmth to the earth’s surface and more to the atmosphere. 

In Utah, our inversions often occur right after snowstorms due to the increase in cold air near the ground and the clear skies warming up the upper atmosphere and acting as a lid to the cooler air below. 

Inversions are meteorological events that are common in mountain/valley geographies with our weather patterns.  When you pair inversions with human activity, you often wind up with pollution that sticks around.  Here along the Wasatch Front, a significant source of pollution comes from transportation(roughly 50%), as well as our homes and buildings (roughly 35%). That means each of us can make a difference to our air quality. 

What can you do? 

Read more

Waste is Spooky! Here’s Some Tips for a Sustainable Halloween

It’s almost Halloween- a holiday of costumes, candy, and decorations! But can we do that sustainably? We sure can and we’re here to give you some fun, helpful ideas! 

Decorations 

Decorations can create a lot of waste with items that we don’t always reuse. Similar to other holidays, invest in decorations you can use year after year, or create decorations using items you already have! Check out these ideas for decorations we made using stuff from around the home. And don’t forget, you can compost your pumpkins after the festivities as long as there’s no wax or paint on them! 

Here are some other ideas from when the SLCgreen team decorated our office, sustainably, a few years ago. 

Read more

Salt Lake City and Santa Fe join Boulder County and the City of Flagstaff to tackle climate crisis through regional partnership

PRESS RELEASE: October 5, 2022

A trailblazing partnership of local governments will soon pool resources to fund carbon dioxide removal (CDR) projects in the Four Corners region. The 4 Corners Carbon Coalition (4CCC), established by Boulder County, Colorado and the City of Flagstaff, Arizona, today welcomed Salt Lake City, Utah and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Earlier this year, Boulder County and Flagstaff invested seed funding to launch this coalition with the goal of spurring regional CDR innovation to fight climate change. The coalition will provide catalytic funding to accelerate CDR project deployment and business development.

CDR describes diverse processes, on land and at sea, that take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and durably lock it away in geological, biological and synthetic formations for decades, centuries, or even millennia. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), cutting emissions from fossil fuels is necessary, but it’s no longer sufficient to stem the worst effects of climate change.

“We’re so excited to round out the ‘Four Corners’ vision with two cities that recognize the importance of local leadership,” said Flagstaff Mayor Paul Deasy. “This collaboration gives local communities the opportunity to put our fingerprints on this emerging and necessary space of carbon dioxide removal (CDR); to hold ourselves and our partners to the highest standards; to show what community-based CDR might look like and the potential benefits of supporting vetted projects in our backyards.” 

Read more

Eating Local

by SLCgreen intern Mariah Trujillo

Last week we celebrated Utah Climate Week but did you know it was Eat Local Week too? This is a weeklong event developed by Urban Food Connections of Utah, that challenges participants to eat food grown or raised within a 250-mile radius.  

Eat Local Week is intended to highlight and celebrate regional harvests, local agriculture, and Utah’s agricultural heritage. Supporting strong local food systems is one way to build a more resilient community and it can help reduce emissions. Climate change, rising temperatures, and changing precipitation patterns are rapidly changing our agricultural system.  

On July 17, Salt Lake City reached our all-time city record high temperature of 107owhich was repeated several times throughout this summer and into September! High temperatures during extended growing seasons affect the health and yield of crops that haven’t been adapted to a specific regional climate. Supporting our local farmers and their farms builds and invests in communities and helps them become more resilient to our changing climate. 

What does “local food” mean? 

Local food is grown and produced within a small distance from where the consumer purchases it.  On average, produce in the United States travels 1,500 miles from production point to the consumer’s plate. Local food, on the other hand, usually travels a maximum distance of 100-250 miles. Some common locally produced food items include fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, eggs, dairy products, and honey.  

Read more

Utah Climate Week Win: Salt Lake City’s Comprehensive Sustainability Policy Now Includes All-Electric Provisions 

What This Means and Why it is Important for our Air Quality and Climate 

It’s the Sixth Annual Utah Climate Week and we’re bringing you news and tips from around Salt Lake City.

Today, we wanted to highlight an exciting update made in 2022 to Salt Lake City’s internal Comprehensive Sustainability Policy.

This policy was originally put in place in 2017 to cover a wide range of practices affecting Salt Lake City Corporation’s internal operations, standards, and protocols across seven different policies.

Each policy addresses the rules, regulations, and sustainable practices that must be considered and/or implemented while executing City operations that fall within one of the seven following categories: air quality and climate change, chemical reduction, materials management, petroleum storage tanks, property acquisition or sale, sustainable procurement, and water.   

For example, the policy includes things as far-ranging as reducing paper waste and minimizing the use of plastic water bottles, to setting the standard when it comes to how we construct or remodel our municipal buildings.

We are practicing what we preach when it comes to sustainability!

The City’s Comprehensive Sustainability Policy was already significant in requiring that new construction or major renovation projects of City buildings over 10,000 square feet be evaluated for Net Zero Energy and be built to achieve at least LEED Gold. Salt Lake City’s Net Zero Public Safety Building and two Net Zero fire stations (FS 14 and FS 3) were constructed with these high environmental standards.

In 2022, at the urging of Mayor Mendenhall, we took the policy even further to require the evaluation of all-electric provisions for major new construction or renovation.

Read more

It’s National Public Lands Day! Let’s Talk About Climate Change

Did you know that public lands play a critical role in shaping the future of climate change?

In Utah, 45 million tons of fossil fuels are extracted each year from federal public lands, the equivalent emissions of 9.7 passenger cars driven for one year. These extraction practices, designed to help fuel our energy grids, creates a positive feedback loop. The University of Calgary explains, “Similar to how keeping money in a savings account earns interest and compounds to earn more money, positive climate feedback increases some initial change in the climate.”

But what are public lands?

These are areas of land and water that are today collectively owned by U.S. citizens and managed by government agencies. These lands can consist of national parks, monuments, forests, wild and scenic rivers, Bureau of Land Management lands, wilderness and wilderness study areas, watersheds, and municipal lands, to name a few. Each agency oversees how these lands are managed to balance the multitude of uses these areas have- from recreational activities like hiking, kayaking, or rock climbing, to energy development, logging, and mining.

These large patches of continuous wild lands are also important for maintaining habitats for wildlife, allowing for safe migration due to climate change, and they can function as carbon sinks! Trees and plants suck CO2, a major contributor to climate change, from the air during photosynthesis. As they grow, they can absorb great volumes in their leaves, trunks, and roots. The older and bigger they get, the more carbon they store!

While we might not think of Utah as being a dense forest, the forests we do have play pivotal roles, just as much as the desert in helping support ecosystems and wildlife. The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, contains over a net acreage of 2,169,596 acres of forested land, imagine all the CO2 this massive forest in our backyard is absorbing!

Read more

Utah Climate Week is Coming Up!

We are a week away from the Sixth Annual Utah Climate Week (September 25th through October 1st)! Check out the list of events compiled by the Utah Climate Action Network (a project of Utah Clean Energy) and mark your calendar to get involved. 

The goal of Utah Climate Week is to provide opportunities for YOU to connect with broader communities about climate action and the great work that is happening in Utah across a range of sectors to #ActOnClimate 

This year has seen a lot of press surrounding the impacts of climate change on Utah, covering everything from the impacts of a shrinking Great Salt Lake, to our hotter summers and how that affects local food.  

Learn and engage with leaders from local governments, non-profits, faith-based organizations, businesses, and individuals, see below for a list of events!  

Calendar of Utah Climate Week events.

It’s not too late to organize your own event! Big or small, Utah Climate Week is open to everyone. Get in touch with Utah Clean Energy to request an event be posted to the website

Salt Lake City is also bringing back a second Mayor’s Bike to Work day on September 28th! Biking for your commute is an incredible way to decrease your individual emissions and improve your health.

Looking to get a head start on your climate week? 

Join Bill Barron for the last leg of his 650 mile ride to call attention to climate change and the need for bipartisan solutions. He’ll finish his tour of the state on September 17 with a ride up Little Cottonwood Canyon, culminating with speakers and refreshments at Alta. Speakers include Salt Lake City Public Utilities’ Director, Laura Briefer and SLCgreen’s own Deputy Director Sophia Nicholas! 

Read more