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The Sustainability Department is Hiring!

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Are you passionate about recycling and helping Salt Lake City divert as much waste from the landfill as possible?  Do you have management experience?

The Salt Lake City Sustainability Department is hiring a Program Director to head up our Waste & Recycling Division (formerly known as the Sanitation Division).

This position reports directly to the Sustainability Department Director, Vicki Bennett.

We are looking for candidates with operational experience and a broad vision to improve waste diversion including business and residential recycling, hard-to-recycle waste, recycling markets and green waste composting. Read more

How this Blog on Food Choices Led to an Office “Cheese Party”

by Tera Clausen, SLCgreen intern

Holiday season is upon us once again.

Which means it’s time to come together with family and friends to celebrate– and what holiday celebration would be complete without delicious feasts and yummy treats?

At this time of plentiful feasting, we thought it’d be a great time to talk about food.

One of my recent tasks here at SLCgreen was to compile information for a new webpage, called Dining with Discretion.  This section is a bit different than SLCgreen’s other pages, in that it discusses the big picture way our food choices have an environmental impact.

I was surprised by some of what I found:

  • Did you know that if every American chose to not eat meat and cheese for just one day a week, it would be the equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road?
  • Are you aware that rain forests are being cut at the rate of 36 football fields per minute each year to make room for cattle grazing and farming?

These are sobering and overwhelming statistics.  But our goal is to empower you with information necessary to make a difference– whether that’s through a few small changes or even bigger ones.

That’s what “Dining with Discretion” means.

Discretion is the freedom to decide what should be done in a particular situation, so to Dine with Discretion means to make food choices with the understanding of how the food system affects our world.

Talking about Food Choices at the Office

As I discussed webpage content with my supervisor, one of my co-workers in our neighboring division overheard the idea of giving up meat and cheese one day a week. She joined the conversation and was adamant that she would never give up meat or cheese. The longer we discussed food choices, the more of our fellow SLC Corp co-workers began joining in on the conversation. When I left work that day I had no idea that this conversation would continue for several days. While many people had varying opinions, one thing became very clear – food can be a divisive topic.   

However, the question remains: Do people actually want to make these choices, especially when it comes to animal products?

I decided to do a little “market research” by asking around the Public Services office whether people would be willing to alter their behaviors to  Dine with Discretion. Read more

Ditching the Disposables, a Guide to Using Less this Holiday Season– and Every Day

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Reusable bags are a great way to use less plastic.

 

The holidays are right around the corner, which means lots of gift and grocery shopping. Find out how you can make small changes in your holiday habits to use fewer materials, be more sustainable, and spread the joy!

While most plastic is recyclable, the reality is that we currently recover only 6% percent of the plastics we produce. The vast majority of consumed plastics gets sent to landfills or contaminates ecosystems where it will last for thousands of years.

So what’s the alternative?

Not using that plastic fork in the first place.  It may be convenient to not wash dishes during the Thanksgiving feast, but that saved time just transfers an extra burden to our environment.  The solution? Use something more than once.

Disposable plastics goods such as plastic silverware, bags, one use bottles, caps, lids, straws and food containers are the most discarded items in our society. And for the most part– they’re not readily recyclable.

A big source of waste also comes from packaging. While much of this is also recyclable, it does create a cost on the environment during transportation and energy required to run recycling plants.  The solution?  Be aware of the packaging of products and seek out those with less.

A big surge in packaging during the holidays comes from online shopping. While purchasing items online can be convenient, consider the benefits of shopping locally (Small Business Saturday is coming up!). You’ll help minimize waste by skipping the extra packaging AND improve air quality– all those delivery trucks on the roads in December add an extra dose of pollution to our air right in the middle of inversion season.

December means lots of gift wrapping as well. Consider reusing blank sides of scrap paper and making your own stamps or illustrations (snowflakes are great!). You can also tie on pinecones for a decorative flourish instead of single-use bows.

A change in daily– and holiday– habits can go a long way.


Here is a list of simple tips to help you ditch the disposables this holiday season– and every day: Read more

Mayor Biskupski Joins 32 Mayors to Urge Climate Action in Letter to President-elect Trump

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Salt Lake City Climate Warming at Twice the Global Average; Continues to Break Temperature Records

In a show of broad cooperation and commitment to addressing one of the most pressing needs of our time, Mayor Jackie Biskupski on Tuesday joined 32 other mayors from cities around the United States in asking President-elect Donald Trump to work with cities, rather than obstruct their efforts, to mitigate climate change over the coming years.

“We write today to ask for your partnership in our work to clean our air, strengthen our economy, and ensure that our children inherit a nation healthier and better prepared for the future than it is today,” the letter stated.

Mayors of cities as diverse as Dubuque, IA; Columbia, SC; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; Charlotte, NC; and more, representing over 35 million citizens in both red and blue states, signed on to the letter.  Together, they reiterated the grave risks to our nation’s economy, public health, infrastructure, and environment by failing to reduce emissions.

“Each month, we see a new heat record breaking for the Salt Lake City area,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “Climate change is real. It’s impacting our communities right now. And we’re calling for the President-elect to join with us to ensure a livable future for our children.”

This summer, Salt Lake City had 21 consecutive days over 95 degrees, the warmest nighttime low ever recorded at 81 degrees, and the warmest June since 1874. This summer, the capital city also broke 3 high maximum records, 14 high minimums, and 17 total heat records.

More recently, Salt Lake City broke the record for the latest frost date.  After 242 days, on November 17, 2016, the airport finally hit 32 degrees—setting another record for the number of consecutive days above freezing.

Local bodies of water have also suffered.  In mid-July, a toxic algal bloom on Utah Lake—caused, in part, by high water temperatures and low water levels—closed the lake, sickened more than 100 people, and put dozens of farmers in Utah and Salt Lake counties in a bind during one of the hottest weeks of the year.

Emergencies like this are not just inconvenient; they cost cities, private citizens, state agencies, and businesses money. The coalition cited a recent estimate that the monetary cost to the American economy of climate change will be upward of $500 billion annually by 2050.

Knowing these risks, Salt Lake City is already taking aggressive action to reduce emissions.  Earlier this year, Mayor Biskupski and the City Council passed one of the most aggressive energy policies in the nation, pledging to source 100 percent of Salt Lake City’s community-wide electricity needs from renewables by 2032, and pledging to reduce overall carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2040.

In the days since the Presidential election, Mayor Biskupski repeated Salt Lake City’s commitment to overall environmental sustainability and emissions reductions. “As a city warming at twice the global average in recent decades, while also suffering from poor wintertime and summertime air, we must lead by example. Nothing is more important than the air we breathe–and, knowing we have as many inhalers as lunch boxes in our city schools, we do not have time to waste.”

The letter furthermore calls for leadership from the Trump administration on everything from transit, infrastructure, and renewable energy to the Paris Climate Agreement, and urges cooperation with cities on those fronts.

However, as the mayors conclude: “While we are prepared to forge ahead even in the absence of federal support, we know that if we stand united on this issue, we can make change that will resonate for generations. We have no choice and no room to doubt our resolve. The time for bold leadership and action is now.”

The letter to President-elect Trump was signed by member cities of the Mayors Climate Action Agenda (MNCAA), or the #ClimateMayors, and can be viewed here: http://www.climate-mayors.org/our-letter-to-the-presidentelect-november-2016/

The Green Urban Lunch Box’s BAD APPLE BASEBALL ft. U of U Softball

 

University of Utah Women’s Softball came out swinging in GULB‘s latest video! Watch as they decimate rotten fruit in a home run derby like you’ve never seen! Help us spread the word about GULB, by sharing the video now!

Read more

Climate Networks: Banding Together for Increased Resilience

The new bike share program in Las Vegas was a highlight at the Western Adaptation Alliance meeting this week.  Bina Skordas, Sustainability Program Manager for Park City Municipal Corporation, takes one for a spin!

With huge changes in national-level politics lately, it’s worth remembering that cities continue to remain key players in policy development and implementation on many fronts. Climate change is no exception.

Cities have a critical responsibility to ensure our infrastructure is up-to-the task of dealing with new weather patterns, extreme events, and more; and that our neighborhoods and economic systems are ready for the changes coming their way because of climate change. We have residents to care for, roads and storm water systems to protect, and services to keep on-line.

Cities also have the ability to walk-our-talk– taking measures to reduce our emissions and overall impact on the environment.

All of these are reasons why cities are effective actors for dealing with some of society’s most difficult problems; and why networks–with cities at the heart– are some of the most effective ways to do so.

In that spirit, we’d like to share with you a few of the ways we’re engaging in several local and regional climate-related networks to create a more resilient future:

Climate Adaptation in Las Vegas

Earlier this week, our Program Manager Tyler Poulson and Communications Manager Sophia Nicholas traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada to meet with sustainability staff from nearby cities to discuss climate adaptation strategies for the Southwest and Intermountain west.

This “peer-exchange” was funded entirely by a grant and involved municipal staff from cities in Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.

The purpose: When so much of the climate adaptation conversation revolves around sea-level rise (and justifiably so), this group, called the Western Adaptation Alliance (WAA), formed to discuss and learn from each other on preparing our communities for the unique climate threats facing the arid west.

This year’s annual WAA meeting saw a re-invigoration of our commitment to working at the city-level to prepare for these risks. Read more

Important Service Announcement for Thanksgiving, Nov 24th

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