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Posts from the ‘2016’ Category

Provo City Launches Provo Clean Air Toolkit

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As we’ve discussed previously, we think cities are hotbeds of sustainability solutions.

Here’s another example from our friends to the south: Provo’s Clean Air Toolkit.

In 2014, Provo was awarded a grant by Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) to pursue this project. The toolkit’s goal is to present local residents and businesses with a centralized list of strategies they can use to achieve cleaner air in Utah County, and to make clean air the common goal of Provo City’s strategic planning and operations.

You can check it out at www.provocleanair.org.   As you’ll see, it offers a comprehensive guide for individuals, businesses, and municipalities to use to reduce air pollutants, as well as helpful statistics and infographics detailing projections for air quality over the next few decades.

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U Drive Program Puts 127 New Electric Vehicles on the Road

You may remember how excited we were to collaborate with Utah Clean Energy and the University of Utah on the second round of U Drive Electric this fall.

The goal: Get more EV’s on the road to promote cleaner air.

The how: By spreading the word about the limited-time bulk discounts available through the University of Utah’s innovative program.

Over the course of September and October, we worked with the U. and Utah Clean Energy to speak with hundreds of people about what “going electric” really means– including how cost-effective owning an electric vehicle is.

Now that this round has wrapped up, we’re excited to announce that 127 electric vehicles were purchased through U Drive Electric II!

When combined with Round I there are now over 200 new electric vehicles on the road thanks to U Drive Electric. These new EV owners have taken an important step towards improving air quality along the Wasatch Front.

  • Electric vehicles produce up to 99% less of the criteria air pollutants that cause bad air quality. With winter inversion season upon us it’s easy to see the importance of driving electric.
  • Furthermore, the EVs purchased through U Drive Electric will significantly reduce green house gas emissions. The carbon dioxide avoided over the next five years is equivalent to not burning nearly 2 million pounds of coal, or 200,000 gallons of gasoline.
  • Put another way, this is like switching 63,000 incandescent bulbs to LEDs, or the equivalent amount of carbon sequestered by 1,700 acres of forest in one year. 
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Testimonials from U Drive Electric participants can be found at utahev.org

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I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas…

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by Tera Clausen, SLCgreen intern

At this time of year, we reflect on what we are grateful for, show more compassion and generosity to others, and we get into the spirit of giving. Unfortunately, we sometimes get wrapped up in all the stuff that symbolizes the spirit of the season rather than embracing the holiday spirit itself.

 Did you know that Americans throw out 25% more waste between Thanksgiving and New Years than they do the rest of the year? This waste comes from things such as excessive gift giving, wrapping, packaging, and decor. Perhaps you’re wondering how you can reduce your holiday waste without being a total Grinch. Never fear, SLC Green has compiled a list of different ways you can make your holiday season greener without turning into a Scrooge.    

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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/