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Posts from the ‘General Sustainability’ Category

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. 
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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

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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. 

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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.” 

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Introducing Salt Lake City’s Harrison Community Garden! 

Last month, we celebrated the opening of the Harrison Community Garden with Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Council Member Darin Mano, Wasatch Community Gardens, and the Salt Lake City Public Lands Department. Located along 700 East at Harrison Avenue, just south of Liberty Park, the newest addition to Salt Lake City’s family of community gardens provides plots for as many as 50 gardeners to grow vegetables.  

This is the eighth active garden in Salt Lake City boundaries established under our Green City Growers program, which identifies vacant or under-utilized City property with access to a water line and other conditions that support a successful and sustainable community garden. The City partners with local non-profit Wasatch Community Gardens to manage and run the gardens on Salt Lake City property through this program. 

Every community garden is a labor of love, but the Harrison Garden overcame multiple obstacles to ultimately receive funding from the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to make it a reality. (Pssst… community applications are due Sept. 30, 2022 for the next round of CIP funding). 

Community gardens are more than just for the growers!  

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How to Have a More Sustainable Fourth of July

by SLCgreen intern Mariah Trujillo

The sun is shining and inviting us outside for barbecues, picnics, and other festive get-togethers.  

As the focus of our minds shifts to friends, food, and outdoor recreation, it can be easy to lose sight of sustainability and air quality. In the winter, it’s hard to forget about air quality—it’s right in front of us during inversion episodes.

However, summertime can bring a different kind of air pollution. High temperatures, bright sun, and  some holiday celebrations bring about their own slew of risks to our air quality.

Not to despair! The summer months provide the perfect opportunity to revisit our time-tested sustainable practices and learn about new ones. With that in mind, let’s learn how to celebrate a sustainable and clean Fourth of July! 

We’ll talk about air pollution, fire risk, alternative celebrations, food, and minimizing plastic waste. Read on!

Fireworks and Air Pollution

Fireworks, while a fun celebration, unfortunately, produce pollutants that contribute to poor air quality. This includes: coarse particulates (PM10) and fine particulates (PM2.5).  

The pollution can grow disturbingly high in the 12 hours immediately after Fourth of July and 24th of July celebrations—higher than we would see on all but the worst wintertime inversion days. 

High levels of particulate matter pose health risks to children, older people, and those with pre-existing respiratory conditions. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, we have become increasingly aware of the importance of respiratory and lung health and how vulnerable our health can be. The particulates that fireworks release have impacts on health, including but not limited to: triggering asthma attacks, acute bronchitis flare-ups, increased vulnerability to respiratory illnesses, and even heart attacks and arrhythmias for those with heart disease. 

Fireworks Restrictions 

Of course, fireworks can also pose a wildfire risk during our persistent drought. Salt Lake County is currently categorized as a D3 – Extreme Drought Zone.  For this reason, the Salt Lake City Fire Marshall has banned the use of fireworks in certain areas of the city.  

To stay up to date with the current firework restrictions, check out the Salt Lake City Fire Department webpage containing the most recent regulations and information, including a map of areas of Salt Lake City where firework use is prohibited. Violating a “No Firework Zone” may result in a fine of $1,000 

Laser Light Shows 

Sheesh—with all the impacts of fireworks, you may wonder what else you could do to celebrate the Fourth and 24th in a way that does not create air pollution, risk wildfire, nor pose safety hazards (not to mention the stress that fireworks can cause to some veterans, pets, and young kids) 

Salt Lake City went through the same thought process. 

That’s why this July, Salt Lake City will NOT be hosting the traditional 4th of July and 24th of July fireworks shows at Jordan Park and Liberty Park.

Instead . . .  

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It’s Pride Month – Let’s Talk about ‘Queer Ecology’

by SLCgreen intern Mariah Trujillo

Happy Pride Month! With the 2022 Pride Festival coming to a close in Salt Lake City earlier this month, SLCgreen would like to extend our celebration by discussing some of the ways that LGBTQIA+ history and sustainability go hand-in-hand!

(The term LGBTQIA+ refers to people of “all genders and sexualities, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual, and allies. While each letter in LGBTQIA+ stands for a specific group of people, the term encompasses the entire spectrum of gender fluidity and sexual identities.”)

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

Sustainability, with its goals of protecting natural resources, slowing the effects of climate change, and building resilient communities, exists at the crossroads of environmental and social justice.

Sustainability work requires an intersectional lens to maintain a commitment to diversity, equity, and justice.

While it might not be obvious how LGBTQIA+ studies is related to sustainability, scholars and theorists from both queer studies and environmental studies have banded together to bring the two seemingly different fields together with the term “Queer Ecology.”

At its heart, Queer Ecology enacts a practice of intersectionality that calls us to action through an understanding that the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights is a shared struggle with desire and actions to save our planet.

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Salt Lake City Hosted Region 8 Administrator KC Becker for Environmental Forum

This past week we had the pleasure of hosting the Region 8 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator KC Becker and her colleague Mark Smith for a round table discussion with advocates from 14 environmental groups and agencies across the city.

The EPA provides support and research to protect and improve public and environmental health, as well as enforces and regulates environmental protections. Region 8 is made up of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Montano, North Dakota and South Dakota, and 28 Tribal Nations.

KC Becker, the current Region 8 administrator, has 18 years of experience as a public servant for both federal and state organizations. Prior to being appointed as the Region 8 administrator, KC served in the Colorado State Legislature for 4 terms, spending two years as House Majority Leader and two years as the Speaker of the House – at the time, one of only seven female speakers in the United States.

The purpose of the meeting was to bring together local sustainability movers and shakers to hear about their/our concerns surrounding environmental issues in Utah and how the EPA can help!

Earlier in the day, she met with Mayor Erin Mendenhall, learned about Salt Lake City’s unique environmental projects and issues, and shared EPA’s priorities.  Administrator Becker also spent some of her time in Utah meeting with the State Department of Environmental Quality.

The EPA is currently focusing on supporting initiatives it has funding for through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill- specifically looking at the redevelopment of brownfields, infrastructure improvements and upgrades, lead pipes, and cleaning up Superfund sites.

Administrator Becker spoke about the EPA’s mission to center environmental justice in all aspects of its work; building stronger relationships with environmental justice groups, community groups, and other non-governmental organizations; and ensuring that all decisions are science-based and focusing on public health outcomes.

Representatives from local groups highlighted their desire for EPA’s support or advice on issues related to air quality, the recent Inland Port developments, the health of the Great Salt Lake, water quality and access, uranium waste in southern Utah, and funding opportunities for the many goals and initiatives of the groups attending.

Overall, the meeting was invigorating and inspiring. Administrator Becker left us with much to do and the support (within her ability) of our regional EPA leaders.


SLCgreen is Hiring: Part-Time Sustainability Outreach Coordinator

Are you excited about communicating sustainability information to the public? Do you have writing or social media experience?

SLCgreen’s Sustainability Division is hiring a Part-Time Outreach Coordinator.

This position is focused on communications and outreach. The Outreach Coordinator will write, help manage our social media, design outreach materials, connect with the public, supervise our summer internship program, manage our outreach event calendar, and attend community events throughout the summer.

We’re looking for an energetic and passionate individual to support SLCgreen’s mission to protect natural resources, reduce pollution, slow climate change, and establish a path toward greater resiliency and vitality for all aspects of our community.

This position is 24-29 hours/week at $18/hour. Applications close February 13, 2022.

Click here for more information and how to apply!

Check out the SLC Sustainability 2021 Year in Review!

Happy New Year!

How is it already mid-January already?! We’ve been busy here the last two weeks on projects for the new year which we’re excited to share with you.

Before that, we’re taking some time to reflect on 2021 and all of the work we accomplished with your support. It’s also an important time to take stock; learn from the experiences we had in 2021; and continue to improve our programs, services, and operations.

Every January, we release a Year in Review with our high-level accomplishments as well as priorities for the year ahead. Below are a few highlights. Make sure to check out the full document for more!

Read the full 2021 Year in Review here.

Saying Goodbye to Team Members and Welcoming New Ones

In 2021, SLCgreen certainly felt the impacts of the “Great Resignation.” We said goodbye to Food & Equity Manager Supreet Gill and welcomed Brian Emerson. In the spring, we parted with the founding director of our Sustainability program, Vicki Bennett, who led our team for 20 years and is also recognized around the country as a leader on these issues.

With Vicki’s retirement, Debbie Lyons stepped up to be Sustainability Director and Sophia Nicholas moved from Communications Manager to the Deputy Director role. We also toasted Shannon Williams, Special Projects Assistant, who moved on to an exciting new role in a new state; while welcoming Bimini Horstmann who hails from Boston (with a stop over at Davidson College) and has a passion for rock climbing and environmental science. And, for the first time, we have a dedicated air quality manager position, filled by Catherine Wyffels who joined our team in the summer. She has brought a wealth of insight and expertise to our department. (See blog).

It didn’t stop there! We gave Gregg Evans, our Financial Manager, to the Public Lands Department (luckily he didn’t go far) but were thrilled to welcome Angie Nielsen to our team in the critical accounting role for our department. Finally, December closed out with Max Barnewitz– the “voice” behind the SLCgreenblog and so many of our outreach functions– moving on to an exciting position with Art Access.

We are proud of how our staff, both seasoned and new, integrated into a cohesive and energetic team tackling a variety of projects this past year.

At the beginning of 2021, the deep connections between equity, resiliency, and climate action were clearer than ever due to 2020’s challenges. It set an important focus for our work last year:

Air Quality, Energy Efficiency, & Electrification

Even with more people than ever working from home in 2021, wildfire and inversion seasons still occur. We developed many new programs and engaged with the public to address these issues from an equitable as well as a scientific lens. Additionally, SLCgreen continued strong efforts to move city departments towards electrification and improve energy efficiency. Some notable achievements in the air quality, energy efficiency, and electrification realms include:

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