goldmanprizelogo-300x106The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world’s largest and most prestigious annual award for grassroots environmentalists. Many people refer to it as the “green Nobel.” Goldman Prize winners are models of courage, and their stories are powerful and truly inspiring. “The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. Each winner receives a financial award. The Goldman Prize views ‘grassroots’ leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.” 2018 is the prize’s 29th year.

This year’s prize recipients (from each of the six inhabited continental regions of the world) are:

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  • LeeAnne Walters—Flint, MI, USA LeeAnne Walters led a citizens’ movement that tested the tap water in Flint, Michigan, and exposed the Flint water crisis. The results showed that one in six homes had lead levels in water that exceeded the EPA’s safety threshold. Walters’ persistence compelled the local, state, and federal governments to take action and ensure that residents of Flint have access to clean water. (Relevant organization: U.S. Water Study)
  • Francia Marquez—ColombiaA formidable leader of the Afro-Colombian community, Francia Márquez organized the women of La Toma and stopped illegal gold mining on their ancestral land. She exerted steady pressure on the Colombian government and spearheaded a 10-day, 350-mile march of 80 women to the nation’s capital, resulting in the removal of all illegal miners and equipment from her community. (Related organization: Afro-Colombian Human Rights Campaign)
  • Khanh Nguy Thi—VietnamKhanh Nguy Thi used scientific research and engaged Vietnamese state agencies to advocate for sustainable long-term energy projections in Vietnam. Highlighting the cost and environmental impacts of coal power, she partnered with state officials to reduce coal dependency and move toward a greener energy future. (Organization: GreenID, Green Innovation and Development Centre)
  • Manny Calonzo—The PhilippinesManny Calonzo spearheaded an advocacy campaign that persuaded the Philippine government to enact a national ban on the production, use, and sale of lead paint. He then led the development of a third-party certification program to ensure that paint manufacturers meet this standard. As of 2017, 85% of the paint market in the Philippines has been certified as lead safe.  (Relevant organization: Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint)
  • Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid—South AfricaAs grassroots activists, Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid built a broad coalition to stop the South African government’s massive secret nuclear deal with Russia. On April 26, 2017, the High Court ruled that the $76 billion nuclear power project was unconstitutional—a landmark legal victory that protected South Africa from an unprecedented expansion of the nuclear industry and production of radioactive waste.  (Relevant organizations: SAFCEI, South African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute; and Earthlife Africa)
  • Claire Nouvian—FranceA tireless defender of the oceans and marine life, Claire Nouvian led a focused, data-driven advocacy campaign against the destructive fishing practice of deep-sea bottom trawling, successfully pressuring French supermarket giant and fleet owner Intermarché to change its fishing practices. Her coalition of advocates ultimately secured French support for a ban on deep-sea bottom trawling that led to an EU-wide ban.  (Organization: BLOOM)

Click on each recipient’s name to read a longer profile—and watch a brief video—about their remarkable efforts and achievements.

Here’s the video about LeeAnne Walters of Flint, Michigan:

And here’s the video about Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid of South Africa:

Posts on Goldman Prize winners from previous years:

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April 23, 2018
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logoCities, towns, counties, states, regions, and countries all over the world are making large strides towards shifting to renewable energy sources (e.g., solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, biomass, and wave/tidal energy).

Within the U.S., the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 program reports that (to date, as of early 2018), more than 50 cities, 7 counties, and the State of Hawaii have adopted the ambitious goal of 100% clean energy. The first five cities to hit their targets, generating 100% of their electricity from non-polluting, renewable sources, are:

In addition, Georgetown, TX is expected to hit its 100% renewable goal this year (2018). And the city of Palo Alto, CA currently provides 100% carbon-neutral electricity and carbon-neutral natural gas, by supplementing their use of renewables with carbon offsets (renewable energy certificates, which help fund renewable projects in other areas). Meanwhile, the other 50+ cities that have committed to achieving 100% renewable energy include several large cities, such as Atlanta, GA, San Diego and San Francisco, CA, and St. Louis, MO.

Worldwidemore than 40 cities now get all of their electricity from renewables, and more than 100 cities (including Seattle, WA, and Eugene, OR in the U.S.) now get more than 70% of their electricity from renewables; that is more than double the number of cities that met that threshold in 2015. Here’s a full list of the cities studied by the CDP (Climate Data Project). (Note: Some of these cities, especially in Latin America, use primarily hydropower; large dams are controversial, as they are environmentally destructive to ecosystems and habitats. Biomass & landfill gas sources are also sometimes controversial.)

A few of the countries that are leading the way on using renewable energy sources are: Iceland, Costa Rica, Germany, Uruguay, Scotland, Kenya, Portugal, and New Zealand.

Some programs that help cities and regions move towards 100% include:

Let’s all ask the leaders of our cities, towns, counties, and states (mayors, city council members, county supervisors, governors, and state legislators) to commit to a 100% (or at least 90%) renewable energy goal, and enact forward-thinking policies right away to move rapidly towards that goal. You can share these program links with them, so they will be aware of networks they can join and resources they can use in setting their policies and meeting their renewable energy goals.

One way to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy sources at a local level is to create a county-wide or regional Community Choice Energy program. Per the Center for Climate Protection, “Community Choice agencies are local, not-for-profit, public agencies that provide electricity services to residents and businesses. Community Choice introduces competitions and consumer choices into the electricity sector with a focus on local, renewable energy to stimulate rapid innovations in clean energy systems.”

Energy efficiency is also critical. It is as important as shifting to renewable energy sources, because the less energy we need/use (the lower the demand), the less we have to produce (supply) from any source. (All types of energy production, even non-polluting renewables, require material inputs and have impacts.) The Union of Concerned Scientists ranks states by their energy efficiency progress.  In 2017, they found that the most energy efficient states were: Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island, Vermont, Oregon, Connecticut, New York, Washington, and Minnesota.

 

For more information on cities with 100% renewable energy goals, see:

Also see these other 100% renewables efforts, for other sectors (beyond cities and towns):

 

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March 26, 2018
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We post daily morsels of illuminating information and inspiration on The Green Spotlight’s Facebook Page. Anyone can view the page, even if you don’t have a Facebook account. If you do have an account, we hope you’ll click on the page’s Like button (if you haven’t already “Liked” or “Followed” the page) and Share the page with your friends.

Please visit the Page to get a sense of the various topics that it covers. We hope you’ll share some of our links. To make sure that Facebook will continue to show you our posts on your Facebook homepage/newsfeed, visit our page regularly and give a thumbs-up to (“Like”) your favorite posts.

Here’s a sampling of some topics that we’ve highlighted on the page over the last month or so:

  • Scientists running for office
  • Voting / voter registration resources
  • How to reduce your exposure to BPA and other toxic plastics
  • The connection between climate change, the warming Arctic, loss of polar ice, the jet stream, the “polar vortex,” unprecedented temperature fluctuations, and extreme storms
  • Anti-nuclear petitions and organizations (Ploughshares, Global Zero, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, etc.)
  • Center for Climate Protection
  • Films: Atomic Homefront; The Devil We Know; What Lies Upstream
  • Quotations, photos, graphics, videos, etc.

 

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February 22, 2018
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imagesThis is a listing of some enviro-relevant groups in Canada (though not all of them are focused solely on environmental issues).

Even for those of us who aren’t Canadian, it’s important to support stronger Canadian environmental and climate protection efforts, especially at a time when there is somewhat more political will in Canada for environmental protection than there had been in the recent past, while the U.S. government is heading in a decidedly anti-environmental direction at the federal level rather than demonstrating international leadership.

Also, many international environmental organizations have a Canadian office or programs that include Canada.  For example, ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) has a Canadian office (and many Canadian cities and towns are members of ICLEI).

If you know of other environmental (or environmentally-relevant) groups in Canada, please mention them in the Comments. Thanks!

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January 26, 2018
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photo by Erica Gies

photo by Erica Gies

Trees are life enablers and life protectors. They are air cleaners and oxygen makers, making it possible for us to breathe (i.e., live). They mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide; one tree can sequester up to 50 pounds of CO2 per year, and an acre of forest can absorb twice the CO2 produced by the average car’s annual mileage. Trees also filter some pollutants out of the water and soil, and they can prevent soil erosion and control flooding by absorbing stormwater and buffering storm surges. They provide habitat to many species. They provide shade (natural cooling, which reduces energy use for AC cooling). Some trees provide food (fruit and nuts) for us to eat. Being near trees boosts our mental health and clarity. Their presence increases property values for homes and neighborhoods, and they contribute much-needed beauty to our world. So many benefits. Trees are life; trees give life; trees save lives.

Despite all of the ways that trees contribute to (and are necessary for) our health and wellbeing, a recent study found that during the past 12,000 years of human civilization, humans have wiped out almost half of the trees on earth. Around 15 billion trees are cut down each year (to make wood products, pulp, and paper; to clear land for development, as well as cattle grazing, palm oil plantations, other agricultural uses; and to use as a heating fuel). (Click here for other Forest Facts.) We are destroying our own life support system. We are also losing millions of trees to drought and disease in some areas, and also to the growing number of severe storms (wind/ice) and wildfires, which are worsened by climate change and simultaneously contributing to climate change through additional carbon emissions, in a vicious cycle (AKA a feedback loop).23208221_10155936458843007_9218184974786625536_n

We need to prevent deforestation, and also to reforest and regreen our world. We can start with our own yards, gardens, fields, open spaces, or towns. Plant a tree, or two or three! Try to select trees that are native or climate-adapted to your region; fast-growing and fire-resistant trees are great, too (yes, there are trees that are less flammable and even fire-resistant, such as redwoods). You can also choose fruit or nut trees, flowering trees, and other trees that help feed pollinators.

You can also have a tree planted in someone’s name (e.g., “adopt” or “sponsor” a tree in their honor) as a gift for any occasion—through groups like the Arbor Day Foundation, Cool Earth, Trees for a Change, Redwood Forest Foundation, etc.

[NOTE: If you celebrate Christmas and you traditionally mark the occasion with a cut-down (i.e., killed) xmas tree, how about starting a new tradition: you could get a living (potted and replantable) tree instead (do a web search for the words “living Christmas trees” or “live xmas trees” and your county name to see if there are places near you that offer these; or just go get a live, plantable tree from a nursery). Alternatively, you could put ornaments or lights on a tree that’s already growing in your yard. Or get creative and make a wreath or a table/mantle decoration from evergreen trimmings, and forego having an xmas tree at all (gasp!). In a climate crisis (which is what we are in now), and with millions of trees being destroyed by wildfires, drought, and deforestation every year, I think it’s entirely fair and appropriate to question some traditions (such as our Great Annual Xmas Tree Massacre) and start up some new ones. Don’t you? Regardless of what you choose to do for Christmas, you can always make a donation to a reforestation group or a local tree-planting group. You will find a partial list of organizations below.]

imagesfscOne good way to reduce extreme deforestation (the clear-cutting of forests) is to look for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood and paper products, as well as Rainforest Alliance-certified products (see logos to the right)—and of course reduce, reuse, and recycle all forest/paper products.

Earlier this year, 1.5 million volunteers planted a record 66 million trees in 12 hours in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. Reforestation “flash mobs” have been conducted in other areas, as well. Some groups are starting to use drones to plant seeds or saplings, to reforest areas much more quickly and efficiently than can be done by hand (there have been articles on this in Fast Company and Wired magazine, among other publications). Note: Climate- and site-appropriate (native or adapted) trees should be selected when planting trees, and multiple species should be planted for biodiversity. Also, forests should not be planted over native, wild grasslands, which also sequester carbon.

There are many anti-deforestation efforts as well as local tree-planting and global reforestation organizations around the world, including:

Also check out these online tools:

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December 6, 2017
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We have published numerous posts that provide listings of various type of non-profit* groups (related to specific topics and issues), so we thought we’d provide an index of all of them to make them easy to find. Many of the groups that we’ve mentioned in our posts are based in the United States, but some are international organizations and a few are focused on other countries:

In the near future, we will be adding more organization listings, including anti-nuclear groups, Canadian environmental groups, midwestern environmental groups, wildlife protection/conservation and domestic animal protection groups, and others.

* NOTE: Not all of the organizations mentioned in the above posts are 501(c)(3) non-profits. If you want to know whether you would be eligible to get a tax deduction for your donation to an organization, please check with each organization.

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November 21, 2017
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1hx7bwmthtg5ekjaeb4fxegAlmost 2,300 businesses around the world (from more than 50 countries and 130 different industries) have now gone through the B Impact Assessment and have become certified as B Corporations (by B Lab), as of Autumn 2017. “The B Impact Assessment gives companies a score based on how they perform on metrics for impact on their communities, the environment, workers, and customers.” A few of the largest and most well-known B Corporations are: Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, Method, Etsy, and Natura.

The annual Best for the World ratings highlight businesses that have scored in the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations on the assessment. “Companies that have scored in the top percentiles across a majority of the assessment’s categories, based on company size, are honored as Best for the World Overall, and companies that have scored in the top percentiles in a given category, again based on company size, are honored as Best for the Environment, Best for Community, Best for Workers, and Best for Customers.” This year, some companies have also been designated as Best for the Long Term (based on the company’s Governance ratings). In 2017, 846 companies have qualified for at least one of these Best for the World categories, and 176 companies are considered Best for the World Overall. Below we’ve listed a subset of those companies.

The following are 24 companies that not only achieved the 2017 Overall “Best for the World” designation, but also achieved at least two specific category ratings, including the Best for the Environment category:

A to Z  Wineworks

Alter Eco

Bolder Industries

Catalyst Partnersclimatesmart_logo_large_0

Climate Smart Business, Inc. (Canada)

Dopper BV (Netherlands)

Dr. Bronner’s

Eco-Bags Products

ECO2LIBRIUM (Kenya)

Ecotrust Forest Management (EFM)

Grounds for Change

Hepburn Wind (Australia)

Inesscents Aromatic Botanicals

MOVIN (Brazil)

New Belgium Brewing Co.

Northeast Green Building Consulting

Papel Semente Ind e Comercio (Brazil)patagonia4

Patagonia, Inc.

Saul Good Gift Co. (Canada)

South Mountain Company

SQUIZ (France)

xrunner Venture (Peru)

Yellow Leaf Hammocks

YouGreen Cooperativa (Brazil)

The B Corporations with some of the highest overall scores include: South Mountain Company (score: 183), ECO2LIBRIUM (score: 180), Patagonia, Ecotrust Forest Management (EFM), Trillium Asset Management, Portafolio Verde (Colombia), Alter Eco, Home Care Associates of Philadelphia, Yellow Leaf Hammocks, Dr. Bronner’s, and RSF Capital Management/Social Finance.

Click here to read stories about some of the Best for the World B Corporations.

And click here to find other B Corps, including ones in your region. (You can search by location, name, industry, or keyword.)

Related posts:

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September 28, 2017
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These are some organizations within the United States that focus on issues related to Environmental Justice (a movement that bridges environmental, economic, and social equity concerns). This is a partial list; feel free to note additional groups in the Comments:

Green For Allgreen-for-all-logo-web
Center for Health, Environment & Justice
Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment
Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice
Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change
Center for Diversity & the Environment
       (including the Environmental Professionals of Color network)
Sierra Club’s Equity, Inclusion, and Justice program

unknownCalifornia Environmental Justice Coalition – CEJC
California Environmental Justice Alliance
Communities For A Better Environment
 (CBE, CA)
East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (East Los Angeles, CA)

Groundswell  (Mid-Atlantic states)
Louisiana Bucket Brigade
Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (Southwest uranium-impacted communities)
Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (Chicago, IL)
Alternatives for Community & Environment (Roxbury, MA)
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC, WV)

 

peoplegSome of the large, mainstream environmental groups are trying to do a better job (than they have historically) of being inclusive, reaching out to more people of color and to economically disadvantaged populations, and recognizing and addressing environmental discrimination, equity, and justice issues.

At the same time, minority groups will continue to find camaraderie and empowerment through initiatives within their communities. These are environmental groups formed by and for Latinos, Indigenous/Native Americans (and native Canadians), African Americans, and Asian Americans, respectively:

gl_logoGreenLatinos
Voces Verdes: Latino Leadership in Action
Latino Outdoors
Chispa (LCV)
Chispa Nevada
Chispa AZ
Juntos: Our Air, Our Water (New Mexico)
Protégete: Nuestro futuro vale la lucha (Conservation Colorado)
Chispa Connecticut
Chispa Maryland – Maryland League of Conservation Voters

kiitgimagelinkIndigenous Environmental Network
Honor the Earth
Indigenous Climate Action
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition
Native American Land Conservancy
Hopi Tutskwa Permaculture Institute
Black Mesa Water Coalition
Unist’ot’en Camp (BC, Canada)
Idle No More
Indian Law Resource Center
Lakota People’s Law Project
Native Renewables
Lakota Solar Enterprises
GRID Alternatives‘ Tribal solar program

Hip Hop Caucus
Outdoor Afro

Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)

 

The following are a few environmental justice (EJ) leaders whom you might want to follow on social media (please note others in the Comments):

Dr. Robert D. Bullard, Winona LaDuke, Van Jones, Aaron Mair, Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., Vien Truong, Dallas Goldtooth, Majora Carter, Andrea Delgado, Adrianna Quintero, Hilton Kelley, Lois Gibbs, Erin Brockovich, Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore, Maria Gunnoe.

 

“The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you can alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change the world.”
– James Baldwin

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July 20, 2017
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Listed below are some of the posts on The Green Spotlight that include information related to sustainable land use (urban, suburban, and rural),  e.g., land conservation and stewardship, sustainable agriculture and permaculture, regenerative and restorative land use, sustainable home/homestead and neighborhood planning and development, and resilience. Links to other resources (organizations and websites) on these topics are also provided, at the bottom of this post.

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Also see our selection of Quotations for Gardeners, Farmers, and Others on Mother Earth News.

 

Other relevant resources:

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May 30, 2017
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