land use

I recently moved, and it was a big, disruptive move. Because the moving and relocation process has taken up so much of my time, it has been difficult for me to develop many new posts in recent months. There are so many topics I’m eager to research and write about, but I just haven’t had enough time to focus on it lately.  I look forward to doing so as soon as things settle down a bit. In the meantime, I figured I should at least share some links and info. on a few very promising and impactful (but under-utilized) developments, trends, efforts, and solutions that I think more people should know about, spread the word about, and get involved in—namely: 1) land restoration, regeneration, and rewilding; 2) Community Solar; and 3) alternatives to plastics (and to animal leather and meat, etc.)  I may develop more in-depth posts on a couple of these topics in the future.

 

I. Land restoration: remediation, regeneration, rewilding

Check out these sites for some great information on land (and habitat) restoration projects and programs:

Loess Plateau, ChinaEcosystem Restoration Camps: “A global movement of people that is creating an abundant earth. We repair broken ecosystems together and, in doing so, provide humanity with hope and a better future. Our big goal is to have one million people come together by 2030 and restore degraded ecosystems in 100 camps around the world.” Find out where their current camps are here (see map).

Regeneration International: Their mission is “to promote, facilitate and accelerate the global transition to regenerative food, farming and land management for the purpose of restoring climate stability, ending world hunger and rebuilding deteriorated social, ecological and economic systems.”

The Rewilding Institute (AKA Rewilding Earth): Their mission is “to develop and promote the ideas and strategies to advance continental-scale conservation in North America and beyond, particularly the need for large carnivores and a permeable landscape for their movement, and to offer a bold, scientifically-credible, practically achievable, and hopeful vision for the future of wild Nature and human civilization.”

Half-Earth Project: “With science at its core and our transcendent moral obligation to the rest of life at its heart, the Half-Earth Project is working to conserve half the land and sea to safeguard the bulk of biodiversity, including ourselves.”

And for a great story on a Brazilian couple who replanted and restored a 1,500-acre forest, see this article. They have been written up on many other sites, as well, including Smithsonian Magazine. Their organization is called Instituto Terra.

Also related to regenerative land use: I’ll be creating a post about permaculture at some point.

Related posts: Sustainable Land Use and Land Stewardship Posts; and Re-Tree the Worldand Sustainable Agriculture, Farming, Gardening, and Food;and Animal Protection / Biodiversity Organizations and Resources

 

II. Community Solar  

Community Solar is also sometimes known as Shared Solar or Solar Gardens.

“Community Solar refers to local solar facilities that are shared by multiple community subscribers who receive credit on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced. Community solar provides homeowners, renters, and businesses equal access to the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy generation regardless of the physical attributes or ownership of their home or business.” (Source: Solar Energy Industries Association: Community Solar—go to this link for more information on where it’s being implemented)

For more information on how community solar works and its benefits, see:

Solstice: Solar for Every American

Department of Energy: Community Solar Basics

I also plan to write a post about renewable energy micro-grids, as well as solar-wind hybrid systems.

Related post: Municipalities, States, and Countries that are Achieving, Approaching, or Committed to 100% Renewable Energy (in particular, see the paragraph about Community Choice Energy, or Community Choice Aggregation local power programs)

 

III. Alternatives to petroleum-based plastics and other problematic materials

Ecovative Design: This company is making mushroom (mycelium)- and hemp-based (“MycoComposite”) biodegradable/compostable foam-like packaging, mycelium-based leather-like textiles, skin care products, and now also meatless meat.

Other entrepreneurs have made other types of bioplastics (including pleathers) from: banana peels or banana leaves; avocado pits/seeds and peels; agave fibers; hemp; and vegan “leather” from nopales cactus.

Hemp alone is extremely versatile. Its fiber, seeds, and oil can be used to make: fabric/textiles (e.g., clothing, rope); Hempcrete and other building materials; bioplastics; biofuel; foods and drinks (and animal feed); CBD products; paper products; and other products and materials. Hemp has many environmental benefits and advantages over other materials that it can replace. For more information, check out Vote Hemp, the Hemp Industries Association, or other groups.

Related posts: How to Identify Greener Products; and Health Impacts of Toxic Chemicals and Pollutants

 

I hope you’ll check out the links in this post, share them with others, and add any relevant recommendations or information in the Comments. Thanks!

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October 30, 2021
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I was born and raised in the Midwest (of the U.S.).  Both sides of my family come from the Midwest: from Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio.  So I like to keep up on what’s going on in the Great Lakes region and other parts of the Midwest, and I promote and support good efforts happening there.

[Note: The Midwest is a very large region in the central/upper part of the country, comprising almost one-quarter of the U.S. states. The following 12 states are generally considered to be within the “Midwest” region: Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Missouri.]

Below is a listing of the midwestern environmental organizations (and a few other types of relevant organizations) and websites that we know of, though there are certainly many, many more.  (We don’t know all of these groups well, so being listed here does not constitute an endorsement.)  If you know people who live in these states, please share this listing with them.

What are some of your favorite environmental (or other) groups based in midwestern states?  Please let us know if the Comments!

 

logo2MIDWEST REGION (or beyond)

GREAT LAKES REGIONagl_logo_horizontal_full_color_rgb_1000px

 

ILLINOIS

INDIANA

IOWA

KANSAS

Lake Michigan, MI, Getty ImagesMICHIGAN

MINNESOTA

MISSOURI

NEBRASKA

NORTH DAKOTA

OHIO

SOUTH DAKOTA

WISCONSIN

 

You can also find regional land trusts/conservancies in each state via the Land Trust Alliance’s site.

And you can find other State-by-State Resources here (these listings include groups focused on social and political issues, as well). Also note that almost every state should have its own League of Women Voters chapter(s), Common Cause state chapter, Indivisible chapter(s), and an All On the Line (for fair district maps, anti-gerrymandering) state group.

Related post:

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May 30, 2018
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The sustainability of one’s home depends as much (if not more) on its location as on how the house is built. If you’re looking to buy land or to buy (or rent) a house, consider sustainability criteria when comparing the locations of different properties.

The following are some of the key “location efficiency” issues to consider. (Some of them only apply to buying land that you plan to build on.) Try to choose a spot that meets at least some of these criteria:

Seek a property that…

  • is located close to your (and your family’s) jobs and schools; close to shops, parks, civic buildings, and other services and amenities your family regularly uses; and close to public transit stops—ideally within walking distance (i.e., less than 1/4 mile, or 1/2-mile max.). Living in close proximity to such things will save you gas, money, and driving time; reduce your stress level and your odds of getting in a car accident; and also reduce traffic and air pollution!
  • ...has been built on before. It’s best to choose a property that has an existing house or other structures that can be renovated and reused. (If a structure is unsafe or beyond repair and must be demolished, have it deconstructed carefully so that you can recycle, reuse, donate, or sell its salvageable materials; and then rebuild on its original foundation or footprint.)
  • is an infill site (i.e., surrounded by other developed parcels) that is already (or can easily be) hooked up to existing infrastructure for roads, water, wastewater, and utility lines (to reduce the costs, resource waste, and sprawl associated with extending or building new infrastructure)—unless you’re planning to live entirely off-grid (with on-site power, water, and wastewater treatment). If you are planning to live off-grid, be sure that the property has a good source of ample, clean water on site, as well as adequate solar access and/or wind (or biomass) resources for generating your own electricity.

And AVOID buying or building on a property that…

  • is within a floodplain zone; on or very close to a known earthquake fault; on coastal land that’s at (or near) sea level, vulnerable to erosion, or located in a tsunami zone or an area that has regular hurricanes; in a high-wildfire-risk area or a region that gets life-threatening heat waves or extreme droughts (i.e., areas at risk of becoming uninhabitable);
  • is a Greenfield site (i.e., land that has never been developed / cleared / built on before);
  • contains sensitive habitat, endangered species, wetlands, or prime agricultural land (unless you preserve the key areas for continued agricultural use or conservation, whichever is applicable); or
  • consists of steep slopes (often defined as slopes with a grade of 15% or more), which would need to be substantially graded to enable development of the site. The grading and development of steep slopes can cause soil erosion and increased stormwater runoff, which in turn can cause water pollution, flooding, and potentially mudslides.

Living in an environmentally sensible and sustainable location has numerous benefits. You can reap significant financial savings (e.g., by reducing the amount of driving you have to do; or by avoiding or minimizing the need to build new infrastructure or to do extensive site grading). Location efficiency can also yield broad, collective benefits for society and our shared environment, such as:

  • reducing sprawl-related automobile dependence, traffic, and air pollution;
  • protecting public health, environmental health, and the climate;
  • conserving natural resources, habitat, and open space; and
  • contributing to the creation of livable, walkable, healthy, and vibrant neighborhoods that enhance your community’s quality of life and local economic opportunities.
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June 3, 2011
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