Sustainability Journal | Mar 2021

Welcome to Sustainability Journal, where I document what I’m reading, learning, thinking, and doing in the sustainability space.

SPRING IS HERE! Just typing these words makes me unreasonably happy. I’m not even spending that much more time outside yet, but being able to open the window for fresh air (juuuuust before the official arrival of allergy season) is such a welcoming change to my daily routine. This week in particular, the birds have been chirping like crazyyyy from 5am all the way until it’s dark out, and listening to their songs (until it’s interrupted by the occasional spring-time leaf blowing *raises fist*) is a form of pure joy that I have never quite appreciated until this year.

Work is incredibly busy at the moment and we have a number of home projects that need attention so I’ve intentionally taken some time away from social media, which I hope to do more often. It’s odd – even though I follow a lot of people and accounts that preach the importance of “slow and mindful living”, the fact that this content lives in social media is a bit of an oxymoron since social media is… inherently fast paced. So find some time away from screens if you can, friends! It’s been great for me mentally and physically – my horrific eye strain finally went away after a week of being diligent about screen time!

March also marked my 2nd blogging anniversary here on Sensible Sustainability. I’m eternally grateful for the folks I’ve met in this space and on social media, so thanks for sticking around!

An individual action I’m focusing on at the moment: garden planning/installation!

Our cedar raised beds have arrived! As I mentioned in last month’s Journal, we ordered them from a local craftsman, and they are a thing of beauty. So far, I have applied boiled linseed oil (oil from the flax plants) and let that cure, which is a natural product that will help protect and seal unfinished wood. I have also gopher-proofed the beds by adding hardware cloth at the bottom (see header photo), and we are in the process of filling the raised beds (loosely following the advice from Deanna at Homestead and Chill). I might still need to build some plant covering or cages using the leftover hardware cloth (we’ve got a loooooot of squirrels, birds, bunnies, and cats on the loose around here), but so soon I can start planting!

A community action I’ve taken: donated to a nearby community fridge/pantry.

While we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, there is no doubt the devastating economic impacts from COVID will be felt by many people for a long, long time to come. This is why I’m excited that new community fridges and pantries continue to pop up to satisfy people’s immediate needs! Newton and Watertown friends, there is a brand new “Freedge” near us, and you can read more it here.

Where I sent my dollars: LANDBACK, and School of Dirt.

In the words of NDN Collective (the indigenous-led organization behind this campaign), LANDBACK is “a movement that has existed for generations with a long legacy of organizing and sacrifice to get Indigenous Lands back into Indigenous hands…It is the reclamation of everything stolen from the original Peoples: land, language, ceremony, medicine, kinship.”

School of Dirt is an undertaking by the relatively new organization Urban Dirt, which is all about biking in the backyards of cities. The organization currently has several “hubs” (LA, Boston, San Diego, Providence, Lyons), and School of Dirt will aim to serve communities in the Greater Boston area by teaching youth skills for riding and navigating urban trails on bike – free of charge. They are hoping to start offering courses in the summer and fall of 2021, and need to raise $12,000 by May 1st.

Book I read:

Bill Gates | How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need. After being on the library waitlist for a while, I finally got a hold of Gates’ new book on climate. I found it delightfully geeky and extremely readable, a quality that every climate communicator can use more of. In particular, I appreciated Gates getting into some of the difficult tech issues that have yet to be solved (e.g., how to make low carbon cement) and a particular chapter (Chapter 3: Five questions to ask in every climate conversation), which gives helpful context for numbers and concepts in the climate debate.

I still can’t decide if I can separate the message from the messenger though. On one hand, when someone like Bill Gates speaks, people pay attention – and climate is an issue that needs more attention and investment, not less. On the other hand, his level of wealth should not exist and Microsoft did spend nearly $200K funding climate-denying lawmakers in the 2020 election cycle, so idk ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ In any case, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster is an accessibly written, technology-driven look at the problem (climate crisis) and the solutions (achieving net zero emissions) – within a market and capitalist frame – and worth a read IMO.

More stuff you should check out:

  • Public transit ridership is declining all around the world, and it’s a big problem. Unsurprising but still depressing.
  • Politico has an informative explainer on why biomass – which is considered a form of green energy – is really not that green.
  • March 20th is now officially either “MeatOut Day” or “Meat on the Menu Day”, depending on if you are in Colorado or Nebraska. This piece from the NYTimes on the meat battle across state lines is fascinating.
  • I loved this interview with sociologist Rachel Sherman about “what it means to be a good rich person” on the Vox Conversation podcast.
  • 5 lies about DIYing that I’m seriously sick of hearing – helpful and hilarious (as usual) post from Bitches Get Riches. (Definitely check out their blog if you haven’t heard about them!)
  • A vegetarian food blog I discovered lately: Occasionally Eggs.
  • After asking (nobody in particular) for the 16th time this week: “what bird was that?” My husband had the brilliant suggestion for me to Youtube North American bird calls. This video was delightful, and I learned the bird in question was a mourning dove!