Sustainability Journal | Apr 2022

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

How very exciting that spring has sprung! This time is the best part of spring IMO, because it is getting warm but we are not yet hit with the onslaught of allergies. Unfortunately we have not gotten outside as much as we wanted to because our entire family has just been getting sick nonstop since the kiddo started daycare in January. Cold, diarrhea, stomach bug, cough…you name it, we’ve had it all. It is indeed exactly like what everyone has warned us about daycare, atlas, it doesn’t make it any easier while you are in the thick of it! So, if you are a parent currently down with a form of school plague, I just want to say: you are not alone. ~sending healing vibes!~

As we get closer and closer to the kiddo’s first birthday (*mind blown*), it’s finally dawned on me that I may never fit into some of the clothes I owned before pregnancy. I’m a little sad about it, not because I expected my body to “bounce back” after giving birth, but because it really took a while to build a closet with many secondhand items that fit! This coupled with the season changing and plans to return to the office after being at home for 2 years have really made me want to shop lately! Eeek. To scratch the itch with budget and environmental impact in mind, I’ve been trying to only buy things on Poshmark when I have credits from selling, and it’s been working ok so far. How about you? What do you do to curb the desire to buy new clothes?

An individual action I’m focusing on at the moment: garden prep. As we reach temperatures more consistently above 40, I’ve been busy getting the garden ready for the growing season. Compost has been applied, and I’m hoping to get some radish and kale seeds into the ground this week! We have long had a problem with animals digging in our beds and ruining all the seedlings, so I debated long and hard about adding hoops with fabric (both to cover the seedlings and to extend the season). In the end, I ordered some fence materials to add to around the raise beds instead. We’ll see if it actually deters the neighborhood squirrels! The to-do list doesn’t end there: we also need to bag leaves that didn’t decompose over the winter and pull all dead branches and plant stems. (For those who are new here or don’t have a yard to maintain: we use leaves as mulch during the winter and leave all dead branches and plant stems uncut because they provide shelter and food to birds and insects.)

Books I read:

Richard Powers | The Overstory. A sprawling novel about how nine Americans on distinct life paths become intermingled in an attempt to save the forest from human destruction. It was powerful, and a somewhat depressing read, but mesmerizing and beautiful too. (You don’t need my opinion on this; it was a 2019 Pulitzer fiction winner!) You may have heard of the scientific discovery on plant communications in recent decades; this novel really turned those discoveries into narratives.

adrienne maree brown | Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. In the author’s words: emergent strategy is “the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions.” I found it to be more abstracted than I expected, but does offer helpful guiding principles on how to reimagine society and organize in a way that emphasizes interdependence and decentralization. Folks with an interest in activism, social movements, and organizational development may find this book particularly illuminating.

A thing I’m daydreaming about: an energy future that is renewable AND decentralized.

More stuff you should check out:

  • “It’s now or never” – from the new IPCC report.
  • Two-part series from Anne Helen Petersen’s Culture Study newsletter on houseplants. (Did you know the US is experiencing the biggest house plant boom since the late 1960s?!) This is a new-to-me newsletter that a colleague recommended, and I want to pass on the recommendation to all of you! (Her recent series on the care crisis in the US and what good care infrastructure could look like is so very good. Care as in childcare, elder care, or any care that falls on individuals without institutional support!)
  • Politico published a monthlong investigation into the FDA and how food safety and nutrition priorities have been languishing for years. Congress is apparently “shocked”, but this is absolutely no surprise to anyone who pays attention to the world of food policy.
  • ICYMI, Cobalt is the new gold. An essential metal for batteries, cobalt is critical for the transition to renewable energy. Congo has the world’s largest deposit of cobalt, and abhorrent mining conditions are increasingly coming to light. NYTimes and Vox (audio story) both had good coverage on this topic lately.
  • Also from the Times: an investigation on Joe Manchin’s tie to the coal industry, going back decades.
  • A friend recently gifted me a bird feeder made from recycled plastic milk jugs – it’s excellent. Now we just need to attract a few more birds 🙂
  • My favorite carrot bread recipe. We halve the sugar for the baby, and it’s still very tasty.