Elevate a Climate Change Exhibit

Two weeks ago, ProjectARCC challenged archivists to elevate their collections related to climate change using #PreserveClimate. There’s also a survey archivists can fill out for collections to go into a larger project.

One example of an archive that has recently elevated their materials related to climate change is the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. In late October, the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) launched its Online Reading Room, providing the public with access to thousands of historic public television and radio programming dating back to the 1950s. As part of the inauguration of the Online Reading Room, AAPB staff launched three curated exhibits featuring content that is topically and historically significant. AAPB Project Manager Casey Davis curated one of the three exhibits, the title of which is “Climate Change Conversations: Causes, Impacts, Solutions.

The exhibit highlights television and radio conversations with climate scientists, activists, journalists, historians, and students who used the venue of public broadcasting to discuss climate change for more than a quarter of a century. In these recordings, they have repeatedly communicated the science of human-driven climate change and its impacts in interviews, call-in radio shows, debates, public lectures, news programs, and documentaries.

While scientists and activists have consistently used public broadcasting to disseminate information about climate change, the conversation has changed over time. In the 1980s, focus was primarily on communicating the potential threats of global warming. Since then, programming has increasingly examined the actual impacts, and in addition, struggled to keep the American public informed and engaged.

Organized into six sections, the exhibit highlights public broadcasting recordings of conversations on climate change—its causes, impacts, and proposed solutions—from 1970, the first year that Earth Day was celebrated, to the present. Among the recordings include conversations with Gus Speth, former Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, James Hansen, the first scientist to testify before Congress on the threat of global warming, former Vice President Al Gore, three recordings with Bill McKibben, writer and activist who founded the international organization 350.org, Katharine Hayhoe, climate scientist who has become well-known for communicating climate change to fellow evangelical Christians, and David Brower, founder of Friends of the Earth.

What’s in your collections?

What to Know for the Paris Climate Talks

 

ProjectARCC is challenging archivists from around the world to elevate and broadcast their collections that relate to climate change. Use #preserveclimate to join the conversation and add to the database!

This week, an important and big climate change conference started in Paris, and will continue until December 11th. In the wake of the 13 November terrorism, an already high-profile meeting will take on new meaning. It would not be hyperbolic to say what could come out of the Paris meeting could chart the very path of human existence for our foreseeable future.

This is a brief post that includes some useful links and a very quick primer to help ProjectARCC allies understand the significance of the road ahead. If this primer leaves you wanting more, I highly recommend this short graphic novella of the history of international efforts to manage climate change. A text-based timeline can also be found here.

WHO?

The Paris talks, often referred to in shorthand as COP21 (or the 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCC) will be the most recent attempt to bring together the international community to committing to real reductions in carbon emissions that will keep the world as close to not exceeding 2º Celsius of warming as possible. 2º Celsius has been the benchmark target set by the climate change policy community for several years, and exceeding this target will almost certainly cause severe and irreversible changes to the world climate. We have already warmed the planet by 0.8º Celsius since the late 1800s. Because reduction of emissions would have to be so dramatic to bring current projections to 2º or less, many scientists and policy makers are now reckoning with adaptation to a planet that could warm by at least 4º Celsius by 2100, if massive reductions in carbon emissions are not immediately implemented.

WHERE?

Paris, France (specifically, Le Bourget, which is just outside Paris). COP meetings rotate between regions, and France applied for the 2015 Western European hosting turn back in 2012. The actual meeting can only be attended by national delegations of the UNFCC parties, intergovernmental agencies and non-governmental organizations with officially-recognized observer status (e.g., the World Bank), and journalists. However, close to the official meeting location, there will be a venue that will host activities that the general public can attend.

As this blog post goes to press, following the Paris terrorist attacks French authorities are committed to going forward with hosting and security for the official meeting events, but will not allow any public street marches associated with the climate talks. At past climate summits, such as Copenhagen in 2009, public demonstrations served an important role in giving voice to those most vulnerable to climate change’s disasterous effects.

WHEN?

While the meeting will take place over the course of 12 days, there has been significant groundwork laid over the past year. The initial negotiation sessions began in February, in Switzerland. The meeting in Paris will be the final vote to accept the framework to measure progress on each country’s committed reductions.

WHY?

In general, the COP (Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) takes place every year (since 1995). In addition, you may see things like “CMP” when reading about COP — this refers to parties which signed on to the Kyoto Protocol, which was the first time binding greenhouse gas emission targets were set. This year is the 21st conference of COP, and the 11th conference of CMP (i.e., COP21/CMP11). The United States is a party to the UNFCC, but never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, citing concerns over lack of emissions reductions from developing countries. This is why the recent carbon emissions agreement between China and the United States is a huge deal — it represents perhaps a loosening of the “Which country should cut first and faster?” question that has often derailed recent international climate negotiations.

HOW?

The biggest difference with this round of climate talks is the model to which countries are pledging individual emissions reduction targets. Each country has set their own target, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC)– on the plus side, this means countries may be more likely to actually meet reduction goals, something that has been elusive in the past. On the other hand, many experts note that even if all countries meet their own self-defined targets, it will not be enough to collectively stay under the 2º target. The World Resources Institute has developed an interesting visualization tool for the submitted INDCs.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR?

Historically, a stumbling block in climate talks has been tension between reduction expectations of highly developed countries with high emissions (such as the United States) compared to rapidly developing countries (such as China and India). Meanwhile, many Pacific Island nations are literally reckoning with going underwater, possibly in our lifetimes. There will likely be significant discussion over the obligations of developed countries to assist extremely vulnerable and under-resourced countries cope with the effects of climate change.

— Eira Tansey

 

ProjectARCC challenges archives to #preserveclimate during COP21

From November 30 to December 11, world leaders and scientists will meet in Paris in the hopes of negotiating an international accord to reduce carbon emissions and respond to the imminent threats of climate change. As we move closer to this United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in the coming week, I believe that we are on the precipice of changing the conversation about climate change. Archivists can play a role in elevating the conversation and increasing climate literacy by using our collections to improve public awareness of climate change through exhibits and social media. We’re making commitments now a future for our planet. As the guardians of cultural heritage, let’s not only work to ensure the preservation of our collections from the impacts of climate change, but let’s take that responsibility further by providing better access and discoverability to our collections that could be used to educate our communities on the urgency for action on climate change.

ProjectARCC would like to challenge archives to use the hashtag #PreserveClimate during COP21, which is taking place from November 30 – December 11, and promote your collections that are relevant to the conversation about climate change.

In addition, we ask that you help us identify archival collections related to climate change by filling out this survey: https://projectarcc.org/elevate/survey-elevate/.

Once we have compiled this survey, we will use the information to create a database and visualizations that identify these collections and where they exist, which can be used as a resource for scholars, researchers, scientists, journalists, and the general public. 

We encourage you to take the challenge and #preserveclimate during COP21. If you’re wondering what types of materials are relevant to the issue of climate change, here are a few suggestions:

  • materials documenting natural disasters
  • dated historic photographs of landscapes and agriculture
  • records of climate change or environmental activist groups
  • scientific data sets for climate change research
  • government records about local, regional, or national response to climate change
  • manuscript collections documenting how people feel or felt about climate change
  • papers of climate scientists
  • recorded lectures, interviews, and debates about climate change

— Casey Davis

Committee Quarterly Reports Summer/Fall 2015

Reduce Committee

The Reduce Committee has met three times since it was formed, twice in real time and once asynchronously. In addition to contributing resources to the Climate Change Syllabus, the Reduce Committee was active in planning, preparing, and co-implementing a tweet-up with the Sustainability Round Table of ALA (SustainRT) on sustainability issues in libraries and archives. The event took place on Monday, October 19, 2015 at 1:00-2:00PM, during which members from ProjectARCC and SustainRT posed six unique questions to followers on Twitter about ways to practice sustainability in our institutions, motivate the archival community to affect climate change, and educate the public about climate science. Followers’ comments and answers were responded to and retweeted, and potential answers were offered by both groups. Also, each tweet contained the hashtag, #SustainLIS, of which there is now an archive on Twitter.
Looking forward, the Reduce Committee is considering hosting “office hours” for members of ProjectARCC to synchronously tune into a publicly available webinar (or series of webinars) concerning climate and preservation issues, such as the regional webinars made available by the Image Permanence Institute. The Committee has also considered hosting a live tweet-up during the webinar(s) in which we will pose questions to the group and its followers in order to spur on a conversation. A webinar tweet-up would further educate members of ProjectARCC while simultaneously drawing social media attention to ProjectARCC, our mission, and the issues we aim to affect.

Elevate Committee

The Elevate Committee has launched two initiatives designed to highlight climate change-related issues in archives.  The first is a list of climate change related collections located in repositories around the country.  The second initiative is developing a taxonomy of keywords and subject terms to help researchers locate archival collections related to climate change.

Protect Committee

The Protect committee has examined the landscape of existing archival disaster management to see where we may fit in and make best use of our limited resources. We have examined the COSTEP framework (https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/costep) in depth and shared other resources during our group meetings. Recently, we have agreed to partner with the Regional Archival Associations Consortium (RAAC) Disaster Planning and Recovery Subcommittee. That subcommittee plans to focus on climate change issues in the next year, so it is a natural alliance.
We have had some changes in our membership roster, as of November 14, 2015, our active members include:
  1. Eira Tansey (Chair)
  2. Dana Gerber-Margie
  3. Rebecca Fraimow
  4. Shannon Struble
  5. Hanni Nabahe
Other activities we have done:
Looking forward, we plan to work on the following activities:
  • Collaboration with the RAAC disaster subcommittee on interviewing archivists who have dealt with disasters and the lessons learned
  • Creating a map of recent disasters that have impacted archives

Preserve Committee

Report to come.

Our Conversation to #SustainLIS with ALA SustainRT

On Monday, October 19, 2015, ProjectARCC and ALA SustainRT co-hosted a tweet-up to discuss the actions we can take as archivists and librarians to reduce our professional carbon footprint, implement sustainable practices in our institutions to prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change, and engage the public in environmental awareness and sustainability education. Each group posed three questions pertaining to these topics, totaling six distinct questions. Tweet-up participants offered great solutions, posed further questions and concerns, and shared resources.

The content of the tweet-up can be found in a curated Storify.

Stay tuned for more information on the joint ProjectARCC-SustainRT event we are planning for ALA Midwinter 2016 in Boston! Also, please tag #SustainLIS in your future tweets about anything pertaining to sustainability in LIS, including new research, trends, events, success stories, areas for improvement, thoughts, and actions.

— Carey MacDonald

New England Event: Join ProjectARCC at the Boston Rally for Jobs, Justice & Climate on 12/12

rallyTo change everything, it takes everyone. Join ProjectARCC at the New England rally for Jobs, Justice and Climate taking place on Saturday, December 12 from 1-3pm starting at the Boston Common.

 

From November 29 through December 11, world leaders will meet in Paris to negotiate a new global climate treaty. This is the 21st attempt at establishing an international accord, and it’s our responsibility to demand that leaders agree on bold climate solutions. On December 12, people will come from across New England to rally for climate action to ensure a resilient future for current and future generations. As the profession responsible for the long-term preservation of our cultural heritage, archivists must act to ensure that the commitments made by our leaders will safeguard our collections and the communities we document.

If you’re interested in joining ProjectARCC at the rally, please fill out the form below, and we’ll get in touch with you soon with more details.

In solidarity,
The New England area members of ProjectARCC

Disaster Planning: Do Something

A month or so back, the ProjectARCC blog featured a blog post titled “Doomsday Preppers,” about the fact that preparing for disaster is one of the most important functions of an archivist. Most of the standard functions that we practice as archivists — creating backup copies of digital files, storing physical items in safe and protective containers, making sure that we track when and where our collections are at all times — serve as a form of protection against disaster.

But how do you actually go about planning for the kinds of major disasters that climate change scientists have been warning us to expect? What happens when you really do get the flood or the earthquake that you always knew was a possibility, but never really thought was going to happen at your institution?

Many archives and cultural heritage organizations have disaster plans, which provide solid, practical instructions on how to cope with an emergency — what precautions to take, who to contact, and what the first steps should be to protect the collections when a disaster hits. If your institution doesn’t have a disaster plan yet, the Society of American Archivists has a great Annotated Resources page full of disaster plan templates, examples, tutorials and bibliographies to help make the process of developing one a little easier.

However, even if your institution already has the best disaster plan imaginable, archivists are busy people; with deadlines for grants and projects and fiscal years looming over our heads, preparing for some kind of abstract catastrophe can often take a back burner. If your institution does have a disaster plan, when was the last time you actually looked it up and read it? How often does someone take a look at it to make sure it’s up to date — and how long does it take to push changes through the bureaucracy to approve it? Are new employees aware of it, and what information it contains, and how to find it if the emergency actually does take place?

One of the best resources for improving ongoing disaster preparedness in archives in cultural heritage institutions is COSTEP, the Coordinated Statewide Emergency Preparedness Framework, developed by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC). COSTEP encourages cultural institutions to work together on a statewide level with emergency management agencies and first responders. The state of Massachusetts currently has a thriving official COSTEP program, which hosts regular meetings and trainings, and hopefully other states will follow suit.

However, even if you’re not ready to spearhead an official statewide COSTEP initiative, the COSTEP Framework document has a number of fantastic recommendations about how to build relationships and prepare for disaster within a community before disaster occurs.

Speaking of workshops, taking any kind of disaster preparedness workshop — either cultural institution-specific ones, such as those offered by the NEDCC, or more general ones like those offered by the Red Cross — is a good way to become aware of hazards and disaster resources in your area.

Still, no matter how prepared you and your institution are, there’s always going to be some disasters that can’t be prevented by any amount of planning. The archival community has generated resources to help cultural institutions post-disaster, too. The National Disaster Recovery Fund for Archives was originally created to assist archives recovering from Hurricane Katrina; it’s since expanded its mandate to support the recovery of archives from any major disaster, and can provide up to $2,000 in initial emergency funding.

While I’m sure all of us hope that we’ll never need to apply for that funding, I know, for one, I’m glad to know now that it’s there and available — staying aware of these kind of resources, just in case, is one more way of being prepared.

— Rebecca Fraimow

Do you have more ideas for archivists to improve their disaster planning? Consider joining the Protect Committee as part of ProjectARCC. Our next meeting is Wednesday, October 21st. We’ll be discussing developing relationships with similar projects and mapping archival disasters.

EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT: On the Brink: Archives, Climate Change, and the Future

We are thrilled to announce our SCoSAA/ProjectARCC collaborative event: On The Brink: Archives, Climate Change, and the Future!

The  Simmons College Student Chapter of the Society of American Archivists (SCoSAA) and ProjectARCC are hosting On the Brink: Archives, Climate Change, and the Future,  a panel discussion among archivists and energy policy, ethics and communications experts which will bring the topic of climate change to the forefront, as it will deeply impact the archival profession.

The event will be held at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts on Wednesday, November 11 at 5:30pm in the Kotzen Meeting Room. Register to attend on our Eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/on-the-brink-archives-climate-change-and-the-future-tickets-18737615713

While the meeting is capped at 50 attendees, we will have unlimited capability to livestream the event, which you can attend through  GoToWebinar via think link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7581571748555811330 and the Webinar ID: 120-664-547.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact SCoSAA Co-Chairs Betts Coup and Kristen Weischedel at scosaa@simmons.edu.

About ProjectARCC:

Founded on Earth Day in 2015, ProjectARCC is a task force of archivists striving to motivate the archival community to affect climate change. We believe that archivists, those responsible for the preservation of history for future generations, should be as passionate and concerned about preserving a habitable and safe planet for future generations.  To learn more about ProjectARCC, visit our website athttps://projectarcc.org/.

About our speakers:

Casey Davis

Casey E. Davis is an audiovisual archivist and project manager who by day is Project Manager for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting at WGBH. Alarmed about current and impending impacts of climate change on the archival profession, Casey, along with other archivists across the United States formed ProjectARCC, a task force of archivists striving to motivate the archival profession to affect climate change. Casey also serves as archivist for DearTomorrow, a campaign to collect and preserve letters from parents to their loved ones about climate change. She is the Co-Chair for the New England Archivists Roundtable for Early Professionals and Students and serves on the NEA Membership Committee.

Lisa Pearson

Lisa Pearson is the Head of the Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library and Archives. She oversees all of the operations of the library and archives, as well as creating displays of archival materials for the library and exhibits in the Visitor Center. In addition she manages new library book acquisitions. Earlier in her time at the Arboretum she was the project cataloger for the digitization of several of their historical photograph collections. This has given her an in-depth knowledge of their holdings. Prior to coming to the Arboretum, she was employed for many years as a librarian in the insurance industry, first on the property/casualty side and later in the life/health and financial services realm. Outside of work she is an artist working in metal, leather, and textiles, who gathers her inspiration from Medieval and Renaissance art.

Trisha Shrum

Trisha is a PhD candidate in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School specializing in behavioral science and environmental economics. In her work on how moral frames and time preference affect support for climate change policy, she developed the fundamental concept that underlies DearTomorrow. She credits her own daughter, Eleanor, and Christiana Figueres for the critical inspiration. Prior to coming to the Kennedy School, she earned a Masters of Environmental Science at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Science and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Kansas. Trisha has been studying and analyzing climate change policy for nearly a decade.

Lucas Stanczyk

Lucas Stanczyk is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Affiliated Faculty of Philosophy at MIT. He completed his PhD at Harvard in 2012. Lucas’s primary research interests are in political philosophy and the history of political thought. He is completing a book manuscript on the economic duties of citizenship and has started research for a second book on contemporary inequality. At MIT, he teaches classes in political philosophy, the history of political thought, and the ethics of public policy.

A multitude of problems needs a multitude of voices

Perhaps one of the biggest climate change stories of 2015 has been Pope Francis’s encyclical, titled Laudato Si. It is a powerful document, tracing the moral and biblical roots of environmental stewardship,  recognizing the devastating effects of climate change on the poorest among us, and calling for a radical shift in how we relate to the Earth. That this encyclical came from a leader who chose to adopt the name of Saint Francis — the same saint who talked to birds — should not come as a surprise to anyone who is familiar with religious teachings about caring for God’s creation. Yet many politicians and business leaders vocally doubted the role of a religious leader entering the climate change discussion. Former Florida governor and GOP presidential contender Jeb Bush said, “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm.” Oklahoma senator James Inhofe stated, “The pope ought to stay with his job.” Former Pennsylvania senator and GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum remarked, “The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality.”

What all these statements imply is that climate change is purely a science issue, and therefore non-scientists are getting out of their lane when they comment on it. This could not be any more wrong.

Climate change has never been purely a science issue. We know climate change will affect every single one of us on Earth, and every person that follows us. It has grave consequences for marginalized communities living in geographically vulnerable areas threatened by severe hurricanes and rising sea levels, for ecosystems that have been stressed to the point of extinction due to extraction and pollution, and for human rights as droughts and environmental degradation devastate resources and stoke the fires of armed conflict and refugee crises.

Scientists can tell us how and why climate change is happening. But they cannot — nor should they be expected to — come up with the answers for shifting to a world powered by an alternative to the current toxic approach of extraction that exhausts human and environmental resources to the breaking point. And that’s where the rest of us come in.

The Pope took a bold stance by issuing a clarion call rooted in Catholic theology to demonstrate why Catholics cannot avert their eyes to this issue any longer. In doing this, Pope Francis showed us how we must each find ways to speak with our own communities, using our own communities’ language, cultural knowledge, rituals and practices to address a global issue with ramifications for every person on Earth. Climate change is a multitude of problems, and it requires a multitude of responses. While people might not listen to a scientist talk about carbon emissions scenarios, they might begin to engage with climate change when a friend at work, house of worship, school, or neighborhood group speaks about how climate change affects that community and what can be done about it.

Across the world, people are leading these conversations within their own communities. Students at American historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are holding HBCU Climate Change conferences. In the UK, Muslim Climate Action is a coalition of Muslim organizations working on climate change issues. Gulf South Rising is a coalition of Gulf Coast coast communities organizing grassroots responses to environmental injustices wrought on the Gulf South region. A growing number of medical professionals are signing on to campaigns against carbon emissions. And happily, archivists have joined the group of people working within their own communities with the creation of ProjectARCC.

– Eira Tansey

A Green Archivist’s Happy Home

The post below is the reproduction of a recent Facebook status by our Outreach Coordinator, Dana Gerber-Margie. This list was intended for her friends and family to use as individuals and families. It’s a different story for our profession, our conferences, and our institutions, but thankfully the REDUCE committee is working on that!

From August 30th, originally posted on Facebook:

Shower thinking brought a lot of ruminating on climate change/global warming and people’s engagement with it, or lack there of. It is so easy to become irritated, judgmental, and so frustrated, but it also so unhelpful to be all of those things. My mind pictures families in houses too big with cars too big for commutes too long, wanting too much stuff and too much new. I see the AC or heat up too high, lights on too long, too much food gone to waste, and an incredible amount of focus on entertainment that does not matter, educate, expand, only lets us pass the time.

But this is focusing on the negatives, and not the reasons: the intersectionality of the American dream, companies & governments that want more hours without more pay, a desire to feel comfortable in a sanctuary of home when the outside world is all about shootings, insane politicians, and oppression. And cities all over the country are increasing in size but not in width; rent is getting higher, the jobs are still downtown, and at the end of the day it is a very rational choice to live away from the luxury apartments, craft cocktails, and crowded restaurants.

So how do we step away from anger and judgment into something actually helpful? And how do we get out of the echo chamber that is educated liberal guilt (which includes knowledge of the issues without much action)? A future with bigger storms, wilder fires, and rising sea levels is a terrifying one. A future with less water, food, and energy is just as scary. There are other people working on policies, technologies, and discovery plans, so let them just handle it, right? We have enough to do. I feel this daily, but I also feel such a strong pressure to make the future better for our children, for the impoverished, for the under-insured, for all of the other countries that will be unfairly impacted by our society’s consumption and drive for progress.

And so below I offer some things we do in our home and in our lives to do our part, even if it feels small and insignificant. Sometimes I don’t do these in the best way, or I end up doing it out of guilt, or (the best times) I do it because I care. I do them because these actions will add up, and they can add up exponentially if you do them, too.

What are some actions for the environment you take?

  • Don’t see “reduce, reuse, recycle” as a phrase, but as a priority list. First, reduce. Then if you must, try reusing. And then if neither of those work, lastly recycle.
  • Don’t buy it. Really, you don’t need it.
  • Okay, you need it, but look at local stores, local materials, local food to ease the cost of transportation of goods.
  • Don’t buy things just because they’re on sale.
  • Understand that production of goods and use of resources comes directly from our consumption of them
  • Buy groceries in small batches so food doesn’t go to waste.
  • Eat a vegetarian diet. My husband Derek eats meat, but at home eats mostly plant-powered meals. Our next time is a more vegan friendly diet.
  • Bring our own bags to the store, including big box stores like Target. Derek forgets his bag in his car a lot when he’s at work, but we save all the paper and plastic bags he gets, and reuse them when we need them.
  • Never buy bottled water. I have a stainless steel water bottle at home and at work. I fill both up with water from the tap (purified at home with a filter on our faucet).
  • Use a reusable travel mug for coffee & tea. If I have the coffee “for here,” I make sure to mention I’d like it in a mug, not a paper cup. If I forget the above, I wash out the paper/plastic cup before recycling it.
  • Purchase fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate, clothes, etc.
  • Utilize the farmer’s market.
  • Lights off if you’re not in the room. Lights off during the day because I just open the curtains.
  • Unplug the microwave when not using it.
  • Turn off electronics and appliances if not using them.
  • Always check the energy use stats for all appliances/electronics. Since I’m a renter, I don’t always have this option, but I did look at the specs for our computers, printer, and air conditioner.
  • Use CFL lightbulbs.
  • Don’t keep chargers plugged in all day; it uses up energy. My phone thankfully has a little alarm that tells me when it’s been charged.
  • Don’t fall prey to the next new neat gadget; Derek and I both have solid, great desktop computers. I bought my computer in March 2010 and it’s doing just fine! Same goes for our cell phones; I’m due for a renewal but since it’s working fine, I’m keeping it.
  • I don’t buy a lot on Amazon, partly for their labor practices and other reasons, but also because of shipping. If it’s offered, I get items packaged together.
  • Complain when a company over-packages an item. Yes I’m that customer. 😦
  • Shop at thrift stores — it’s fun!
  • Purchase the green energy option through our energy company. In Madison, that’s MG&E, and they have a sliding scale of what you can afford: as little as $5 towards renewable energies.
  • Elect politicians that care about the environment (this can obviously get very complex and weird, since it involves politics …)
  • Ask for no silverware, napkins, or extra sauces you won’t use when ordering take out or delivery. You have napkins and silverware!
  • Run the dishwasher when it’s totally full. Air dry the lighter loads.
  • Walk, bus, or bike to work.
  • When we moved recently, we didn’t move with our minds set on how much square footage the space would take up, or cool amenities like a pool or marble counters, but with a walk score in mind. We have our minimum requirements (we knew we wanted a 2-bedroom place for less than $1000 that took cats, etc), but only searched within a certain vicinity of the area. This ensured I could walk, bus, or bike to work and that Derek’s commute would be less than 1015 minutes. I also realize, though, that this is a privilege that we have since our city hasn’t been completely gentrified yet … but a good walk score will be a priority for me in the future too.
  • Drive with a consistent speed. Don’t brake or start too quickly; it uses up more gas.
  • Donate small amounts to agencies I support. $5 a month doesn’t hurt me, nor does giving $5-15 here and there.
  • Throw on a sweater and socks before turning on the heat. Once we do use it in the dead of winter, we keep it as low as possible. When we leave the house, we keep it just high enough so the pipes don’t freeze.
  • Choose lighter clothing in the summer. The same thing as above goes for using the AC: keep the temperature reasonable, don’t have it on when we’re not there. If it’s SO hot that the temperature will reach above 80ish inside, we’ll keep the AC around 78.
  • Ask your city for better recycling programs.
  • Do all of these things at work too! I keep computers off when I don’t need them, I keep the printer off, I turn the light off when I’m leaving the office for a while, I print on both sides, I recycle, etc.
  • Use stuff that can be refilled, like purchasing a soap dispenser and then large bags of liquid soap.
  • Ask elected officials for updates to infrastructure, which can lead to lots of good things like not dying on a collapsed bridge, smooth roads, and improved energy efficiency.
  • Bring lunch to work in reusable bags, including sandwich or treat bags. Etsy has them everywhere.
  • Purchase carbon credits for every flight we take.
  • Relax on a train instead of taking a plane.
  • Don’t take cruises, or if you do, research the impact they have on the environment and ocean. Some cruise lines bill themselves specifically as environmentally friendly.
  • On the same note, don’t always take environmentally friendly advertising as truth. Greenwashing for increased profits is very real!
  • All of these actions matter when I’m traveling, too. Do your best to reduce, reuse, and recycle while on the road.
  • Look into eco-travel or responsible/sustainable travel, and tourism that doesn’t decimate the local region.
  • The TV is off if I’m not watching it.
  • Keep that shower short.
  • Garden! I’m a black thumb but trying my best.
  • Join or start an awesome group like projectARCC.
  • Ask others for more ideas!