How to Connect the Paris Deal to our Everyday Lives

With all the talk of climate change and the Paris Climate Deal there has been a lot of confusing information circulating. A great question to start with is, what is it?

Alexandra Simon-Lewis at Wired reports that,

“The ultimate purpose of the Paris Agreement was to strengthen the global response to climate change by creating an international network of government bodies, all dedicated to lowering emissions. Syria and Nicaragua were the only countries who did not join the Agreement.

Those who did pledged to work towards a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, ideally aiming to limit the increase to 1.5°C. This level of temperature change may sound insignificant, but would, in fact, put massive strain on food production, clean water sources and energy production.”

There are some key aspects that are important to note. For example, it will take about four years to withdraw from the Paris Deal because of stipulations set by the deal. While this is good news, many worry this just means the administration will work harder to eradicate domestic climate programs.

Some cities in the United States are attempting to take matters into their own hands and curb their environmental impact. If nothing else having a group of 246 city mayors, the US Climate Mayors, across the U.S. standing together sends a strong message to our administration. Some mayors have organized events to show their commitment to the environment,

“Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has emphatically stated his support for the Paris Agreement. Renewable energy in Pittsburgh has created an estimated 13,000 jobs, with investment in green development transforming it from its roots as a polluted, steel-mill-driven city to one of the largest growing tech and healthcare centres in the country. Pittsburgh residents have taken to the streets in a “March for Truth” in support of the Paris Agreement, at which time Peduto committed the city to a goal of reaching 100 per cent renewable energy adoption by 2035.”

Like every situation that has arisen under this administration I am reminded of the importance of taking matters into our own hands. While it is devastating to be under a leader who does not value the future of our environment we can all have an impact on our planet regardless of the policies being discussed on Capitol Hill.

Googling ways to live more sustainably is overwhelming and begs the question where do I start? Often when we hear sustainable living we imagine living off the grid in a yurt. While that works for some (shout out to the yurt dwellers!) there are more attainable, everyday small changes, we can all make. A bonus to many of these suggestions is you often end up saving money when you are buying and reusing goods that have a longer lifespan.

  1. Stop using plastic straws. They are small enough to be mistaken for food by some animals and have even caused some animals to suffocate. Not convinced? Check out this post with more details – including a woman’s story about finding 319 straws on a 20-minute dive in Australia and a video of a Turtle being saved from a straw being lodged in its poor little nose. I found some stainless-steel straws on amazon that I love!
  2. Reusable napkins. Aside from setting the table with cute napkins and placemats you can waste less and save money using cloth napkins. According to Ocean Conservancy five years’ worth of cloth napkins for a family of four could cost up to $108 while paper napkins could cost upwards of $2635. That is a big difference!  
  3. Microfiber cloths. Like getting rid of napkins, getting rid of paper towels saved me a lot of money. I replaced using paper towels with dish rags and microfiber cloths for cleaning, which work better!
  4. Reusable shopping bags. According to Protect Your Central Coast, a plastic shopping bag can take up to 1000 years to decompose. Worse yet, only 1% of plastic bags are recycled worldwide which means 99% are sitting in landfills. Practical side note – if you are like me and refuse to make more than one trip in from the grocery it is a much easier feat when you are using sturdy bags and not having cheap target plastic bags cutting into your fingers. I know I’m not the only one to experience this!
  5. Reusable water bottles. Not only is the plastic itself harmful the process of bottling is taxing on our poor planet. The organization Ban the Bottle reports that it requires three times the water to produce a plastic bottle than it does to simple fill it.
  6. Just try cutting plastic in general. Cut the one-time use cups, plates, utensils – especially the plastic ones! Read more about some general effects of plastic here. From the smallest microorganisms to the largest animals we are all being effected by the massive amount of plastic we use.
  7. Try eating more meatless meals. Now hear me out meat eaters – I know that many of you find it crazy to not eat meat. But even having one day a week without meat, meatless Mondays for example, could drastically change the world. For example, it takes roughly 1,850 gallons of water just to produce a single pound of beef, compared to 39 gallons for a pound of vegetables.

We need policies and practices at national, state, county and personal levels to continue this change. But none the less we can all personally make small changes to try to work towards protecting our planet. Do not underestimate the power of what seems like small acts. Whenever people ask my dad what I do and what I went to school for he explains how I work with survivors of sexual assault, do programming and usually ends with his signature, “she’s trying to save the world one Styrofoam cup at a time” – one, because he thinks he’s funny but two, because he knows how often I talk about trying to make a difference in small ways every day.

Last week I got a coffee and forgot my reusable straw at home – know that nobody is perfect (what a silly word anyway)! We all make mistakes and get to learn from them every day. But just starting to be aware of the environmental consequences of our actions is a great place to begin. I will be willing to bet you start noticing these small things more and more.

Call your representatives and tell them how much their constituents care about the planet. Read a new book or blog post about climate change. Or just start with a reusable water bottle. No matter what, do something.

“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.” – Ban Ki Moon

Now is Not the Time to Be Silent, No Matter the Setting

This post was originally on The Good Men Project and can be found here!

Social media can be an amazing place to connect with people on any topic you want. It’s how I find my favorite vegan recipes, feel like a fitness expert with YouTube workouts and most importantly connect with a beautiful group of online badass feminists that give me hope for tomorrow. But of course, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. It seems that for every post celebrating, respecting, appreciating, and listening to women there are twice as many body-shaming, victim-blaming, and trolling just to make their presence known.


When You Tell Us to be Quiet, We Get Louder: Thoughts from Marching in D.C.

Over the past week-end I had the extreme honor of marching in the Women’s March on Washington. A bus of 51 people drove from Saint Cloud, Minnesota to Washington D.C. and back all in 58 hours. It was truly one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I have notes jotted on the corners of my notebook, quotes that I ferociously tried to type during the day on my phone, and a tornado of feelings within me that I knew I needed to share with all of you.

That fact alone reminded me that I was not alone. The last few months have tested my faith in humanity but the connections I made on Saturday rekindled my passion. After 10 hours of marching and rallying I got back on the bus feeling stronger than ever. It reminded me why I fight and reminded me that we have so much to do.

Because we are not done. For so many reasons we are not done.


Community: Yours, Mine, and Ours

Community has different meanings for all of us. For some community is the one we are born in, for others it is something they create. Communities cross county lines and span across oceans. We can attain multiple communities throughout our lives; our work, our home, our friendships.

Today the strongest community in my life mourns the loss of someone taken from Earth too soon. But what I am reminded of and what I must focus on is the community that came together today.


Pornography: The Issue too Progressive for Progressives

This post was originally posted on The Good Men Project, you can check it out here!

In the current political climate, late night talk shows that push the boundaries and point out the atrocities of society are a comedic relief. But there is one subject that seems too far out of reach for the critique of liberal leaning. late night shows. Pornography. A cultural phenomenon that has infiltrated all spaces of society, from movies to television shows, the topic of porn has become an acceptable joke that we’re all supposed to know is funny. But what’s funny about exploitation? What humor is there in paid rape? What’s amusing about men getting off to violence against women?


Happy Birthday Laura Jane Grace!

Happy Birthday Laura Jane Grace!

Today is the beginning of Transgender Awareness Week, a week to take time and recognize the issues that face the transgender community and to help raise visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming identities. The final day in this week, November 20th, is Transgender Day of Remembrance:

The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.