The last thing we want at the Thanksgiving table is political arguments, or any argument for that matter. Here are five sustainability topics anyone can feel at ease discussing at the Thanksgiving Table because they’re inarguable. Well, 4 and 5 might be mildly controversial, but you decide that’s right for your gathering. They’re happening and the conversation should be a fun and free flowing way to share new ideas and personal favorites.
1. Our rapidly growing reuse economy, also knows as the circular economy. The takeaway is that waste has value. We just have to find it. And waste will soon be a word of the past. It has to because we’re drowning in our waste.
Examples of take-make-dispose transforming to take-make-reuse are food scraps, used textiles, used clothing and used furniture. Five Sustainne business members are experts in these sectors of the reuse, or circular economy: Curbside Compost, Wiggle Room, Bay State Textiles, Consign Envy and The Junkluggers.
Curbside Compost collects food scraps from residences, businesses and municipal transfer stations and transports them to compost farms where they’re turned into valuable soil amendments. Are you still throwing away your food scraps instead of recycling them? Learn all about food waste and Curbside Compost in our blog post with an embedded podcast interview with founder and owner Nick Skeadas.
Wiggle Room takes organic food scraps from restaurants and turns them into high-end vermicompost that is USDA Certified Organic. Bags of various sizes are available for sale on their website or at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center in Westport.
Bay State Textiles provides collection boxes to schools and municipal transfer stations across CT to recover used textiles in any condition except wet or dirty. Hosting a box is free and rebates are $100 a ton. Consider hosting a box at your school to teach children and families valuable way to participate in the reuse economy while combating climate change. Textiles should not be thrown in the garbage because they are burned in waste to energy facilities. Bay State Textiles paid schools in Massachusetts $250,000 in rebates last year!
Consign Envy extends the life of designer adult and children’s clothing by reselling worn items in excellent condition on consignment. The seller gets to recover some of their investment and buyers get access to designer clothes they probably would not otherwise buy at an accessible price. Visit their store in Ridgefield for fun bargain hunting. Check out their selection of kids’ ice skates and boots, items we know they grow out of quickly but are still full of useful life.
The Junkluggers vertically integrated their eco-friendly junk removal business a few years ago when they introduced their Second Chance warehouse filled with high quality used furniture, some of which they refurbish with a modern look to keep it in use. Shop the newly rebranded Remix Market at 77 Selleck Street in Norwalk to find quality furniture and other home goods at great prices points. Custom refinishing orders are welcome. Don’t miss the entertaining and informative Sustainne Podcast episode with The Junkluggers Founder and CEO Josh Cohen where he shares the fascinating story of the company’s founding and why he believes they’re just getting started. Use the player below to listen to the show. Below that is a 1 minute-clip from the Sustainable Living Expo with Marketing Manager Tom Kinzer where he shares their sustainability mission.
2. Waste Prevention – Getting People to Hold onto Their Stuff Longer
Older generations will surely have stories to tell about how things used to be repaired before a throwaway culture took over as the cost of repair exceeded the cost to replace an item or it was already rendered obsolete. Now we’re experiencing the error of our ways and learning to repair, refurbish, repurpose and upcycle our worn, broken, and damaged items.
The reuse economy is rapidly evolving to address waste by preventing it; it’s actually being designed out of the manufacturing process at cradle to cradle clothing companies like Eileen Fisher. The company pays customers to return old clothing to them so they can repair it or refashion it and resell it in their Renew shops.
A Repair Café opened in the Netherlands in 2009 as an oasis for people with broken items hoping to get them repaired. Once a month an army of volunteer fixers works to repair stuff people bring in for free, although tips are welcome. There are now 1600 Repair Cafes around the world including one in Willimantic, CT! https://repaircafe.org/en/location/willimantic-repair-cafe-ct/
Sustainne member Eugene’s Green Garage a garage is dedicated to maintaining and repairing vehicles – gas, hybrid or electric car, sports car, motorcycle, scooter and others – to reach their maximum lifespan. Everything is recycled, even used engine fluids and motor oil!
3. The sharing economy is transforming industries as consumers strive to own less and live a minimalist lifestyle.
Airbnb and Lyft are well known examples of the sharing economy made possible through technology, and the trend shows no signs of abating. Also referred to as the collaborative economy, it’s turning our purchases into assets and helping us avoid making expensive purchases. We can share our homes or rent others, share our cars or rent or buy rides from others, and work in co-working spaces to enjoy community as we freelance in the gig economy. We can even bike share to avoid owning a bike in the first place.
4. Sustainable investing has gone mainstream.
We make personal choices to live more sustainably in our homes and businesses, but what about our investment portfolios? Gone are the days when only large pension funds can choose to divest from big oil or big ag and invest in renewable energy and agriculture instead.
Sustainable investing has grown to be so popular that individual investors with portfolios of any size now have a multitude of choices for making sustainable invests without sacrificing returns. That’s right! It’s time to debunk that myth. One out of every 4 dollars under professional management is invested sustainably. Learn more in our Q&A with James Osborn of Envest Asset Management on our blog and the short video below.
5. Decarbonizing the transportation sector is a priority in CT.
We all heard about the IPCC Report’s dire forecast if we don’t keep global warming in check and it’s a real wake up call. Renewable energy and electric vehicles are two big solutions to reducing GHG emissions. Electric buses are coming to CT! As part of the VW emissions cheating settlement with CT that DEEP is administering, UCONN is getting 2 full electric shuttle buses and New Haven is replacing 12 diesel transit buses with 12 electric transit buses via the DOT.
If you don’t own an EV, take one for a test drive over the Thanksgiving holiday. The maintenance is nil because you never have to get an oil change or a tune up. State and federal incentives, including cash rebates in CT, sweeten the deal even if you lease the vehicle. Our state’s charging infrastructure is mature and apps help you locate charging stations away from home.