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October 5 - October 26, 2022
Mary Hanks's avatar

Mary Hanks

Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston

"I can and will make a difference "

Points Total

  • 0 Today
  • 0 This Week
  • 1,620 Total

Participant Impact

  • up to
    11
    pounds
    food waste prevented
  • up to
    35
    meatless or vegan meals
    consumed
  • up to
    23
    pounds of CO2
    have been saved
  • up to
    1,405
    minutes
    not spent in front of a screen
  • up to
    4.0
    pounds
    waste avoided
  • up to
    544
    gallons of water
    have been saved
  • up to
    1.0
    donations
    made
  • up to
    173
    advocacy actions
    completed
  • up to
    14
    hours
    volunteered
  • up to
    2.0
    documentaries
    watched
  • up to
    1,405
    minutes
    spent outdoors
  • up to
    960
    minutes
    spent learning

Mary's Actions

Enacting Equity

Support Low-Income Solar Initiatives

Whether by donating or volunteering, I will research the benefits of low-income solar and find out how I can support initiatives in my area.

Completed
One-Time Action

Balancing Consumption

Repair a Broken Item

I will repair at least one item that is broken, but is repairable. This might be items like garden tools, sewing machine, small appliances, electronics, clothing, and more.

Completed
One-Time Action

Nourishing Food

What is My Food Supply Chain?

I will spend 30 minutes learning about my food supply chains, and complete a food waste audit.

Completed
One-Time Action

Enacting Equity

Learn About Accessible & Equitable Voter Registration

I will spend 60 minutes learning about voter access and equity. And if applicable, I will register to vote, ask someone I trust to help me register, or help others register.

Completed
One-Time Action

Balancing Consumption

Needs Vs. Wants

Each day, I will practice a "Needs Vs. Wants" approach and only buy things I need.

COMPLETED 22
DAILY ACTIONS

Cultivating Communities

Share My Habits & Actions

Each day, I will make my sustainable habits or actions visible through a lawn sign, bumper sticker, pin, t-shirt, social media or other ways.

COMPLETED 22
DAILY ACTIONS

Enacting Equity

Research Indigenous & First Nations Communities

I will spend 60 learning about the past and present indigenous or first nation communities in my regions impacted by colonization, and what I can do to be supportive.

Completed
One-Time Action

Enacting Equity

Learn About Trans, Femme, and Nonbinary Experiences

I will spend 60 minutes learning about the experiences of trans, femme, and/or nonbinary people.

Completed
One-Time Action

Enacting Equity

Shop at BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Disabled, & Women-Led Businesses!

I will shop at a small business owned or staffed by underrepresented members of my community.

Completed
One-Time Action

Enacting Equity

Watch a Documentary about Racial Injustice

I will watch 1 documentaries about racism and racial injustice.

Completed
One-Time Action

Balancing Consumption

What is Sustainable Fashion?

I will spend 50 minutes learning about sustainable fashion and adopt at least one sustainable fashion practice.

Completed
One-Time Action

Balancing Consumption

Research Impact Investing

I will spend 30 minutes learning about impact investing and/or my current investment portfolio to determine if they align with my values.

Completed
One-Time Action

Balancing Consumption

Know My Waste & Recycling Services

I will spend 30 minutes finding out how to recycle in my region, where landfills and/or waste sites are situated in my region, and which communities are most impacted by these sites.

Completed
One-Time Action

Balancing Consumption

Calculate My Carbon Footprint

I will calculate the carbon emissions associated with my household and consider how different lifestyle choices could reduce our carbon footprint and our impact on the environment.

Completed
One-Time Action

Nourishing Food

Eat Plant-Based Meals

I will enjoy 1 meatless meal(s) and/or 1 vegan meal(s) each day this week.

COMPLETED 22
DAILY ACTIONS

Nourishing Food

Forest-Friendly Foods

I will spend 30 minutes learning about palm oil, coffee, cocoa, and other products known to contribute to deforestation, and replace or remove them.

Completed
One-Time Action

Nourishing Food

Watch a Documentary about Food Sovereignty

I will watch 1 documentary(ies) about food sovereignty: the right of local peoples to control their own food systems including markets, ecological resources, food cultures and production methods.

Completed
One-Time Action

Nourishing Food

Weekly Meal Planning

I will reduce food waste, excess carbon and save money by planning my daily and weekly menus so that I only purchase the ingredients needed.

COMPLETED 22
DAILY ACTIONS

Regenerating Nature

Support Local Pollinators

At least 30% of crops and 90% of flowering plants rely on pollinators to produce fruit. I will spend 30 minutes researching which plants support local pollinators and plant a few in my area.

Completed
One-Time Action

Regenerating Nature

Spend Time Outside

I will replace 15 minute(s) per day typically spent inside and often with electronics with quality time outside walking, exercising, enjoying the sunrise/sunset, gardening, journaling, observing nature, or practicing gratitude for nature.

COMPLETED 22
DAILY ACTIONS

Feed


  • Mary Hanks's avatar
    Mary Hanks 10/26/2022 11:41 AM
    A simple thing I do that doesn't seem to occur to a lot of people is putting out the trash and recyling bins on the curb for collection ONLY when they're full or close to full. Most folks I know put out their trash on every pickup day, no matter how full the bin is. I don't want decaying food scraps to create an unpleasant smell or attract scavengers, so I keep kitchen waste in a container in the freezer until I'm ready to take out the trash bin. My reasoning is that sparing the collection trucks an unnecessary stop cuts down on both fuel use and wear-and-tear. Imagine the impact if thousands of residents adopted this habit! 

    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 10/26/2022 5:08 PM
      I never thought of this, but we follow the same practice in my home.  We just don't take out trash until it's full. Since we compost nearly all food waste, there is no issue around odors.  

    • Mary Hanks's avatar
      Mary Hanks 10/26/2022 11:48 AM
      I work hard to generate as little waste as I can, so sometimes I end up putting the trash bin on the curb only once a month. Kitchen waste fits in a small container because I compost anything I can. It really doesn't take much time at all once you've gotten in the habit of planning and shopping to minimize waste. 

  • Mary Hanks's avatar
    Mary Hanks 10/25/2022 3:27 PM
    Today I learned about the environmental impact of leaf blowers. According to earth911.com, gas-powered leaf blowers with a two-stroke engine can produce 300 times the greenhouse gas of a pickup truck! Blowers can erode topsoil, spread herbicides, separate birds and insects from their habitats, and harm the people using the equipment. What can we do? Advocate for the development of more climate-friendly equipment, and use (or hire landscapers who use) electric blowers in a safe manner.  We should compost yard debris if we can, or else bag it and dispose of it according to local regulations. Sadly, I still see lawn crews all over town blowing leaves into the storm gutters.

    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 10/26/2022 5:10 PM
      I knew they were highly polluting, but I didn't know all these facts.  Thanks for much for sharing.


    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 10/26/2022 5:09 PM
      I use them for mulch in my garden beds.  Leaves make great mulch (and provide habitat for creatures that nest in leaves).

    • Mary Hanks's avatar
      Mary Hanks 10/25/2022 3:31 PM
      I forgot to say that in many cases you can simply let the leaves decompose in place. That saves a lot of effort!  :)
  • Reflection Question
    Enacting Equity Support Low-Income Solar Initiatives
    Equitable access, environmental justice and creating employment opportunities are just a few advantages of low-income solar programs. Can you think of other benefits that could come from initiatives like this? Which advantages of low-income solar do you find the most compelling?

    Mary Hanks's avatar
    Mary Hanks 10/24/2022 8:23 PM
    I didn't intend to take on this challenge, but it just kind of happened to me when I heard about an acquaintance who was having trouble with the contract on his solar panels. Long story short: I learned it's very important to read through all the paperwork and ignore the glib promises that exploiters will feed you. We all know there are con men and women who will take advantage of the ignorant and the trusting. After doing some reading, I was able to connect the acquaintance to an organization and a lawyer to help him with his issues; that situation will take a while to play out, but I'm hoping for the best. I'm glad to have the opportunity to learn more about low-income solar programs, and benefits not listed in the reflection question include lowered energy costs and decreased usage of fossil fuel-generated energy. Decreasing our use of fossil fuels should be a compelling initiative for all of us. 

    • Mary Hanks's avatar
      Mary Hanks 10/26/2022 6:25 PM
      Lisa, thanks for the info! 

    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 10/26/2022 5:12 PM
      In case you (or others you know) might have interest: a new solar co-op will launch in Houston next month.  A solar co-op gets a discount for bulk purchase, which can be significant (I saved about 20%).  You can get on the waitlist at this link: https://www.solarunitedneighbors.org/waitlist-sign-up/?co-op=US%20National%20Waitlist.


  • Mary Hanks's avatar
    Mary Hanks 10/24/2022 7:38 PM
    Greenwashing alert. Greenpeace USA reported today that most plastic can't be recycled and that instead of working for solutions, corporations are misleading the public by actions such as claiming that millions of tons of plastic were recycled when the material was actually sent to China and probably ended up incinerated or in a landfill. 

    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 10/26/2022 5:13 PM
      I will read this article.  Thank you for posting it.

    • Mary Hanks's avatar
      Mary Hanks 10/24/2022 7:41 PM
      Why is it so hard to recycle plastic? There's a vast quantity of it; it's difficult to collect and almost impossible to sort; recycling is dangerous to workers and harmful to the environment; and it's extremely expensive. 

  • Mary Hanks's avatar
    Mary Hanks 10/24/2022 7:16 PM
     The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presents evidence demonstrating how human activity is driving global warming:  Key Findings of the Working Group I Contribution to the IPCC  on the Physical Science Basis of Climate Change. No, we can't blame it on volcanoes. Fossil fuels are the only source of carbon dioxide large enough to raise atmospheric carbon dioxide amounts as fast and as high as they've gotten...and humans are the ones burning fossil fuels. 

    • Mary Hanks's avatar
      Mary Hanks 10/26/2022 6:21 PM
      Lisa, yes, that article showed up in my email. I wasn't surprised, but that didn't stop me from being depressed. 

    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 10/26/2022 5:14 PM
      did you see this article?:  https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/26/climate/un-climate-pledges-warming.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=Climate%20and%20Environment

  • Mary Hanks's avatar
    Mary Hanks 10/24/2022 6:29 PM
    Today I learned that half of all environmental pressures from food production come from just five countries: India, China, the United States, Brazil and Pakistan. Details in this article from phys.org: Researchers Map Environmental Pressures of Global Food Production

    • Mary Hanks's avatar
      Mary Hanks 10/26/2022 6:24 PM
      Lisa, I'm sure you've picked up on the fact that I'm a fiend for sharing links to articles. I don't want folks to take my word on things: I want them to see for themselves and then proceed in whatever direction seems best to them. I've learned so much during this Ecochallenge!

    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 10/26/2022 5:15 PM
      This is very interesting article. Thank you for posting it.


  • Mary Hanks's avatar
    Mary Hanks 10/24/2022 1:27 PM
    Air Alliance Houston sent a questionnaire on environmental and safety issues to 22 candidates in the upcoming election. I'm sad to report that only 4 of them bothered to reply. 

    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 10/24/2022 5:01 PM
      Then perhaps those are the only 4 candidates that we should consider voting for (sigh...)  

  • Mary Hanks's avatar
    Mary Hanks 10/23/2022 1:10 PM
    Oh no! Those fake spiderwebs can kill birds, bees, and cats. Hummingbirds are particularly vulnerable. Please decorate responsibly! Save our pets, pals, and pollinators!

    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 10/24/2022 5:02 PM
      Didn't know that, but never use those fake spiderwebs anyway.  I'll be sure to publicize this fact.  

    • Mary Hanks's avatar
      Mary Hanks 10/24/2022 1:28 PM
      This issue of fake spiderwebs being dangerous is really going viral! It's popping up all over social media and news websites. Thanks to everyone who's helping to get the word out! 

    • Mary Hanks's avatar
      Mary Hanks 10/23/2022 1:17 PM
      Adding Insult to Injury Department: yesterday I saw a neighbor stretching these fake spiderwebs over her bushes...and instead of disposing of the plastic bag they came in, she'd let it blow into my yard. I picked the bag up to dispose of it, and I read it carefully. As you might imagine, the packaging contained no warning about dangers to animals. 

  • Mary Hanks's avatar
    Mary Hanks 10/22/2022 11:40 AM
    "Greenwashing a police state"--In the Guardian, Naomi Klein writes that while Egypt is bragging about its environmental programs, Egypt's regime actually bans research and also censors and/or imprisons activists like Alaa Abd El-Fattah. And yet the next United Nations climate summit is being held in Egypt. 

    • Lisa Brenskelle's avatar
      Lisa Brenskelle 10/24/2022 5:03 PM
      I had heard about this, although I didn't see the article in the Guardian.  The Guardian is an excellent source of science & environmental news!

  • Mary Hanks's avatar
    Mary Hanks 10/21/2022 7:48 AM
    Yale Climate Connections is an information resource I learned about while participating in the People's Ecochallenge, and this post has links to several significant articles relating to sustainable fashion:  Look More Carefully at Some of the Reasons Fashion’s Problems are Hard to Solve. Particularly troubling is the information provided about greenwashing. Greenwashing, as participants in this Ecochallenge already know, refers to advertising and public relations efforts to mislead the public into thinking that a company's products and practices are more friendly to the environment than they truly are. Popular brands like Zara and H&M are frequently called out for greenwashing.