Sustainable Tompkins is a citizen-based organization working towards the long-term well-being of our communities by integrating social equity, economic vitality, ecological stewardship, and shared responsibility.

More About Sustainable Tompkins

News & Events

Support Neighborhood Mini-Grants on Giving Tuesday!



#NYGivesDay    November 29 is Giving Tuesday!

Please support our Neighborhood Mini-Grants fundraising campaign so we can continue this essential “citizen builder” program in 2017!

Support civic life – donate to our Neighborhood Mini-Grant Program!

They are the small grants with HUGE impacts!


Show Gratitude for our Climate and ‘Seal the Cracks’ with the Finger Lakes Climate Fund!

seal-the-cracks-facebook-bannerWhether you stayed home and hosted friends and family, or hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday, you can take responsibility for the carbon emissions from your holiday celebration by making a carbon offset with the

More than ever, our planet needs you to help safeguard against the rapid heating of our atmosphere.  More than ever, vulnerable members of our community need your help to prepare their homes for bad weather by sealing the cracks, adding insulation, and upgrading equipment.  For every ton of CO2 emissions that you offset from your family’s travels, we will make sure that a ton of CO2 is kept out of our atmosphere in the future.  We do this by making grants to lower-income households for much needed energy improvements to their homes.

Our goal is to take out another 500 tons by the winter solstice!  We’re more than halfway there, but definitely need You to participate in taking this step toward a more stable climate.  It’s quick, easy, and affordable with the Finger Lakes Climate Fund!

October Carbon Race ‘Individual’ Winner Gets Reality Check

dave-ritchiexxgalwayoscarweduardvildeandme-squareDave Ritchie won October’s Individual category of our Carbon Races for the ‘Seal the Cracks’ campaign. Here’s Dave communing in Galway with Oscar Wilde and Eduard Vilde on a trip to visit his in-laws.  He’s a big fan of supporting local efforts and will miss the annual Alternative Gift Fair, but is glad to step up and take responsibility for all of his travel and building carbon emissions of the past year – including his fun trip to Ireland for a family visit.

Dave says “The $28 to offset that round-trip airline trip plus the $77 to offset this last year’s household electricity and gas usage are both dwarfed by the huge $141 to offset my mildly efficient (30 mpg) car’s usage the past year — and that gives me a big hint about where I can pare down. Even using my bicycle for a percentage of my in-town trips, and the bus for some inter-city trips, I still used the car a tremendous amount!”

Signs of Sustainability
Dish Truck, a Personal Story

Tompkins Weekly       12-6-16

By Joey Gates

In 1981, I got my first paying job in 8th grade as the school cafeteria dishwasher’s assistant.

The school served lunch on real (melamine) trays and we used metal silverware. It was a fast-paced gig in that the trays, which were emptied further up the line would come off the conveyer belt, get sprayed down, stacked and then loaded into racks and pushed into the machine. Garbage was minimal, but that was to change. Schools, and society as a whole would transition to greater dependency on disposable dishware. I was blessed to travel widely as a young adult and witnessed the effects of this shift, and the exponential increase in garbage creation.

Read more…

Alternative Gifts Don’t Need to be the Alternative

Tompkins Weekly      11-28-16

By Devan Rosen

As we enter the beautiful winter season, full of moments in which we take time to appreciate the bounty of the fall harvest, the abundance of holiday gatherings and the wonderful community we live in.

One community initiative, however, will not be happening this year – as the Ithaca Alternative Gift Fair will not take place in 2016. After 12 wonderful years, and more than $550,000 in donations to participating organizations, the IAGF no longer has a fiscal sponsor.

Read more…

Tipping Points

Tompkins Weekly     11-21-16

By Richard W. Franke

Here is a thought experiment. Place a full glass of red wine on the table. Push the top of the glass slowly over – at some point the glass will fall suddenly on its own, spill and possibly break. Now it is impossible to get all the wine back into the glass. It may even be impossible to fix the glass to ever be useful again. You pushed it past the tipping point. Other terms sometimes used for tipping point include “threshold effect” and “critical transition.”

Tipping points are points in the behavior of a system in which a sudden, dramatic, or “nonlinear” event occurs. Tipping points are an important element of “systems thinking,” which we are planning to survey over the next several contributions to this essay series.

Read more…

ST Blog

Older Posts

Fracking: What Are We FOR?
Sustainability is a Society of Systems Thinkers
Don’t Thank an Antifracktivist

Follow our RSS feed

Energy and Equity Go Hand in Hand


Extreme income inequality, persistent racism, and increasing climate disruption are undeniable plagues of our time. We are fortunate that many people in Tompkins County are working on these issues. Some are advocates for racial and economic justice, such as creating living-wage jobs, removing barriers to reentry from the prison system, and ensuring affordable housing for all. Many others are involved in initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, such as, stopping gas infrastructure development, switching from fossil fuels to renewable sources, and conserving energy in housing, transportation, food, water, and waste. Read more…

Home Rule and the Greater Good

After hours of discussion at the June 16th county legislative meeting, the vote on the fate of the Old Library ended in a stalemate of 6 in favor of a large apartment complex for seniors (TravisHyde), and 6 in favor of a smaller adaptive reuse condo project (Franklin Properties) which had hundreds of petition supporters and inspired dozens of citizens to show up and speak in favor of the Franklin proposal. Read more…

How to Get Active on Climate? Even More Locally

By Miranda Phillips

With artic ice melting at great speed, and climate disruption happening a hundred years sooner than expected, climate change is promising to be the biggest challenge of the 21st century.  Not often talked about, at least in mainstream media, are the psychological and spiritual aspects of this challenge – among them, fear, guilt, and grief that make it difficult for us to act and act fast. Read more…