Signs of Sustainability

The Sustainability of Women

Tompkins Weekly 6-12-19

By Jean E. Rightmire

Sustainability has been defined as “the process of people maintaining change in a balanced environment, in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations.”

Sustainability really begins with people. Habitat for Humanity of Tompkins and Cortland Counties (TCHFH) works with individuals, funders, companies and, organizations to help build a sustainability culture. We work to ensure there is sustainable growth. We help the communities we serve have a fundamental shift in vision and embrace the principles of sustainability in a range of housing operations.

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Let’s Help GreenStar Walk the Walk!

Tompkins Weekly 5-22-19

By Jonathan Comstock

For more than 40 years, GreenStar has been widely loved as an alternative to traditional commercial supermarkets and a focal point for services, education, and community activities in the greater Ithaca area. But it is much more than that. As a cooperative owned by its 13,000 members, it’s the embodiment of values we share as a community. Sometimes, when we step back and look at it, it teaches us something about ourselves.

This is one of those moments. As GreenStar moves to a larger space, it has many hard choices to make. It just made the particularly courageous decision to invest in measures that will greatly improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the new building. This is a classic case of paying a little more up front for something that will reap major rewards in the future — and it couldn’t have come at a more critical time. The groups listed at the bottom of this article applaud this decision and ask the community to step up and support it.

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The Sixth Extinction?

Tompkins Weekly 5-8-19

By Richard W. Franke

“We should really thank our lucky stars,” wrote world-famous Alexander Agassiz, Professor of Zoology at Harvard University, the late Stephen Jay Gould, when discussing the K-T mass extinction of the dinosaurs that took place about 66 million years ago. Acknowledging the current theory of a monster asteroid slamming into the earth and generating a massive dust cloud that blocked out photosynthesis in plants and plankton — or had some as yet unknown effects — Gould explains: “Dinosaurs and mammals had shared the earth for more than 130 million years.” Without “this ultimate random bolt from the blue, dinosaurs would still dominate the habitats of large terrestrial vertebrates, and mammals would still be rat-size creatures living in the ecological interstices of their world.”

Lucky for us this asteroid hit at such an opportune geological moment, too. Lucky, that it cleared away 75 percent of species existing at the time, so that as the dust cloud dissipated and the sun’s rays could reinvigorate the earth’s surface, there was space for the branching out of new species, but still something around for those rat-size mammals to eat

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Education for Sustainability at the Compost Fair

Tompkins Weekly 4-24-19

By Sarah Dellett

This Sunday, the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) is hosting its 25th Annual Compost Fair at 615 Willow Avenue from 12 to 4 p.m. The event is organized by CCE’s Master Composter program, which trains community members in composting and community outreach. The event is free and open to the public. All are invited to attend, including kids, beginners, and advanced composters.

I am currently training to become a Master Composter. I had first learned about the program from Joey Gates, a Master Composter, and the coordinator of a local dish service called the Dish Truck. As a student at Cornell, I studied agriculture and soil science. For one of my classes, I did a video project with Gates on how she is using bioremediation on her land in Mecklenburg. When she bought the property, it was littered with garbage. Gates is restoring it back to a managed farm by cleaning up the trash and adding organic matter to remediate the soil.

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What’s on Your Plate? Full Plate Farm CSA Feeds & Serves Community

Tompkins Weekly 4-9-19

By Sarah Huang

Christianne White first started her Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription with The Full Plate Farm Collective because she wanted to maintain a healthier diet and support small farms.

“I really wanted to eat food that was produced locally,” she explained. “And I wanted to eat more vegetables.”

A couple of years ago, CSA also served as a way for White to bring fresh produce to a family member who was ill.

“I would stop at the farm — Stick and Stone Farm — and go in the back to the U-Pick Gardens, and pick just a small box of something,” she said. “It came right from the garden and tasted fresh.”

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Energy Navigators Warm Homes and Hearts

Tompkins Weekly 3-27-19

By Maggie McAden

Sharon Guardiola did not expect that a phone call inquiring about LED light bulbs would lead to three days of free insulation work on her home, increased home comfort, and lower heating bills.

Guardiola — who owned a cleaning business for 45 years — lives in Enfield in a double-wide mobile home with her husband. She first became connected with Martha Fischer, and the Get Your GreenBack Tompkins Energy Navigator Program, when she called Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County looking for the bulbs. When Fischer delivered the bulbs, she also began working with Guardiola and helped her apply for a number of free programs, including the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and EmPower New York. Both of these provide free energy-efficiency solutions to income-eligible renters and homeowners, such as the installation of high-efficiency lighting, attic and wall insulation, and the replacement of energy-inefficient appliances. 

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Building Green for All

Tompkins Weekly 3-13-19

By Jean Rightmire

In an ideal world, housing should be producing energy rather than consuming it. Call it “green,” “energy conserving,” “energy efficient,” or “sustainable,” any home should be healthy, be easily maintained, cause little or no pollution, and be affordable for all families and individuals to attain. While this is far from the reality we live in currently, it’s never too late to start.

Even small steps can make a significant impact. Given that we each have a personal responsibility to be changemakers, locally, Habitat for Humanity of Tompkins and Cortland Counties (TCHabitat), is leading the way to build energy efficient, safe, healthy and energy sustainable homes for low- to moderate-income families.

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Purity is First Winner of HeatSmart Stewardship Award

Tompkins Weekly 2-27-19

By Jonathan Comstock

You already loved Purity Ice Cream, but now you can love them even more. When the owners of the iconic Ithaca institution renovated their shop, they decided to scoop out a little happiness for the planet, too. Today, Purity heats and cools its entire operation with high-efficiency ground source heat pumps, and it powers those pumps – not to mention its lights, machinery, and appliances – entirely with solar energy.

When we at Solar Tompkins considered nominees for our first HeatSmart Award for Outstanding Earth Stewardship, Purity was a natural choice.

For co-owner Bruce Lane, ground source (also known as geothermal) heat pumps were the perfect answer for a year-round business that consumes a considerable amount of energy. Not only have the heat pumps drastically reduced the company’s greenhouse gas emissions, but they have also made life more comfortable for customers and employees alike.

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Nuclear Arms and Climate Disruption: Two Inconvenient Truths

Tompkins Weekly 2-13-19

By Dr. Charles Geisler

At a time when major nuclear arms treaties are being orphaned and thick reports on climate disruption are accumulating like waves on a stormy beach, many are asking if there are connections between the two. The answer is an obvious and uncomfortable yes.

Consider ‘nuclear winter,’ the name given to the prolonged darkness believed by Carl Sagan and other senior scientists to arrive on the heels of nuclear war. Some or all of the planet will be darkened by the ash plumes of nuclear incineration. Photosynthesis will wane along with parts of the food chain, habitats we take for granted, and healthy ecosystem services we depend on. Our largest nuclear reactor, the sun, will be eclipsed by the effects of thermonuclear war on earth.

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An Easily Digestible Climate Crisis Solution

Tompkins Weekly 1-30-18

By Amie Hamlin

Recently, the term “climate crisis” has started to replace the term “climate change.” Some worry that this newer terminology will scare people. That is exactly the point – to communicate the seriousness of what is happening to our planet, which is dire. There is not a lot of time to reverse the problem before we experience cataclysmic environmental events. Yet oftentimes when we talk about what to do to stop the melting glaciers, ensure our coastline cities don’t end up under water and secure our children’s future, one of the top solutions is left out of the discussion. The solution is one that we don’t have to sit by idly and worry about, it’s one we can actively make happen every day, and it won’t cost us a penny – in fact, it may save us money. It is more powerful than everything else we can do, combined.

Perhaps it is an “inconvenient truth,” but the solution is staring up at us from our plates. Animal agriculture is one of the top contributors to greenhouse gas production and the climate crisis. It’s not just beef, it’s all animals raised for food, including those raised organically, “sustainably,” or free-range.

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