The Advocate Feature: World Environment Day

The last straw: Local organizations and activists join global effort to beat plastic pollution

Thirteen million tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans each year, leading scientists to believe that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the water. But a local activist who isn’t even old enough to drive wants to crush those numbers.

During United Nations World Environment Day on June 5, New Orleans grade schooler Hrilina Ramrakhiani stood behind a podium in the Historic Carver Theater and addressed city officials, along with world leaders participating in the 2018 G-7 Summit in Canada who were taking part live video conferencing.

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Cuba EcoTour

 

Thanks to all fellow adventurers who joined us for the Cuba EcoTour. It was certainly a chance to get a fresh perspective on global issues whilst discovering a country that reminds us that today’s greatest challenges have no borders. 

 

 

United Nations – World Environment Day

On June 5th of 2018, the United Nations Environment Program, No Waste Nola and LifeCity hosted the U.S. flagship event for World Environment Day in the city of New Orleans. From the historic Carver Theatre to Zulu Hall, celebrities, prominent public officials and representatives from the city’s business community, celebrated their commitment to reduce plastic pollution.

The celebration included a traditional second line and massive support from the public who will ultimately hold pledging organizations accountable for their commitments. In such a way, the event celebrated New Orleans’ progress and commitment to tackle plastic pollution and serves as a reminder of the importance of the city’s participation in addressing current environmental challenges.

Amongst the highlights of the event, various organizations pledged to step up their efforts against single use plastic and added commitments to tailor their business practices in order to curb their current use of plastic. Some of these included:

  • The Audubon Nature Institute
    • The Audubon Nature Institute pledged to significantly reduce the use of single-use plastics across their facilities and act as a leader in the region to reduce plastic pollution in an effort to ensure the health of oceans and waterways. This comes as a continuation of previous efforts that allowed the Institute to phase out plastic straws from its concessions and plastic bags from its gift shops – more than 200,000 individual pieces of single-use plastics since 2017. Furthermore, from here on, the Audubon Nature Institute pledged to expand their efforts to offer plastic bottle alternatives like aluminum canned water at their attractions and to feature during this summer a limited-time special exhibition comprised of powerful art to educate a global audience about plastic pollution trash. Considering the volume of visitors year round, through its commitment, The Audubon Institute is certainly solidified itself as a leader in New Orleans in the fight against plastic pollution.
  • New Orleans City Park
    • In the same way, New Orleans City Park’s pledge to eliminated plastic bags from all future event contracts and limit the offer of plastic straws to customers request promises a world of change in the City’s landscape given the importance of the Park as the goto nature escape in New Orleans. These efforts efforts will undoubtedly raise the bar and further establish New Orleans City Park as a hub for the city to bring together the community and continue to project the city as an environmental powerhouse in the Gulf.
  • Hosteling International USA
    • HI USA, the nation’s leading hostel brand added to their several award winning environmental initiatives (Green Globe, EPA Power Partner, and more) a pledge to not provide plastic bags, straws, or to-go containers in addition to offer reusable water bottles and water filling stations in place of selling bottled water in their new hostel to open in New Orleans by the end of the year. Considering that HI USA hosts more than 1 million overnights across more than 50 hostels each year and bring together travelers from more than 100 countries whilst engaging them in activities and programming in support of creating a more tolerant and sustainable world, the impact of this efforts will go beyond the borders of New Orleans and Louisiana and well into the global impact realm. And if this was not enough, the entire HI USA network pledged to completing a plastic-use survey to determine the volume of single-use plastic in their supply chain and work to set even more ambitious goals in the future.
  • Casa Borrega
    • Casa Borrega pledged to replace single use plastic straws with metal straws that will be sold to customers while Seed restaurant on Prytania Street pledged to continue offering recycled, biodegradable, and compostable “to-go” products, including straws. Given their recognition within the restaurant industry and their commitment to offer the best possible experience, these efforts are set to stick within their customers and multiply as best practices in the restaurant industry in the city.

Thus, more than a celebration of previous accomplishments, The United Nations World Environment Day celebration in New Orleans served to trace a path towards the future in which all players regardless of size and income must collaborate to augment the City’s impact and role in making the world a better place.

June Tip of the Month!

There is no doubt that the best nutrition comes from the freshest veggies. My favorite fact to tell folks is that when you harvest a Vegetable/Fruit from the Plant, it immediately begins to decompose, naturally. This is often one of those details we don’t think of when buying produce. Imagine the produce coming from out of state or even worse, outside of the country that could be over a week old. You’re buying that produce for it’s taste, not it’s nutritional value. Here are a couple ways you can up your Nutrition Game:
 

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Help 2 New Orleans Eco-Friendly Projects with NOLAConnects.org!

2 New Orleans Eco-friendly Projects that need Your Help

NOLA Connects.org is a platform dedicated to helping New Orleans citizens crowd fund their eco-friendly projects. To date, seven projects have launched and have raised over $3,000. Organizations that have already raised funds to impact their communities include: Garden on Mars and Treme Petit Jazz Museum. There are still two local projects that need support to reach their goals. Each project accepts donations of any amount. Read about them below:

 

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Urban Conservancy’s May Tip of the Month!

As a small nonprofit, one of our favorite ways to stretch dollars and extend benefits to as many New Orleanians as possible is to partner up with other mission-aligned organizations, businesses, city agencies, you name it. Currently, we are developing an approach to environmental, economic and civic transformation called the “Healthy Block Initiative.”

We love working with Youth Rebuilding New Orleans, SOUL, GreenLight, and others on a floodprone block on the corner of St. Ann and North White in Mid-City, where collectively we are providing a whole block of residents with rain barrels, trees, depaving, and rain gardens at low cost while creating green sector training opportunities.

Don’t forget to think about ways you can maximize dollars and impact through collaboration! 

Participate in the Downtown Energy Challenge!

Join the Conversation: Big Buildings Energy Savings Working Group May 21

Did you know that buildings in New Orleans account for 50 percent of citywide energy use and subsequent emissions? Optimizing building energy use across the city is not only critical to creating a more resilient New Orleans and reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions, but also provides multiple other benefits, including:

– lower operating expenses for building owners
– reducing costs for multifamily tenants
– helping to attract business and tenants
– keeping the commercial real estate market competitive
– increasing the life of HVAC equipment

Join us for the Big Buildings Energy Savings Working Group Kick Off on May 21st

Now is the time to lend your opinions, experience and expertise to the discussion about the future of energy performance in New Orleans’ existing buildings!

New Orleans is making great progress in becoming a more sustainable and resilient city – from the growth of Entergy New Orleans’ Energy Smart Program and the launch of the City’s first Climate Action Strategy, to the energy benchmarking of municipal buildings and the success of the Downtown NOLA Energy Challenge. At this historic moment, with the transition to new mayoral leadership, we have the opportunity and the obligation to continue to improve New Orleans’ climate resilience AND its economic
competitiveness.

We invite you to participate in the first in a five-part series on Big Buildings Energy Savings over the next few months. We welcome input not only from building owners, managers, and operators, but also professionals with a background or interest in real estate, engineering, architecture, energy, affordable housing, urban planning, finance, public health, and government.

When: Monday, Monday, May 21st from 2:00pm – 4:30pm
Where: Tulane University’s ByWater Institute, 1370 Port of New Orleans Place, New Orleans LA

Why Participate?
The objective of the Working Group is to create innovative and practical solutions to help cut energy waste across the city. The first meeting will explore and develop a package of policies and programs to improve the energy efficiency of New Orleans’ existing buildings to build our green workforce, mitigate the impacts of climate change, and save money. Please join us to provide your ideas and insight to this effort.
This meeting will be open to the public, and all input is welcome. To reserve your space in the Big Buildings Energy Savings Working Group launch meeting, register here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZQL2QB6

Paint Reclamation Project!

Are you a Greater New Orleans nonprofit, church, or school in need of paint for an upcoming project? The Green Project and City of New Orleans’ Department of Sanitation are collaborating to collect paint during Household Hazardous Waste Day (May 12; 8am-1pm; 2829 Elysian Fields Avenue) and provide local organizations with paint for FREE! 

HOW TO GET YOUR FREE PAINT: Email info@thegreenproject.org to reserve a time during one of the following days to pick up paint at 2829 Elysian Fields Avenue.

For mor information click here.

—- PICK UP DAYS/TIMES —-

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 17, 2018
3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

**** Organizations must reserve a time to pick up paint. Please email info@thegreenproject.org. ****

Sustainability Spotlight: Green Materials Being Used in Home Construction

The green building sector has seen explosive growth recently, managing to double in size every three years. Fueling this growth is increased consumer interest in sustainable building materials, as well as a desire to reduce maintenance, lower the environmental impact of building, and increase the value of property, which stems from growing interest in energy efficient home upgrades like energy star-rated windows and doors. The wide array of sustainable materials also drives growth by delivering many elegant alternatives to traditional building materials. Here are some of the top sustainable materials in use today.  Continue reading

What the People Want for the Future of New Orleans – A creative mapping project of the Love Your City Awards

On Thursday, January 25th, 2018 I volunteered at the Love Your City Awards Gala, where I engaged with participants in a map that consisted of sustainability and resiliency features of New Orleans. Together, we discussed current features both existent and nonexistent but hoped to be achieved in the future.

It was pleasing to learn about the many aspirations people have for the future of New Orleans. These were the most popular topics:

  • waste management (recycling, trash)
  • infrastructure (bike lanes),
  • social diversity
  • green vegetation (urban gardens, trees, urban forests)

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