January/February 2017 Newsletter

In this issue…

Want to get more involved with NEO Sierra Club?

Join us for a Meet & Greet on Friday, February 10 from 6-8 PM at the Happy Dog in University Circle, 11625 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. Vegetarian snacks will be provided. This event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, email Nikki at snider.nikki04@gmail.com

If you can’t make the Meet & Greet, but would like to get involved, please join us at our Conservation & Executive Committee Meetings beginning at 7 PM on January 4 at the Brooklyn Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, 4480 Ridge Rd.

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Ready For 100 Campaign – Aiming for Success in 2017

By Jocelyn Travis, Ohio Sierra Club Ready for 100 Campaign Coordinator

Recently, the Ready For 100 Campaign Leadership Team convened to discuss activities held during the past year and discuss the 2017 plan of action. National Ready For 100 Associate Director, Kassie Rohrbach, traveled from Oakland, CA to facilitate the campaign organizing and strategic planning session. It was exciting to discuss the many successful ventures achieved during 2016, including:

  • National Executive Director Michael Brune’s kick off speech at Cleveland City Club
  • Formation of Ready For 100 Coalition with approximately 30 organizations
  • Development of Ready For 100 Committees – Education/Events & Grassroots, Faith, Grasstops, Allies, Lobby/Advocacy & Media/Communications
  • Add Up site with nearly 800 signatures and over 1,000 signatures on Petitions to Mayor Jackson
  • Human Aerial Art Event with approximately 125 diverse supporters
  • Meeting held with Cleveland Office of Sustainability leadership
  • Support of LEEDCo Icebreaker Off Shore Wind Project
  • numerous community tabling events and media coverage

The Ready For 100 Campaign is planning to institute Community Dialogues on Clean Energy and Climate Change in partnership with Everyday Democracy during 2017. Everyday Democracy is a national organization with a vision of an equitable, inclusive, and participatory democracy at the local, state, and national levels. Volunteer Facilitators will be needed to conduct these dialogues throughout Cleveland during February, March, and April with the goal of Dialogue to Action. Many exciting events and activities are being planned for 2017 and the need for more volunteer support is vital!

Please contact Ready For 100 Campaign Coordinator to volunteer or obtain additional information via email jocelyn.travis@sierraclub.org or call 216.926.6535. Go to addup.org to sign the petition urging Mayor Jackson to commit to 100% Clean Energy in Cleveland and help us pass the word!

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The Rainforest Challenge

By Michael Melampy, Rainforest Committee Chairperson

As we contemplate how to react to an environmentally hostile Trump administration, most of our attention will focus on events inside the U.S. However, we know that to tackle our greatest environmental challenge, climate change, we must broaden our perspective and become engaged internationally. In particular, we must recognize the vital role that tropical forests play as great carbon reservoirs and do more to protect them. Tropical forests account for 30% to 50% of terrestrial plant productivity and may store 40% of the carbon present in terrestrial biomass. Obviously, destruction of these forests means that very large amounts of carbon that otherwise would remain in living biomass will ultimately be released as carbon dioxide through the decomposition process. Replacing the forests with crops or pasture will only partially compensate for the carbon stored by intact forests.  

We still have large areas of tropical forest left in the Amazon basin of South America, equatorial Africa, and southeast Asia. However, according to a 2016 Scientific American article, these forests are disappearing at the rate of 80,000 acres per day. While there are many reasons for this continued loss, there are two of overriding importance: industrial agriculture and the extraction of oil and minerals. A prime example of large-scale, industrial agriculture is the production of oil palm on large plantations that displace rainforests. Such plantations are spreading throughout the tropics as demand for the oil in processed food, cosmetics, soap and biodiesel continues to grow. The threat is most serious in southeast Asia where corruption and the pursuit of profits have allowed oil palm plantations to encroach upon the last remaining forest habitat of the orangutan and have displaced indigenous peoples and small farmers from their land. All of us should consider supporting the Rainforest Action Network in its program to discourage corporations from using “conflict” palm oil produced on environmentally destructive plantations. Most importantly, we must become aware that our consumption of items as apparently innocuous as snack food can have a profound impact on tropical ecosystems. So, read the content labels!

Consumption of oil and minerals also poses huge threats to tropical forests. Extraction of oil in Ecuador’s Amazonian rainforest now threatens the Yasuni National Park, perhaps the most biodiverse national park in the world. Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, offered to forego oil extraction in the Yasuni if the international community would donate to a UN fund earmarked for sustainable development projects in Ecuador. Instead of donating, world leaders criticized Correa for attempting to use environmental blackmail to fund his pet projects. The pet projects were basic infrastructure, i.e. roads, hospitals, and schools, that had long been neglected in Ecuador. Correa has his faults but we in the global north demonstrated little concern for some of our most important rainforest.

Like oil, minerals, particularly metals such as copper, gold and silver, continue to attract the attention of investors in the global north. As prices for metals have increased and as governments of poor tropical nations desperately seek new sources of revenues, environmentally destructive mining has rapidly spread throughout the tropics. Multinational mining corporations, often headquartered in Canada, have aggressively pursued mining opportunities in the tropics despite intense opposition from rural communities fearful that mining will contaminate their soil and water. Opponents to mining are often targeted for harassment and assassination. Even in cases where local opposition prevents mines from opening, multinationals can resort to international tribunals created under free trade agreements and sue for lost profits. So mines that never open can still prove hugely profitable. Despite his stated opposition to NAFTA, expect Trump to pursue trade deals that allow mining companies to continue to destroy tropical forests. If the Canadians can do it, why not the U.S.?

If we want to protect the remaining tropical forests and our chances of effectively countering climate change, then we have to understand that the environmental impact of our consumer habits extends well beyond U.S. borders. We must also recognize that multinational corporations have largely escaped regulation and will continue to destroy the tropics and other regions if we do not rein them in. If you would like to discuss these issues and become more engaged in dealing with international conservation issues, then join us in the NEO Sierra Rainforest Committee. For details on meeting times and places, contact Michael Melampy at 440-263-6483 or at mmelampy@bw.edu.

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6 Tips for Holiday Recycling: Recycling Hacks for Everything from Cell Phones to Christmas Trees

From the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District

Garfield Heights, Ohio – Want to make the season bright and save some money at the same time? Use energy-saving holiday lights and save a bunch. And don’t forget to recycle broken holiday lights by dropping them off at the Solid Waste District location listed below.

The Solid Waste District is encouraging residents to green the holidays with easy tips for reducing, reusing and recycling:

Use energy-saving holiday lights.
Decorate your house with LED lights that use 90 percent less energy than conventional holiday lights, and save your family up to $50 on your energy bills during the holiday season.

Bring broken, burned out holiday lights to the District.
Through January 15, the District will accept broken, burned out or tangled strings of holiday lights for recycling.  Simply drop unwanted light strings, power cords and power strips in the marked box in the District’s office lobby at 4750 East 131st Street in Garfield Heights. Hours are Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. County offices are closed December 26 and January 2.

BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag).
During the nation’s busiest shopping season, bring your own shopping bags to reduce waste and free up your home recycling bin. Folded, reusable shopping bags also make great stocking stuffers and gift bags, too.

Recycle old cell phones and other electronics at retailer near you.
Each year 130 million cell phones are thrown out – that’s about 65,000 tons. If you are getting or gifting a new smartphone this year, drop off its predecessor at any AT&T, Best Buy, Staples, Verizon or other retailer that offers in-store recycling services. The District also accepts electronics for recycling year-round at its location in Garfield Heights at 4750 East 131st Street.

Recycle Gift Wrap & Gift Boxes.
Wrapping paper, holiday cards and boxes that are 100 percent paper can be recycled. Don’t forget to have your recycling container or craft paper bag handy while everyone is opening gifts! Recycle the cards and wrappings with your regular curbside paper collection or take it to a local mixed paper drop-off. Please do not include foil, plastic coating, ribbon, bows and glitter in your recycle bins.

Don’t pitch your Christmas tree – recycle it.
Nearly 10 million Christmas trees end up in the landfill after the holidays each year. While your tree won’t fit in the recycling bin with your newspapers and bottles, you can still recycle it. Many cities in Cuyahoga County offer programs to turn your tree to mulch or wood chips. Visithttp://cuyahogarecycles.org/recycling_in_your_community to learn more.

For more information on these tips and many more ways to go green this holiday season, visit CuyahogaRecycles.org.

The Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District is the public agency helping the people of Cuyahoga County reduce, reuse and recycle at home, at work and in their communities. We serve as the leading resource in the County for information, expertise and programs that support sustainable materials management and reduce the environmental impact of waste. Visit www.CuyahogaRecycles.org or call 216.443.3749 to learn how to recycle in your community and discover other recycling and disposal options.


Upcoming events

Presentation: County Level Environmental Actions – Wed., January 4, 7-9 PM,

Highland Heights Community Center, 5827 Highland Road, Highland Heights. Mike Foley, Cuyahoga County Director of Sustainability will explain how local actions are more important than ever in terms of environmental sustainability. Find out about the work being done in the County and the Sustainability Toolkit which the County has put together for local governments and green task forces. Sponsored by the Highland Heights Green Task Force. Contact Judy Dearden at 440.646.9820 or email HHGreenTaskForce@yahoo.com. More information is at highlandhtsgreen.com.

Year of Vibrant Green Space Kickoff – Fri., January 20, 11-2 PM, Cleveland City Hall Rotunda, 601 Lakeside Ave, Cleveland 44114. This is the first event of Sustainable Cleveland 2017. Learn what you can do to help create thriving green spaces for our communities. Free and Open to the Public.

Ohio Sierra Club Retreat – Sat. & Sun., January 28th & 29th, Maumee Bay State Park. Each year dozens of Sierra Club leaders, volunteers and student activists gather at our annual retreat. The weekend will be filled with fun activities, presentations on local environmental issues, and speakers.  Go on a group hike, and meet members who are promoting clean air and water in your corner of the State. To register, go to sierraclub.org/ohio.

Meetings:

Executive Committee meetings begin immediately after the 7 PM Conservation meeting. The January meeting will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 4 at the Brooklyn Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library at 4480 Ridge Rd.

Coal & Energy Committee meets at 4105 Stilmore Rd, South Euclid, Ohio 44121. Please contact Randy Cunningham at 216-631-3337 for the time and date of the next meeting.

Green Transportation Committee meets the first Mon. of each month at 1 PM in the Linking Employment Abilities and Potential offices at 2545 Lorain Ave. Please contact Akshai Singh for more information: akshai.singh@sierraclub.org.  State Transportation calls are on the fourth Tues. of each month at 6 PM. Contact Akshai to get on a call, or to connect with Ohio cycling advocacy.

Rainforest Committee For details on meeting times and places, contact Michael Melampy at 440-263-6483 or at mmelampy@bw.edu.

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Committee News

Executive Committee

There are many opportunities to volunteer with the Northeast Ohio Sierra Club. We have an opening in our ExCom Committee, we need fundraising and events volunteers, help with Inspiring Connections Outdoors–a program for taking kids on monthly outings and more. Read more…

Coal & Energy

Stand up against coal bailouts in person June 15 in Columbus. June 15 marks the beginning of legal proceedings for First Energy’s bailout proposal. Read more…

Rainforest Committee

On June 9, at the behest of Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s National Assembly approved changes to the Organic Law that reduce protection for the marine reserve and facilitate investment of foreign capital for the development of large hotels, resorts, and new residential areas. Read more…