1. Remember that denser cities are actually much more "green" than the suburbs. See the book Green Metropolis.
2. There are a bunch of interesting articles out there, including one by Jonathan Franzen in The New Yorker about climate change ("The Other Cost of Climate Change"), how individual action at the micro scale is seemingly meaningless, which makes it hard to engage people in "doing things to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
He mentions two small-scale projects in Peru and Costa Rica, to "save places" by actively engaging local residents in managing those places and reaping sustainable economic value from their activities, which incentivizes taking care of those places rather than abusing them.
Still, I suppose then that it is easier to go to a concert over the weekend than to take specific and meaningful actions at the household or community scale.
3. WAMU-FM/NPR had a nice story on DC's capturing of hazardous wastes ("D.C.'s Last, Best Stop For Electronic Junk And Household Wastes").
Also, plastics recycling is becoming less viable economically because the drop in oil prices means that the cost of new plastic is much cheaper than it had been.
Curt Bucey, an executive vice president at the company, said that when used glass arrived at its plants 20 years ago, it was 98% glass and 2% other castoffs, such as paper labels and bottle caps. These days, some truckloads can include up to 50% garbage, he said.By contrast, in those states, like Michigan or California, where there are "bottle deposit" laws, so most glass is recycled through collection points rather than through curbside recycling, there is much less contamination of the bottle waste stream. (Although it's still expensive to ship glass because of the weight.)
“Now what comes with the glass are rocks, shredded paper, chicken bones people left in their takeout containers, and hypodermic needles,” Mr. Bucey said. The company has had to invest in expensive machinery to separate the glass from the trash, then has to dispose of the garbage, making recycling a much costlier equation.
5. Yesterday there was a conference on toward a zero waste agenda for DC, which I forgot about, caught up in the massive rewrite of my transportation wish list for 2015. I hope that it was recorded.
6. And DC also released the 2015 Sustainable DC Progress Report. A couple of weeks ago the City of Los Angeles released it's first sustainability plan. But I learned at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in February, that Santa Monica was one of the first cities to adopt a sustainability type plan, in the mid-1990s.
"Earth Day" Festival, with a mix of for profit vendors, activities for kids, and nonprofit and government agency exhibitors.
I was impressed that one of the exhibitors was Communities for Transit, the advocacy group formed to support Montgomery County's bus rapid transit program. (Note that there is a disconnect with their logo. The organization promotes BRT, but the logo is designed around fixed rail transit.)
One of the for profit vendors, Razar Sharp, had a micro-electric lawn mower and an electric-powered chipper-shredder, which I have my eye on.
8. It's the kind of community outreach and capacity building event that I wish DC would do more often.
The closest DC gets to these kinds of events is a street festival. Leesburg had their Flower and Garden Festival the weekend of April 18th, but we weren't able to get to it.
So--except for the vagaries of the weather--there is a "hole in the market" for a spring street festival around Earth Day to early May, focusing on green, environment, home and garden type activities.
By co-branding a flower-garden-home festival as a "green" and "Earth Day" type event, I think it could become quite successful. (I aimed to create a home type event in Brookland when I was the Main Street manager there, but didn't think about the potential for a green-Earth Day tie-in.)
9. Takoma Park is a semi-finalist participating with 49 other cities in the Georgetown University Energy Prize contest. They have a variety of neighborhood and citizen engaging programs underway as part of the competition, and as a way to implement sustainability programming.
-- Takoma Park sustainability program
One of the programs is modeled in a way after the Certified Wildlife Habitat program of the National Wildlife Foundation.
There are two levels, and participants can get a sign to put in their yard. It's a Green Home Certification program, which has three levels of certification: light; medium; and dark green; and two categories, for multifamily and single family housing.
Serious behavior changes, financial outlays, and outreach to neighbors have to be made in order to get the highest level of certification.
DC does have the RiverSmart Homes program, but this Green Home certification program in Takoma Park is even more impressive.
10 I wish that the US would adopt some best practice promotion practices of the European Union.
One relevant to Earth Day is the "European Green Capital" program, where cities compete for the designation based on their sustainability and environmental practices.
Green Capital is Bristol, England--which is a fascinating city beyond this year's Green Capital event.
11. Voting day for the UK election is about three weeks away and there is a good chance that Bristol may elect the nation's second Green Party Member of Parliament ("Bristol West: Painting the Town Green," New Statesman). Candidate Darren Hall ran the application process for the city's candidacy as Green Capital. The city has 6 Green Party Councillors as well.