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Climate Chronicles

A collection of thoughts to help waken and inspire.

A Brief History of California’s Solar Agreement, Net Energy Metering 

by
Karinna Gonzalez
3 min

As we see the devastating effects of climate change across the globe, most recently in Texas where communities were suffering in freezing temperatures without water or power for days, it has become clearer than ever that we need to transform our power supply to renewable energy in order to increase resiliency. This past summer, California experienced the opposite, where sky high temperatures and demand for air conditioning resulted in rolling blackouts for California residents. In a time where it is crucial to increase the deployment of renewable energy, the United States’ largest solar market, California, is under attack. What happens in California will likely be the example for other states, and this is a crucial battle that we’re on the front lines of right now. 


The success of rooftop solar relies heavily on net energy metering (NEM), a solar producer’s agreement with the electric utility company. At a high level, NEM is a billing structure that allows solar customers to sell their excess electricity back to the grid. The amount is then applied to their utility bills, leaving the solar customer to pay the net amount of energy used. California’s first solar agreement, known as NEM 1.0, was extremely successful and accelerated the transition to solar for California residents, businesses, schools and municipalities. Since then, investor-owned utilities (IOUs) across the state have continuously attacked rooftop solar, proposing egregious policies that would make solar economically infeasible. In 2016 the second solar agreement rolled out initially in the San Diego Gas & Electric utility territory, and made its debut for Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison in 2017. This successor tariff is known as NEM 2.0, and after a tough battle against the utility companies, the California Public Utilities Commission decided that the new solar rate would be similar to the first, maintaining the major benefit of allowing customers to sell electricity back to the grid at retail rates. However, NEM 2.0 required all solar customers to transition to a time-of-use (TOU) rate and non-bypassable rates. Under a TOU rate, a customer is charged different rates based on the time of the day with designated on peak and off peak times. The highest rates are during peak demand, which is late afternoon and early evening, while off peak times occur early in the morning and late at night and have the lowest cost. The new rate structure under NEM 2.0 has serious implications for solar customers, because it changes the value of the energy sold to the grid based on the time. This means that in order to get the highest NEM credits, customers need to sell the bulk of their energy during peak hours. Although NEM 2.0 is substantially less beneficial to solar customers compared to its predecessor, it still retained the major benefits of being able to sell energy back to the grid. Solar companies even began to adapt to TOU rates by designing solar systems to face west in order to capture the maximum energy possible during the late afternoon. Now, California’s IOUs are attempting to make modifications to net metering, ushering in NEM 3.0. 


As details of NEM 3.0 continue to unfold at the California Public Utilities Commission, it is clear that the IOUs are calling for drastic cuts to NEM. The California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA) estimates that the economic value of going solar will be reduced by 50-75 percent with the IOU’s proposed changes. Decisions made during these proceedings will not only affect new solar customers, but existing customers as well as the IOUs have proposed removing grandfathering periods for current customers, essentially forcing all solar customers onto NEM 3.0. 


With the understanding that NEM 3.0 could kill rooftop solar and that California is a leader and looked to as a model for shaping renewable energy programs, it is not an understatement to say that we are fighting to save solar. We are calling on organizations to sign this net metering letter and individuals to sign this petition, by early April, which will be sent to Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Public Utilities Commision. 


Our founder, Tara Hammond, began a small local coalition to save rooftop solar in California last year and the coalition has quickly grown to a statewide grassroots effort, with more than 70 organizations being involved. To learn more or to join the battle, please reach out to our Climate Justice Policy Advisor, Karinna Gonzalez at karinna@hammondclimatesolutions.com.


Celebrating a Productive Year of Climate Action

by
Tara Hammond
3 min

Hammond Climate Solutions was founded by Tara and Justin Hammond a year ago to help expedite positive change for a just and livable future, and we’re excited to share the strides we’ve made towards our mission during a time that humbled us all.  


Before jumping in, we’d like to acknowledge our talented colleagues Shelah Ott (Climate Justice Advocate) and Karinna Gonzalez (Climate Justice Policy Advisor), who joined the team during our first year.  Their sincere passion and dedication have truly bolstered Hammond Climate Solutions’ impact.   


“When I joined the team six months ago, I knew it would be much more than a job, but I didn’t realize the full extent of the impact we would be making as a small (yet mighty) team. Reflecting on our journey and all of the accomplishments we have made in our advocacy, program management and partnership building, I can confidently say that there is nowhere else I’d rather be. Every step of the way, I have been encouraged and motivated to show up for the climate, for communities traditionally marginalized, and for my team. Working at Hammond Climate Solutions has helped me build skills and perspectives that not only support the creation of a just and livable future, but support self-sustainability, too.” 

- Shelah Ott, Climate Justice Advocate 


“As I join Hammond Climate Solutions at our year one mark, I am filled with gratitude to be joining a team who has already accomplished so much. Looking forward, I am excited to contribute to our amazing portfolio of projects, while advocating for climate policies that create a just and equitable clean energy future.” 

-Karinna Gonzalez, Climate Justice Policy Advisor 


Our work, which is centered on stopping the climate crisis and advancing climate justice, is categorized into three main areas of expertise - climate project management, policy and advocacy.  Below are highlights by category.  

Our Climate Project Management Impact 

During our first year in business we were proudly involved in 341 solar projects, resulting in 186 megawatts of new solar power systems being built across 35 states and Puerto Rico.  This solar capacity is equivalent to more than half a million solar panels, which are now energizing communities with clean energy, improving local air quality, stimulating the local economy and supporting green jobs.  


On behalf of our client Left Coast Fund, Hammond Climate Solutions manages the Solar Moonshot Program, an initiative with an annual budget of $1 million and a mission to help nonprofits afford the switch to solar and reduce the impacts of the climate crisis. 

Last year we worked with 57 nonprofit organizations across the country to help make their solar dreams a reality, and have enabled them to save money that can be reinvested into their missions.  The nonprofits ranged from eco villages to Indigineous resilience organizations, youth homeless shelters, Black women-owned organizations, schools and places of worship.  We have another $1 million budget for Solar Moonshot grants in 2021, which will help fund renewable energy projects for an estimated 40 nonprofit organizations across the nation.   


A handful of Solar Moonshot Program grant recipients have been in our home town of San Diego, including Activist San Diego, Solidarity Farm, Casa de Amparo and University Christian Church.  University Christian Church, home to the San Diego Climate Hub, which we have the pleasure of managing, awarded Hammond Climate Solutions with its “2020 Community Partner of the Year Award.”  This was our first award, and will always be dear to our hearts.


In addition to the Solar Moonshot Program, Hammond Climate Solutions also manages two electric bike “ride off” programs, one for Business for Good San Diego and another for Climate Action Campaign.  With these programs, participants are loaned an e-bike, and for every mile ridden $1 dollar is deducted from the bike loan. The goal of the programs is to ride off the entire loan and replace dirty vehicle miles travelled with human-powered, emission-free transportation.  Hammond Climate Solutions is also a partner of San Diego County’s Pedal Ahead Program, for which we facilitated the procurement of 400 e-bikes through our client’s donations. 


Hammond Climate Solutions was also hired by a local foundation to help secure public funding and get electric vehicle (EV) charging stations installed at nonprofit organizations that support traditionally underrepresented and underfunded communities (especially in respect to green infrastructure).  So far we’ve already secured $42,000 in California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program (CAleVIP) rebates, which paired with the foundation’s grants, is providing a nonprofit organization free EV charging stations for their community.  


Our Climate Policy Impact: 

Hammond Climate Solutions proudly signed on to over a dozen coalition letters to elected officials and government bodies, helping to shape policies relating to building energy efficiency standards, clean transportation, climate action plans and energy franchise agreements.  We participated in over 1,150 meetings with elected officials, coalitions and activists discussing climate policies and priorities.  We also started a coalition to protect rooftop solar in California, which plays a vital role in moving to a zero carbon future. 


Our Climate Advocacy Impact: 

Hammond Climate Solutions is a proud member of 15 nonprofit organizations, and active members of 10 coalitions.  Our team is pleased to serve in various leadership roles including:

  • Chair, California Solar+Storage Association, San Diego  
  • Vice Chair, San Diego Community Power Community Advisory Committee 
  • Steering Committee Member, San Diego Green New Deal Alliance
  • Executive Committee Member, Surfrider San Diego
  • Board Member, Climate Defenders Action Fund
  • Board President, GRID Alternatives San Diego 
  • Steering Committee Co-chair, San Diego Building Electrification Coalition
  • Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resource Development Chair, San Diego Green New Deal Alliance

We helped organize three Climate Hub events, which reached folks from across the country, and attended multiple socially-distanced, outdoor press conferences (and even multiple car caravans) related to energy franchise agreements and workers rights.

We’re a member of 1% for the Planet, whose members pledge to donate one percent of their earnings to nonprofit organizations working to stop the climate crisis.  We’re delighted to announce that Hammond Climate Solutions’ contributions far surpassed the pledge requirement. 

Lastly, our CEO Tara Hammond completed the Climate Reality Project Leadership Training, and has been sharing the scientific knowledge she gained to educate others.  


So what does this year have in store for Hammond Climate Solutions? 

We are going to take the momentum we’ve gained and continue fighting for the greater good!  We will be growing our climate project management, policy and advocacy efforts to drive more change. 


With the help of our network and communities, we look forward to accomplishing our main policy objectives of:


  • Getting a strong rooftop solar agreement at the California Public Utilities Commission while fighting off anti-solar legislation, allowing solar to grow sustainably, helping support green jobs while reducing CO2 emissions.  
  • Pushing for reach codes that would require new buildings to be all electric, lowering costs of construction while eliminating new, unnecessary gas infrastructure, which poses significant health and climate risks.   
  • Advocating that the City of San Diego gets better, short-term gas and electric franchise agreements that support the climate, equity and a plan to accelerate the transition off of fossil fuels.  
  • Updating Climate Action Plans with progressive policies, such as zero carbon, to help address the climate crisis at a faster pace, while prioritizing communities of concern, who are first and foremost impacted by climate injustices.
  • Supporting legislation that would create regional climate authorities across California 
  • Voicing support for the San Diego County Zero Carbon Sustainability Plan 
  • Advocating for policies that prioritize communities of concern in climate efforts across the country


We are excited for the second year of the Solar Moonshot Program, and will continue managing the Business for Good and Climate Action Campaign e-bike ride off programs while staying connected with the Pedal Ahead program. 


As far as new initiatives, we are working with a coalition to help bring an e-bike ride off program to residents in multi-family affordable housing complexes. We’re helping a local foundation that’s supporting lower interest EV loans for people in communities of concern. We’re expanding our reach to assist solar companies in tracking policies and being more engaged in protecting the solar and storage industry. We’ve committed to helping a global leader in energy storage with a Corporate Social Responsibility project. 


We’ll continue to advocate for good climate and equity programs that counter the climate crisis, including initiatives through our local community choice energy program, San Diego Community Power (our CEO advocated for community choice energy in San Diego County for nearly a decade, and we are thrilled to finally see San Diego Community Power officially launch this month).  


Last but certainly not least is our pursuit of helping to establish pilot programs to show proof of concept, and help lay the foundation for big public initiatives.  We welcome your creative ideas for climate programs and incentives, and look forward to helping you implement them.  


Stay updated on our efforts by following us on social media. We can be found using @HammondClimateSolutions on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, and @DynamicActions on Twitter. 

To learn more about Hammond Climate Solutions, please explore the rest of our site!

A Year In Review: Solar Moonshot Program

by
Tara Hammond
3 min

In 2020, Hammond Climate Solutions had the pleasure of working with 46 nonprofit organizations in 24 states, to collectively deploy 3,450kW of solar power with the aid of  $1,000,000 in Solar Moonshot Program grant funding.  

The diverse group Solar Moonshot Program participants included schools, indigenous tribes, intentional communities, community centers, climate-focused centers, places of worship, youth homeless shelters, farms, community solar gardens, a black women-run media company, and many other terrific community-based groups.

The origin of the Solar Moonshot Program stems from the altruistic work of a San Diego based philanthropist, who was combating the climate crisis through an independent initiative known as the “50 Solar States Project.”  As the name suggests, the initiative aimed to fund one solar project in each of the 50 U.S. states, in order to demonstrate the practicality of using renewable energy technology in every region of the country, and to be the impetus for further local adoption. 

In February of 2020, when Hammond Climate Solutions was hired to manage the 50 Solar States Program, the outlook on our climate was far more precarious.  Reflecting together upon those circumstances led to a tactical shift in the initiative’s mission, and would emphasize swift system energization as opposed to locale in order to maximize the renewable energy project’s potential impact on the environment.  With that, the Solar Moonshot Program was born. 

 

The 2020 goal for the Solar Moonshot Program was to assist approximately 40 nonprofit organizations afford the switch to solar (photovoltaic or thermal) with or without energy storage.  Priority was given to nonprofits that had the ability to move their solar projects forward in a timely fashion but required financial assistance to close funding gaps before proceeding.  The financial resources, provided by the Left Coast Fund, for the Solar Moonshot grants would be applied to a project’s funding in different ways, such as fundraiser-matching, down payments, a capital stack contribution, or to even cover the entire system cost for smaller projects.  The average grant for 2020’s program participants was $24,269 across 46 organizations. 

  

These renewable energy systems allow the nonprofits to save money that can be reinvested in fulfilling their missions while reducing harmful CO2 emissions that are contributing to the climate crisis, lessening local air pollution, and supporting regional green jobs.  The solar power systems also offer an opportunity to educate community members about the need for a just and livable future. 

A highlight of our 2020 program was the funding of our first solar thermal project, which was done in partnership with indigineous rights and climate justice advocate, Winona LaDuke.  The grant went towards six solar thermal units at White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, which were installed by local Indigineous folks through the nonprofit 8th Fire Solar. 

We have another $1,000,000 budget for the Solar Moonshot grants in 2021, which will help fund  renewable energy projects for about 40 nonprofit organizations across the nation. 

Nonprofits interested in applying for a Solar Moonshot Program grant can visit the website, www.solarmoonshot.org. Follow us on social media for our weekly #SolarSaturday posts, which highlight the amazing nonprofits going solar and helping make the world a better place.

Below is a list of all the organizations we’ve been delighted to help:


  • Jack's Solar Garden (pictured above) in Colorado
  • Red Bird Mission in Kentucky partnership with Mountain Association
  • Glass City Community Solar in Ohio 
  • Madison West High School in partnership with the The Midwest Renewable Energy Association in Wisconsin
  • Lincoln Park Solar Garden in Minnesota in partnership with Ecolibrium
  • Activist San Diego in California, installed by IBEW Local 569 union electricians with Aloha Solar Power
  • Kroka Expeditions in Marlow, New Hampshire
  • Ekvn-Yefolecv, an Indigenous community in Weogufka, Alabama
  • Northside Community Center run by the Community Action Network (CAN) in Ann Arbor, Michigan in partnership with the City Of Ann Arbor
  • Eau Claire Public Schools in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in partnership with Eau Claire Public Schools Foundation
  • Center for Mindful Learning (Monastic Academy for the Preservation of Life on Earth) in Fletcher, Vermont
  • Canticle Farm in Oakland, California
  • White Earth Reservation installed by 8th Fire Solar in Minnesota
  • The DREAM Program in Winooski, Vermont
  • Wilmington Senior Center in Wilmington, California, in partnership with Wilmington Jaycees Foundation being installed by GRID Alternatives
  • The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano, California, being installed by IBEW Local 569 union electricians with Aloha Solar Power
  • Iron Works Cycling in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, in partnership with Appalachian Voices
  • Media Island International in Olympia, Washington, in partnership with Olympia Community Solar
  • The Workshop in Galena, Illinois
  • Church of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Virginia Beach,  Virginia
  • New Day Youth & Family Services in Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • UnityPoint Health Jones Regional Medical Center in Anamosa, Iowa
  • St. John's Episcoal Church in Westwood, Massachusetts
  • Commonweal in Bolinas, California
  • University Christian Church, home of the Climate Hub in San Diego, California, installed by IBEW Local 569 union electricians at Baker Electric Home Energy
  • Common Street Spiritual Center in Natick, Massachusetts
  • The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate in San Antonio, Texas
  • El Costeño in Seattle, Washington, in partnership with the American Solar Energy Society
  • Centro PASO Aibonito in San Jose, Puerto Rico, in partnership with BQuest Foundation
  • South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Planting Justice in El Sobrante, California
  • Episcopal Diocese in Savannah, Georgia
  • Sacramento LGBT Community Center in Sacramento, California
  • Kathy's House in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts
  • Casa de Amparo in San Marcos, California, in partnership with BQuest Foundation
  • Boys Hope Girls Hope in Irvine, California
  • Congregation Beth Shalom of the Blue Hills in Milton, Massachusetts
  • Habitat for Humanity in La Crosse, Wisconsin
  • The LGBTQ Center Long Beach in Long Beach, California
  • Girl Scouts of America in Randolph, New Jersey
  • Northern California Land Trust / Peace Gardens in Berkeley, California, being installed by GRID Alternatives
  • Grace Church in Riverhead, New York
  • Humane Society of Marion County in Yelville, Arkansas
  • Second Baptist Church in Ypsilanti, Michigan 


2021 commitments thus far:

  • Solidarity Farm in Pauma Valley, California, in partnership with Circle of Life, being installed by IBEW Local 569 union electricians with Aloha Solar Power
  • Somerville Community Corporation in Somerville, Massachusetts
  • Innisfree Village in Crozet, Virginia 
  • St. Paul’s Visalia in Visalia, California 
  • NEST/SNAG Magazine in San Francisco, California  
  • Wildrock Farm in Crozet, Virginia 
  • St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama
  • Church of the Savior in Hanford, California 


Solar Moonshot Program in the news: 

Sustainability Intention Setting for the New Year

by
Shelah Ott
3 min

New Year's resolutions likely will look different this year, if they haven’t been written off entirely as we grapple with the heavy effects of the continued pandemic. The past year has shown us how important it is to take time to decompress and make space for productivity being less of a priority during a global pandemic that has rippled effects in public health, physically, mentally and emotionally. While this is still the case now, entering a new year is a great time to set intentions and think about the year ahead. 


We’re thinking about the ways we can be sustainable in 2021 that are also sustainable in the midst of the pandemic. Here are our favorites if you, too, need some inspiration to combat the climate crisis this year:


  • Transition to a low-waste lifestyle: in order to make wasteless habits sustainable for yourself, it’s suggested to take baby steps. Rather than phasing out all single-use items in your house, start with one area, like the kitchen. Replace paper towels with reusable ones like these, or see if you have any unused cotton clothing you can use as an even lower-waste and economic alternative. You can go to zero waste shops, like Earthwell Refill in San Diego, a black-owned zero waste refill store to refill household products instead of buying a new container when the product is done. The Buy Nothing Project has local Facebook groups where you can give away items you no longer need and also request items you need, helping reduce waste while getting to know your neighbors. 
  • Cut emissions by biking, walking or taking public transportation: while we’re not getting out much during quarantine, it still makes a difference to opt for biking, walking or taking public transportation instead of driving for local trips, if possible.
  • Spend time with soil: connecting with nature is an easy way to reduce stress, take a break from the sedentary lifestyle (that most of us experience) and see the nourishing, symbiotic relationship that’s possible between the earth and us humans. Stand on the grass to “ground” and rebalance your body, or plant seeds to grow your own low-cost, local, sustainable foods.
  • Embrace the activist within: each of us has the ability to be an activist in our own way. Find what you like most so it’s sustainable; it may look like speaking during public comment at a city council meeting, volunteering at a local climate organization, or signing onto letters and petitions.
  • Find sustainable eating options: When you’re tired of cooking, especially during the pandemic, restaurants  can use support. When you want to order food, opt for local, small businesses that try to integrate organic foods and sustainability into their operations. No one business is perfect, but many are trying to make a difference, like SOULMUCH, with their mission to reduce food waste by rescuing unused grains and turning them into cookies. You can look for Surfrider’s Ocean-Friendly Restaurant certification. 


We hope that you are able to enter 2021 with some renewed hope, inspiration and motivation despite the year we are leaving behind. And if not, self-care is likely the most important priority. After all, we cannot fight the climate crisis and strive for sustainability if we ourselves are not taken care of.


Biking as a Solution to the Climate Crisis

by
Tara Hammond
3 min

The San Diego Climate Hub hosted its second quarterly event, Biking a Solution to the Climate Crisis, on Thursday, December 10.  The San Diego community engaged in an interactive discussion about how bicycling is one of many solutions to help reduce our CO2 emissions, which exacerbate the climate crisis and contribute to climate injustices. 

 

The free event included a presentation with speakers from the nonprofit organizations Bike San Diego, Climate Action Campaign, SanDiego350 and Sierra Club San Diego, and the panel was moderated by Denice Williams with Black Girls Do Bike and the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.  After the panel there was a Zoom breakout session where fellow activists were able to get to know each other and share about their interest in biking.

San Diego is the eighth largest city in the nation yet ranks sixth for having the worst air pollution. Communities of concern, surrounded by freeways in San Diego, experience higher rates of asthma and pollution related-illnesses, and have a shorter lifespan than communities in other parts of the city.  This is an example of a climate injustice. More people who bike instead of drive dirty, gas vehicles can help reduce local air pollution, which was highlighted during the event. 

 

"Communities of color need to be prioritized for all sustainable transportation improvements that will ensure that they have more access to clean air and affordable transportation options,” said Bertha Rodriguez, the Assistant Organizer at Climate Action Campaign, who presented on Thursday.  “By centering equity and looking at biking through an intersectional lens, we can start breaking down the disparities caused by race, class, gender and ability in order to promote a more inclusive climate revolution."


The San Diego Climate Hub is a center, located in Hillcrest, to strategize, collaborate and build collective power to stop the climate crisis and advance climate justice in the San Diego region. The nonprofit members include Bike San Diego, Climate Action Campaign, SanDiego350, San Diego Coastkeeper and Surfrider Foundation San Diego County, and it’s managed by Hammond Climate Solutions. The purpose of the Climate Hub is to catalyze collaborative local and regional solutions to stop the climate crisis, and quarterly events are a way to bring together activists to share education, resources and people power to create a brighter future.  

The next quarterly Climate Hub event will be in partnership with the San Diego Green New Deal Alliance on February 23 at 5:30 p.m. More details will be available at www.sdclimatehub.org.

How to Celebrate the Holidays Sustainably in the time of COVID-19

by
Shelah Ott
3 min

If you’re scrambling for last-minute holiday gifts (like some of us), it can be tempting to give in to Amazon Prime delivery and the holiday deals at big businesses, throw the likely unethically and unsustainably made items in a gift bag, and call it a day. But with economic losses resulting from the pandemic, and continued impacts of climate injustices,it is even more important to shop ethically and sustainably this year.


With transportation accounting for 28 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by economic sector in 2018, and an increase in package deliveries around the holidays, shopping at local, small-owned businesses with sustainably made or second hand gifts is one of the best ways to resist climate change and stimulate the local economy. If you choose to leave your house for holiday shopping, walking or biking to a small owned business is encouraged. In particular, we’re considering how we can best support small businesses owned by Black folks, Indigenous friends and People of Color. If there’s one thing we took from 2020, it’s that our actions are needed to continue showing up for racial and environmental justice.


With the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, shopping in person is not considered the safest option for folks. Many small businesses have gotten creative with local delivery and if you have friends or family who will be shopping in person this year, consider reaching out to them to arrange no-contact drop offs from your favorite local shops. If neither of those options are working out, consider getting gifts delivered to your loved ones from small businesses local to them, so you can save on emissions from shipping presents to them from where you are. In these uncertain times, we’re reminded that the health of our communities and the health of the planet are interdependent. Regardless of whether or not you’re leaving your house to get gifts, there are so many other ways to celebrate sustainably this holiday season--and for good reason. The EPA estimates that the American household waste increases by more than 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day for an estimated additional one million tons of wasted food, shopping bags and gift wrap per week! Along with buying items that are ethically and sustainably made, here are additional tips for a more conscious holiday celebration this year:


1) Say no to plastic and paper bags when buying presents

  • This one may be a little harder while reusable bags are not allowed in some stores, but many stores will allow you to bring them in as long as you bag your items yourself.

2) Rethink gift wrapping

  • If you don’t have gift wrap or bags leftover from previous years, instead of buying new ones, you can opt to use newspaper, reusable bags, reusable gift wrap (for a gift that really keeps on giving!), any leftover shopping bags or just skip the wrapping altogether! If you’re sending packages yourself, consider looking on websites like OfferUp, Buy Nothing or Nextdoor for free shipping boxes.

3) Aim for little to no food waste

  • In San Diego, we typically throw away 40 percent of food, which is higher than the national average. Instead of contributing to that already staggering number, we can be proactive about food waste this year and prevent an increase in methane emissions from adding to over overflowing landfills. We can do this by preparing “just enough” rather than way too much, distributing leftovers to friends, family and houseless folks, freezing leftovers we’re likely to eat and composting the scraps we don’t use while cooking.

4) Get creative for gift giving

  • Do-It-Yourself (DIY) gifts are even more popular this year as we’re spending most of our time at home. Think outside the box for a meaningful, hand-made gift that uses household items. Need inspiration? Pinterest always has great DIY ideas!

5) Gift intentional quality time to your quarantine partners

  • If you’re quarantining with someone you want to spend quality time with, like a friend or significant other, consider planning a thoughtful hangout or date at a COVID-safe place like your home or a park that isn’t crowded. Make it special with energy efficient LED string lights, games, plant-based and locally sourced food (if accessible) and holiday-themed sweaters and music!

6) Gift a donation on behalf of a loved one

  • A great alternative to buying people more things they likely don’t need is donating to a nonprofit organization on behalf of the person receiving the gift. You can even symbolically adopt an animal through the World Wildlife Fund, and the funds go towards programs to help conserve and protect that species.

7) And for last minute gift ideas…


Thanks for caring and reading this post. Individual actions add up and can make an impact reducing carbon emissions contributing to the climate crisis. Happy holidays! 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

- Margaret Mead

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