Sustainable Business Learning Community Conversations, July 2014 - August 2014

From Green Garage Detroit
Jump to: navigation, search

Sustainable Business, August 28, 2014 Topic: Building An Awareness of Toxicity


The Natural Step is an organization founded in the 1980's in Sweden whose goal was to lead society toward a more sustainable way of living. The 4 system conditions for a sustainable society are as follows (from Wikipedia):

  1. Nature is not exposed to concentrations of substances extracted from the earth’s crust (oil, for example).
  2. Or substances created as a byproduct of society
  3. Or degradation by physical means (i.e., building of a freeway)
  4. And people are not subject to conditions that systematically undermine their ability to meet their needs.

Are we aware of the toxins that exist around us everyday? How can we become more aware?

Think about all the cleaning products we have at home.

  • How do you select your cleaning products for your home?
  • What is in them and why do we use them if they have toxins in them?
  • What are the unknown consequences of the toxins around us?
  • Why were modern cleaning products developed in the first place if we had effective, non-toxic options already (vinegar, baking soda, steam cleaning, etc)?
  • At one time, a belief in the superiority of new technology led to the development of many of our cleaning products. We have been so conditioned to believe in this superiority that we are genuinely surprised when the old (and non-toxic) methods work even better.

Building materials are often full of toxins:

  • Carpets and furniture are big culprits because of flame retardants that are required by law. When these products burn, they give off toxic fumes which is what often kills people caught in a house fire.
  • Paints often have VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), but you can now buy low or no VOC paints.
  • Asbestos: Used as a fire retardant but was discovered to be a carcinogen.
  • Formaldehyde used to be common in plywood - no more.

In urban areas, there are sites contaminated with lead, petroleum products and other toxins all over, located in densely populated areas.

  • People buying property should have their soil tested. Phase I Study: a study of what was on that property before. Phase 2: boring into the soil to get samples Phase III: Develop a state approved work plan for either the removal of soil or remediation in place.
  • This is particularly important now that urban agriculture is becoming more popular and widespread.

Other comments:

  • We are sometimes made to believe that something is a problem so that we can be sold a "solution" to that problem. For example, we consider dandelions to be weeds that must be eliminated, therefore we must need weed killer. In Europe, the perception of dandelions is quite different from ours.
  • Having children is often what makes us more aware of toxins in our environment.
  • Be aware of how your body reacts to a product - if you are choking or the smell bothers you, then you can infer that this product is probably unhealthy and that you should find a healthier alternative.
  • We have a very short term view; we should understand that many of the consequences of exposure might not show up for years.
  • Awareness directly affects our choices and many people have NO awareness of their exposure to toxins at all. Promoting education and awareness can make a difference. If we model new behaviors and share information in a nonthreatening way, we can educate people.
  • Systems, such as our political system, business and industry influence the kinds of products that are made available to the public, often without full knowledge of the consequences of their use.
  • There can often be a conflict between government restrictions (EPA) and economic considerations, and this can be rolled up into political discourse as well. How do we find solutions that answer both environmental and economic needs?
  • Who can we trust? Do we believe that companies know more than we do - that they always have our best interests in mind? Can we rely on our government to do the best they can for us? Do they make the best choices? Is technology always good?
  • Collaborative effort is so important. As long as there is this us vs them thing, progress will be slow. We need to be on the same page, working together. We are individuals but we all have to live together and we have a responsibility to each other, to all of us.

Sustainable Business, August 7, 2014 Topic: Ways to Reduce Water Use and Protect the Water in Our Environment

How can we protect our watershed?

The recent problems with algae bloom in Lake Erie point to the need to manage our water resources better and to gain a better understanding of our relationship with water.

What affects our watersheds?

  • One of the largest problems with our watersheds is fertilization of lawns and farmland with phosphorus based products.
  • Policies regarding fertilizers are disjointed - each county or municipality has its own rules about what you can or cannot use, so problems with water persist. We need unified policy.
  • Sceptic systems are also a problem
  • Factory farms, confined animal feeding operations, don’t allow for the earth to handle the amount of waste that washes into the creeks and rivers - they are overwhelmed.

Climate change and its effect on water: AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States); Climate change is causing water to rise and the people living in small island nations are counting the decades until their islands are going to be inundated and uninhabitable.

Water during war: In Gaza right now, there is no functioning waste management system because of the fighting, so waste is going into the ocean and residents can’t fish for food.

What can we do right now to improve our relationship with water?

Understand how our water system works and where our water comes from. Detroit has a combined water/sewer system that was designed in the 1800’s. It is old and outdated and when overwhelmed with rainwater, the sewage overflows into the Detroit River and flows down into Lake Erie. Detroit’s wastewater treatment plant was put into service in the 1940’s and was considered one of the greatest civil engineering achievements of the 20th century and yet we regularly have problems with sewage overflow. People today will not make the kinds of investments that prior generations made in order to update and repair our water/sewer system. How can we as individuals or small business owners make small changes in how we use our water that can begin to make things better?

Small is big: If each American would turn off the water when they brushed their teeth, we would save 300 billion gallons of water per year. Small changes can make a big difference. Start to build your awareness by simply reading your water bill and gaining an understanding of how our water system works.

Typical problem in many old urban buildings: In Darryl’s 1846 apartment building, water flows from the basement up. In order to get hot water, you have to run the water for a long time - 5 minutes or so. How much water is wasted just waiting to get hot water?

  • Collect the water that is being wasted in a bucket and use it to water plants or flush toilets, etc.
  • Convert one of the apartments on each floor and turn it into a utility room with water heaters so hot water is quickly available on each floor.
  • Tankless water heaters in each apartment.
  • Insulate water pipes.
  • Install hot water re-circulator under your sink; water keeps recirculating until it gets hot so you don’t waste so much water. This costs about 2-300$

Susan’s hops farm requires a lot of water. They use drip irrigation and capture water off the roof near them to an IBC tank. Last year they only used city water twice during the whole season. If there is no building with a roof, what other options are available for water capture? Idea: water capture on an inclined plane with a pump connected to a hose.

Hot water pipe insulation
Composting toilet

Ideas for reducing water use in your house:

  • Identify the biggest water users in your home or workplace:
    • Toilets - get low flow toilets. If your toilet has no tank, look into installing more efficient valves. This is the journey you get on when you try to make more sustainable choices.
    • Showers - Water efficient shower heads; shorter showers. To measure the rate of flow of your shower, take a bucket, stick it under shower head and time it.
    • Laundry - Front loaders are supposed to use less water than top loaders, but do they work as well? There is still some debate about that.
  • Insulate your hot water pipes. There are insulation tubes available that are easy to install and covering your pipes will slow down cooling and allow you to run the water less when using the hot water tap.
  • You can also cover your hot water heater to save energy and keep the water warm for longer.
  • With feedback, you get a 15-30% in water use. If people know how much they use, they will use less.
  • To keep pipes from freezing and bursting, all you need is a slow drip - just a bit of water movement will prevent problems.
  • “Washin’ up”: People used to bathe less often, but would instead wash up at a sink or with a wash tub or bucket. This is an idea that, although it doesn’t fit in with our cultural convention of daily bathing, might work for some people.
  • Composting toilets - they use no water and are highly efficient, but there are cultural reactions to these kinds of toilets in this country. In some parts of the country, there is a class distinction around this; if you don’t have a flush toilet, you are considered lower class. Composting toilets are much cleaner than a port-a-potty but people aren’t as familiar with them. A successful composting toilet needs to be designed and built for its unique microclimate for it to work properly.

The problem with garbage disposals:

  • It’s not good to have food going into our water system because whatever you put into the water you have to get out of it. Many believe that the worst water decision ever made was the invention of the garbage disposal. We are led to believe in our culture that this is the best way to dispose of food waste and people expect to have a garbage disposal in their kitchen today. The best way is actually to compost your food scraps. Most of our waste is food waste and much of it could be used for fertilizer for our gardens. The amount of energy used to remove food waste from our water system is enormous and is completely unnecessary.
  • The worst things people put down disposals are fats and greases. Fats meet up with soaps and become calcified, clogging pipes, even those that are 5 feet in diameter. NYC has several hot spots with these big clogs. There is a similar clog in Detroit in water line under Michigan Ave.
  • The industry that formed to dispose of grease is non-transparent. They will give out no information, so there is a suspicion that they pick up the material and dump it into storm sewers at night. This is illegal but it is likely being done anyway. So it gets down to: what can we do ourselves to keep grease out of our water system?
  • Medication dumped down drains is a huge problem because traces of these medicines end up in our water. Cities will collect unused medication - it is put into lined landfills that don’t allow it to leech into ground. There are also groups who collect old medications that are still usable and take them to 3rd world countries.

It is possible to build a culture of protecting the environment around us. People are willing to get on board if everyone works together.

  • Kids are especially easy to work with, so we should teach them from an early age about their relationship with the environment and their relationship with water.
  • We find people’s attitudes vary depending on where they live. In Michigan, water is abundant, so residents often take it for granted and don’t think much about how they use water. In California, where they are living through a severe drought, everyone is very aware of their water use and of the importance of conserving as much as possible.

Sustainable Business, July 31, 2014 Topic: Assessing Our Awareness of Water

The Great Lakes comprise 54% of the world's freshwater - this is a view of Lake Michigan taken in the autumn.

Assessing our awareness of our relationship with water:

  • People have a disconnect with the process of how water gets to the earth, gets to your house eventually - you just turn on the tap and there it is.
  • Learn about your local watershed. The UM Dearborn Environmental Interpretive Center does a good job explaining watersheds, and you can also go to Friends of the Rouge for more information.
  • We have learned that, in an urban environment, 98% of our relationship with water is involved in carrying away waste, i.e. showers, toilets, sinks for washing. We need a healthier relationship with water, how we think about it and what it can do for us and for the planet. Here in Michigan, where most of the world’s fresh water is located, people still have problems getting access to clean water - why?
  • Most people don’t know the size and age of the system delivering water to us in the metro Detroit area. Many of the storm sewers in the city were built in the 19th century (behind the Green Garage, the sewer line dates from 1877). This past year there have been over 80 water main breaks in Detroit.

Water and Our Lawns:

  • People put down a lawn because they believe it is easy to maintain - but is that true? The kinds of grasses used in lawns is not native to our area. Maintaining lawns uses an enormous amount of water and requires fertilizer and chemicals for weed control.
  • Europeans don’t have the same idea about lawns, that they have to be a monoculture. They let anything that is green grow. Britain is different, however, because that type of grass is native to Britain. A whole industry has evolved around a plant that cannot grow naturally here in Michigan.
  • We are in an unsustainable cycle with regard to lawns and landscaping. How is fertilizer made? The nutrients are contained in salt. When watered, the salt melts and releases the nutrients, but then the salt will dry out your lawn and the soil and the salt kills the microbes in the soil, but the plants need the microbes, so then you have to keep buying more fertilizer and watering to keep your grass alive. This makes no sense.
  • Do we have a good understanding of the terrestrial water cycle with regard to our yards and lawns? Lawn fertilizer runoff is one of the major producers of pollution in our watersheds. How does runoff affect our rivers and streams? Can we stop using these chemicals? Where do these chemicals end up? Many municipalities have banned certain kinds of fertilizers because of their negative impact on our water. And yet, some municipalities have ordinances that require that you have a lawn at your house.
  • When did it become the norm to have a lawn in this country? Read about the history of lawn culture in the United States:

Living with climate change and its effect on water:

  • The change in our climate is changing how we must adapt to living with water.
  • Approaches that civil engineers used in the past don’t make sense anymore (cementing in river banks, for example).
  • We have to recognize that we can’t build in the southwest forever.
  • Data shows that people over 70 (retirees) are moving to high risk areas - areas that will be inundated as sea levels increase.
  • There is an inability or unwillingness to recognize reality because people just don’t want to. New Orleans is below sea level, has flooded in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Barrier islands, which protect our coastlines, are disappearing. Miami Beach is flooding regularly now. And yet people are still moving to these areas and real estate values continue to be high.
  • Some argue that it’s too expensive to deal with the water issues we are facing. But dealing with disasters costs us even more.

Some other thoughts from the group:

  • Access to water is stratified by economic class - the best access goes to the wealthiest people who can afford to purchase waterfront property. It can be hard to get the community at large to be aware of water issues when they don’t have that much access to it on an everyday basis.
  • People and corporations with influence can affect policy that favors their access to and use of water.
  • Buddhists believe that water is witness to everything you do, think or feel, and that water is what connects us to the wider universe.
  • Interact with water in a natural way; spend time with streams, rivers and lakes and the wildlife that lives there.
  • We need to be more aware of how water is used in the industrial process and how it gets into the products we purchase. Do you know how much water was used in making your iPhone?
  • What is the carbon footprint of one gallon of water coming out of the tap here in Detroit? There is a lot of equipment and energy required to take in, purify and move water from the lakes into the city and suburbs, into our homes and businesses.
  • Be aware that treated water is generally not good for your plants. City water has fluoride and chlorine in it, chemicals that aren’t optimal for your lawns and gardens.

Sustainable Business, July 17, 2014 Topic: Improving Your Environmental Margins: How Do You Reduce Energy Use in Your Business or Home?

Comments from last week’s conversation on Recycling:

  • Municipalities should make it easier for people to recycle. Recycle bins without wheels make it difficult for the elderly or handicapped. Larger recycling bins reduce the need to take the bin out to the curb every week. Some municipalities with larger recycle bins only pick up every other week saving time and energy.
  • Do we understand what the true costs of materials really is? What is added to the material during its processing? How much energy is required in processing? What is required to replace the resource (a tree for example) and how much to dispose of it at the end of its life?
  • We need to utilize what we have and not let things sit unused and allow them to go to ruin.
  • Resource: Habitat for Humanity warehouses resell used building materials at locations all around the city.

The Nest Learning Thermostat

Today’s Topic: Environmental Margins: Energy Reduction in Your Own Home or Small Business

What have you done to reduce energy use in your businesses?

  • Ribbon Farm Hops runs their timer for the irrigation system with a solar panel. They are also looking into using solar panels to power pumps for irrigation. Susan is also looking into a hops farm that uses solar for their fertilization system. See: Mr Solar
  • Bubble wrap over windows during the winter to prevent the cold. Also, plexiglass inserts to cover windows (attach with magnetic strips) is effective to reduce heat loss in winter.
  • The Nest Thermostat: you can remotely adjust your heat if you are away from your home or business. Nest also learns your living patterns and automatically adjusts based on past behavior.
  • Social Club Grooming Company Some of the changes made by owner, Sebastian Jackson, to help reduce energy use:
    • Relocated the thermostat to a more efficient location and put it on a timer; this saved him 25% on his energy bills.
    • Put film over windows to reflect ultraviolet light out, 10% savings.
    • Used sashes over windows in the winter to keep out cold, another 10% savings.
    • Replaced lighting with high efficiency bulbs.
    • Regasketed the doors to keep airflow down.
  • Turn off lights and appliances when you don’t need them, and turn down heat.
  • Add a humidifier to furnace - humid air holds onto heat in the winter.
  • Focus on task lighting; measure the foot candles using light meters so that you have the proper amount of light where you need it. Knowing where to light and how to light makes a huge difference and can save lots of energy and money.
  • Use windows and skylights instead of electrical lighting.
  • Pay close attention to your electric bills. Charting usage can be very revealing and helpful. If you share information about office energy costs with your employees, they will be more interested in helping to keep costs down, and may want to transfer some of those practices to their own homes.


How can we address fuel usage for commuting to and from work for ourselves and our employees?

  • Have client visit days by area - try not to be criss-crossing town all day long.
  • Hybrid cars
  • Virtual meetings if possible, as long as you can do it in a way that preserves your relationship with clients (Skype - video conferencing)
  • Offer incentives to employees to purchase an energy efficient car.
  • Reward for participating in a carpool
  • Provide incentive/subsidy for using public transportation where available (some employers will pay for bus passes)
  • Have a metric for this - how many employee miles are driven? for commuting? for client visits? You should have an accurate base from which to start so that you can then measure the impact of any changes in transportation you make.

  • Each home/building is unique, not everything is applicable everywhere. Just do what you can do, where you are; all those little positive changes add up.
  • There are paint additives with insulating properties which are supposed to give you a 10-15% insulating factor. See HY-Tech Thermal Solutions
  • There are companies that make efficient heaters with the look of old radiators that you can incorporate into an historic building (right). These were used in the restoration of the Henry Ford estate.

Sustainable Business, July 10, 2014 Topic: Improving Your Environmental Margins: Waste

Today's Topic: Environmental Margins: Waste

Values: See The Earth Charter, a statement of environmental values developed by the international community.


So what about waste?

  • We are all involved in dealing with waste. It affects many of our choices.
  • What have you learned about the reduction of waste, both in personal life and in your business?
  • “Waste is just a resource in the wrong place”
  • Reduce - Reuse - Recycle - this mantra has stood the test of time and is the most reasonable approach to reducing or eliminating waste.
  • The scale of the systems that involve waste in this country is really huge.

We can effect change by how we choose to spend our money. Tom’s story about Scott, a builder/remodeler he has worked with: When he started doing work for the Brennan’s, Tom asked Scott to start recycling and reusing materials. At first he fought against it, realizing that making these kinds of changes would cause them to have to change procedures and it would make extra work for them. But then Scott realized how huge the landfill fill had become during his working years (it had grown from being a large pit to a hill 14 stories high). That realization made a real impression on Scott and he recognized the importance of doing his part in reducing waste. He’s been working that way ever since and markets his business as a green remodeler.

Once you begin a new habit - recycling - you feel guilty when you don’t do it, or have an opportunity to do it where you are.

Recycling can become part of your local culture. How much is recycling regional? In many places it is ubiquitous. We don’t necessarily have mechanisms in place all over the country that make it easier to reduce, reuse or recycle.

Be aware that some people who promote themselves as re-users and recyclers are sometimes less than honest about it.

What to do with used materials? It’s a challenge to figure out where to put old or used materials that can’t be recycled (old plaster, pipes, etc), and when it’s hard to know what to do with used materials, they will just end up in a landfill. If we can improve our systems/mechanisms with regard to reuse and recycling that make it easier for people to do the right thing, they will.

Economics and lack of space can drive people to reduce how much they buy or use and what they reuse or recycle. Americans still have the perception that they have unlimited space and resources, but that reality is rapidly changing and we have to catch up. People in Europe and Asia and long been used to living in smaller spaces and buying and keeping fewer things. Sometimes it’s the values that drive the environment - other times it’s the environment that drives the values.

Reducing - Simplifying - Minimizing:

  • Life Waste: We talk all the time about our daily waste - what we use/consume in a day. But what about life waste? All of that stuff that we accumulate throughout our lives? Most of us (Americans, especially, living in a consumer culture) have accumulated tons of stuff throughout our lives and don’t know how to get rid of it. Much of it can be reused. How do we get rid of it all? Why do we accumulate so much to begin with? An entire industry, the storage industry, has arisen simply because we have too much stuff, and no where to put it all.
The tiny house movement was born out of people's desire to simplify their lives and rid themselves of the burden of too much stuff!
  • Simplicity movement: There are many people who have been making a conscious effort to simply their lives, to reduce their possessions, and the tiny house movement grew out of this desire to unburden ourselves of our “stuff.”
  • Remember that things are not people - we have attachment to a lot of family items, but do we really need to keep them all? Ask yourself, every time you acquire something or are thinking of buying something new, “what do I need this for?”
  • Reuse, repurposing and recycling could shift a lot of energy away from production and disposal. Let’s say we hire people to clean up bricks from houses that are deconstructed; we would be reusing material plus creating local jobs.
  • Resale shops and garage sales are great options for reuse. Life waste is a big business. For many people, it’s like a treasure hunt and it’s a big money saver.

Education is vital: There are many people who have never thought about Reduce-Reuse-Recycle, and just throw things away, mattresses in alleys, tires on empty lots. They don’t have a good understanding of what they are doing to the environment and probably don’t understand that there are alternatives to their actions. Some learn better by seeing (take them to a landfill); others need to see the statistics. But however they learn, help them to understand - share your knowledge and experience whenever you can.

Suntae’s comments on Korea: The way people live in Korea is very much driven by the resources they have available on their peninsula. They recycle extensively and, on a recent visit, Suntae found it a bit cumbersome because, even though he recycles living here in Ann Arbor, it is not to the same extent that recycling is done in Korea. Things are very expensive there, so people are motivated to use less and produce less waste. Koreans are charged for garbage and recycling, so when garbage rates are high, and recycling rates are high, people produce less.

Connecting the generations: Young people today are being brought up to be aware of their responsibility to the environment and are often more aware than older people. If there’s a divide between generations, there will be less change. People, young and old, need to learn and share with each other to make real progress.

Understand the science: There has to be real science behind the actions we take - will they really make a difference? Do our actions truly help the environment, or are we causing even more damage? Understanding what we are doing and the effect we have is really important. Sustainability shouldn’t be a trendy, superficial thing - understand the effects of your actions.

Junk mail: A classic example of the machine doing its thing without our consent. There’s a whole industry around junk mail - we don’t choose to receive it. Now we have a situation where the system made the choice for you; our addresses are put on lists that get distributed to different groups and retailers. It requires work, but you can reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. Here’s an app for your phone: Paper Karma.

Sustainable Business, July 3, 2014 Topic: Improving Your Environmental Margins : Where to Begin?

Comments from last week: Criteria to make decisions about environmental margins:

  • Design around less waste - try to scale things to project size so that you don’t produce much waste or any waste at all.
  • Educate yourself about supply chains - they can be very complex and have negative environmental impact. How do you find out about this stuff? How do you know about how things are manufactured? Should you choose not to buy things because you don’t really know how a product was made?
  • Toxicity in production, and toxicity in health (lead in children’s toys)
  • In earlier times… we conserved energy as much as possible and didn’t waste anything. Energy efficiency and no waste were a matter of survival, then. Ex: Forks had only 2 tines because it used less material and less energy to produce; ash from the fireplace was used in the production of soap; only the rooms being used were heated in order to conserve firewood. Modern technology means that we have gotten used to a level of comfort that we don’t want to give up, but this leads to greater energy use and wastefulness.
  • If money is the only metric we use, then abuses (waste, pollution, toxicity, etc) can happen.
  • Is there a way to apply some of the “old time thinking” to how we are living today? Could we find ways to imitate what we did then and make it apply to how we live today?
  • Christopher Alexander promotes the passive approach, that is, reducing our need for energy and materials, not creating a need. Are we aware of north and south? How the sun moves across the sky? how we can best capture light and heat? We have disconnected ourselves from the natural world and need to be intentional about reconnecting.

Where do we begin? What's the first step to take?

Today’s topic: Improving your business’s environmental margins - where to begin? How do you choose that first project or action to take?


  • Where do you start?
  • Changing habits can be overwhelming, but it comes down to leadership - where are we going? what are we doing?
  • How do you think through what you do in your own life, at home?
  • What have you found to be successful and what hasn’t worked for you?

Leadership: It’s a bottom-up approach, starts with the individual

  • Lead yourself first, even at home. Turn off the lights; buy less and you will waste less; reduce water use; recycle and compost.
  • Getting others to also change their habits can be difficult and may not happen quickly, but just continue to lead by example - model new behaviors. Pushing people will just lead to greater resistance.
  • When you make changes at home, you begin to want to make those same changes in your workplace.
  • Educate others - help people find a personal connection to change - how are they connected to sustainability and the environment?
  • Have fun with the changes you implement - if you’re not enjoying it, progress can be blocked.
  • Turn to our elders - they are a wealth of knowledge and experience and can share their stories of living with less and not throwing things away.
  • Focus on the young - they adapt to new ways of doing things more easily and haven’t already developed bad habits.
  • Make sustainability a mission, with your family or with your co-workers. Learn together, problem-solve together, forge new paths and find ways to work outside the “system”.

Changing perceptions: Once we become aware of our impact on the environment, aware of what living sustainably really means, we begin to see all of our actions and activities through a different lens. We begin to question our habits, everything we do.

Here are some areas of change that members of our group are trying to work on:

  • Waste: Why do we buy so much? Be aware of what you bring into the house and packaging and how much waste that produces. We think of things as disposable today, things that used to be passed down through families (grandmother’s cast iron skillet, for example).
  • Water: Why do we use so much water? What changes can we make to reduce water use? (shorter showers, fixing leaks, efficient toilets and faucets, hardy landscaping that doesn’t require a lot of watering, etc)
  • Lawn and garden care: finding a balance between the “standard” for beautiful lawn and gardens and having little or no negative impact on the environment. What if you want to do all organic lawn care and your spouse wants the “golf course” lawn?
  • Composting: What does this entail?

Lead with your values: Figure out what you value, and start with changes that go along with those values. Is it economics? environment? comfort? If you want to reduce your environmental impact, ask yourself what matters most to you - what do you really care about most?

Learning through imitation: Many people are followers - they see that others are making changes and question why they don’t do that, too. Being around others who are taking actions to live more sustainably grows an awareness. You begin to see things in a different way, perhaps making changes one at a time. You see what others do and try to apply those changes to your life, fit them into your own way of living.

Living/working situation: Recognize the situation in which you live and/or work. Some changes will be more easily adopted than others, depending on your situation. Makes changes that suit your circumstances.

Cost of environmental impact: If people really understood how much hurting our environment costs us (both economically and physically) this would be an incentive to change our habits. More education is needed in this area.

Pioneer new paths: We have to create new ways of thinking and share our stories with one another. We should pioneer new paths through systems that have been in place for a long time. We have created a throw-away culture and this needs to be reversed. Example: Your battery runs down in your cell phone and we are told that it would cost more to replace the battery than to buy a new phone, so we are encouraged to throw away an electronic device that is probably not very old at all and can, in fact, be repaired. Increase your awareness - stop and think about what you are doing and where that phone is going to end up. Tom found a person near him that actually repairs phones - can’t this be our new model? Form a relationship with the repair person!