How To Make Your Move More Eco-Friendly

In 2020, we’re all a lot more environmentally conscious than we used to be. There’s now so many different ways that we can adapt our daily lives to become more friendly to the environment, though there are still the odd occasions where it’s difficult to keep your carbon footprint as low as possible. With the amount of boxes, plastic, tape, etc. needed in moving – added to the amount of miles a moving truck will often have to travel – moving homes may feel like one of these occasions.

However, there are still things that you can do in order to keep your move as eco-friendly as possible!

Don’t Buy Boxes

While cardboard boxes are, of course, widely recycled, buying cardboard boxes still has its pitfalls where the environment is concerned. The best thing we can do to make our use of cardboard boxes as eco-friendly as possible is to try and buy as few new ones as we possibly can! Instead, call on family and friends – as well as local businesses – to donate pre-used cardboard boxes that are still in good enough condition to use again.

Choose Your Packing Materials Wisely

Rather than purchasing packs of packing peanuts or bubble wrap – neither of which are, in most cases, bio-degradable – wrap your more delicate belongings in newspapers. If you buy a daily newspaper or know someone who does, start collecting them to use as packing material in the weeks running up to your move.

Don’t Trash It, Donate It

Most of us have a big clear-out of our belongings before we move to a new house, but this does tend to mean lots of things are thrown away. Make a rule with yourself that if anything is in good enough condition to be used again, it should be donated, sold or given to someone you know. You may not want it, but it doesn’t mean you have to waste it!

Cut Your Journey Emissions

Try to get it so that you only have to hire the use of one truck for your moving journey. Whether that means cutting down the amount of belongings that you are taking with you or researching into moving companies who can provide a slightly larger truck, try to get it so that you only need to do one journey in one vehicle to keep your journey carbon emissions as low as possible.

Pay It Forward

Those packing materials we mentioned earlier? Don’t throw them away just yet! First, see if there’s anyone else who could use them. You could offer them for free on Facebook marketplace to anyone in the local area willing to collect them – there’s likely to be at least one person in your neighborhood who’s preparing for their own big move. You’ll be solving a problem for them and allowing them to make their own move that little bit more eco-friendly, too! In that situation, everyone’s a winner.

Common Winter Heating Problems and How to Fix Them

Source: emergency air

During the winter months, there are instances when the weather can get surprisingly chilly, with the average lows dipping to the 30s. Understandably, the last thing you want is a malfunctioning heating system that leaves everyone huddled up in a mound of blankets on the couch.

Fortunately, HVAC repair contractors can quickly resolve heating system issues. Also, similar concerns can be easily prevented with a routine inspection. Unfortunately, many homeowners lose track of time and forget to schedule regular heating system maintenance.

Resolving the Most Prevalent Winter Heating Problems

Your House is Freezing

In the dead of winter, the last thing you want is a frosty home. Unless you enjoy walking around in a puffy winter coat, you need to get in touch with an HVAC technician right away to resolve the issues. Often, total heat loss can be attributed to any of the following:

  • Faulty thermostat. Your heating system can’t turn on if it won’t register that your house is cold. In line with this, you need to double-check the battery. If it’s not the problem, you might need to call a professional who can install a functioning thermostat.
  • Lack of power. Ensure your heating system is getting electricity by checking if the circuit breakers are on and the wiring near the unit’s components is not frayed.
  • Ineffective ignition system or pilot light. The flame that ignites the fuel in the furnace is called the pilot light. If the sensor is dirty or the pilot light is not on, your furnace might not work accordingly. This is an issue that is best left in the hands of professionals.
  • Frosted heat pump. During winter, it is typical for the coils of the heat pump to freeze. A heat pump that’s functioning switches to defrost mode to clear the ice away. Any malfunction in the defrosting process can render the pump ineffective.

You have the option to manually remove the ice buildup on your own, or you can pour warm water over the coils. If the issue is still not resolved, calling an HVAC technician is your best recourse.

Your System Cycles On and Off

Typically, your system cycles between three and eight times each hour. If it cycles more than that and only produces heat for a short amount of time, the unit may be “short cycling.” Left unattended, this can lead to spikes in your energy bill.

Short cycling has two common causes:

  • Dirty blower or air filter. The air filter is responsible for keeping the inside of the heating system clean. The blower distributes warm air throughout your home. If your air filter or blower is clogged, the warm air won’t make it to the home. Once the heating senses it’s overheating, it will shut off. During high use periods, keep your system running as smoothly as possible. You will need the help of a professional to maintain the blower.
  • Faulty thermostat. If you have an old battery or a broken thermostat, your heating system won’t be able to get an accurate reading of your home’s temperature. As a result, it won’t be able to deliver the appropriate amount of heat. You either have to install a new thermostat or replace the battery.

You Wake Up with Dry Skin and a Scratchy Throat

An arid home interior can dry out your throat and skin, worsen asthma and allergy symptoms, and cause nosebleeds. Humidity levels that are below 30 percent might cause damage to your home. Wood, for instance, will require moisture. Otherwise, it will crack.

This means furniture and hardwood floors can become unsafe when the environment is overly dry.

In similar scenarios, installing a humidifier that integrates directly with the HVAC system. Once the humidifier has been installed, it pulls water straight from the plumbing system to help ensure you are comfortable all year round.

Wrap Up

The best way to prevent the most prevalent heating problems is to have your system checked on a routine basis. Routine checks are also crucial so you can resolve minor issues before they become massive breakdowns.

About The Author

Sara Olsen is the Content Marketing Manager of Emergency Air, Arizona’s premier HVAC repair and service company with NATE-certified technicians and the best HVAC service in the quickest time. When not writing articles, she makes the most of her time with her family and gives back to the community.

The top 25 most sustainable fleets

Source: Greenbiz

However you look at it, 2020 is a turning point for fleets.

Thanks to converging forces — including supportive policies, dropping battery costs and aggressive climate goals — transportation leaders at large and small organizations are increasingly turning to new zero-emission and low-carbon options that decarbonize fleets and in some cases save money.

Fleets are often the workhorses that toil behind the scenes: the garbage trucks that pick up your trash before dawn; the long-haul semi-trucks that move goods from the port; the bucket trucks that utilities use to fix power lines and keep your lights on; the delivery vans that drop off your packages and help you stay safe inside your homes.

The definition of fleet is evolving. Ride-hailing companies such as Lyft own vehicles, but they’re also working to help drivers that own their own vehicles move into EVs. The young e-scooter companies also own large “fleets,” although not in the traditional sense.

Fleet leaders are also facing increasing pressure. Policies such as California’s Advanced Clean Truck rule are forcing organizations in the state to phase in zero-emission trucks and phase out fossil fuel-based ones. Progressive cities, many in Europe, are building zones in downtown centers that are banning fossil-fuel vehicles and incentivizing zero-emission models. A global company that wants to deliver goods to residents in cities such as London, Paris, Madrid and soon Santa Monica, California, will need zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) fleets or it will lose business.

ZEVs are also an opportunity for fleets. Certain types of vehicles — including transit and school buses, delivery vans and light-duty cars — can save fleet owners considerable money when they’re switched to electric. Other types of fleets such as long-haul trucks will take a lot& longer to go electric.

One of the biggest concerns for fleet leaders is how to design, plan, deploy and manage the complicated infrastructure that sometimes can be required to charge or fuel various types of fleets. Investments in software and data, as well as building deep relationships with utilities, will be key to helping fleets navigate this daunting ecosystem.

Another chief concern is a lack of electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicle models from major OEMs in the U.S. that fit fleets’ needs. Time and again, fleet leaders say there just aren’t enough ZEV vehicles available for them to buy, and the ones that are available are just too expensive without incentives right now.

The pandemic has created unique challenges for fleets, including safety concerns for drivers, additional vehicle cleaning costs and the need to redesign operations around social distancing measures.

But the pandemic also has shone a spotlight on just how important many of these fleets are — in midst of the most aggressive lockdowns, trucks were running lifesaving groceries and personal protective equipment to communities and hospitals across the U.S.

So here’s our list, in alphabetical order, of 25 organizations taking important steps to decarbonize their fleets, buying (or planning to buy) new zero-emission vehicles and making the still-difficult choice to be an early adopter. The list includes public agencies, big corporations, small companies, school districts, utilities — it runs the gamut.

To hear from some of these fleet leaders — including Seattle’s Philip Saunders, Port Authority NY and NJ’s Christine Weydig, Anheuser-Busch’s Angie Slaughter, Walmart’s Zach Freeze, Amazon’s Ross Rachey, IKEA’s Angela Hultberg, FedEx’s Russ Musgrove, Genentech’s Andy Jefferson and Lime’s Andrew Savage — tune into VERGE 20 across the next five days. The keynotes are free, but you’ll need to buy a pass for the transportation deep-dive sessions

Mercedes-Benz electric delivery van

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Amazon

Amazon

Amazon’s domination of commerce and delivery means it’s got a lot of emissions from the vehicles that deliver orders to our doorsteps every day. But in early 2019, Amazon announced an industry-first for a delivery company: It pledged that half of all of its shipments would be net-zero carbon by 2030. The entire company (including transportation) will be net-zero carbon by 2040.

In true Amazon form, the company has written its own vehicle playbook and disrupted the status quo. While many fleet managers are challenged to find vehicles available that they can buy, Amazon routed around that problem by investing in — and planning to buy — 100,000 electric trucks from startup Rivian. Will Rivian eventually be a division of Amazon? Maybe: It would make sense for Amazon to bring vehicle production in-house in its constant bid for vertical integration.

But Amazon is also buying electric versions of the Mercedes-Benz sprinter van that dominates delivery markets. For now, we’re eagerly watching and waiting for more details about Amazon’s growing zero-emission and low-carbon vehicle fleet.

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Anheuser-Busch

Anheuser-Busch

Beer giant Anheuser-Busch, the U.S. subsidiary of AB InBev, delivers about a million shipments of its beer per year, largely in trucks carrying beers such as Budweiser and Stella Artois to grocery stores and bars around the U.S. Of course, all that trucking delivers a big greenhouse gas footprint: 10 percent of Anheuser-Busch’s carbon emissions come from transportation.

But the beverage maker has a big sustainability plan and is taking a first-mover approach to decarbonizing its dedicated fleet of around 1,600 vehicles. The company has an order to buy up to 800 of Nikola Motor’s hydrogen-powered fuel cell trucks and 40 Tesla Semi trucks. It could be one of the first fleets in the country to get long-haul zero-emission vehicles, and it has a plan to convert its entire long-haul dedicated fleet to ZEVs by 2025. At the same time, it’s already adopting renewable natural gas to power its natural gas trucks in its short-haul fleet.

Overall, Anheuser-Busch has a goal to slash carbon emissions by a quarter across its entire supply chain by 2025. Just a short five years away.

An Antelope Valley Transit Authority bus on the road.

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Antelope Valley Transit Authority

This summer, the Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) — a transit organization that serves the Southern California cities of Lancaster and Palmdale — hit a milestone: 3 million miles of zero-emission bus operation. The group’s fleet consists of 93 buses, 61 of which are zero-emission buses, and the majority of those are BYD-made electric models.

The transit authority was one of the first in the U.S. to make a major commitment to electric buses four years ago, partly thanks to its close proximity to the American headquarters of BYD in Lancaster. A former BYD exec even joined AVTA as its CEO and has helped lead the e-bus transition.

AVTA says in addition to slashed carbon emissions and local air pollution, it’s been able to save 769,231 gallons of diesel fuel, the equivalent of more than $1 million in fuel cost savings.

Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport

If you’ve ever flown through Denver’s International Airport, you know the city prides itself on its innovative design and customer-friendly amenities. But it’s also been aggressively adopting zero- and low-emission vehicles.

Our friends at 100 Best Fleetsnamed Denver International Airport the second greenest fleet in America. It’s got close to 300 alternative-fueled vehicles, including electric, hybrid and natural gas buses, sweepers and light-duty vehicles. The airport also incentivizes hybrid taxis and vans by reducing their access fees to the airport.

Airport shuttle buses are a key area where electric vehicles will be able to make a dent, given their dedicated and short routes. States such as California are mandating that its 13 largest airports move their shuttle buses to zero-emission operations by 2035.

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Katherine Welles / Shutterstock.com

Facebook

Facebook might not be thought of as a fleet leader, but two years ago Facebook acquired 43 BYD-made electric on-campus shuttles that can carry employees across its sprawling complex. At the time, the social media giant leveraged a unique financing deal led by Generate Capital to lease the vehicles, lowering the upfront costs.

Facebook says it’s investigating how it can electrify its commuter shuttle buses. Facebook started testing out a double-decker electric commuter shuttle bus last year and had planned to test more out this year. However, the pandemic and remote work has thrown a wrench into many companies’ commuter ZEV bus plans.

FedEx Earthsmart
An Earthsmart FedEx zero-emission all-electrical truck in Lower Manhattan on July 17, 2014.

FedEx

Delivery trucks are a key type of vehicle ready for electrification. Bloomberg New Energy Finance earlier this year declared delivery trucks to be the “next segment to cross the tipping point” and an electric “killer app.”

FedEx, which has more than 100,000 vehicles in its Express division across the world, has been working on its zero-emission and low-carbon vehicle program for a couple of years. Two years ago, FedEx announced a partnership with startup Chanje to add 1,000 Chanje electric delivery vehicles to its fleet: 100 bought outright and 900 leased through Ryder. Chanje is also supplying FedEx with EV charging infrastructure

FedEx recently told the New York Times that it added close to 400 electric vehicles in its fleet internationally last year, which brought its total EVs to close to 3,000, including forklifts and airport ground service equipment.

One of Genentech’s electric buses, made by BYD.

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Genentech

Genentech

Biotech giant Genentech is a surprising fleet leader: It’s got the most aggressive electric commuter bus programs around, in addition to its other EV fleet goals.

Two years ago, the company started running electric BYD-made commuter buses to move its employees across the sprawling San Francisco Bay Area — from as far north as Vacaville to as far south as San Jose — to its headquarters in South San Francisco. While many companies are hesitant to rely on EVs for such long routes, Genentech took the plunge. And the company says it is happy with the results. Today, Genentech is in the process of converting close to half of its 60 buses on batteries.

In addition to its electric commuter buses, Genentech has committed to converting its entire light-duty sales fleet of 1,200 cars to electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030.

IKEA is using an electric truck fleet in Shanghai to deliver its products to customers.

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IKEA

Ingka Group (IKEA)

Inkga Group, aka IKEA, has its own unique take on a ZEV fleet. The company doesn’t own its own vehicles, but its products are delivered via 10,000 vehicles globally, owned by delivery companies such as DHL and UPS.

As a result, IKEA is using its large footprint to partner, push and pull its partners into ZEVs. IKEA says by 2025 all last-mile delivery of its goods will be done in electric vehicles. And by the end of this year (yes, 2020), IKEA says it will electrify its last-mile delivery in Shanghai, Paris, Los Angeles, New York and Amsterdam.

It’s already happened in Shanghai and other cities are well underway. Los Angeles is proving a little more challenging, IKEA Chief Sustainability Officer Pia Heidenmark Cook said recently during a session at Climate Week. But if companies don’t push themselves, they won’t make progress.

LeasePlan

LeasePlan

Netherlands-based LeasePlan is a large fleet management company that mostly operates in Europe but also has a solid presence in the U.S. We’re including the company because it was a founding member of the Climate Group’s EV100 Program and because of its first-of-its-kind ZEV fleet commitment.

The company has pledged to zero out its emissions for all of its customers’ fleets — at a whopping 1.8 million vehicles — by 2030. What’s more, it also plans to electrify its own employee fleet by 2021. These kinds of commitments are still unheard of broadly in the U.S.

Europe is moving at a much faster trajectory toward electric vehicles than the U.S., despite the U.S.’s being the birthplace to EV leader Tesla. Many European countries and cities are committing to provide incentives for electric vehicles and banning fossil-fuel ones from city centers.

Lime’s 3.0 scooter.

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Lime

Lime

Lime is our wildcard on the top fleets list. The electric scooter company operates a fleet of well over 100,000 electric scooters, as well as owned and leased trucks and vans that the company uses to move around its scooters.

Earlier this year, Lime pledged — as part of the EV100 — to transition its entire fleet of vehicles to electric by 2030. It’s already powering its scooters and operations with clean energy as well as buying carbon offsets to neutralize emissions. Recently Lime also announced a partnership with the World Wildlife Foundation, which include programs around education, advocacy and carbon innovation.

Next up for Lime? The scooter company is looking at new warehouse space where it can optimize charging infrastructure for an electric fleet. It’s also partnered with Ceres to help advocate for policies that will support a transition to electric fleets.

Electrify America and Lyft partnered to bring chargers to Lyft EV drivers in Denver.

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Electrify America

Lyft

Electrifying ride-hailing will be tricky, given most ride-hailing drivers own their own vehicles. But this summer, ride-hailing giant Lyft announced it plans to transition to 100 percent electric vehicles — both for the vehicles it owns and driver-owned vehicles — by 2030.

It’ll take a big lift, a lot of outside-the-box thinking and major policy support to get there. But the time is now, and Uber set a similar goal after Lyft.

Some policies are moving the ride-hailing giants in that direction. Cities, many of them in Europe, are setting incentives and mandates to ban fossil-fuel vehicles and transition to zero-emission vehicles in city centers. States such as California are setting specific rules for the ride-hailing companies to track and reduce their emissions.

City of Oakland, California

City of Oakland

The city of Oakland in California has a long history of setting climate and sustainability goals, and in 2003 adopted a green fleet policy. As a result of a holistic and innovative approach, the city — which uses 1,500 types of vehicles — no longer uses diesel-powered vehicles and is using a combination of low-carbon fuels, compressed natural gas and electric vehicles.

Its circular renewable diesel fueling system is unique in the country. It takes waste grease and oils from local businesses and its partner Neste converts them to renewable diesel, which then powers many of Oakland’s trucks. Richard Battersby, assistant director at Oakland Public Works, is a leader in the green fleet space for his work on Oakland’s fleet.

This summer, Oakland adopted an equitable climate plan with ambitious targets for 2030, calling for a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gases relative to 2005 levels. The end goal is carbon neutrality.

PG&E electric bucket truck

PG&E

Northern California’s Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has spent the last few years building out an electric fleet of 1,360 electric vehicles to add to the thousands of other vehicles in its low-carbon fleet that use sources such as natural gas and biodiesel. The company uses vehicles such as pickup trucks, bucket trucks and light-duty vehicles for various operations.

PG&E’s goal is to electrify 100 percent of its light-duty vehicles, 10 percent of its medium-duty vehicles and 5 percent of its heavy-duty vehicles. There are particular challenges with battery range when it comes to electrifying heavy-duty emergency response vehicles and other work vehicles that don’t have unpredictable and lengthy routes.

In addition to transforming its own fleet, PG&E is supporting the uptake of EVs for its 23,000 employees and has installed more than 1,230 charging stations at its facilities. It makes sense for utilities to be early adopters of fleet electrification, given they are helping their customers make a similar transition and need to learn their customers’ experience.

PepsiCo

Global beverage behemoth PepsiCo has an overarching goal to reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2030. It’s got a lot of work to do across packaging, water, the sources for its products and — its fleet. The company runs vehicles such as long-haul trucks, yard trucks and forklifts to move its various products — from soft drinks to snacks to bottled water — across the globe.

PepsiCo is building out a pilot facility with various low-carbon and electric vehicles at its Frito Lay campus in Modesto, California. The site, leveraging state incentives, will use 15 electric Tesla Semi Trucks, six electric Peterbilt e220 straight trucks, three BYD electric yard trucks, 12 BYD electric forklifts and 38 Volvo natural gas trucks fueled by renewable natural gas. The facility also will deploy charging and fueling infrastructure as well as solar and onsite battery storage.

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Portland General Electric

In September, Portland-based utility Portland General Electric announced that it plans to electrify large portions of its 1,167 vehicles. It already has 91 EVs in use, but the new commitment will deploy 600 electric vehicles and retire 600 fossil fuel-burning vehicles over the next 10 years.

The goal is for its fleet to be 61 percent electric within a decade. Like with Pacific Gas & Electric, the really heavy-duty trucks — bucket trucks and dump trucks — will be the hardest to electrify, and Portland General Electric plans to transition 30 percent of those.

Beyond fleet electrification, Portland General Electric has been a leader when it comes to trying to proactively find ways to enable the EVs on its network to be a net benefit. It’s been building out smart grid tech and testing out a virtual power plant. The company’s electric vehicles go hand-in-hand with its clean energy goals, and Portland General Electric expects to serve half of its customers with renewable-generated electricity by 2022.

An electric bus run by Port Authority NY & NJ

Port Authority New York and New Jersey

Port Authority New York and New Jersey has the largest electric bus fleet on the East Coast, including 36 buses and 19 chargers, at the region’s three biggest airports. The organization recently said it had reached its goal to have a 100 percent electric bus fleet by the end of this year (close to three months early).

Beyond the bus fleet, 130 of the organization’s light-duty vehicles, used by employees and police officers, are electric. By 2023, Port Authority says over 600 — or 50 percent of its light-duty fleet — will be electric.

Port Authority’s fleet goals are all part of its overarching plan to reach a 35 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

Two electric Fiat's charge up as Salt River Project's commercial EV customers

Salt River Project

Tempe, Arizona-based Salt River Project (SRP) provides electricity and power to 1 million residents in central Arizona. The company has spent the past six years investigating and piloting electric vehicle tech for its employees, its fleet and its customers.

Today, SRP uses close to 200 electric vehicles, both on-road and offroad, including light-duty vehicles, bucket trucks, forklifts and utility carts. The organization also has the largest workplace EV charging program in Arizona, with close to 200 employees driving plug-in vehicles to SRP’s facility. SRP says this program is expected to grow to 450 employees (or 7 percent of its workforce) over the next five years.

Down the road, SRP’s goals are to electrify 100 percent of its sedan fleet by the end of 2021 and reduce 30 percent of its fleet emissions by 2035. In addition, SRP expects 500,000 customers using EVs by 2035, and it will build plans and programs to help charge 90 percent of those customers’ EV loads.

A Valley Transit Authority bus picking up passengers

Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority

The Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority, which provides buses, light rail, paratransit and BART stations for greater Silicon Valley, has been an early transit group to codify sustainability goals, to implement clean energy technologies and, two years ago, to deploy electric buses.

In 2018, VTA put its first five electric buses, built by Proterra and using DC fast charging infrastructure made by Chargepoint, into service. The company has plans to procure 35 more electric buses over the next several years, on its way to meeting California’s mandate that says all transit buses must be zero-emission by 2040.

VTA closely tracks its energy use for its fleet. Its goals are to reduce its fleet’s energy consumption by 35 percent below 2009 levels by 2025 and 60 percent by 2040.

Schneider Electric workers

Schneider Electric

Earlier this year, energy company Schneider Electric announced that it’s joining the Climate Group’s EV100 program and will transition its entire 14,000 vehicle fleet to electric by 2030. The company is based in France but has operations across the globe.

The company sells EV charging equipment and software, among many other energy and grid products, so it makes sense for it to use this huge commitment to learn more about what its customers are experiencing. Schneider Electric is also installing EV charging equipment at its facilities for its employees.

City of Seattle

 

 

 

 

 

City of Seattle

Over the last decade, the greater Puget Sound region has been looking to reduce its carbon emissions from transportation, which accounts for 60 percent of its total emissions. Alongside that regional issue, the city of Seattle has an aggressive and multi-pronged green fleet strategy for its over 6,000 vehicles, across departments such as police, fire and utilities.

Seattle’s future fleet goals include cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2025 and using only fossil-fuel-free vehicles by 2030. The fleet team, led by Philip Saunders, is looking to rapidly electrify, build out EV charging infrastructure, aggressively reduce fuel use, swap in low-carbon fuels for certain types of vehicles and pilot technologies that are not yet cost-effective or widely available.

The company uses a wide range of technologies including renewable diesel, biodiesel, propane and EVs.

Twin Rivers school buses running on renewable diesel

Twin Rivers School District

Three years ago, Twin Rivers School District in California became one of the first school districts in the U.S. to deploy electric school buses. Today the organization operates 35 electric school buses, and over the next three years it plans to convert the bulk of its fleet, or 91 school buses, to electric.

In the interim, Twin Rivers has natural gas buses, some of which run on renewable natural gas, and is running all of its diesel buses on renewable diesel from Neste. Following the switch to renewable diesel, it’s entire fleet is fossil-fuel-free.

Twin Rivers Director of Transportation Tim Shannon told GreenBiz in an interview earlier this year that the organization is already using the electric buses to pilot the vehicle-to-grid technology with Sacramento Municipal Utility District. It’s not just about cool tech, though. Shannon explains: “Our green bus program is taking an area that is highly densely populated, we’re transporting a lot of kids, we’re a disadvantaged community and a high rate of air pollution. We’re lowering all that, and we’re making it an eco-friendly place to live.”

Look how happy everyone is in this Uber!

Uber

Following Lyft’s announcement, Uber revealed that it, too, plans to transition to an all zero-emission fleet. Uber says it will reach that goal by 2040. First, it will have 100 percent of its rides in the U.S., Canada and Europe, be electric by 2030.

Uber already has made progress in cities such as London, where it’s moving to an all-electric fleet. Uber says it will commit $800 million to help drivers on its platform move to EVs by 2025. The company also operates scooters and bikes, and its app encourages riders to use public transit.

The ride-hailing giants need to move to ZEV as cities and states pressure them with mandates. The California Air Resources Board recently found that the carbon emissions of Uber and Lyft’s vehicle fleet per passenger mile is over 50 percent higher than regular cars driving on the roads.

Unilever Rotterdam office

Unilever

The consumer product company, based in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, says it will commit its entire global fleet of 11,000 vehicles to electric by 2030 as part of the Climate Group’s EV100 program. Its interim goals are 25 percent EV or hybrid by 2020, and 50 percent by 2025.

Unilever has broader sustainability goals beyond its fleet, which include becoming “carbon positive” in its operations by 2030; 100 percent of its energy will come from renewables.

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The UPS Rolling Laboratory of about 9,300 alternative vehicles includes more than 1,000 electric and hybrid electric delivery trucks in cities worldwide. Source: UPS

UPS

For several years UPS has been operating its “rolling laboratory” approach to piloting and deploying low-carbon and electric vehicles. Of its fleet of 125,000 package vans, trucks, motorcycles and tractors, UPS has 10,300 alternative-fuels vehicles, and it’s done a substantial project in London with smart grid tech and EVs.

Earlier this year, UPS kicked its EV plans into overdrive. UPS announced it plans to buy 10,000 electric vehicles from partner Arrival, purpose-built for UPS. At the same time, UPS made an investment in the startup through its venture arm, UPS Ventures.

The strategy is similar to Amazon’s move with Rivian. The OEMs haven’t been producing the vehicles that these large fleets want and need, so the biggest companies are diving into the supply chain to help create their own.

Our client Amazon is copying the original ecoShuttle playbook of buying Sprinter vans, but instead of all-biodiesel, they are all-electric. ecoShuttle’s mission is to provide innovative and flexible transportation options that harness alternative fuels and cater to our customers’ unique needs. Our goal is to improve the quality of life, now and for future generations, by committing to sustainable practices in everything we do. Each customer will be treated uniquely but with equal respect, and will be given the best possible experience focused on safety, reliability, and unparalleled customer service. We are the originators of sustainable transportation. Check us out!

What happens when loggers and environmentalists work together?

Source: OPB

So, a logger and an environmentalist walk into a forest together…

It sounds like a joke, because, at least historically speaking, loggers and environmentalists didn’t go anywhere in Oregon together. If they crossed paths in the forest, it was because they were on opposite sides of a road blockade or logging protest.

But not in eastern Oregon’s Grant County. Here, loggers and environmentalists have been walking in the woods together for years.

“So did this pencil out?” environmental attorney Susan Jane Brown asked during a tour of different logging treatments in the Malheur National Forest in August 2019.

“Yeah, easy logging,” responded Zach Williams, a forester for the company that cut the trees, Iron Triangle. “I don’t hesitate to say this was the best sale we’ve had in years.”

Brown and Williams are part of the forest collaborative group Blue Mountains Forest Partners. They’ve been so successful at finding common ground that environmentalists haven’t filed a single anti-logging lawsuit on the Malheur National Forest since 2003.

Loggers, environmentalists and scientists try to find common ground in the Malheur National Forest with a forest collaborative group called the Blue Mountains Forest Partners.
Loggers, environmentalists and scientists try to find common ground in the Malheur National Forest with a forest collaborative group called the Blue Mountains Forest Partners.

Brandon Swanson

It might not seem like a big deal to see environmentalists and loggers working together in the woods. But in the Northwest, it is.

In the 1980s, environmentalists protested timber sales across the region, sparking what was called the Timber Wars. By the late ’90s, they had managed to severely limit logging in federal forests, which crushed timber-dependent areas like Grant County.

Related: The “Timber Wars” podcast tells the story of how an epic fight over the last of America’s old growth forests transformed the Pacific Northwest forever.

“I can’t even name the amount of kids I grew up with that: families lost jobs; the mill lost, you know, lost whole logging companies; businesses started to close down,” Williams said. “Slowly but surely, you start to wonder if you’re going to be a ghost town at some point.”

Williams’s family goes back five generations in the area. He watched his father close their sawmill, and he said locals blamed environmentalists for locking up the trees.

“At that point in our lives, ‘Susan Jane Brown’ were extremely dirty words to say around here.”

“I certainly was concerned about my safety at that time,” said Brown, who, as a lawyer at the Western Environmental Law Center, regularly appealed timber sales on the Malheur National Forest. “I had been run out of town before — had been tailgated by pickup trucks. I’ve had air let out of my tires.”

There were once dozens of sawmills in eastern Oregon. Now there are only a handful. The Prairie Wood Products Mill in Prairie City was one of the last to shut down, which it did in 2008 as a result of the housing market collapse and limited timber supplies.
There were once dozens of sawmills in eastern Oregon. Now there are only a handful. The Prairie Wood Products Mill in Prairie City was one of the last to shut down, which it did in 2008 as a result of the housing market collapse and limited timber supplies.

Brandon Swanson

So how did these two groups go from enemies to tromping through the woods together?

What it took was a few locals realizing in 2003 that they couldn’t beat Brown in the courtroom. So they invited her to Grant County to see if they could find some way to manage the forest that would meet both their goals. And Brown agreed, bringing along other environmentalists she worked with.

They started meeting informally every couple of months in the back room of a local restaurant. And about the only thing they could agree on was a name for the group, the Blue Mountains Forest Partners (and even that was contentious).

“I’ll begin by describing some of those early meetings,” said Mark Webb, who was the county judge during the early years of the collaborative, before losing reelection in part due to his participation with the group. “Industry and community members are on one side of it. Environmental community’s on the other. And we have a third party, a facilitator, that’s walking back and forth between us, because we couldn’t talk to one another. It was that bad — almost that poisonous.”

Webb, who is now the group’s executive director, said he considered it a multicultural conversation, because it was like the two sides spoke a different language. When they said something like “healthy forest,” they meant two completely different things.

So to find common language and common ground, they made a fateful decision: they committed to follow the science. They invited ecologists, biologists, silviculturists and other scientists to tour the forests with them and talk about what exactly makes a forest healthy. And where there wasn’t clear science, they commissioned their own.

Members of the Blue Mountains Forest Partners circle up to look at one of the test sites in the Canyon Creek Complex fire that was logged to determine the effects of salvage logging on woodpecker survival.
Members of the Blue Mountains Forest Partners circle up to look at one of the test sites in the Canyon Creek Complex fire that was logged to determine the effects of salvage logging on woodpecker survival.

Brandon Swanson

Such was the case for this tour on a hot August day. One of the most contentious issues for the collaborative over the years has been salvage logging, or the logging of trees that are dead or damaged from fire.

Loggers historically rush to harvest burned timber because, to them, leaving wood to decay is like watching money rot on trees — to say nothing of providing fuel for future wildfires.

But to environmentalists and scientists salvage logging is anathema, because these burned forests provide essential habitat for many animals, especially woodpeckers.

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So, when more than 110,000 acres burned in the 2013 Canyon Creek Complex Fire, much of it on the Malheur National Forest, instead of seeing it as another thing to fight about, the Blue Mountains Forest Partners saw it as an opportunity. They invited Forest Service biologist Vicki Saab to create a study that would determine whether there was a level of salvage logging that could provide an economic benefit to the local community without compromising woodpecker habitat.

Saab’s study involved logging different test sites at different levels, ranging from cutting no trees to cutting most of them, and then tracking how woodpeckers fared over four years.

Mallory Davies uses the "peeper cam" to check on the number of chicks in a woodpecker nest high up in a Ponderosa pine as part of a research project looking into the effects of logging on woodpecker survival.
Mallory Davies uses the “peeper cam” to check on the number of chicks in a woodpecker nest high up in a Ponderosa pine as part of a research project looking into the effects of logging on woodpecker survival.

Brandon Swanson

As they toured the test sites at the end of the study, Saab said that the preliminary results suggested that selective logging had minimal negative impact on Lewis’s and white-headed woodpeckers, but that it appeared to cause a slow decline in the nesting numbers of black-backed woodpeckers.

At the end of the tour, the group circled up around a charred, old-growth ponderosa pine that had housed one of the study’s woodpeckers.

“I definitely agree this was a success,” said Williams, whose company had logged in the study area. “Susan Jane detests salvage logging, and if I’m being honest, I look at this burn — 110,000 acres — and look at salvaging 5,000 of it and think: how is that really going to harm habitat? And I’m not going to say that I think any differently about that, but that’s the point of collaboration. And if this is the kind of process we have to go through, then it worked.”

“I agree,” Brown said. “And I don’t want this to be one off. And we can do salvage, and we can take logs to the mill, and people can earn a living wage, and we also don’t have to kill a bunch of birds in the process.”

Following the science gave them a shared language to talk about the forest. But it was also dangerous, because it meant both sides had to be willing to change their beliefs.

For environmentalists, that means not only accepting Saab’s research that some level of salvage logging might be compatible with woodpecker habitat, but that logging itself can be an important tool in forest restoration.

That’s because the scientists they’ve worked with argue that these dry, eastside forests, like many of the drier conifer forests in southern Oregon and throughout California, are now overgrown. The main cause is a century of putting out the low-intensity fires that historically burned through the forests on a regular basis, cleaning out the duff and small trees that now crowd the forest and make it ripe for much larger catastrophic fires. But the scientists suggest that the way to restore them to their historic state is going to involve both fire and logging, because logging gives more control over what trees are preserved and which are removed (for instance, keeping the old-growth ponderosa pine trees while removing the smaller, faster-growing fir trees that now crowd it out).

“The more time you spend out looking at this stuff and the more the science can inform what we’re seeing, the more willing many of us in the environmental community have been to having a conversation about, ‘OK, chainsaws, I think we’re going to need some chainsaws out here,’” Brown said. “And the other side of the equation, for the community, they’re getting more comfortable talking fire — prescribed and wildfire. Because you look at these forests, and they’re out of whack. And given climate change, it’s not going to get any better on its own.”

The Malheur Lumber Company in John Day almost closed for a lack of timber supply, until environmentalists and other members of the Blue Mountains Forest Partners stepped in to develop a 10-year stewardship contract that would ensure a sustained supply of timber from the surrounding forests.
The Malheur Lumber Company in John Day almost closed for a lack of timber supply, until environmentalists and other members of the Blue Mountains Forest Partners stepped in to develop a 10-year stewardship contract that would ensure a sustained supply of timber from the surrounding forests.

Brandon Swanson

Perhaps the greatest test of this partnership came in 2012, when Grant County’s last sawmill announced it was closing for a lack of timber.

“I was like, this is not OK,” said Brown, who learned the news as she was returning home from a backpacking trip. “If the mill closes, this community just dries up and blows away. It’s really the mainstay of what’s keeping this community alive.”

But it wasn’t just the community. Brown realized the mill was also keeping the collaborative alive because it bought the timber they cut out of the forest during their restoration work, which in turn funded the work.

So she started making phone calls. She got Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden’s office involved. She roped in other conservation groups like the Nature Conservancy and Sustainable Northwest. And she got the mill’s president, Bruce Daucsavage, and the county’s biggest logging operations on board.

The result was what’s called a 10-year stewardship contract. It guaranteed that the Forest Service would pay for a certain amount of restoration work for 10 years, ensuring a sustained level of logging.

“I think that’s when I really looked at Susan Jane,” Daucsavage said. “She was putting her neck out on the line from her side, because she was actually being presented as more of a moderate. And I’m sure she had plenty of feedback from people that were winning the battle.”

Brown did get pushback. She still gets it. But she hasn’t been the only one.

“A lot of my friends in the industry said, ‘you’ve gone to the dark side, this will never work,’” continued Daucsavage. “And my response was, ‘I don’t think it’s the dark side. It’s a little gray. But what are my alternatives?’ And I got to tell you, I’m learning something more about the forest than just harvesting trees.”

Whatever shade of gray the agreement lived in, the economic results were black and white. The logging company Iron Triangle won the contract and doubled its staff from around 50 to more than 100. The Forest Service office also staffed up by dozens of positions. All told, the contract supported more than 250 jobs a year.

“Susan Jane, she’s my hero,” said Daucsavage. “She helped save a lot of jobs.”

Related: Episode 7 of the “Timber Wars” podcast tells the full story of how the Blue Mountains Forest Partners stepped in to save the Malheur Lumber Company sawmill.

Iron Triangle LLC won the 10-year stewardship contract on the Malheur National Forest, which guarantees 10 years of forest restoration work like the thinning seen here, which  will also provide a sustained amount of timber to the local mill.
Iron Triangle LLC won the 10-year stewardship contract on the Malheur National Forest, which guarantees 10 years of forest restoration work like the thinning seen here, which will also provide a sustained amount of timber to the local mill.

Brandon Swanson

For Brown, after years of collaborating with folks in Grant County, saving the mill was about a lot more than just ensuring the future of the Blue Mountains Forest Partners.

“When the mill was going to close, I was just like, my friends are going to lose their jobs. And just like any friendship, you want your friends to be happy and healthy and successful,” she said. “And now that these folks are my friends, that’s what I want for them. And that’s what they want for me. I have no doubt about that.”

Of course, not everything’s perfect. The 10-year stewardship contract has fallen short on some of its goals, both environmentally and economically. The collaborative is again at loggerheads with the U.S. Forest Service over how the agency is implementing restoration work and the new forest plan for the Malheur National Forest. And there are critics on both sides who feel their side has compromised too much along the way. But the process itself — the collaboration — is the kind of success that social scientists and policy makers fly out to study. Because it can provide a road map not just for how to approach forest management elsewhere, but for how to approach other deeply divisive issues, like climate change.

“We’re not fighting the old wars anymore,” Brown said. “There are new battles. We need to deal with climate change. We need to deal with putting more fire on the ground. And we can’t do that in the way that we used to.”

A black-backed woodpecker chick pokes its head out, hoping for a meal from its parent in the Malheur National Forest.
A black-backed woodpecker chick pokes its head out, hoping for a meal from its parent in the Malheur National Forest.

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Safe and Responsible Travel during COVID-19 – A Useful Guide

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How COVID-19 affected travel

The coronavirus pandemic has hit us all hard. The way we work, the way we socialise, even the way we exercise – it all changed. When the UK Government announced we’d be going into lockdown on the 23rd March 2020, most plans, including travel, were put on hold.

 

Continue reading Safe and Responsible Travel during COVID-19 – A Useful Guide

Why sustainability professionals should embrace Black Lives Matter

Source: Charles Orgbon

Black Lives Matter

Long before corporations acknowledged Black Lives Matter, they championed the plights of specific endangered species. Corporate conservation campaigns used phrases such as “Save the [insert your favorite animal],” which have been catchy, effective and oddly similar to the language we’re now using to educate people about the status of Black life in America.

The Disney Conservation Fund protects lions, elephants, chimpanzees and thousands of other species. Ben & Jerry’s brings awareness to declining honeybee populations. Coca-Cola appropriately is the longtime ally of the poster child for climate change, the polar bear.

As a kid, I, too, was influenced by Coca-Cola’s messaging. At just 11, I thought I could stop global warming, so I created a blog with articles urging people, “Save the polar bears.” No one challenged me by asking, “What about the tigers? The tigers…matter, too! All endangered species matter.”

The fact is, polar bears were (and still are) drowning due to global problems. If we addressed the root causes of those global problems such as reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, in fact, all endangered species would fare better.

The phrase “Black Lives Matter” works similarly to “Save the polar bear,” only that Black people are drowning in a sea of systemic racism instead of a rising sea of melting ice.

Want to know how well our society is tackling racial injustice? Look to Black people. If we’re doing good, we’re all doing good.

When someone says something such as “Save the polar bears,” they are also indirectly revealing other information about themselves. Perhaps they eat organic, use public transportation, recycle or take military-style showers.

Likewise, when we say “Black Lives Matter” we are actually making a declaration about our belief that injustice somewhere is a threat to justice everywhere. All lives truly matter when those that are the most marginalized matter.

Want to know how well our society is tackling climate change? Look to polar bears. If they’re doing good, we’re doing good.

Want to know how well our society is tackling racial injustice? Look to Black people. If we’re doing good, we’re all doing good.

I spend a lot of time thinking about how white people are just awakening to the systemic racism that continues to thrive in every aspect of American life and how this systemic racism continues to affect me daily. If so many people have gone so long without acknowledging the reality that people of color experience every day, it’s not surprising that these issues have gone on for so long.

Watershed moment

Sometimes a watershed moment is needed to bring attention to a crisis. After all, no one cared about polar bears until Mt. Pinatubo’s 1991 volcanic eruption, which greatly influenced our scientific understanding of anthropogenic global warming and its impacts on arctic life. The catastrophic event was one of the most significant watershed moments for climate activism.

Now, the Black Lives Matter movement is amid a watershed moment. White people are awakening from their own hibernation and acknowledging that, yes, as the statistics suggest, racism still exists.

For example, Black people and white people breathe different air. Black people are exposed to about 1.5 times more particulate matter than white people. Give more than just a cursory glance to Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” and you’ll discover its truisms: “Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east.” Researchers have found that toxic chemical exposure is linked to race: minority populations have higher levels of benzene and other dangerous aromatic chemical exposure. Lead poisoning also disproportionately affects people of color in the U.S., especially Black people.

A careful examination of our nation’s statistics reveals myriad racial disparities. The polarity of experiences is startling. This influenced many well-intentioned white people to examine numerous situations and ask, “Is racial bias truly at play here?”

I challenge that that’s not the question we must ask when we live in a world with such disparate statistics for communities of color. It’s much more powerful to ask, “How is racial bias at play here?”

Those who fail to confront how racial bias is often at play attempt to live in a colorblind world that does not exist.

When tipping service workers, when selecting your next dentist, when making employment decisions, when raising children, seriously consider that the world is not colorblind. And to create a more equitable world, we have to fight more aggressively to counteract the evil that already exists.

This is what it means to be anti-racist, or as the National Museum of African American History and Culture counsels, “Make frequent, consistent and equitable choices to be conscious about race and racism and take actions to end racial inequities in our daily lives.”

So, what can allies do?

Step 1: Take out a sticky note.

Step 2: Write out the words ANTI-RACIST.

Step 3: Put it on your laptop monitor and do the work. It’s a daily practice to filter your thoughts, communication and decisions through an anti-racist lens.

5 Tips for Travelling With Pets

By: Veronica Lewis

A family vacation is generally not a very happy time for a pet. And that’s not because they understand what’s happening and realize they’re being left out of all the fun, but just because they’ll be left behind for a while.

 

They’ll be left in some kind of pet-boarding location, which can be great for them but it’s not always an optimal environment for a pet, especially if it’s their first time, or with a pet-sitter which is probably a more desirable option but it still means they’ll be away from their family.

 

This can also make for a stressful time for the family itself. For one thing, most people don’t want to be separated from their pet but there’s also the likelihood that they’ll spend a lot of the vacation worrying about how their friend is doing instead of enjoying themselves.

 

And even leaving families out of the discussion here for a moment, even people who just like to travel on a regular basis will usually have to leave their pet behind. Travelling and pets are two of life’s great joys, it shouldn’t be so difficult to enjoy both should it?

 

And yet, a lot of people don’t consider the possibility of taking their pet with them, even if it is a journey that they can undertake by car. The perceived complications and hassle of taking the pet along are probably a big deterrent.

 

There’s also the fact that a lot of people might be concerned that the journey could be stressful or unsafe for a pet. Stuffing them up in the car for a number of hours does seem a little cruel on the surface.

 

But truth be told, it doesn’t have to be a terribly uncomfortable experience for your pet, nor does it have to be a terribly complicated one for you. There are ways to simplify the process of taking a pet on vacation with you.

 

If you take certain measures and effectively prepare for the journey and how you’re going to set everything up, then taking your pet travelling with you, shouldn’t be anywhere near as worrying as people think it is.

 

Here’s a few tips for taking your pet on vacation with you:

 

  1.   Microchip Them

 

Getting your pet microchipped is something that you should probably do anyway, regardless of whether or not you plan on taking them on vacation with you, but if you are going to travel with your dog it’s especially important.

 

Microchipping is not as invasive of a process as people think it is and it comes with too many benefits for you not to at least consider it. For one thing it will last a lifetime, so you never have to worry about getting it redone, but it also dramatically reduces the chances of losing your pet.

 

And if you’re taking them to a different city or even a different country, losing them would be catastrophic. Especially since they’ll be in an unfamiliar environment which makes the chances of them wandering off even higher.

 

No matter how careful you are, the possibility of your pet getting lost is always going to be there, and if you’ve got them microchipped then you will more than likely have them back before too long.

 

So make sure you take this step, it’s the most responsible choice if you plan on taking your pet travelling with you.

 

  1.   Have the Right Documentation

 

Just like you need a passport or a visa or whatever else is required to get into a different country or sometimes you even need certain documents when travelling within your own country, and it’s often the same for pets.

 

You will probably need a health certificate which confirms your pet isn’t running the risk of carrying any dangerous diseases into another place. So this will mean a trip to the vet before the journey.

 

And then if you’re travelling by air there’s definitely going to be some forms to fill out. Most of the time there will be some stuff that’s specific to the airline so contact whoever you’re flying with beforehand and they’ll refer you to the paperwork.

 

  1.   Prepare a Travelling Kit

 

There are certain essential things to bring along that your pet is going to need for the journey and once you get to the destination. You wouldn’t go on any kind of trip without bringing things you need and the same logic applies to a pet.

 

So think of all the stuff that a pet requires when you’re at home because it’s not quite as easy for them to acclimate to a slightly altered lifestyle in such a short space of time. The goal is to replicate their homelife as much as possible.

 

Your travelling kit for your pet should have food and water bowls, a scooper, some treats, your grooming supplies and then any medication that your pet needs and also bring a pet specific first-aid kit.

 

If they’re going to be in a travel crate, then make sure that it’s a spacious and comfortable one. Also, bring along a toy or two to keep your pet occupied during the journey and when you’re doing activities that they can’t join in on. 

 

I’d also suggest that, if you have space, you should bring a vacuum that is effective in getting rid of pet hair so that you don’t leave a mess in the place that you’re staying. This is just a courtesy you should try to offer.

 

  1.   Be Careful With Their Travelling Meals

 

Not a nice thing to have to think about here, but the last thing that you want to have to deal with when going on a long car journey is dog or cat vomit. Sorry for putting that image in your head but it’s a thing to think about.

 

Dogs are not as used to travelling in moving vehicles as we are and it can upset their stomachs. Of course, this does happen to humans too, but we can communicate the fact that we feel unwell and need to get out and throw up, an animal can’t do that.

 

To avoid this, feed your dog about three hours before the journey starts. You can take some long breaks of course and feed them again if it’s a particularly long journey, but don’t feed them in a moving vehicle. It’s a recipe for disaster.

 

  1.   Be Mindful of Accomodation

 

A lot of hotels will be open to guests bringing along dogs and cats, but ideally you should probably choose Airbnb or look for a house or apartment that you can rent. It’s better to have some private space.

 

That way you can be a little bit more comfortable about leaving the dog behind if you want to go out for a meal or something. But also, make sure that the pet policy actually allows for whatever breed you have.

 

And be sure to communicate with the host beforehand and have a discussion about what you’ll be bringing along with you. Even if they allow for pets, you want to make sure that the space is big enough and that there’s nothing that isn’t pet-friendly about the environment.

 

It would be advisable to research local vets in case of emergency as well as what stores are nearby in case you need something for your pet. 

 

There are a lot of things to think about when taking a pet travelling with you, but it’s definitely worth it if it means you can spare yourself the stress and anxiety involved with leaving a pet behind. And it will probably be an enjoyable experience for your dog too.

Summer travel trends and safety during COVID

By: Bankrate Staff

After several weeks hunkered down at home, a quick grocery store run is slightly exciting nowadays. As states phase in relaxed COVID-19 restrictions and the country slowly reopens, it’s hard to ignore the urge to get away – somewhere beyond the confines of your neighborhood.

From national parks and theme parks to hotels, restaurants and casinos –  the hospitality industry is taking serious steps to mitigate risk to their employees and guests. Disney World just announced their reopening July 11 with a litany of restrictions, like limiting the number of visitors, timed entry reservations, mandatory face masks, contactless payments, and temperature testing both guests and employees.

Even with restrictions and safety measures in place, you may wonder if traveling is worth the risk. While health officials from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the US Department of State’s Global Health Advisory advise against travel altogether, states that are opened for business, just in time for summer, are hoping people will choose to take advantage of deep discounts and cheap gas.

The latest statistics from GasBuddy suggest that some 31 percent of Americans are planning at least one road trip this summer. With gas below two dollars a gallon, it’s certainly tempting to take at least a day trip in the comfort and safety of your vehicle. And while there’s risk traveling during a pandemic, the rewards are enough to make many Americans venture out. So, if you plan on traveling this summer, here’s what to expect.

The travel and hospitality industry is going above and beyond to ensure your safety

“The whole industry is pivoting to a different way of operating,” says Dr. Donna Quadri-Felitti,  Marvin Ashner Director and Associate Professor at The Pennsylvania State University School of Hospitality Management. “The hotel and restaurant industry is adapting their real estate for the needs of this crisis, to keep people safe.”

In early May, the American Hotel Lodging Association (AHLA) issued enhanced cleaning and safety guidelines. The “Stay Safe” initiative is focused on enhanced hotel cleaning practices and will seek to change hotel industry norms, behaviors and standards to ensure both hotel guests and employees are confident in the cleanliness of hotels as travel resumes.

Dr. Quadri-Felitti says technology has played a huge role in helping the industry continue to operate under a ‘new normal.’ Contactless check-in/check-out, keyless room entry, touchless elevators, virtual TV remotes and social distancing apps are being deployed by hotels across the world to keep visitors safe and comfortable.

Bigger hotel brands are rolling out their own heightened safety protocols. Starting in June, Hilton Worldwide will launch its “CleanStay” program – implementing contactless technologies in addition to rigorous cleaning practices advised by medical experts from the Mayo Clinic COVID-19 Response Team. Marriott International’s “Cleanliness Council” is testing ultraviolet light technology to sanitize guest keys and adding electrostatic sprayers to sanitize surfaces throughout the hotel.

“Cleanliness and security has always been part of the hospitality industry. We are well-versed at  being highly regulated, very well-trained and monitored –  COVID-19 is just taking it to the next level. It’s business imperative that we don’t just meet CDC standards, but exceed them,” says Quadri-Felitti.

Rental properties

Like traditional hotels, person-to-person home rental companies like AirBnB and Vrbo have updated their guidelines around cleaning. AirBnB updated their cleaning requirements for hosts to include new procedures such as wearing a mask and gloves when cleaning, wiping services with disinfectants made of bleach or 70% isopropyl alcohol in addition to traditional soaps, washing all linens in hot water, emptying vacuum after each use and more.

Vrbo also adapted their cleaning practices to the new reality of COVID-19. Their guidelines include focusing on high traffic areas of the rental when cleaning, and letting the property remain empty for at least 24-hours after a renter leaves.

Air travel takes a back seat to road trips 

Whether you’re planning an in-state day trip or a week-long getaway to a mountain rental, road travel provides flexibility and offers a safer, more isolated environment that airlines can’t compete with. And how you get there is just as important as your destination. Road warriors are looking for more inclusive travel and are turning to recreational vehicles and the great outdoors to distance themselves from others and commune with nature.

Self-contained travel 

If spending the night in a hotel or property rental is not your preference – recreational vehicles that offer self-contained travel are increasingly popular. RVshare, a rental marketplace similar to Airbnb, just announced they hit record numbers with a 650% rise in RV rental bookings since early April 2020.

Self-contained RVs provide transportation, accommodation, and a place to cook all in one – allowing travelers to better control their social distance. RV parks and private campground owners are preparing safety processes similar to hotels with specific plans for cleaning, disinfecting and maintaining distancing.

Wellness and wide-open spaces 

Naturally in a pandemic, people look for destinations that offer plenty of room to roam and less interaction with others. With many national parks set to reopen, parks staff, small business staff and owners are preparing for the surge of visitors itching to get outdoors.

Kara Maceross, program manager and guide for Lasting Adventures, a travel service that offers everything from day hikes, backpacking trips and summer camps in Yosemite National Park, started working last week and says business is already picking up. “We’re seeing way more bookings than we thought we would. People want to get out, and parents want their kids to enjoy the summer after months of being cooped up.”

Yosemite hasn’t officially opened (at the time of publication), but when it does, there will be fewer visitors and more restrictions. Visitor capacity will be reduced by about 50 percent to promote social distancing, and day visitors will be required to register for a pass to reserve entrance ahead of time through recreation.gov. Yosemite is one of the country’s most visited national parks, hosting more than 4.5 million travelers in 2019.

Maceross says that besides limiting travel groups to 10 members, they’re also temperature screening employees and camp visitors while implementing strict cleaning procedures for equipment coming back from excursions.

“Sanitizing gear, washing hands more frequently, wearing masks when welcoming guests, and coming up with team-building activities that require no contact is all part of the new norm.”

Advanced planning is required

However you travel, it’s imperative to plan ahead. That means getting more information directly from the hotel or rental property and double-checking your destination’s rules before hitting the road. State, county and even town safety restrictions can change in an instant if COVID hot spots flare up, so frequent checks until the day you leave will help you make an informed decision on whether travel is safe or not.

Be prepared for check-ins and quarantines

If you’re traveling from hot spots like New York, New Jersey, New Orleans and Connecticut, you may be required to quarantine for 14 days. Some states are installing checkpoints and requiring identification and address where visitors will be in quarantine.  Health care officials may also pay a visit at the address given for a health check. It’s a good idea to avoid states with quarantine restrictions if you want to explore the sights and sounds. The CDC has a website where you can check the current rules by state.

Cancellation policies 

Fortunately, cancellation policies are currently more generous than before. However, refunds and credits are up to the hotel, tour operator or travel business. Hotels typically allow cancellations up to 24 hours in advance, but rentals aren’t as lenient. Before booking travel, understand the cancellation policies in relation to state and local laws. Incentives to re-book rather than cancel are being offered by travel companies, airlines and cruise lines.

How your credit card can help you save on your road trip

As you make your travel plans, consider how you can strategically use your credit card to maximize your budget on the road. Credit cards that offer rewards on gas purchases can put cash back in your pocket on purchases you were already planning to make.

 

Eco-Friendly Beauty: Zero Waste Beauty Routine When Traveling

By: Helen Bradford

Are you one of those people who can’t wait to pack their bags and head off someplace new? People who love to travel (sail, fly, camp, backpack, and have road trips) know the importance of proper packing.

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It seems like experienced travelers can fit their entire house into a small backpack, and even when they only carry a small suitcase, they have everything they could possibly need at hand, beauty products included. If you’re striving towards zero waste beauty routine and re worried about how to achieve it while traveling, here’s how you can do it:

Soap and shampoo bars

Shampoo bottles are notorious for randomly exploding and leaking content everywhere in people’s suitcases, especially on long flights. This is why you’re advised to place a plastic bag under the cap or pack your shampoo bottle in a Ziploc bag in case it leaks. Well, with eco-friendly soap and shampoo bars, that can’t happen. Not only are these easier to pack in your bag, but they will also never ever leak (because they’re not liquid), and there aren’t plastic bottles and containers that will pollute the oceans.

There are even shampoo and conditioner bars combined that you can use and save loads of space in your bathroom and your luggage.

Switch to reusable cotton pads

We use cotton pads for removing our makeup and nail polish and for applying and distributing cleansing products on our faces. We use them so often and so much that we rarely stop and think how much wasted cotton that is. Makeup-removing wet wipes are handy, but they contain traces of plastic and take forever to degrade, thus polluting the Earth even further. These are just some of the reasons why you should think about using reusable cotton pads and washcloths instead. These can be used over and over, and once you wash them on high temperatures, they’ll be as good as new. You can keep your reusable cotton pads in a traveling bag, and have another one for used ones, and you won’t have to buy new packs every time you travel somewhere.

Always use natural makeup

Finding makeup brands and products that you like and that are great for your skin takes time, but you should really try to find and buy natural makeup that works for you. You might not always be able to find travel-sized lipstick and eye shadow, but you should at least know that the products you are using are natural and good for your skin and the environment. Also, you don’t always have to carry your big bottle of foundation when you travel: you can pour a bit into a smaller container and pack it in your bag, and wash the container when you get home so that you can use it again next time you go somewhere.

Go plastic-free

We already mentioned soap, shampoo, and conditioner bars and how great these are for reducing the amount of plastic that you buy, but there are more ways you can do this. There are amazing bamboo toothbrushes on the market that you can use instead of regular plastic ones, and seeing as it’s advised that you change your toothbrush every few months, this is a serious change. There is also plastic-free floss that you can switch to instead of a regular one (you won’t even notice the difference). In the end, we would like to mention that menstrual cups are a better choice for your budget, your body, and the environment too, so you might want to think about using them in the future as well.

Use coconut oil

Coconut oil is a God-given beauty ingredient everyone can use and benefit from. It’s great for moisturizing your skin, combining with granulated sugar to create a nice exfoliating paste, using on your hair, and also for removing your makeup. Coconut oil can be found cheap if you decide to buy a bigger jar, and you can always put some of it in a smaller jar or a container and take it with you when you go on a trip. Because there are so many different brands of coconut oil out there, try to find one that’s certified as organic and raw. Some brands even stick to coconuts that are grown on small farms and plant palm trees as a way to “pay Nature back.”

The zero-waste movement has made a great impact not only on the environment but also on the way we look at the world. So many of us have changed our routines and adopted some healthy habits and routines that have made both the world and our lives much better. If you don’t want to change your beauty routine while traveling, try to find ways to adapt it so that you can stick with it no matter where you are and the way you are getting there. Your skin will be grateful and you will make a huge difference.

 

 

How we can fight the pandemic by embracing circularity

Source: Green Biz
Rows of N95 respiratory mask, used as personal protective equipment.
Rows of N95 respiratory mask, used as personal protective equipment.

Shutterstock
Faizzamal

Throughout the pandemic response, a key issue has been a lack of communication and coordination to get personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies to where they are most needed, with many areas of the country suffering from severe resource shortages as a result. The only truly successful solution has been, and will continue to be, to strategically adopt two core elements of a circular economy model: reuse and resource sharing.

The key goals of the circular economy are “designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.” Unlike in our current linear economic model, which generally discards materials once used, the circular economy enables more value to be extracted from an item by eschewing the “take-make-waste” pattern. In a situation where supply is limited, the circular model gets far more use out of the same supply.

Illustration of circular economy showing product, material flow and garbage on white background with arrows and circle.

While the need for a circular economy has been growing for decades, especially as the impacts of climate change have begun to loom larger, this pandemic has caused that need to increase dramatically. Taking on the circularity principles of reuse and resource sharing — and equally important, having a more coordinated approach around those efforts — is critical for directing supplies to the places where there is the greatest need in a timely and equitable fashion.

My company, Rheaply, has pivoted our resource-sharing technology to aid in this approach. In partnership with the city of Chicago, we built Chicago PPE Market, a platform that provides small businesses and nonprofits access to a network of local manufacturers and suppliers of PPE at cost-controlled rates, helping them protect their staff and prevent further spread of the virus. Within the first week of the platform going live, we onboarded 1,555 small businesses, with over 165,000 listings and 2,100 transactions for items such as face coverings, protective shields and various sanitizers.

Yet we are just one company contributing to the efforts to fight the pandemic. To truly fight the virus, we must all adopt a circularity approach, sharing physical resources and human capital. Even beyond the pandemic, this approach will allow us to more efficiently and cooperatively operate as a global community. The first step is to change the way we think about the resources we have.

To do so, we must do the following:

Establish a community-oriented mindset. With healthcare professionals advising “social distancing,” we are all keeping physically distant from others, even as states begin to reopen. Mentally, however, distancing is a way of making people think more about others. You distance yourself to protect everyone, not just yourself.

We have to think about fighting this virus as a team effort, not as something that just healthcare professionals can do.

We also have to think about that “team” more broadly. To combat the virus effectively, the team has to be made up of your family, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors, your city, your state, your country — the global community. For most people, the most effective way to help the team is to practice social distancing in order to prevent the spread of disease. But for those with the power to do so, it is imperative to think about the broader team and allow for human capital and medical supplies to be allocated to places where the need is greatest now, while also planning for sufficient healthcare workers and PPE to fight the virus when it spikes in new areas.

Think about the resources you have that might help others. There may be other ways to help that may surprise you.

Check your cabinets. Consider what resources you might have in your home or business. If you’re a dentist whose practice has been forced to temporarily close or whose practice has a surplus of supplies that could benefit healthcare providers, consider donating or selling those items to institutions in need. If you’re a graduate student working in a lab, think about the gloves, gowns and masks you’re not currently using and donate them. If you’re not in charge of the supplies at your organization, make the case to your superiors for donating supplies.

Think about your skills. Not all resources are tangible. If you’re someone who is healthy, consider how your skills could be used as resources to benefit others. One example would be people who have put their sewing skills to work to make masks. Another would be individuals who use 3D printers to make PPE.

Pivot your business. If you’re a manufacturer or other business owner, think about how your business could alter its offering to make a difference. If you have the resources and access to certain supply chains, you may be able to shift to manufacturing PPE. Businesses ranging from hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer to fashion brands have begun creating masks. You might be surprised to see how your business’s strengths could be directed toward fighting the virus.

If we spread this way of thinking, both about supplies and human capital, then we can create a system where we all can rely on each other.

Think about using, not owning, resources. Question the way you think about items. Plenty of items don’t need to be owned, but instead just used for a period of time (properly decontaminated N95 masks or face shields) — you may have items that could be reused by those currently in greater need. Ask yourself, “What is the true value of idle resources that I’ve put aside?” If you’re not using an item, then it is of little value to you, whereas it may be of great value to someone else.

For items that should not be reused (gloves), think about how much of these items you actually need. Ask yourself, “Do I need this many gloves right now?” In many cases, your need is probably less dire than the need of overwhelmed healthcare providers.

At the same time, we also should be thoughtful about how we treat and value the skills of our healthcare workers. Those who oversee healthcare providers can’t think of healthcare providers as belonging exclusively to certain institutions; instead, they have to think about them as having transferable skills that could provide a huge benefit to institutions and communities around the country and the world.

If we spread this way of thinking, both about supplies and human capital, then we can create a system where we all can rely on each other. If you lend a hand now, then others will be more willing to help you when you are in need.

These times are tough, and it’s easy to start feeling helpless. But practicing and advocating for the principles of a circular economy are crucial ways to help. You have the power to make a difference. Let’s get started.