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.


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.


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.

Timberline Lodge’s Hand-Forged Legacy

Source: OPB: Ian McCluskey

Darryl Nelson carries on tradition as Timberline Lodge’s third-generation blacksmith. You can’t tell the story of Darryl Nelson without Timberline Lodge; and you can’t tell the story of Timberline Lodge without Darryl Nelson.

Of the two, Timberline Lodge is far better known. Set just above the hem of evergreens at 6,000 feet on Mount Hood’s south slope, Timberline Lodge is Oregon’s most iconic historic lodge, beloved by generations of visitors. It proudly claims its place as one of the great lodges of the American West. It is considered a defining masterpiece of its architectural style, known as Cascadian. And it even had its brush with Hollywood in its cameo appearance as the “Overlook Hotel” in the 1980 horror classic “The Shining.”

Nelson, on the other hand, is so little-known in the public eye that he is essentially anonymous. You might catch a glimpse of him shuffling through the lodge as he totes his heavy toolbox. You may see him wrenching down a bolt with his fingers, thick and calloused from a lifetime of manual work. Dressed in a floppy fedora and frayed chore coat over his plaid wool shirt, he looks like he stepped into the present from the past, as if he had been one of the original blacksmiths of the lodge during the Great Depression. In many ways, he’s exactly that.

 Hope in hard times

Timberline’s story starts in the hard times of the Great Depression. With millions unemployed and growing desperate, President Franklin Roosevelt initiated his New Deal, launching federal programs to create new jobs.

These new jobs would give people immediate paychecks to help feed their families, but just as importantly, the specific projects they took on were inspiringly large in scale and with the purpose of public benefit. They gave those who had been hopeless new hope, a place to apply their efforts, and pride in their work. In doing so, they would create, not just to get America through the hard times of that moment in history, but to make things of enduring value for generations to come.

The Works Project Administration, or WPA, hired artisans whose highly skilled trades could be put to work on public building projects — people such as stone masons, carpenters, and blacksmiths.

The Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, gathered the young generation to build trails, campgrounds and cabins in vast, undeveloped national forests and parks. These young workers had energy and brawn, but needed training. The older craftsmen of the WPA had experience and could mentor the CCC crews.

As the spring snow slowly began to melt in 1936, a combined force of WPA and CCC headed to the south flank of Mount Hood to break ground for a grand lodge.

All hands set to work as they raced to frame the lodge before the arrival of winter snows. Barely more than a year later, President Roosevelt himself was standing on the stone terrace, dedicating the lodge. In his speech, he predicted: “Here, to Mount Hood, will come thousands and thousands of visitors in the coming years.” He was right.

Timberline Lodge created jobs and hope during the Great Depression of the 1930s. 

Timberline Lodge created jobs and hope during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

U.S. Forest Service

Forged from the mountain

The overall shape of the lodge was designed to match the form of the summit that rises behind it. At the center, a hexagonal cone, called the Head House, is a mirror of Mount Hood’s Crater Rock. From the Head House, two wings stretch to the west and east, like the two ridgelines of Hood’s summit.

The lodge was made of the raw materials of the mountain: built from the old-growth trees, hand hewn by adze and broad ax; the mountain’s stones gathered and lifted into place; and each lock and door knob and hinge forged from the blow of the blacksmiths’ hammers. It was a structure simultaneously rustic and grand.

“Even after all these years, I’m overwhelmed by the lodge and the grandeur and the effort that went into it by a lot of skilled craftspeople from all different mediums of craft,” Nelson said.

Fifty blacksmiths labored to create the ironwork of the lodge. “They gave their hearts and their souls when they did that work,” Nelson said. “They were so appreciative to have the work and I think they had a point to prove.”

To create Timberline Lodge, each piece of ironwork in was hand-forged by blacksmiths. 

To create Timberline Lodge, each piece of ironwork in was hand-forged by blacksmiths.

Courtesy of Oregon State Library

A style all its own

To walk up the stone steps of Timberline, you enter a dark stone alcove. The cold basalt chills the air. Some say it feels like stepping inside the mountain itself.

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright spoke of a feeling of “compression and release” and put the concept into many of his buildings during the era. Perhaps more simply, the architecture of Timberline’s entrance mirrors nature: it’s like entering a narrow cave and then suddenly stepping into a cavern.

From the small alcove, the room opens to the ground floor of the lodge. A fire crackles in a massive stone hearth. Many are drawn to its warmth. If you look closely, you may notice that the hefty fireplace andirons look a lot like they were made of old railroad tracks. They were.

“The rest of the iron work in the country we can see most anywhere, but Timberline iron work is Timberline iron work: there’s nothing else like it anywhere in the country or the world,” said Nelson. “It’s a style all its own.”

"There’s nothing else like it anywhere in the country or the world. It’s a style all its own,” blacksmith Darryl Nelson said of Timberline Lodge's metalwork. 

“There’s nothing else like it anywhere in the country or the world. It’s a style all its own,” blacksmith Darryl Nelson said of Timberline Lodge’s metalwork.

Ian McCluskey/OPB

Three generations

Nelson’s story starts when he was 19, pounding horseshoes over an anvil. While attending farrier school, he learned about the tradition of decorative metalwork — shaping raw metal to be both beautiful and functional. After shoeing horses all day, he’d stay at his anvil, practicing his blacksmith skills.

“I shod horses for 13 years after going through horseshoeing school, the whole time trying to build up a blacksmithing business because I really found I enjoyed my time at the anvil more than I enjoyed the time under the horse,” he said with a chuckle.

As he was beginning to master the ancient craft of blacksmithing, Nelson learned that other blacksmiths were eager for connection and collaboration. In 1979, a group of about a dozen blacksmiths started the Northwest Blacksmith Association. They’d take turns hosting the group at their shops for what they called an “open forge.”

At one of the gatherings, Nelson met Russell Maugans.

“Have you ever been to Timberline Lodge?” Maugans asked. Nelson admitted he hadn’t. Maugans then shared with Nelson an unexpected story.

As a commercial airline pilot, Maugans had been assigned the flight between Atlanta and Portland. From his cockpit, he spotted the lodge on the side of Mount Hood. With each flight, his curiosity grew.

As soon as he had a long layover, Maugans rented a car to see the lodge up close. He immediately fell in love with Timberline and started asking questions about the iron work. He learned that Orion Dawson, known as “O.B. Dawson,” had been the lead blacksmith in the lodge’s construction.

He then looked up Dawson, hoping to meet the blacksmithing master. Dawson gladly welcomed Maugans and shared the techniques his smiths had used to build Timberline. Blacksmithing is traditionally a two-person job, according to Nelson. Maugans and Dawson developed a teamwork at the anvil, and a deep friendship.

Dawson died in 1977 at the age of 81. A few years afterwards, Maugans introduced Nelson to Timberline, and they took up the blacksmith teamwork, as Maugans shared with Nelson what he’d been shown from Dawson.

Eventually, Maugans became too old to continue his metal work, and the title of Timberline blacksmith was handed down to Nelson, the third generation.

O.B. Dawson led the group of blacksmiths in creating all the hand-forged metalwork in Timberline Lodge. Later in life, he handed down his knowledge to Russell Maugans, to continue the legacy.

O.B. Dawson led the group of blacksmiths in creating all the hand-forged metalwork in Timberline Lodge. Later in life, he handed down his knowledge to Russell Maugans, to continue the legacy.

courtesy of Oregon State Library

‘I made this for you’

At a blacksmithing conference where Nelson was presenting about his work on Timberline, an attendee asked: “Did you make the frog?”

“You saw the frog?” asked Nelson, surprised.

On Timberline’s main floor, in the display of the lodge’s history, on the back wall, is a metal gate. It features rows of coyote head designs, a motif carried throughout the lodge, honoring the flora and fauna of the mountain. It has geometric patterns, another theme carried through the lodge, honoring the designs of the region’s Native American heritage. And — if you look very closely — on the upper hinge, the head of a bolt is hand-hammered into a tiny frog.

“Yes,” the man answered, “and when I saw it, I felt that you had made it for me.”

“I absolutely did,” Nelson said.

To create the museum gate, Nelson invited other blacksmiths, to make it a group effort, just as the original smiths had worked. He coins it “in the spirit of Timberline.”

“There were 50 smiths that worked up there, they were all individuals, but you don’t know any of their names,” he said. Similarly, Nelson and his modern smiths are essentially anonymous. They all signed their names underneath the gate with the frog. “You’d have to take a flashlight, hold it down there, to be able to see it,” he said. “But we know our names are there.”

Darryl Nelson uses techniques of his trade handed down generations. At his anvil, he works a piece of heated steel with hammer and chisel, tools he made himself.  

Darryl Nelson uses techniques of his trade handed down generations. At his anvil, he works a piece of heated steel with hammer and chisel, tools he made himself.

Ian McCluskey/OPB

Leaving his mark

“Personally, I like the anonymity myself,” Nelson said. “I’d really rather just kind of blow through there like a ghost.”

He often shuffles through the crowds, stopping to inspect a loose bolt or test a latch. Far too often a bolt will come loose; or perhaps more accurately, a visitor will loosen a bolt and pocket it as a souvenir. Nelson makes his rounds, noting the pieces he’ll have to make once again by hand.

“It’s a cycle,” he said.

His work seems so solid — thick metal scalloped by the blows of his hammer — that it could last forever.

“When you make something as a blacksmith, you think it will well outlast you,” he said.  “It’s your form of immortality.” He rattled a window latch that had come loose, and then tightened it with his wrench, and continued his meditative thought.

“But everything wears out with time,” he said as he looked through the widow at the snow and rocks of the mountain. “Nothing lasts forever.”

“When you make something as a blacksmith, you think it will well outlast you,” blacksmith Darryl Nelson said, as he fixed a window latch he made. “But everything wears out with time.” He looked through the widow at the snow and rocks of the mountain and added: “Nothing lasts forever.”

“When you make something as a blacksmith, you think it will well outlast you,” blacksmith Darryl Nelson said, as he fixed a window latch he made. “But everything wears out with time.” He looked through the widow at the snow and rocks of the mountain and added: “Nothing lasts forever.”

Ian McCluskey/OPB

Over the decades Nelson has apprenticed dozens of aspiring blacksmiths. Some have gone on to their own careers. Some have just gone on. No one has stepped up to take the hammer from Nelson when his Timberline tenure is done.

Climbing the stairs, his calloused hands slip over the handrails. The rails are sturdy, with the ends forged into solid pine cones. The metal is polished to a silver hue by the hands of some two million tourists a year.

These rails, like almost every piece of metal in the lodge, holds a story for Nelson. His stories are like those of a kindly grandfather, told with meandering plot lines, myriad details, a chuckle, a twinkle in the eyes — and at the end is more than just a punchline, but a point: an understated moral, that reveals what Nelson values, his relationship to Timberline, and how he wants to leave his mark.

Nelson recalls fondly the day he and Maugans installed the handrails. Before then, there were no handrails on the lodge’s many flights of stairs, perhaps because Timberline had been built in such a rush (or perhaps because it was constructed in an era before modern safety codes).

The two blacksmiths waited until after hours so their installation did not impede guest access between the lodge’s floors.

“And we’d planned it almost too good,” Nelson related, because by the time they’d installed the last handrail on the last flight, no one had come along. Nelson wanted to see if visitors would actually use his new rails.

Then, a small group of guests started to climb the stairs. Nelson watched one guest grab the rail and use it all the way up.

The two blacksmiths grinned. Then they watched the second guest round the corner and grab the rail and exclaim: “Look at these pine cones! Look at these twists! Boy, they don’t make work like this anymore!”

Nelson grinned and chuckled as he repeated: “They don’t make work like this anymore.”


Blacksmith Darryl Nelson looks like he could have been one of the original blacksmiths of Timberline Lodge. In many ways, he is. 

Blacksmith Darryl Nelson looks like he could have been one of the original blacksmiths of Timberline Lodge. In many ways, he is.

Clean trucks are more important than ever

Screen Shot 2020 05 05 at 9.42.27 AM

Source: Green Biz

Sadly, big polluters are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to attack vital environmental rules by pressuring government agencies for regulatory delays, rollbacks or weakened enforcement. One target of their lobbying is the ongoing Advanced Clean Truck rule-making, which would put clean, zero-emission trucks on California’s roads starting in 2024. In response, state legislatorsorganized labor (PDF)health advocates (PDF), the clean technology industry (PDF) and environmentalists (PDF) have raised voices in support of life-saving regulations such as the Advanced Clean Truck Rule that provide health, environmental and economic benefits.

Clean trucks, cleaner air, healthier people

Polluted lungs are easy prey for respiratory diseases. So it’s no surprise that people suffering from poor air quality are more likely to become severely sick or die from COVID-19. This is deeply troubling in a state such as California, which has the worst air in the nation and is home to seven of the top 10 most ozone-choked cities in America.

As if that weren’t enough, structural inequalities are causing communities of color (PDF), and African-Americans in particular, to be hit hardest by COVID-19. If you’re black or a minority in America, you’re more likely to die from COVID-19 than if you’re white. This is tragically predictable and, in the case of air pollution, entirely preventable.

It’s predictable because we know what’s causing air pollution: the single largest source in California is the transportation sector and diesel-burning trucks are a major contributor. And, although late, prevention is happening: New regulations at the California Air Resources Board, such as the Advanced Clean Truck Rule, will get dirty diesel trucks off the roads and build a zero-emission electric truck market. These forward-looking regulations not only will provide health benefits but also will stimulate the economy and deliver much-needed stability.

Economic stimulus

Unlike the federal government, which continues to ignore science and attack life-saving environmental laws, California repeatedly has shown that cleaning up air pollution can drive economic growth. The clean technology sector, anchored by strong regulations, is one of California’s most important industries that support over half a million jobs statewide (PDF). Clean technologies, such as electric vehicles, are a top state export and an invaluable source of innovation. Environmental regulations that continue to encourage the electric vehicle market, among other clean technologies, are the foundation of California’s future economy.

As California reimagines its economy, there are valuable lessons from the past. During the Great Recession, some of the largest employment gains came from policies to expand clean technology. As we rebuild society, we must focus on the technologies of the future instead of burdening ourselves with the failures of the past.

Stability and a resilient recovery

One of the biggest failures is linking the U.S. economy to the whims of autocratic rulers overseas. The volatility of the global oil market and its impact on the livelihoods of hardworking Americans underscores the urgency to cut the fossil fuel cord.

It’s all too common for the global oil industry to becomes mired in crisis, prompting wild price swings and mass layoffs. The men and women working long hours in oily mud, and the families that depend on them, deserve better. They deserve stability. They deserve policies that promote new, innovative domestic industries, such as electric vehicle manufacturing, that will curb our oil addiction and are immune to Twitter tantrums or foreign wars.

One study found that in California alone, electrifying trucks and buses would result in almost 2 million new jobs and hundreds of billions in direct investments through 2050. Environmental regulations, such as the Advanced Clean Truck Rule that accelerate transportation electrification, are vital to a resilient recovery.

But it’s not just jobs. Lower fuel costs from filling up with electricity instead of fossil fuels means more money to invest elsewhere — money to reinvest in businesses and workers. Not only that, but take a look at the chart below and tell me, if you’re a transportation company, would you rather make decisions based on the erratic price of fossil fuels or the flat, boring price of electricity?U.S. Department of Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, Fuel Prices

Imagine if each month your utility bill was entirely different. You wouldn’t know how much to budget for bills. Instead, you’d be forced to have enough money on hand to cover a high bill or risk having your service shut off. The same applies to companies that depend on gas or diesel to fuel their vehicles. By switching to a more stable fuel source such as electricity, companies can reduce risk and free up capital for strategic investments.

From a mountain of despair, a stone of hope

In a matter of months, we went from record employment to millions of Americans filing for unemployment. Meanwhile, countless businesses — and the people they employ — are barely staying afloat, clinging to solvency through sheer grit and the hope that political leaders act decisively to set us on the path to a sustainable recovery. In this challenging time, there is a renewed resolve for essential environmental protections to help us emerge from the COVID-19 crisis a more resilient society that grows jobs, safeguards public health and protects our climate and the air we breathe.

Natural Ways to Clean Your Teeth and Gums

By: Mia Johnson

test tube

Taking care of your oral hygiene is just as important as taking care of your hygiene in general. Even though dentist appointments are one of the most uncomfortable ones and most people feel like their mouth can take care of itself, leaving your health up to chance is never a good idea. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so take care of your oral cavity in order to avoid some serious consequences. You can clean your teeth naturally to avoid constant exposure to chemicals but still kill bacteria.

1. Orange peels

Orange is a fruit famous for its vitamins and deliciousness. Aside from just being used as a tasty treat or snack, oranges can also help you maintain your oral hygiene and clean your teeth and gums naturally. You’ll need orange peels for this. By far, this is one of the most comfortable ways to clean your teeth as it doesn’t involve putting anything most people consider “icky” near your mouth.

You can apply the orange peel directly to your teeth and gently rub it against the surface. If this doesn’t appeal to you, simply mash up the peel and apply it to the areas of your teeth where you notice staining. Note that it may take some time to thoroughly mash the peel. Make sure to leave the peel on for a little before rinsing it out for the best effects.

This will help eliminate bacteria and microorganisms which nest on the enamel of the teeth. After using the solution regularly, your teeth will be significantly whiter.

2. Glycerin & Aloe Vera

Aloe vera gel is known for its soothing and rejuvenating effects on the skin, but can also be very useful for your teeth. It’s basically the perfect solution for keeping your teeth free of plaque. All you need is a teaspoon of aloe vera gel, half a cup of baking soda, and a cup of water. Lemon essential oil and vegetable glycerin should also make it into the mix. Voila! You’ve got your own natural toothpaste.

Use it just like you would use the traditional toothpaste you buy at the store. If the solution is too aggressive for you, add a bit less baking soda and see how you feel. You can also use essential oils other than lemon, but this flavour tends to work best for toothpaste purposes. Soon enough, your teeth will be whiter than you ever thought they could be with natural toothpaste.

3. Salt water treatment

To keep your gums clean and kill bacteria which causes gingivitis, you should rinse your mouth with salted water twice a day. Avoiding and treating gum disease is very important because it can lead to more serious diseases, tooth decay, and teeth falling out if it’s not handled in time. The benefits of salt water include reducing bacteria and getting rid of bad breath, as well as helping to remove particles of food which are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria.

If you already suspect you’re suffering from gingivitis, you’ll be happy to know that salt water can also help ease the pain as well as soothe your inflamed gums. The solution should work fine and take care of your problem, but it’s always a good idea to visit the dentist if you notice the problem persists.

4. Baking soda

Baking soda is the ultimate cleaning product for everything from bathrooms to your teeth. When using baking soda to clean your teeth and whiten them, you have to be very careful about how much you use and how often you use it. This is because baking soda tends to be a little more aggressive than necessary. It might pry off the plaque you’ve been struggling with, but it may also be abrasive to your teeth and get some enamel off.

This can make your teeth softer and more vulnerable to disease and falling out. To prevent this, be gentle with how you used baking soda and mix it with other substances. You basically just need a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of baking soda. Dip the solution under the faucet and clean your teeth just like you would with normal toothpaste. Make sure to rinse thoroughly.


As you can see, cleaning your teeth and gums can happen in more ways than one. You can rely on natural solutions to keep up your hygiene, but this definitely isn’t a replacement for your regular dental checkups. These natural ways will help you feel fresh and keep your mouth bacteria-free. We’re confident you’ll get that radiant smile you were hoping for and that you’ll greatly improve your life by staying healthy.

How COVID-19 changes climate communications

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Source: green biz

After a year of climate change being a top media story and public policy concern in many countries, attention is and will be rightfully focused on COVID-19 for some time. This puts climate leaders in a tough situation.

Given the unprecedented disruptions to health, economic and social systems the health emergency is creating, there is a real risk governments, businesses, communities, households and individuals will lack the time, financial resources or emotional capacity to address the climate emergency by cutting emissions and preparing for impacts, even long after the pandemic has passed.

It’s also conceivable that the coronavirus crisis will lead us further into division and political polarization, rather than sustaining momentum around coming together.

Climate action cannot stall out. It’s impossible to know how long the coronavirus crisis will last, but the science is clear that time is running out to avert catastrophic climate change. Climate communicators must find ways to advance the conversation.

Sensitivity is required. Now is not a great time to tout the emission and pollution reductions occurring due to the economic shutdown. It is, however, a moment of great change where worldviews and values are being reassessed and reordered. This creates opportunities to connect the health crisis to climate change and advocate for solutions that address both.

COVID-19 is revealing the vulnerability of the systems we rely on and the need for systemic change to ensure safety, health and economic well-being.

 Many factors that increase vulnerability to COVID-19 — including age, existing health conditions, income inequities, inadequate housing, employment type and racism — are also what create the greatest vulnerabilities to climate change.

Responding to these crises requires systemic change. Expanding access to health care, addressing economic and racial inequities, building community connectedness and preparedness, and improving air and water quality are just some strategies that increase health and climate resilience.

COVID-19 has the potential to shift views regarding civic duties and responsibilities. 

This is not to downplay the suffering many are experiencing or the potential for backlash from the restrictions being placed on business activities and people’s lives.

At the same time, the experience of coming together to overcome a great challenge in which everyone has a critical role to play may increase confidence in collective response and foster a sense of personal efficacy and responsibility. Climate communication efforts should emphasize solutions and provide clear calls to action and resources for the public to be part of the change.

The coronavirus is making painfully clear how interconnected the world is and the importance of launching a rapid and coordinated government response to a global problem

rather than relying on the markets to deliver solutions. The same argument can be made for the need for immediate, global action on climate change. Every country is impacted. None can prepare for impacts or drive the transition to clean energy and low-carbon economies on their own.

Taking steps now provides the greatest number of options and is the most cost-effective and efficient way to reduce harm and disruption.

The critical role science plays in responding to a crisis is also being elevated.

This could be a beneficial development given sustained efforts over the past few decades to discredit evidence-based decision-making and suppress data by industry and government officials.

It’s been clear for some time the importance of amplifying that climate scientists around the world agree that the planet is warming due to human activities and that this is causing devastating impacts that will worsen if emissions are not cut dramatically. This remains true and may resonate more as COVID-19 highlights the essential need to have data and experts guide policy decisions.

Now, more than ever, is a time for compassion. 

Climate leaders have a great deal of experience working through interconnected issues and uncertainties, addressing inequities and tackling climate grief and depression in ourselves, our networks and communities.

This experience can be drawn on to ensure climate communication efforts are grounded in concern for people’s well-being and recognize the grief and trauma being experienced while at the same time offer an inspiring and achievable vision for achieving economic, health and climate resilience.

A little hope can go a long way right now as we care for ourselves and each other while facing the uncertainties that lie ahead.

Wine is Slovenia’s national hobby

wine tour tasting table
wine tour tasting table

If you asked the average European where Slovenia was, even as late as 20 years ago, chances are they wouldn’t be able to tell you. Let alone strike a conversation about the country with someone from another continent. In recent years, however, this has changed dramatically. Slovenian tourism has skyrocketed, sprouting roots in every area; from sports and adventure travel, to gastronomic tourism and, you’ve guessed it, wine tours. But we’ll get to that.

Although relatively unknown to most wine drinkers, Slovenia has been synonymous with high quality wines to many sommeliers in the past. And for good reason.

To understand why Slovenian wine is where it is today, we have to travel back in time.

Fancy tasting rooms and touristy wine trails may be new to this country, but winemaking definitely isn’t. Celtic and Illyrian tribes first planted vines here sometime during the 5th century BC. That’s before any other more renowned winegrowing region in Europe. The Romans quickly picked it up and spread it around these parts. In the Middle Ages, Christian monks would inherit this tradition for both ritual and recreational purposes.

Centuries later, Slovenians have mastered this skill to perfection. Thanks to its uniquely diverse landscape, microclimates and soil, vineyards now represent over 1% of the country’s area. Today, Slovenia is home to 28,000 wineries. That’s 1 vineyard per 70 inhabitants. Not bad for a country of only 2 million. So where can we find this wide assortment of wines?

Slovenia is divided into three main wine regions: Podravska, Posavska and Primorska. Grape varieties in the latter show an Italian influence, while the former two a more Germanic. Generally, however, Slovenian grapevines are subject to an increasingly international or French influence.

In Podravje, Riesling (both Rhine Riesling and Welschriesling) are found, as are Traminec (Gewurztraminer) and Rizvanec (Muller-Thurgau). Sivi Pinot (Pinot Gris) is also produced at large quantities, as is Beli Pinot (Pinot Blanc) and its local “mutated form”, Radgonska Ranina.

A bird’s-eye view of a hopeful future

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Folk Life: Stephen Blanquie
Aerial view of Mount Hood in Portland, Oregon. Something about looking out the window of an airplane allows one’s perspective time to cultivate. Watching, as the residential and commercial developments of the city’s framework transform into toy houses and, seconds later, neat sections revealing the divisions of the land and the layout of the city, until finally all that is visible are the clouds suspended.

I begin to reflect on my short five-day journey to Arizona for the GreenBiz 20 conference.

I believe every generation is presented with a challenge, which inevitably ends up unifying the contemporaries. The situation confronting our generation is the climate crisis and all the factors that are inescapably associated. In the 21st century, we are on trial for our actions, and a response to the catastrophes our species has created is being demanded.

We have disrupted and manipulated natural cycles throughout our habitat so much so that the damage is conceivably irreversible — and in worst-case scenarios, we have validated that fear. Plant and animal species are disappearing more rapidly than could have been predicted. Sea level rise is expected to increase, adding to the variables overwhelming coastal impoverished nations, communities who have inadequate resources to respond to the level of these destructions. Greenhouse gas emissions are threatening the stability of our world as we know it, yet countries, corporations and individuals are carrying on business as usual.

Perhaps the most frightening news yet: Not all of our inhabitants, including our world leaders, understand or, worse, are convinced that these factors are direct results of our species’ poor planet stewardship. Yet, as the Boeing 747 rises over the Sonoran Desert, I can’t help but feel an energy of excitement and inspiration strengthening my spirit. Despite the odds, I have never been more convinced of humanity’s potential to overcome the challenge that lies before us.

The justification behind my unprecedented optimism is born out of my reflection from the testimonies and solution-centered workshops I attended at the conference. While the current state of our planet is alarmingly vulnerable, I am encouraged by the creative problem-solving underway. GreenBiz 20 unveiled good news stories happening all over the world, including responsible individuals and businesses that are setting themselves apart as leaders during this time of a new decade.

Intoxicated idealism

One story involved Dennis McClung, who established the international NGO Garden Pools after losing his job. Now, McClung creates innovative solutions to sustainable development in climate-vulnerable communities by constructing closed-loop food systems called “Climate Smart Farms.”

I also witnessed inspiration in practice through listening to panelists Kamillah Knight, diversity and inclusion lead at Unilever; Beric Alleyne, director of diversity and inclusion at Ebay; and Jyoti Chopra, chief diversity and sustainability officer at MGM Resorts International. These individuals demonstrated how they are paving the way for corporate equity and inclusivity in their places of work.

Another leader, 25-year-old Komal Ahmad, founder and CEO of Copia, approaches the issue of hunger and food waste with a seemingly simple solution: a food-bank donation system.

Gratitude and appreciation flood my consciousness upon hearing the stories from these green heroes. I was particularly humbled having had the honor and privilege to listen to the notable Temple Grandin, animal behavior expert and autism advocate, who expressed humanity’s need for all types of thinkers to collaborate in solving our world’s greatest problems.

Simply being in the presence of these courageous innovators, I grew intoxicated in idealism and fueled with the optimism that is desperately needed in this day and age.

Or maybe I am just drunk off Stephen Ritz’s contagious enthusiasm. After hearing how his edible classrooms have grown food for disadvantaged youths in the Bronx and how the “whole school” approach to education has gained traction internationally, I would be wearing a cheese hat and screaming the good news to the world, too. Now, when the realities of the damages our world are attempting to crush my spirits, these uplifting testaments of individuals, no different from me, will remind me that not all is lost.

As night swiftly envelopes day, 38,000 feet above home, I ease my mind with the comfort of our potential. I have faith in human beings and a belief in the power of collectivism. If future generations are to exist in a world that is safe and sustaining, global cooperation is a necessity. I put my trust in the human race, not only because I believe we are capable of reclaiming eco-balance, but because I have to.

Will we respond with the urgency and pace needed to accelerate our commitment to a sustainable global ecosystem and economy? I have to believe we will.

The Ultimate Guide to Green Travel for 2020

You’ve hopped out of the car and you’re ready to start an adventure in a brand new city. The intriguing place warmly welcomes you to explore and discover its offerings — it’s only right to respect it as if it were your own home.

Younger generations want to change the way we travel. In fact, 56% of Gen Z says they would enjoy staying in eco-friendly accommodations. They’re passionate about putting a spin on the golden rule — treat all places the way you want your home to be treated. Green travel is a hot trend you can’t skip out on. It’s rad to consider the wellbeing of Mother Earth and other cultures as part of your travel habits. Follow our extensive guide to start incorporating green travel into your itinerary.

What Is Green Travel?

Also known as “sustainable travel” or “eco-friendly travel,” green travel refers to practicing responsible and sustainable travel habits. Green travel involves staying conscious of your impact on the environment, social livelihood and economic well-being of the destinations you visit. Since traveling takes a toll on the places we explore, strive to minimize your carbon footprint and respect other cultures.

With green travel, you’ll find purpose in each milestone of your journey.

Why Is Green Travel Important?

With global travel becoming more accessible for everyone, carbon and other chemical pollution is increasing.

green travel statistics

In a recent study covering carbon emissions, it was found that 8% of emissions is directly caused by global tourism. This number isn’t predicted to plateau — in fact, it’s predicted to increase annually by 4%. The largest contributors to carbon emissions are transportation, shopping and food — all travel practices you can change to have a positive impact.

You often hear about carbon emissions, but do you know the effects on the environment? Carbon monoxide increases greenhouse gases, which are linked to negative health effects (such as chest pain, heart disease and grogginess) and global warming. Global warming negatively impacts ecosystems, increasing storm activity and harming natural habitats as a result.

Physical Impacts

There are physical impacts of tourism as well. One major tourist activity that destroys natural habitats is cruises. There are 109 countries with coral reefs and in 90 of them, reefs are being destroyed by cruise ship anchors, sewage, tourist activities, and use of reefs in commercial sale. Reefs are important to ecosystems since they serve as breeding and feeding grounds for many marine life species. Without reefs, the livelihoods of people in entire countries would disappear since marine life (that lives off reefs’ offerings) is a staple to their country’s diets and occupations.

If you’re planning to go on a cruise, keep in mind that Caribbean cruises are estimated to produce over 70,000 tons of waste per year. Cruise ships are not required to report the waste they dump in the ocean or even require a permit to do so. Much of this waste is found in natural habitats. Not all waste decomposes, and when it rots, it releases methane gas into the air, which contributes to the greenhouse effect — making the planet hotter.

Consider alternatives to hotels when booking travel. Hotel chains are powerhouses for unnecessarily using up water, producing excessive waste and practicing business inefficiently. In some countries, guests can use 10 times as much water as a local resident daily. Plus, hotels are estimated to use 36,500 to 73,000 gallons of water per room annually.

Observing the consequences of tourism will open your mind to green travel and motivate you to think twice about your tourism habits. We highly encourage you to research the effects of your travel plans.

When Does a Company Offer Eco-Friendly Options?

Create your itinerary with eco-friendly options. If you’re not sure what to look for, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. We’ve listed below some of the major certifications to guarantee you’re traveling green.

  • LEED certification: One of the best certifications for estimating how environmentally friendly your hotel is.
  • International Air Transport Association: Offers carbon offset flight options which help passengers neutralize their portion of a plane’s carbon emissions.
  • Green Globe certification: Awarded to any eco-friendly business across all industries. The standard criteria must match their expectations in categories such as sustainability, as well as social, economic and environmental practices.
  • Rainforest Alliance: Awarded to tourism businesses that conduct services in compliance with sustainable practices.
  • EarthCheck (AUS): A similar certification to the one above, EarthCheck ensures a business is “delivering clean, safe, prosperous and healthy destinations for travelers to visit.”
  • Tourism Cares: Their mission is to assist the travel industry’s social impact to help the cultures of heavily traveled destinations thrive.
  • Green Seal: Provides a certification denoting that the product or service is created or conducted via safe, green practices.

Green Transportation Tips

Transportation is the number one contributor to carbon pollution while traveling. Minimize emissions by thinking twice about your transportation plans.

people talking about eco-friendly transportation

  1. Travel in groups. If you plan on meeting others, see if there is a way to travel together. You’ll use less gas while also creating memories with others. The more the merrier, for you and the planet!
  2. Book non-stop flights. Revving up and slowing down the engines creates the most carbon emissions.
  3. Rent hybrid or electric vehicles. Feel less guilty and decrease your emissions by renting an electric vehicle instead! A typical passenger vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.
  4. Use electronic tickets. This is a win-win all around because you’ll have less to carry and you’ll produce less waste. Paper represents 16% of solid landfill waste in the US.
  5. Research before you travel. Educate yourself on the culture you’ll be visiting because green travel requires traveling responsibly. Treat another person’s home like your own. Research what you can do to bring a positive change to the new environment.
  6. Avoid traffic-filled cities. Traffic increases fuel consumption and carbon emissions. There is also increased exposure to harmful gasses for those stuck in traffic.

Tips for Practicing Green Habits at Hotels

It’s easy to pick up a vacation mentality and let go of all responsibilities. We encourage you to relax but also be mindful of how your actions affect the places you visit.

hotel recycling

  1. Stay at local bed and breakfast establishments. Local hospitality produces much less waste than a hotel chain. Plus, you’ll support the local economy versus a global corporation.
  2. Ask the front desk about the hotel’s recycling program. Make sure you recycle properly by knowing the hotel’s recycling process. If the hotel hasn’t established a program yet, encourage them to do so.
  3. Bring your own toiletries. Some hotel chains throw away single-use toiletries after one guest. In case you forget to bring your own, take home the shampoo and conditioner bottles to use on your next trip.
  4. Leave guide books you collect for future guests. As we mentioned before, paper is a huge contributor to solid waste. If you find an interesting guide, leave it for the next guest to use.
  5. Stay conscious of A/C or heater use. Residential air-conditioners alone release 100 million tons of carbon dioxide per year from using up energy and releasing hot air.
  6. Unplug appliances when not in use. All plugged in electric appliances bleed some energy called “standby” electricity loss. This includes chargers, wireless phones, cable boxes, kitchen appliances, etc.
  7. Opt-out of cleaning services. Leave the “do not disturb” sign on your door. Skipping cleaning services avoids using unnecessary energy by passing on rewashing your sheets and vacuuming. Plus it cuts chemical cleansing agents that negatively impact air quality.

Water-Saving Travel Tips

Water seems to magically appear from faucets, but when you look behind the scenes, you realize the amount of energy water uses to arrive at your faucet. If your personal water usage is excessive, it affects the 663 million people who don’t have access to clean, reliable water.

people getting clean water

  1. Avoid using the hotel’s laundry facilities. Hotels wash every guest’s laundry separately and a typical washer uses anywhere from 15 to 45 gallons per load.
  2. Stick to showers. Showers take ~17 gallons of water per use, whereas baths use a whopping 70 gallons of water.
  3. Hang up your towels to signal you’re reusing them. As we mentioned, hotels wash guest’s laundry separately. Signal you’re still using your towels by hanging them up. You don’t wash your towel after every shower at home, so why would it be different in a hotel?
  4. Carry a reusable water bottle. You won’t waste water and you’ll avoid unnecessary plastic use. 1,500 plastic bottles are discarded every second in the US.
  5. Only flush the toilet for business. Some of us have a bad habit of flushing tissues and other small trash items down the toilet. Flushing uses two to seven gallons of water at a time.
  6. When using the sink, don’t use high pressure. Avoid turning the sink knob all the way up and don’t leave it running while grooming.
  7. Go for seconds instead of piling up your plate. Food waste is the number one contributor to water waste in hotels. Rather than fill up your plate only to realize you’re too full, take smaller amounts and go for seconds as needed. Agriculture accounts for 70% of the water used globally.

Tips for Shopping + Eating More Sustainably

Waste affects people and the environment. Hazardous waste takes a toll on human health and exhibits ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity or toxicity towards the environment. By shopping and eating with an eco-conscious mentality, you can combat the negative effects of waste.

scuba diver in polluted ocean

  1. Shop at local farmer’s markets. Supporting the local economy encourages gratitude for the new culture you’re visiting. This provides jobs for and feeds local residents.
  2. Eat at locally-sourced restaurants. You’ll be eating healthier at locally sourced restaurants and restaurants that source their ingredients responsibly use less waste in the process.
  3. Avoid all plastic wrappers, bags and bottles. Pack a reusable shopping bag and avoid other plastic wrappers by bringing reusable packaging. Plastic pollution affects the land, waterways and oceans. Plus, 91% of plastic isn’t recycled.
  4. Cook your own road trip meals. You’ll be eating cleaner for your gut and the environment by cooking for yourself. An average restaurant produces 100,000 pounds of garbage per year.
  5. Avoid purchasing items that are made from or tested on animals. This is immoral and takes a toll on wildlife. Look for the phrase “This product has not been tested on animals” along the product to check or research the product to double check.
  6. Learn what labels to look for. When shopping, spot the certifications that indicate a product was responsibly made. Research before your travels what common responsible green certifications look like in the city you’re about to visit.

Eco-Friendly Activity Tips

We recommend eco-friendly activities in nature. Being in nature has benefits such as reduced anger, fear and stress. Getting outdoors is good for Mother Nature and your mental health.

woman selling sustainable products

  1. Skip commercialized tour companies. Mass tours are usually conducted irresponsibly and without a green travel mentality. It’s estimated that only 5% of a commercialized tour company’s profit goes back to the local city. There are tours that act eco-consciously. Community-based tourism is the most sustainable.
  2. Be mindful when booking hands-on encounters with wild animals. Some of this industry takes part in illegal captures and doesn’t properly care for wild animals.
  3. Scuba dive with operators that don’t chum the water. Chumming the water involves dumping bait in the waters to attract fish — this changes the behavior of marine animals, leading them to feel sick.
  4. #OptOutside. Discovering the great outdoors in a new place is the best way to show your appreciation and avoid unnecessary energy and waste. Check for nearby hot springs or waterfalls to refresh your mind.
  5. Stay on the path. Trampling causes loss of ground cover, decrease in air and water permeability, loss of biodiversity and other negative impacts.
  6. Volunteer locally. Leave where you travel in a better state than when you arrived. Whether this involves assisting those in need or cleaning up the environment, you’ll leave a positive and lasting impact.
  7. Use eco-friendly sunscreens. Regular sunscreens contain toxic and potent chemicals that rub off when swimming, affecting ocean wildlife and natural habitats.

Certified Eco-Friendly Travel Resources

If you’re looking to book a trip soon, we encourage you to use the resources below to create your travel itinerary. You’ll do the world and yourself a favor.

Additional Green Travel Resources

Remember the golden rule of green travel — treat all destinations the way you want your home to be treated. Green travel means staying conscious of your decisions on the go and acting in an environmentally, economically and socially responsible manner in the communities you visit. With tweaks to your regular travel routine, you’ll be traveling green in no time.

We hope this guide motivates you to complete your civic duty as a guest in a new city — and gives you peace of mind when renting a car in your destination.

Cities need to change for people to thrive amid a changing climate

Source: Green Biz

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In the 21st century, a seemingly global prosperity masks an unequal distribution of benefits. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the world’s cities, where extreme wealth can exist next door to concentrated poverty. In some cities, such as those in South Africa, well-meaning policies and investments in transit and housing actually have deepened the inequality and segregation experienced by low-income communities.

How does climate change fit into this picture? Leading urban experts think that the current path of cities far exceeds planetary boundaries of what is sustainable. In turn, climate change, one result of carbon-fueled growth over the last two centuries, is also a driver of urban inequality.

By 2050, an additional 2.5 billion people could be living in cities. As more people move to cities, they face rising housing prices, unequal access to employment opportunities and public amenities, and they also contend with the weather extremes of a changing climate. The result is deeply unfair: those who have contributed and benefited least from carbon-fueled growth are its frontline victims. Low-income groups are disproportionately affected, as they are more likely to live in less robust homes and be in the path of natural hazards such as floods and heat waves — not to mention, they have fewer resources available to respond when disaster does strike.

Projections by the world’s leading scientists say future cities need to have a near-zero-carbon footprint, eliminate their reliance on fossil fuels and be able to manage weather extremes such as heavy rains and heat waves. They also need to find ways to lift up already vulnerable and marginalized groups. What does this future city look like? Sadly, our collective imagination is failing us.

Brave new worlds

As we begin the most important decade for climate action yet, cities need to tackle climate change and the continued growth and stubborn persistence of urban inequality (PDF) together. This is a major, immediate and unprecedented transformation, changing almost everything about the way we live in, build and power our cities. We must do it in ways that don’t exacerbate existing inequalities and find ways to leave no one behind. And we need to do it fast.

There are plenty of pop culture tropes of a dystopian future, ravaged by climate change. As Hollywood’s new supervillain, climate change is a common apocalyptic backdrop in science fiction. And there is good reason, as destructive bushfires, floods and heat waves are no longer just the stuff of fiction.

There are far fewer sunny versions of what cities of the future might be like. We do find stories about optimistic, technology-driven lives enhanced by automation in the renderings of architecture studios and engineering firms, cities where the sky is always blue. And we are nudged to imagine ourselves living in glass-and-steel high-rises covered with plant life or solar panels, delivered by self-driving cars, and directed by artificial intelligence.

While these may seem appealing solutions, the sanitized version of the city they portray is difficult to reconcile with the much messier reality of most cities across the globe. More than 1.2 billion people (PDF) — one in three people in cities — live in informal settlements today. Have we solved their plight in this gleaming future?

Often left underexamined in fiction and life is the close relationship between climate change and inclusiveness. But they are interrelated challenges that must be tackled together. If not, fundamental problems around access, informality and affordability remain unaddressed. The sustainability of one “smart city,” for example, can entail environmental degradation and social exploitation in another part of the world, as is the case with the mining of raw materials that go into making smart sensors, or the labor practices employed in the construction of some new eco-cities.

Sparking inspiration

Ideas can be powerful drivers of transformation, but few mainstream storylines about living with climate change offer inspiration for what the future might look like and how we will get there. A lack of vision hinders our capacity for urban change. We need more approaches that lie somewhere between the noir dystopias and blue-sky renderings and help broaden the outlook on what it means to live and thrive in a climate-changed future city.

Insiders in the urban field have recognized this problem for a while. Negative trends, such as increasing air pollution, rising living costs, traffic congestion and inequality, indicate a widening implementation gap between what’s happening on the ground and ambitious commitments made at international levels, such as the Paris Agreement, the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. While there is widespread agreement that radical transformations are needed, numerous studies find little evidence of radical changes actually happening in cities. Experts think this is because cities are complex systems and urbanization cannot be easily steered.

That’s why the WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities is focusing this year on inviting submissions from initiatives that show how to live and thrive in a changing world by tackling both the climate crisis and urban inequality together. Through this global award, which celebrates transformative urban change, we will identify the leaders in urban transformation and amplify lessons learned so other cities can follow their lead.

The 2020-2021 Prize for Cities theme recognizes the year and decade ahead as pivotal for global climate action and seeks to help bridge the gap between fiction and reality and grow a much-needed repertoire of credible urban interventions and projects. As in its inaugural cycle, which received almost 200 submissions from across the globe, we hope the prize will broaden our understanding of what positive urban transformation looks like, how it comes about and how we can identify and nurture the seeds of change.