Architect Bill Hutchins renovated his Maryland bungalow using green building techniques available today.

by Eleanor Greene

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Bill Hutchins in his sunroom.

From the front, Bill Hutchins’ small bungalow looks much like the rest on his street in Takoma Park, MD. But the 2,100 sq.-foot house Hutchins shares with his wife and their three children (with an apartment that they rent in the basement) is a green home, built with eco-friendly features and with environmentally low-impact practices that limit toxins and waste. To Hutchins, homes have the potential to have soul, especially when they’re designed and built thoughtfully and with heart. He knows because he’s both homeowner and architect, and he is also the owner of Helicon Works Architects. Hutchins incorporated elements in designing his home that have been available to consumers for years. …


Color of Change is a giant community standing up for racial justice in the US. We talked to a senior campaign director about how economic justice connects to civil rights.

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Brandi Collins-Dexter, senior campaign director for media, democracy, and economic justice at Color of Change.

The nonprofit Color Of Change (COC) calls itself “the country’s largest online racial justice organization.” Formed in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina by activist James Rucker and current progressive CNN host Van Jones, COC aims “to respond to injustice and move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.” Its campaigns focus on achieving racial, media, and economic justice, as well as working to reform the criminal justice system.

The group has brought about several important victories in its ten years of operation, which include pressuring news networks to drop Lou Dobbs (CNN), Glenn Beck (Fox News), Pat Buchanan (MSNBC), and Bill O’Reilly (Fox News) off the air in light of ongoing racist commentary. The staff helped get justice for the “Jena Six” a group of Black teenagers who COC says were excessively charged and sentenced after defending themselves during a campaign of racist harassment at school. They’ve gotten Clear Channel to remove vote-suppressing billboards from Black and Latin-American neighborhoods. They successfully pushed for the removal of the confederate flag from the South Carolina state capitol. And they’ve weakened the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which the group calls a “dangerously effective” right-wing policy group that is responsible for funneling corporate dollars to politicians to create laws that roll back worker rights and environmental protections, and that “dismantle the gains of the Civil Rights movement.” …


It may not be “sexy,” but refrigerant management is the solution with the greatest potential to help curb the climate crisis. But how? We investigate.

by Eleanor Greene

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Refrigerant management is the most impactful step to solve the climate crisis, as many people on our staff were surprised to learn when we featured Paul Hawken’s new book Drawdown in our winter issue.

We thought the top solution would be something environmentalists talked about more — like increasing wind and solar power or protecting forests. …


Smart thermostats and other WiFi-connected energy-savers are all the rage. But do you need them to cut your home energy use?

by Tracy Fernandez Rysavy

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photo by Hal Gatewood

The popularity of smart thermostats is on the rise. Devices like Google’s Nest use a feature called “geo-fencing” to use sensors in your home and the signal on your mobile phone to turn themselves to an eco-friendly lower setting while you’re away. Some take a few days to learn your heating and cooling habits, then adjust your thermostat accordingly while you’re in your house or apartment, or will allow you to program and schedule settings. …


The green homes and communities of the near future will boast technologies that save energy, lower toxins, and protect the planet. Keep an eye on these green innovations, which are available now or will be soon.

by Tracy Fernandez Rysavy

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Scott and Julie Brusaw, co-founders of Solar Roadways, with their solar-paved parking lot in northern Idaho. The lot boast solar panels under fire- and shatter-proof tempered glass that’s textured for traction, with a heating element to melt snow and ice. The Brusaws, say that if the US converted all roads to solar, we’d generate three times the energy the country needs.

Roads. To an environmentally minded person, they’re something of a menace. Too often, they require bulldozing through natural habitat and laying down black asphalt that absorbs sunlight and further warms the planet. But smart highways of the future might make roads a bit better.

They could harness solar power:

In late December, China launched its first solar road, to test whether its roadway system could do double duty
by generating power from the sun.

The 1-km stretch of expressway near the city of Jinan is lined with photovoltaic tiles, sandwiched between a layer of insulation on the bottom and transparent concrete on top. …


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Rocio Jimenez opened her first-ever savings account with Self-Help Credit Union. She used Self-Help loans to start her education as a nursing assistant. Self-Help has become increasingly involved in assisting immigrants with the educational and financial resources they need to achieve financial fitness.

Impact investors and responsible banking institutions across the country have made a big difference this past year, advancing causes ranging from climate change to board diversity to immigration justice. Green America celebrates these 2017 victories and identifies how you can keep the economy moving in a greener direction.

Shareholders Win Big

Every year, shareholders have the ability to put forth requests to company management, in the form of shareholder proposals, on which all investors vote either in person at the company’s annual meeting or remotely via a paper or electronic proxy ballot. …


By Jacqui Patterson, director of the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice program

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Photo by RosaIrene Betancourt/Alamy

As we work toward Drawdown, it’s critical to address the impacts of climate change in communities of color, which are often hit “first and worst.” Jacqui Patterson, director of the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice program, says we all need to work toward energy justice for everyone in our communities.

People often ask why the NAACP, a civil rights organization, is working on energy. …


How can you tell if your clothes are made the way you want?

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Source my Garment connects North American clothing designers and manufacturers with overseas factories that are committed to fair trade and to environmental responsibility from fabric to finished product. Photo credit of Source my Garment.

On brand websites from H&M to Gap to Gucci, you’ll find phrases like “innovative materials,” “sustainably sourced,” and “enhancing transparency.” But when it comes to finding out whether companies actually walk their sustainable talk, there may still be problems behind their promises. In short, consumers still need to do research when shopping their values.
When you need clothes, first consider buying secondhand (here are some online stores we recommend). If you need to shop new, use the tips below to make your purchases better for workers and the Earth.

Note: While we’ve detailed the strongest third-party certifications that help prove a company has taken significant steps to care for workers and the environment, some but not all companies will display these certification labels on clothing tags. In addition to clothing tags, look for proof of certification on company websites, or call your favorite companies to ask if they hold the certifications. …


Interview by Tracy Fernandez Rysavy

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If you’re part of the movement for a just and sustainable future, chances are you’ve heard of Paul Hawken. To say that Hawken has an interesting background is a bit of an understatement.

You might know him as a green entrepreneur. Starting in the 1960s, he founded several pioneering green businesses, starting with the Erewhon Trading Company, one of the first natural-food companies in the US to rely solely on sustainable agricultural methods.

You might know him as a bestselling author. He’s published several books on the green economy, five of which have become national bestsellers — including The Ecology of Commerce (HarperCollins, 1993), which professors from 67 business schools voted as the number-one college text on business and the environment. His 1987 book, Growing a Business (Simon & Schuster), was the subject of an acclaimed 17-part PBS miniseries, which he hosted and produced. …


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An Uros mother and her two daughters live on one of the 42 floating islands that the Uru constructed from totora reeds on Lake Titicaca. This solar panel replaced kerosene and provided electricity to the family for the first time. Photo courtesy of Drawdown.

Paul Hawken and the Project Drawdown experts thought they knew what to expect when they modeled and ranked 80 solutions that could reverse global warming. But the data had some surprises in store.

Most prominently was that even when the solutions are modeled in terms of what they call a “Plausible Scenario” — a conservative measure of projected solution implementation that is “reasonable yet optimistic” — society still makes great strides toward achieving drawdown, the point where greenhouse-gas levels in the atmosphere begin to decline.

Together, all 80 reduce or sequester carbon by 1,051 gigatons by 2050 in the Plausible Scenario. Using the scenario that gets us to drawdown — which requires ramping up the solutions a bit more than the conservative measure, particularly renewable energy — they reduce or sequester carbon by 1,442 gigatons by 2050. …

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Green America

Our mission is to harness economic power to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.

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