During the holiday season, food and gifts contribute to a high increase in household waste. According to the Ohio EPA, Americans throw out 25% more trash and 33% more food than any other time of the year. That amounts to 25 million extra tons of garbage that goes into landfills, creating more greenhouse gases such as methane, which is ultimately released into the atmosphere.
While this year’s holiday season may look a little different and perhaps include only your immediate household members, we encourage you to keep holiday waste to a minimum, to create a sustainable habit for years to come. Here are some tips to reduce waste over the holidays by making a few changes to our annual routines:
Traditionally, November is the month that we give thanks. But this year, Thanksgiving will not be very traditional. This year we have all faced some difficult challenges. Some related to our homes, work, schools, and some challenges related to our physical and mental health.
Some of us and some of our friends and neighbors have also struggled this year with food insecurity, which makes this an especially tough time of year. Being food insecure means that there is limited or uncertain access to nutritional and safe foods.
There are several organizations in Northeast Ohio helping our friends, colleagues and neighbors with food-related resources and services. While you may be familiar with some of those organizations, we wanted to highlight additional organizations that are doing equally important work in this area.Read more
The August monthly series topic focused on the many layers of health through the lens of sustainability. Our Outreach and Education Liaison Philena Seldon led the discussion with an inter-generational panel focusing on a multilayered perspective on what health and sustainability mean in the present day, during a pandemic and social unrest. If you've missed the discussion, you can watch the full recording below or on our Vimeo channel here.
Our three talented panelists included:
Here are some takeaways from the panel discussion as well as some recommended resources by our panelists:
Indigo Bishop suggested running errands and carpooling with people you enjoy. It makes the journey fun, strengthens bonds, and allows people to experience comradery during these challenging times.
- Buy groceries at local farmers markets through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to support healthy local food growers as well as have healthy local options for yourself.
- Start your own composting - what gets composted provides nutrients for something else to grow. Learn more about composting here.
Kimberly Smith-Woodford mentioned getting out in nature. She encouraged Black people to join her and Journey on Yonder in the parks.
- Journey on Yonder helps to create resilience in green space and nature, supporting mental and physical wellness through hiking.
- Black Environmental Leaders (BEL) stand as stewards of the natural and built environment through collaboration and partnership, to raise awareness and advocate for environmental and economic justice.
Kynnedy Smith advised researching your local representatives to ensure that the people you vote for have sustainability as a priority. Keep those representatives accountable by writing them letters or calling to ask questions about their recent initiatives to make our city sustainable. We recently featured Kynnedy for International Youth Day - check out that interview here.
- Check out Cuyahoga Recycles to learn how to recycle in Cleveland and surrounding suburbs.
- Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) to learn where to recycle.
- UNICEF Guide to Sustainable Living
- Resources and tips how to live sustainably
- 100+ Simple Tips to Live a More Sustainable Lifestyle
Thanks for joining us last month! Our September monthly meeting will focus on Energy Awareness - you can register to attend this virtual event here.
Today we celebrate International Youth Day! Across the world, countless young people are taking action in their communities to create a more sustainable future. We wanted to highlight one of those youth - our Youth Sustainability Leadership Program (YSLP) participant Kynnedy Simone Smith. She became involved in the world of sustainability at quite a young age and has been on an ascending path towards an exciting career.Read more
In honor of National Book Lovers Day on August 9th, we wanted to share a list of environmental books recommended by our Sustainable Cleveland staff members. If you’re looking for your next green read, take your pick!
Recap from the Sustainable Cleveland 2020 Virtual Summit
A big and humble thanks to all who joined us for the two-day Sustainable Cleveland 2020 Virtual Summit from October 14th-15th. Over 500 local residents, business owners, and sustainability leaders around the world participated in this continuing effort to develop a thriving and resilient Cleveland region.
Since 2009, Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s Sustainable Cleveland initiative has engaged more than 15,000 people from all walks of life, working together to design and develop a thriving and resilient Cleveland region. Over the past eleven years, Sustainable Cleveland has supported collaboration and action to make Cleveland a greener, cleaner place to live, work, and play for all. From improved water and air quality to increases in bike infrastructure and clean energy, Sustainable Cleveland has come a long way... but we know there's more work to do.
The Sustainable Cleveland 2020 Virtual Summit included opening remarks from Mayor Frank Jackson, State of Sustainable Address from Chief Jason Wood, Keynote Presentation from Dr. Julian Agyeman and many other facilitated discussions on key sustainable action areas including:
- Celebration of Cleveland’s progress in sustainability since 2009
- Sharing stories of collaboration and action inspired through the SC initiative
- Recognizing individuals, organizations, and businesses leading by example to advance sustainability in Cleveland
- Feature keynote presentations focused on creating a more sustainable and equitable economy
- Advance Cleveland Climate Action Plan priorities that require community-wide action, such as reaching 100% renewable electricity, trees, access to vibrant green space, sustainable transportation, clean water, and creating a circular economy
- Continue charting our collective path forward for continued engagement in sustainability and climate action
Check out our Summit "By the Numbers" infographic here.
Below are the breakout sessions from our 2-day Summit. Any resources shared in those presentations are linked to the session.
State of Sustainable Cleveland
The City of Cleveland's Chief of Sustainability, Jason Wood, provides an update on sustainability progress in Cleveland and opportunities to scale up success.
Keynote Presentation: Dr. Julian Agyeman
In this dynamic keynote presentation, Dr. Agyeman outlined the concept of 'Just Sustainabilities' as a response to the 'equity deficit' of much sustainability thinking and practice.
Conversation with Keynote Speaker: Dr. Julian Agyeman
Dr. Julian Agyeman, Professor of Urban & Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University joined participants after lunch to continue the conversation from his keynote presentation focused on Just Sustainabilities in policy, planning, and practice.
Film Screening of Toxic: A Black Woman's Story and Panel Discussion
This session screened the film Toxic: A Black Woman's Story and followed with a panel discussion. In this short film, viewers were invited on a journey of perspective transformation. Follow Nina in this day-in-the-life drama, and see the world through the eyes of a successful black woman who must navigate an unjust world while trying to protect the world she has created for herself and her family. The panel discussion focused on the intersections of racism, health equity, sustainability, and community perception.
Energy Efficiency in a Brave New World
Energy Efficiency is the cleanest and cheapest energy source. In addition to direct financial and positive climate benefits, it comes with other co-benefits such as health, jobs and safety and with equitable outcomes if implemented right. Find out how Energy Efficiency (EE) can continue to play an important role in people’s lives during this COVID pandemic and beyond.
Greater Cleveland Water Equity Partners: Supporting an Equitable Water Future
Ensuring that all people have access to safe, reliable, and affordable water and wastewater systems is the cornerstone of a sustainable and prosperous community. Join the Greater Cleveland Water Equity Partners to learn more about their journey as a collaborative group representing water utilities, non-profit organizations, and community leaders working to improve water equity in Cleveland.
The Circular Economy: Everything Goes Around
A circular economy designs out waste, reuses materials, and regenerates nature. Mark Fisher further defined these principles and provided some examples. Walt Willis from SWALCO introduced his agency in Illinois and how the circular economy is being applied in Lake County. And Aleksandra Brankov introduced us to a new model for coffee drinkers in Cleveland that reduces waste.
Air Quality in Cleveland: A Panel Discussion
Air quality may mean different things to different people within a city or neighborhood. Factors like where you live, your age, your race, your health, and your occupation can significantly impact what comes to mind when you think of air quality. In this panel discussion, you will hear different perspectives on air quality in Cleveland, and learn more about how local agencies and organizations are helping to monitor and improve the air we breathe.
LEED for Cities: How Ohio Municipalities are Measuring Sustainability Progress
How will Sustainable Cleveland know when we’ve become a “green city on a blue lake?” While Cleveland has made big strides in sustainability over the last 11 years, it is important to establish metrics that help us measure this progress and support continued success. In early 2020, the City of Cleveland joined the US Green Building Council’s second cohort of cities to pursue LEED for Cities certification. Like the LEED platform for buildings, LEED for Cities provides a framework for cities to credibly track progress toward overall sustainability objectives and allows for comparison by and among communities around the world.
Urban Drawdown Initiative Capturing Carbon, Creating Opportunity
For cities to meet our carbon reduction goals, we cannot rely on carbon emission reduction strategies alone. Carbon sequestration, especially through the capture and recycling of organic material, is a key way cities like Cleveland will meet their climate action goals.
Plastic Pollution in the Great Lakes
An estimated 10,000 tons of plastic pollution enter the Great Lakes each year. As a consequence, microplastic particles are found in Great Lakes surface water, sediments, and fish. This contamination extends to our local sportfish and drinking water. This talk reviewed what is known about plastic in our Great Lakes and offered some science-based solutions.
Sustainability and Seniors It Never Gets Old
If you are getting older in a city that isn’t accommodating to the unique needs of seniors, you may find it more challenging to age in place. The City of Cleveland’s Department of Aging, through their Age-Friendly Cleveland Plan, is working to address the needs of older adults to successfully age in place.
Vision Zero Cleveland: Safe, Sustainable Streets for All
In 2018, the City of Cleveland and Cleveland City Council established the Vision Zero Task Force, working to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries. The initiative brings together government, relevant agencies and community stakeholders to design safe, healthy and equitable mobility. Anne Tillie, Research and Policy Analyst for Cleveland City Council, provided an overview of the Vision Zero Task Force and shared updates on efforts currently underway. Robert Mavec, Commissioner of Traffic Engineering, and Matt Moss, City Planner, highlighted recent investments and initiatives led by the City of Cleveland which support safe and sustainable transportation for all.
Parks for People Creating Access, Elevating Equity
In 2017, Mayor Jackson joined the 10-Minute Walk Campaign, a national initiative to ensure all residents live within a half-mile, or a 10-minute walk, of a clean, safe park. In Cleveland, 83% of residents have walkable park access. As we work to close the gap and create park access for all residents, it is critical we engage the community around future park investments to ensure the parks truly meet community needs. In this breakout, Jessica Gift from the City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects and Sean Terry from the Trust for Public Land shared highlights on how the City of Cleveland is optimizing park investments and utilizing creative ways to engage the community around parks, even during a pandemic.
Electric Vehicles in Northeast Ohio Back to the Future!
As the demand for electric vehicles continues to rise, it is vital for Cleveland, Northeast Ohio and the state, to be at the forefront of this shift to cleaner on-road transportation, and regain lost ground. City of Cleveland’s Energy Manager, Anand Natarajan, and Energy Analyst, Elizabeth Lehman share the City’s progress on its Climate Action Plan’s sustainable transportation initiatives. Andrew Conley from Clean Fuels Ohio provides an update on the Electric Vehicles (EV) landscape across the state, and shares best practices from cities that are on the cutting edge of this transformation.
Food (in)Security: Combating Hunger and Increasing Local Food Access
While Cleveland is known for its strong food culture, unfortunately, many local families face challenges in accessing fresh, nutritious food. During a pandemic, these challenges are only intensified. In Cleveland, we are fortunate to have a number of dedicated local leaders working to reduce hunger, support our local food system, and increase opportunities for vulnerable residents. We joined representatives from Food Access Raises Everyone (FARE), Garden Valley Neighborhood House, and Refugee Response to learn more about their amazing work to increase access to healthy, local food- before, during, and after the pandemic.
Why It Is Crucial for Black Representation In Sustainability
Join Raina Turner-Greenlea from the Sustainable Community Solutions Network for an informative and interactive breakout session. Attendees will walk away with a culturally relevant perspective of sustainability, why we need more representation of Black/African people in this space, and increased awareness of Black Sustainability practitioners and the Black Sustainability Network. Learn how you can support their work and the planet at the same time.
Grassroots Initiatives Combatting COVID-19
We heard from a number of grassroots groups working to combat the effects of COVID-19 in their communities. Panelists discussed how they have helped reduce social isolation, provided food, and also how they've supported neighbors in other ways. Learn how you might access funding and personal protective equipment (PPE) to do something similar in your neighborhood, town, or city.
Recycling in Cleveland: We Want to Hear from You!
As the City of Cleveland updates its curbside recycling program, it is important we hear from our residents. During this breakout we provided status updates on the program evaluation and opportunities for participants to give input on what they would like to see in future waste reduction and recycling programs. While this breakout was primarily be geared towards the City of Cleveland residents, all were welcome to join, learn more, and share your feedback.
Getting to 100% Clean and Renewable Electricity in Cleveland
In 2018, Cleveland became the first city in the State of Ohio to commit to powering itself with 100% clean and renewable electricity by 2050. As part of this commitment, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability is working collaboratively with local partners to develop an Equitable Clean Energy Implementation Plan that will arm Cleveland residents, stakeholders, and decision makers with the information to transition to 100% clean electricity in an achievable and equitable manner. This plan will incorporate a wide range of locally designed energy efficiency and distributed renewable energy solutions while supporting workforce development and addressing energy burdens. Watch the session to hear as members of the project team discuss the plan and get your input for the future of renewable electricity in Cleveland.
Listening Session: 10-Year Housing and Investment Plan
The City of Cleveland recently launched a 10-Year Housing and Investment Plan to develop a blueprint for housing options and investment tools which will retain and attract residents to Cleveland’s neighborhoods. The goal is to provide every Cleveland household with the opportunity to obtain housing in the private market, and to use housing programs to assist where needed. The 10-Year Housing and Investment Plan engagement team presented this virtual listening session about housing initiatives that are working in Cleveland and which ones could work better.
Cleveland's Green Gold: Our Trees
The Cleveland Tree Plan was approved by the City in 2016. Since that time, the City has lost some of its tree canopy while moving forward with its partners to increase it. In this session, we heard from the Cleveland Tree Coalition and the Chief of Sustainability on the progress made and future plans.
Youth and Sustainability: The Future is Green
At its core, sustainability is all about making things better for future generations. However, as we start to see the environmental, economic, and social impacts of climate change today, our youth are becoming increasingly aware of the threats they are expected to face in their lifetime.
Community Organizing and Engagement: How You Can Get Involved!
Hopefully, during the 2-day Summit participants generated ideas for their community or workplace and were now seeking resources to help move their ideas forward. In this session, Ty Olson introduced representatives from organizations from across the region offering resources for ways for residents to get involved.
Recap from the 11th Annual Sustainable Cleveland Summit
Celebrating 10 Years. Building the Future.
Thanks to all who joined us for the 11th Annual Sustainable Cleveland Summit on October 16, 2019. Over 500 residents, local businesses, and sustainability leaders from all walks of life participated in this continuing effort to develop a thriving and resilient Cleveland region.
The 2019 Summit marked the Culmination of Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s Sustainable Cleveland 2019 10-year initiative. We honored the many people and organizations that have gotten us this far, while also building off this foundation for even greater progress. The Summit included remarks from Mayor Frank Jackson, keynote presentations, recognition and awards, facilitated discussions on key priorities going forward, and much more:
- Circular Economy - Addressing recycling challenges while also laying the groundwork to become a national leader in the circular economy through reuse, sharing, repair & remanufacturing.
- 100% Renewable Energy - Transitioning toward 100% renewable electricity while fighting poverty and creating opportunity.
- Trees & Green Spaces- Providing access to trees and vibrant green space for all Clevelanders.
- Vision Zero & Sustainable Transportation - Advancing safe, equitable, and sustainable transportation throughout Cleveland.
- Clean Water - Building off the success of Cuyahoga50 to create greater access to our most valuable asset...water.
- The Movement - Looking Beyond 2019, what's next for engaging Clevelanders in sustainability and climate action.
We had five dynamic keynote speakers this year presenting on various topics such as transportation, circular economy, and climate change.
Dr. Richard Ezike, Senior Policy Associate with the Urban Institute
India Birdsong, General Manager & CEO of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Circular Economy Keynotes
Michael Waas, Global Vice President of Brand Partnerships with TerraCycle
Nik Engineer, Executive Lead of North America Operations with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Climate Change Speaker
Michael Shank, Ph.D., Communications Director with the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance
- City Photo Coverage
- Summit Participant Workbook
- Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summary
- Matt Gray, Chief of Sustainability "State of Sustainable Cleveland"
- 'Last' Sustainable Cleveland 2019 event just the beginning
- Cleveland commits to spending up to $1 million each year for 10 years toward restoring the Forest City's tree canopy
- Ripple effects of Sustainable Cleveland 2019 spread
- Cleveland Commits $1 Million A Year To Revitalize Tree Canopy
- RTA Refocusing on Low-to Mid-Income Riders, CEO says
- City of Cleveland Press Release
- Sustainable Cleveland 2019: Celebrating 10 Years. Building the Future.
- Today marks 50 years since the nation watched a river burn.
- Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit
- Keeping It Green
We thank the Summit sponsors not only for making this event possible but for being critical partners in sustainability.
Blue Lake Sponsors
Lake Erie Sponsors
Every year leading up to 2019, Cleveland has focused on one of the key areas fundamental to a sustainable city. The Sustainable Cleveland Celebration Years are designed to be accessible to all members of the community — households, neighborhoods, businesses, and institutions can all participate, either in collaboration or independently. In 2019, we are celebrating the Year of People!
At its core, SC2019 is built on engaging citizens to reshape our city’s future. SC2019’s motto, “Together, we’re building a thriving green city on a blue lake,” emphasizes empowerment, cooperation, action, quality of life, and abundance. People, not programs, are the answer to true and lasting climate action and sustainability in Cleveland. This means that a whole system, citizen-centered approach will be needed to align climate action with the assets, capacity and priorities of Cleveland residents and business owners.
The Sustainable Cleveland "system" includes residents from every Cleveland neighborhood, business owners, and stakeholders from many organizations and corporations. In order for Cleveland residents to care about and to act upon climate change and other sustainability topics, they must connect to their everyday lives; they need to recognize climate change and climate action in their own backyards. By building upon what most people care about—safety, health, youth, education, jobs—there is potential to engage Cleveland’s residents and to be led in more creative directions as we become a Green City on a Blue Lake.
Progress Dashboard: Check out our progress dashboard to keep up with the strides we have taken on many sustainability indicators since 2009! We are extremely grateful to the people of Cleveland who have helped us get this far and we continue to look for people to engage in the future!
Climate Action: The City of Cleveland has partnered with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and ioby (in our back yards) to update the Cleveland Climate Action Plan, with a focus on equity and engagement. Residents may use our Neighborhood Climate Action Toolkit to engage their community in sustainability.
Report from the Community: The Sustainable Cleveland Report from the Community will be released this summer and will serve as a high-level summary for the SC2019 initiative- capturing highlights and success stories since SC2019’s launch in 2009.
Get involved in the Year of People at home, at work and in your community!
Enter the photo contest! SHARE a photo of yourself or others doing a sustainable activity in Cleveland!
Year of People Kickoff: Join us as we kickoff the Year of People at City Hall Rotunda in January! We will be celebrating the individuals who make up many of our sustainability partners.
Potluck in the Park: Get to know your neighbors by attending Vital Neighborhood Working Group’s annual Potluck in the Park event at Dunham Tavern during summer 2019! This community-wide potluck moves to a different location each year to bring growers, producers, cooks and eaters together over a healthy meal to celebrate local food.
ioby: ioby (in our back yard) gives leaders the ability to organize all kinds of capital—cash, social networks, in-kind donations, volunteers, advocacy— to build real, lasting change from the ground up. Learn about what the leaders in your community are doing to make your neighborhood a more vital place to live and learn what you can do to help.
Common Ground: Common Ground creates a network of community conversations where residents can meet, share a meal, connect and discuss the 2019 theme:
My environment was…My environment is…My environment will be…
Check out the Sustainable Cleveland events calendar for an updated list of Year of People events.
If you are interested in volunteering at these or other Sustainable Cleveland events, please contact Cathi Lehn at email@example.com.
Every year leading up to 2019, Cleveland will focus on one of the key areas fundamental to a sustainable city. The Sustainable Cleveland Celebration Years are designed to be accessible to all members of the community — households, neighborhoods, businesses, and institutions can all participate, either in collaboration or independently. In 2018, we are celebrating the Year of Vital Neighborhoods! In 2018, we are celebrating the Year of Vital Neighborhoods! Click here to see photos of the kickoff event.
Why Vital Neighborhoods?
Neighborhoods are the building blocks of a great urban area. They are the real places of daily life where people come together, to network, to build relationships, and where a sense of identity and history is created. There are many actions Clevelanders can take to help support their neighborhoods, including volunteering, learning about how you can take climate action, and getting to know your neighbors!
Resilient Cleveland: The Cleveland Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity Initiative includes a detailed assessment of the current and anticipated effects of climate change in the Midwest and identifies projects, programs, policies, engagement strategies, and future research to lessen overall energy demand, anticipate and prepare for climate changes and shocks, and foster social cohesion.
Cleveland Tree Plan: Launched in 2015 and adopted by the Cleveland Planning Commission in 2016, the Cleveland Tree Plan is a community-wide collaboration to rebuild the urban forest so that Northeast Ohio residents can experience the benefits of reforesting our city, generating greater resiliency, health, prosperity and overall quality of life.
Climate Action: The City of Cleveland has partnered with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and ioby (in our back yards) to update the Cleveland Climate Action Plan, with a focus on equity and engagement. Residents may use our Neighborhood Climate Action Toolkit to engage their community in sustainability. Watch for the public comment period for the Plan in the very near future.
Thank you for joining the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability as we kicked off The Year of Vital Neighborhoods.
Neighborhoods are the building blocks of a great urban area. They are the real places of daily life — places where people interact face to face, where transactions are made, and where a sense of identity and history is created. They are also the places where most people can live decent lives with the least environmental impact. By bringing opportunities together in close proximity, neighborhoods reduce the need for transportation.
Sustainable Cleveland 2019 is a 10-year initiative that engages everyone to work together to design and develop a thriving and resilient Cleveland that leverages its wealth of assets to build economic, social and environmental well-being for all.