Soul Candy.

Activating Your Soul’s Desires For a More Delicious (and Healthy) World.

The Earth Day Network, at EarthDay.org, is the world's largest environmental program, with over 50,000 partners in nearly 195 countries.

This month, I had the pleasure to interview Kathleen Rogers and Ken Berlin, the president and CEO of The Earth Day Network and The Climate Reality Project, respectively. I wanted to learn and share ways that we can all support greater health — for ourselves and for the planet upon which we depend for our livelihood. Their wisdom makes it easy to join in and be the change we wish to see for a healthier, cleaner world that is rich in the plants, animals, oceans and glaciers that we love so dearly.

8 Ways That Soul Candy Creates a More Delicious (and Healthy) World

Edible Schoolyards For Better Nutrition

Green Your School for More Money for Education & Healthier Kids

Green Your City

Reforestation for Fresh Air and Much More!

Environmental Literacy

Every Day Green

Green Banks

Vote For Mother Earth

And here are more details on each point.

Edible Schoolyards For Better Nutrition

As Kathleen Rogers, notes, “The idea that we need to feed our kids better is filtering down to everybody.” Certain projects, like The Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, California (founded by culinary icon Alice Waters) have thrived over the decades, even when the school transitioned in administration, students and staff. That says a lot for the organization’s commitment to the project. Without that level of oversight, funding and leadership, the popularity of school gardens can wax and wane based on the parents, teachers, principal and kids. According to Kathleen, the farm-to-school programs tend to be much more organized. One thing that is key is to include the parents. As Kathleen notes: “Kids are tough. If they aren’t eating lettuce and tomatoes at home, it just goes into the trash. There is a need to educate kids and include their parents, and send vegetables home with parents, who might not otherwise be buying them. We must take a holistic approach to raising healthier kids.” Whether you are a parent or just a concerned grown-up who is willing to lend a hand, is there a green thumb and a healthier food project for your local school in your future?

Curbside Kids enjoy Ron Finley’s food. Ron Finley is growing organic food in the food
desert of South Central Los Angeles, and teaching local kids to love kale.
Visit RonFinley.com to learn more.

Green Your School for More Money for Education & Healthier Kids

According to Kathleen Rogers, “If you look at the two and a half billion dollars that we spend on utilities in our public schools every year, you could save a lot of money and, at the same time, improve indoor air quality, improve test scores and kids become more optimistic in a green school.” The Earth Day Network offers models and resources for schools that can be used to create income, to create green energy and to promote healthier schools with more teachers and more resources (like field trips and computers). School booster clubs and PTAs (Parent Teacher Associations) could save their school beaucoup bucks by greening their school and redirecting those funds to the enrichment programs, the arts and computers/technology, etc.

Green Your City

According to Ken Berlin, the president and CEO of The Climate Reality Project, over 170 cities have committed to 100% clean energy. Under the 250 Cities Resolution, 250 mayors attending the Conference of Mayors will be going 100% green. “The idea is to make sure that all of the energy that cities buy comes from renewable energy,” according to Ken Berlin. Has your city signed on? Perhaps you can start a campaign to join in. Other municipal green tips to consider are:

* Becoming more bike-friendly, perhaps through an equitable bike share service.

* Switching street lamps to LEDs

* Increasing the city’s electric vehicle charging stations and/or public transportation

Reforestation for Fresh Air and Much More!

Trees offer multiple benefits to a community. They offer shade, soil retention, healthier soil, carbon sequestration, and in some cases increase property value and even offer food. However, as Kathleen Rogers points out, you really have to know what you’re doing to ensure that the trees thrive and that the local community is invested in the campaign. In the worst-case scenario, trees planted in Haiti ended up being used for firewood. In one of the best-case scenarios, local villagers in India were given ownership of a fruit forest. They were encouraged to pick the fruit and sell it. As a result, the trees are thriving.

According to Kathleen, “Our goal ultimately is to make the lives of people better, reduce carbon, bring back biodiversity and look at a tree as the essence of life. At least 50% of the countries that signed the climate agreement have reforestation as the principal way that they are going to get back to their Nationally Determined Contributions (the NDCs).”

Environmental Literacy

“You study basic math to learn how to function in life. We believe that the basic sciences, the geological sciences, are really important to understand the Earth, so that you can develop an appreciation for it,” Kathleen Rogers said. “There was a time when nobody cared if a utility company cut down every tree in their neighborhood, as long as their electricity wasn’t going to go out. Now, regular people who see that appreciate how much value there is between the ecosystem and their own lives,” she added. The Earth Day Network has 50 different environmental literacy plans, a middle-school textbook on climate change that is available in the Apple iStore and a campaign to get kids out into nature called No Child Left Inside. Creating a green economy requires science, technology, math and engineering, and it also requires environmental literacy so that we create the consumer demand for clean energy products.

Every Day Green For Clean Air, Water & Food

Both Kathleen and Ken emphasized that they are not trying to impact the lifestyles of anyone. They believe that we can all live a rich life, while also reducing our carbon footprint. According to Ken, “When it comes to our individual lives, we don’t have to change our lifestyle, but we should try to live an energy efficient life, to the extent that we can. We can insulate our homes. We can have the most energy efficient lighting. Turn the lights off. Put thermostats in, so that the energy is not on when we’re not there. Buy energy efficient cars, like electric cars or hydro-electric cars. Cut down on the amount of meat that we eat.” Most of these things also put extra money in our pocket. Energy savings translates into budget savings. If you cut your utility usage in half, you cut your utility bill in half, too. EVs, even with today’s low gas prices, can cost half as much to fuel as gas-guzzlers. More savings can be generated when gasoline prices are higher.

Green Banks

Green banks offer low-cost financing for large clean energy projects. The Coalition for Green Capital has been successful in helping 5–6 states set up Green Banks, and is looking to continue their progress on the state level, according to Ken Berlin. However, efforts on the national level have failed. There is currently a Green Bank Act in Congress, which will have a lot of difficulty getting passed, unless there is considerable political activism behind it (see below). According to Ken Berlin, “Worldwide, the estimate is that we need to spend a trillion dollars a year on renewable energy. We’re spending $300-$350 billion on a worldwide basis, so we need to increase the amount of financing. We’ve got to build new projects to transition to a clean energy economy, and for that we need adequate finance. The Green Bank Act will be a step in that direction.”

Vote For Mother Earth

“Representatives know that most people want action on climate change. The polls show this is 70%. But, if people don’t vote, if they don’t show their representatives that they care, if they don’t make it a priority issue, then the representatives just ignore it because they don’t think people are voting on that. So, we need people to be politically active,” according to Ken Berlin. Both Ken and Kathleen encourage everyone to vote green in every election, and to contact their representatives and senators directly, by email and/or by phone, about policy initiatives (like the Green Bank Act) that they care about.

The Earth Day Network and The Climate Reality Project have a lot of resources to help you get started on any of these Soul Candy projects. They also have some exciting new releases that are worth watching. Be sure to check out The Earth Day Network’s Reforestation Map and Canopy Project, and to watch the new Al Gore film, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. The film will be previewed in two cities on July 28, 2017 and will be released in other U.S. cities on August 5, 2017.

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