Last week's 'snowpocalypse' at our Austin warehouse and across the Southern States had us take a closer look at whats happening weather-wise in our world. Record breaking cold temperatures and threatening winter snow storms are happening ALL around the world...and it’s not “just the weather”.
Could these record breaking storms and arctic temperatures be a sign of global warming getting worse? And if so, is there something we can do now to slow it down and prevent even worse conditions from happening in the future?
THE POLAR VORTEX
Imagine there was a switch that could control the severity of the weather around the world. Once that switch is activated - like a series of dominos being knocked over - it can start a chain of events that results in wild weather happening around the world.
In the case of weather, that switch is called The Polar Vortex.
The Polar Vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth's North and South poles and is kept in place with a counter-clockwise flow of air. When the jet stream changes, it affects the movement of weather systems, causing extreme warmer or colder temperatures or wetter or drier conditions in different parts of the world.
Scientists report that the Arctic is heating up at a rate more than twice the global average, which is wreaking havoc on long-established climatic systems. And while the polar vortex is a natural phenomenon that would likely break down over time, evidence indicates that climate change is contributing to the weakening of this vortex, resulting in the drastic weather changes that we are seeing at a greater frequency and intensity.
NOT JUST ANOTHER COLD WINTER
We all know climate change is an issue. We talk about it endlessly on this blog and have been for the past 16 years as a company. Like everyone who is passionate about saving the planet, we are all “doing our best” to build awareness.
But this latest storm is not just another cold winter. And we can no longer “just do our best”.
Real change needs to happen. And it needs to happen NOW.
These latest storms are indicators - red lights flashing - of the structural integrity of the polar vortex breaking down.
Scientists call it a sudden stratospheric warming - violent disturbances that severely distort and weaken the vortex, knocking it off of the pole or even ripping it apart. When this happens, temperatures in the normally cold polar stratosphere explosively rise by as much as 90 degrees Fahrenheit, over the span of a few days.
Which brings us back to the flipped polar vortex switch.
It can take weeks or months for the polar vortex to recover, and it never goes back to its original state. And in actuality, the extreme cold weather many parts of the world is experiencing, is actually a foreshadowing of warmer weather, yet to come.
The reality is, the past six years from 2015 to 2020 were the earth's warmest six years in recorded history, according to the National Academy of Sciences. It’s a disturbing trend and one we cannot sit idly watching and waiting.
BUILDING A HEALTHY FUTURE - TOGETHER
In this global climate crisis, we cannot wait for or count on the governments or people in power to make changes. It is the power of each of our individual actions that could make an impact on this fight for the planet.“The greatest threat to the planet,is the belief that someone else will save it.”Robert Swan, Author
It is in our daily choices, one right choice after another, that will compound into real change on the planet. It is not just talking about change, but living our lives in such a way that change is happening, that we inspire and impact others.
There is a lot to think about, but in our view, “thinking about it” will get you nowhere. In fact, so many who start with thinking about what they can do about it, actually end up overwhelmed with unrealistic expectations and standards, that they end up NOT doing anything. Or after implementing radical unrealistic sustainable changes, end up going back to where they started.
So leave it to us, we have put together a few easy things you can start doing to start, or further, your journey of sustainable living. With a few foundational and sustainable habits in place, you can discover your values around sustainability, and steps that are manageable to you.
EASY TIPS TO PERSONALIZING SUSTAINABLE LIVING
You will notice that we always start with writing down your own sustainable values as the first step to sustainability. Sustainability is not just a dictionary term, in actuality, to make it doable and consistent, it has to be something that fits with your values and your lifestyle. Saying you are going to grow your own garden and never eat store bought food again, is not practical for most people.
The idea behind sustainable living, is to make it actually sustainable. Sit down with your family or yourself, and decide what is important to you in terms of your own sustainable lifestyle.
A good way to start or build on your sustainable living habits is to first see where you can minimize. In our recent article about minimalism, we talked about the role minimalism has on the journey to sustainability. And learning to live with less - getting rid of things you don’t use or need first - is important to then deciding with intention, what you do need and want.
Minimalism does not mean you have to live in a tiny house, with no furniture, and wear the same outfit everyday. It means bringing attention and intention to what you do have, allowing space to appreciate the things that really matter to you - like nonrenewable time.
Living a sustainable lifestyle does not mean “shop” is a four letter word! Shopping sustainably is actually, in many cases, GOOD for the planet.
How can that be when every product we purchase has an environmental footprint?
The truth is, when you buy from a sustainable, zero waste brand like Nui Organics - who uses naturally biodegradable and renewable natural fibers for our clothing, and biodegradable packaging, your purchases have little impact on the planet. They in fact help a small business passionate about helping people and the planet thrive, survive and help more people live sustainable lives.
By aligning your dollars with your values, you support organic and sustainable growers, farmers, workers, and their families. And greater demand causes those environmentally friendly industries to grow, and the toxic and polluting industries to shrink.
For this step, make a list of sustainable, zero waste stores and brands that align with your values and style. Then the next time you shop, you can shop confident that your purchase not only looks good or tastes good, but also FEELS good.
Reading labels can often be confusing, and knowing what to look for in terms of health and sustainability, is even more confusing.
While words like “organic”, “grass fed and finished”, “natural” are often clearly found on a label, words like “pesticide and chemically processed” are not.Experts have noted that if it does not say “organic”, it is NOT. And even still, there is little regulation for labels that can claim to be organic, or natural. This is why knowing who you are buying from, is important. And not to toot our own sustainable horn, but a company like Nui who was one of the first sustainable companies on the market in 2004 who is still in business and serving a loyal customer base, ensures that we are a trusted sustainable brand.
Do your research. We’ve talked endlessly about toxic chemicals in your clothing, and why organic cotton matters. Removing outside exposure to pesticides and toxic chemicals in your food and clothing, helps build your immune system while helping the fight against climate change.
Today billions of pounds of plastic can be found at the bottom of the ocean. Plastic makes up about 40 percent of the world’s ocean surfaces. Every year thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, seals and other marine mammals are killed after ingesting plastic, not to mention the fish eating those toxic plastics that then wind up on your own plate.But it’s not just plastic bottles and bags. It’s the microplastics -750,000 of them - that are released every time you wash a load of synthetic clothing.
This isn’t about guilt though, this is about going green! With awareness that certain loads of laundry may be more polluting than others, you can wash less, and replace synthetic clothing with sustainable clothing when you shop.
Going for a walk in nature is actually an action that will help the fight against climate change. After all, you cannot appreciate or want to protect something if you do not know it or have a connection to it.
For your health and sanity alone, the benefits of being in nature include: reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and ADHD, lower levels of inflammation and blood pressure, and an improved immune system.
The benefits for the planet are equally as profound. Research shows that the more time you spend in nature, the more connected you feel - as a person and to the planet.
For kids, spending time in nature is even more important. They develop empathy, true connections with their peers, habits of caring and generosity, as well as resilience, adaptability, and character. And even further, they develop compassion and connection with a planet they will grow up to want to protect.
SAVING THE PLANET, ONE DAY AT A TIME
The list of sustainable living tips is endless and ongoing. And it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, it just has to be (pun intended) sustainable.
It’s a daily habit, one after another. And unlike The Polar Vortex, we as humans do bounce back and instead of losing our integrity, we build it and can create it.
So we want to know, what is your next step in your sustainable lifestyle to help us all fight climate change together?