With the first month of the year coming to a close, the holidays are now a distant memory and many of us have already left our New Year's resolutions in the dust. That's why I waited until now to post my column on resolutions -- when we've all had a chance to make and break one already.
My resolution is based on the inspiring change that I saw over the course of 2011. Over the course of the year there were many important developments in the world of science, technology and policy that will have long term effects on the environment and the way we live.
In my home city of Chicago the Willis Tower is set to become a massive solar electric tower with the installation of a pilot solar electric project. Up on the south side of the 56th floor, windows will be replaced with a new type of photovoltaic glass which doesn't alter day-lighting and views but reduces heat gain and creates the same energy as conventional solar panels.
In the realm of technology, scientists at MIT created a new photovoltaic energy-conversion system that can be powered solely by heat, generating electricity with no sunlight at all -- this could lead to creating 'solar' power in places where we haven't previously been able to.
In policy, earlier this year the White House announced stringent new fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, calling for heavy duty vehicles to meet fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission standards for the first time ever beginning in 2014. Also, the EPA issued new rules limiting mercury emissions by power plants, a long standing and serious issue for water supplies.
Across the ocean in a controversial move the European Union plans to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions from airlines. And it's being reported that renewable energy is surpassing fossil fuels for the first time in new power-plant investments.
In my green neck of the woods -- textile recycling -- there have also been some truly positive steps forward. The Council for Textile Recycling, a nonprofit group based in Maryland, recently launched a new campaign to encourage people to recycle their clothes and other textiles like linens, and shoes. They also just launched a new website to educate consumers about the importance of textile recycling and the effects of textile production on the environment.
Eric Stubin, who chairs the organization, said, "Our goal is to have zero post-consumer textile waste going into landfills by 2037. We're educating people that clothing and textiles are among the most recyclable items in their home."
I am an enthusiastic supporter of this campaign! You might remember that last spring I asked people to take the Not One Sock Pledge and commit to one year of not throwing any single textile in the trash. So my resolution, not a moment too soon, is to adhere to this pledge. And to show our support for The Council for Textile Recycling's new campaign, here at USAgain, we are reissuing this call to action.