Friday, May 29, 2020

Powered by the Sun. And Beans

By guest blogger Sergio Avila*

Time at home can help feed some creativity, or at least allow some leisure time to try new things. Some people are gardening and/or cooking at home; some are working out, painting or playing an instrument. In my case, it has been a time for trying, learning and even experimenting, and I acknowledge it is a privilege. A few weeks ago, I decided to dust off my solar oven and cook some meals while taking advantage of the longer, warmer days. This time has allowed me to experiment with my cooking, new recipes and also to share with other people who haven't considered cooking with the sun. 

The solar oven (also known as 'sun oven') is a box made of wood, metal or another material, lined with insulation on all, but one side; with a small door to insert cooking pots and pans, sitting on a metal plate at the bottom. The box is open on one end, but covered with a glass to allow the sunlight to heat up the metal plate. The way this works is by heating up the metal plate where pots sit (like your stove) while also keeping the heat inside the box (like an oven) while it sits directly under the sun. Sometimes people add metal “wings” over the box to capture more sunlight. In my case, my solar oven is large so the sunlight comes in through a glass window; temperature inside can get up to between 250 and 300 degrees F. 

It's important the solar oven rotates to always face the sun with the glass side. There are many ways of doing this, from just moving the box with your hands, adding wheels or even a solar sensor that will rotate the box when shaded - which I saw once while visiting Tucson's Festival of the Sun, an annual solar potluck and exhibition at Catalina State Park. 

Generally, vegetables are the easiest to cook. I like to cook beans (black, pinto or tepari beans), lentils, calabacitas (a dish made with squash, onions and other veggies.) Pre-soaked beans will cook in around 3 hours, and with enough water, they can stay there a little longer. Once I made Mexican rice and I was pleasantly surprised! I'm not much of a baker, but sugar or oatmeal cookies would be easy to make.  At the Festival of the Sun I saw people cooking meat, ribs, cakes. I think this takes practice, and knowing your oven well, but it's worth the try. You can even use it to boil water, make sun tea or dry fruit (though this requires air circulating).

If you are a do-it-yourself kind of person, there are many plans to build your own solar oven online; a quick search should give you lots of results, ideas, and photographs. You can use mostly recycled materials, and might need to buy a piece of glass, a metal plate for the base, and the insulation that covers the walls. If you want to invest some money and buy one already made, that's also a good route and you should find many alternatives.

In Tucson, you can experience the flavors of solar-cooked food and learn about appliances and solar arts from Citizens for Solar and the Solar Guild. Their annual Solar Potluck, co-sponsored by Catalina State Park, is an educational, family-friendly event to learn about solar cooking, energy conservation and other topics on sustainability.

A little practice will help you estimate cooking time, amount of water or other details for successful, delicious meals. In years past I left food cooking, went to the office and came back to a ready pot of veggies or lentils. Solar ovens can be used at home, at the work place, the park, or even during camping trips. I like the solar oven because I can cook some meals with little supervision and zero energy. My solar oven also provides me with the opportunity to show and tell, to share ideas for sustainable alternatives, and inspire others to create their own. It makes me feel independent and taking advantage of a resource we enjoy in Arizona pretty much all the time. 

Sun’s out. Solar oven’s cooking!

*Sergio Avila is a wildlife biologist and conservationist, an immigrant, a trail runner, and a desert dweller. He works as Local Outdoors Program Coordinator with the Sierra Club, and is a Commissioner in the City of Tucson’s Commission on Climate, Energy and Sustainability, and a Society for Conservation Biology Board member. He can be found in Twitter and Instagram @Sergio_concolor

Monday, May 25, 2020

Spineless Prickly Pear Brunch

As Dan and I steward in place, we are enjoying the desert bounty already growing in our own backyard - our spineless prickly pear! My friend Duane tells me this isn't prickly pear pickin' time... But our spineless prickly pear is ripe for the pickin'!

You can identify this variety by the yellow flowers, pink and burgundy fruit and the new beaver-tail shaped pads with little curved conical green leaves. 

For the past few weeks Dan has been harvesting the ripe, burgundy colored fruit and making delicious prickly pear syrup. You can watch our "how to" video here.

Dan holding the fruit with tongs and brushing off spines 
Meanwhile, I have been harvesting our nopales and preparing them for breakfast and snacks. This has come in real handy since we aren't going to store as often in an attempt to avoid the crowds during the pandemic! We don't really have to tend the cactus like I do with our other edible plants. Though Dan occasionally dumps some kitchen rinse water on them when they are looking really desiccated.

harvesting the younger pods with bbq tongs
Lately I have been harvesting the new pads. FAIR WARNING: the word "Spineless" in the name is misleading since under the curly leaves are white spots with tiny spines that can stick to your fingers or tongue if you're not careful. I got one in my finger that was irritating me to no end last night. The younger pads are darker green and smaller (averaging 5 inches) than the older pads that appear spineless. The older pads are tougher and not as tasty. 

younger prickly pair pad with leaves ready to be harvested
Here's how I prepared the pads...

First, I put them in a plastic bowl to keep them from moving around as much. I hold them still with salad tongs as I scrape off the leaves and those sneaky spines under the leaves.  I found it easiest to use the grill scraper we had in a bbq kit. You can also scrape them with the blade of a knife - but then you can't use the bowl to control them. 

Next, I rinse off the spines with water and and pour it out over on the cactus. (We try not to waste water since we live in the desert.) 

I found that the spines on the edges of the pad are difficult to scrape off, so I use the salad tongs to hold down the pad while I cut off the end and the sides of the pad. 

Then I cut them into pieces. 

Finally, I rinse off the nopale pieces to get rid of the rest of the spines and to rinse away the slime. Notice that I am doing it outside to keep all the spines out of my kitchen. 

I don't like to waste anything, so I pour the slime water around my potato plants. I hope they like it. 

These pods produce a lot of slime. (Think "Ghost Busters.") They need to be rinsed off several times until most of the slime is gone or you lose patience. 

Then I dice an onion and saute it with the nopales. 

sauteing them produces more slime
You can eat them like that on a tortilla. But we added tomatoes, potatoes and eggs to make a yummy scramble. I microwaved a potato while I was cooking the nopales. When the nopales were cooked (tender and lighter in color) I  removed them from the skillet, added a splash more olive oil, and fried the potatoes. I added the nopales and chopped tomatoes, scooted them to one side of the pan and scrambled 3 eggs on the other side of the pan. Finally, I stirred it all together. 

nopales scramble! Yum! 
Meanwhile, Dan blended some prickly pear syrup, lemon lime seltzer and spiced rum to make a prickly pear cooler to have with our nopales scramble. We enjoyed a yummy brunch on the patio with a lovely view of hummingbirds pollinating our prickly pear blossoms. More fruit to come! 

Now that's what I call stewarding in place! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Help needed mapping activities along the Santa Cruz River

The Soronan Institute can use our help in Mapping Activities along the Santa Cruz River

This interactive map and survey about the Santa Cruz River will help answer these questions: Where along the Santa Cruz River do you visit? Why do you choose to go there? What improvements would you like to see? Community responses will inform future management decisions about how to enhance and improve the Santa Cruz River.

Anyone familiar with the river may participate, though we are specifically looking to hear from residents of river communities. This includes the areas of Nogales–Rio Rico, Amado–Green Valley–Sahuarita, and the San Xavier District of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Feel free to share.

- Posted April 30, 2019

Contact with questions.

Actividades de mapeo en el río Santa Cruz,

Este mapa interactivo y cuestionario sobre el río Santa Cruz ayudará a responder estas preguntas: ¿Qué sitios a lo largo del río Santa Cruz visita? ¿Por qué elige visitar estos sitios? ¿Qué mejoras le gustaría ver en estos sitios? La opinión de la comunidad informará la toma de decisiones para un mejor manejo y gestión del río Santa Cruz. Si tiene alguna pregunta, por favor contacte a

Cualquier persona que conozca o este familiarizada con el río Santa Cruz puede llenar este cuestionario, sin embargo buscamos conocer la opinión de las comunidades aledañas al río Santa Cruz en específico, incluyendo los residentes de Nogales–Río Rico, Amado–Green Valley–Sahuarita, y el Distrito de San Xavier de la Nación Tohono O’odham.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Time to Imagine and Create a Better Place

I've been meaning to blog about wildflowers, but got distracted by the Corona Virus and worrying about how will it affect our efforts to make Tucson more sustainable in the face of climate disaster. 

It is disheartening to read about the hoarding of toilet paper and bottled water - because that means more carbon sequestering trees will be cut down and more single-use plastic will end up in our landfills and the ocean. But mostly because it reflects how our consumer society deals with crisis. Instead of pulling together as a community, we are elbowing our neighbor out of the way to grab the last package of toilet paper (making a shortage where there was none.) 

To be more resilient (or even thrive) as climate change progresses, we need to pull our community together and work towards shared goals. Obviously we aren't there yet.  But...what if we think of this first response as a test run that we can learn from?  An opportunity? What if we take advantage of our free time by reading up on sustainable solutions (like rainwater harvesting) or even trying out a more sustainable lifestyle

We finally have time for a leisurely walk, smelling the bountiful wildflowers along the way, or to enjoy being outside tending our yards in this lovely weather. We can finally  take precious time with our kids teaching them how to bake bread or grow their own food in a garden.

The other day Dan and I observed where the rain fell in our yard and adjusted our basins and berms to better direct the water to our native trees. We planted some dill and basil in our kitchen garden. Dan even baked some Irish soda bread for St. Patrick's Day.

A while ago I wrote this poem about a joyful way of living and being. At the time I realized many people are so busy just trying to survive that they don't have the time to enjoy these simple pleasures. But there was a time when only one person in the family had to have a job - so what happened? What if we adjusted our priorities?  What if we were all paid a living wage? What if we reconsidered our consumer lifestyle and spent more time in nature?  Just imagine...

Imagine this place…
Where we live in harmony with nature
Landscaping reflecting the natural beauty of the Sonoran desert
Instead of gravel and cement - agave, mesquite, palo verde flourish
Rainwater washes down roof tops to nourish fruit trees and fill aquifers
When we no longer obstruct the flow but go with it
Rivers surrounded by cottonwood and oak

Imagine this place
Where we live in harmony with others
Nurturing, inspiring the individual gifts everyone has to share
Instead of TV and Youtube - family, neighbors, community connects
Supporting local farmers, artisans, craftsmen, passionate entrepreneurs
When we no longer obstruct the flow but go with it
Talents developed with encouragement and love

Imagine this place
Where we live in harmony with the dirt
Harvesting nourishing heritage crops for everyone to share
Instead of teaching lack and fear - we teach love, justice, environmental respect
Restoring local rivers, aquifers with berms, water barrels, catchment basins
When we no longer obstruct the flow but go with it
Desert crops sprout in the dirt, roots reaching for the

Imagine all the time
Time to live in the present, fully alive
To soak in the brilliance of our sunsets during an evening stroll
To feel the wind in your face as you coast down a hill
Time to take in the fragrance of creosote after the rain
To toast the spectacle of monsoon storms with your love
Time to dig in the garden with your children
To settle back and watch things grow
Time to share your harvest at a neighborhood potluck
 To paint, to read, to bake, to sing, to dance, to play…

Imagine floating on your back, you are part of the flow

Imagine this place

You don't have to go it alone. Join our community on Facebook. 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Steve K Champions Plan to Use Glass that Would Have Ended Up in Our Landfills

While attending a Mayor and City Council meeting in support of green infrastructure funding, I caught the tail end of their discussion on what to do about our threatened recycling program. Apparently, the city is losing $3 million dollars a year. They discussed ways to save money. One way was to cut down pickups to twice a month. (That change has already been implemented.) They also discussed the high cost of storing glass bottles until they can find a buyer. It was suggested that they throw that glass in the landfill!


I couldn't help but blurt out, "No! Find a use for it!" Not exactly council meeting decorum, I know. But there has got to be a purpose for that glass! In Mexico they used to melt down glass bottles to make glassware. A local artist uses colored glass to decorate her cement candle holders. Since we are running out of sand, couldn't we use glass to replace it in cement structures?

When arriving at the Ward 6 Office for our monthly Sustainable Tucson meeting, my husband pointed out the new sidewalk made out of cement with sand from crushed glass!

When I mentioned the sidewalk to our Council Member Steve Kozachik, he gave me an impromptu demonstration of the glass crusher he had used to make the sand for the cement. He insisted that I try it myself. It was pretty fun.

crushing bottles with labels on them
Steve said that even the cement workers who put in the sidewalk thought it was a crazy idea to use sharp glass.  But any concerns were eased when Steve let me feel for myself how soft and fine the glass sand is.

One of the things I love about Steve K is how responsive he is to his constituents. As much as I'd like to think that my outburst inspired Steve, it was really Val Little who approached him with the idea of using the glass to make sand. She had seen it done in other countries during her travels abroad. Steve got right on it. He surfed the web and found a glass crusher for $6,000 then got the go-ahead from city manager Mike Ortega, who agreed to purchase it for a “pilot program.” 

When I asked Steve why he took on this project, he explained, "We're losing over $3M annually in our recycling program. We have to devise some creative new ways to do the whole reduce/reuse/recycle thing. This is just demonstrating that to city staff."

He told Arizona Daily Star, “What I’m doing back in the garage is really, really (low) retail scale to show the environmental services people that you can scale this up and we can do this on a commercial level. We can create our own secondary market and maybe even make a few bucks."  The sand will be used for monsoon sand bags/mortar mix/filling alley potholes/cover at the landfill/trench lining...anything sand is used for.

I was grateful to have a place to bring the kombucha bottles that were piling up on my back porch. I coudn't bring myself to throw them in the trash when they would just end up in the landfill.  So I brought a few with me when I went to the Sustainable Tucson meeting at Ward 6. 

If you were wondering why the Ward 6 garage smells like a brewery, it is because Steve first approached bars on 4th Avenue to supply him with bottles. He is currently arranging for more drop-off locations around town. In the meantime, you can drop them off in the blue bins in the back parking lot of the Ward 6 office anytime you're in the neighborhood or attending a meeting there. No need to take off the labels, but please help Steve out by removing the plastic and metal lids and dumping out any liquid beforehand.  

What's next? Steve has the city setting up multiple drop off sites around town, buying a commercial scale crusher, and letting Republic Services know that we're not doing business as usual in the recycle world any longer.

So drop by the Ward 6 office anytime with your glass bottles and to thank Steve K! 

The Ward 6 Office is located at 3202 E 1st St, Tucson, AZ (behind the Walgreens on Speedway across from the Loft Cinema.) 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

"Move Tucson" Transportation Master Plan: Your input needed!

Last night I attended the City's transportation event to launch Move Tucson.  The goal is to create a Transportation Master Plan that is good for everyone. Mayor Regina Romero spoke about the importance of getting community input and support. So, please, take a few minutes to fill out the survey (link below.) She stressed that this information will be used as guidelines for ACTIONS to be taken by the Mayor and City Council. In addition to community hearings, there will be outreach at the major bus stops and in neighborhoods - to ensure equitable representation. 

The Transportation Master Plan is an important step in mitigating climate change and in making Tucson more sustainable. I personally ride the bus, so I see the need for more stops and later running times. Right now you can't get everywhere in Tucson. Also, I've heard stories of people getting stranded because they didn't realize that the bus stopped running so early. Imagine being stranded on a cold night. If we are going to get more people to ride the bus instead of driving all over town in one-passenger vehicles, then we need to make it accessible and comfortable. I shared that opinion on the survey below. You can share your thoughts too. 

Move Tucson, Delivering Mobility Choices

The City of Tucson is preparing a city-wide transportation master plan that will create a mobility blueprint for the City's future in a rapidly-changing world. The plan will be innovative, creative, and inclusive. By working together, we can commit ourselves to create a mobility future that works for all of us. How can streets be made safer? How can we expand travel options so more people can walk, bike, or take public transit? How do we improve reliability of travel time, particularly as we grow? We need your help shaping the City's vision and action plan to answer these questions and more. Together, we can create the city we want to be. The outcome of the planning process will be a document that informs the Mayor and Council's decisions in the very near future about policy, resources, and how welcoming and livable our city is to visitors, residents, and business owners.

Interested in helping to shape Tucson's transportation future? Take a short survey and share what's important to you.

If you missed the meeting last night, Here is a Youtube video from the keynote speaker. 

Gabe Klein, co-founder of Cityfi, and co-author of "Start-Up City."

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

What Kind of Climate Champion Are You?

With the tipping point rapidly approaching, we all need to do everything we can to mitigate Climate Change to ensure a more resilient future.

There are many kinds of climate champions. If you're wondering what you can do, here is a sampling of champions and many types of actions we can take. Check out this list and decide which actions to include in your daily routine. Mix and match. Or come up with your own.

Desert Adapted Gardeners

This rebel gardener bucks the system by growing fresh local edibles that don't require fossil fuels to package them or transport them. The Desert Adapted Gardener promotes food resiliency while conserving the desert's most precious resource, water.

Some examples of what Desert Adapted Gardeners do:
  • Sow low-water heritage seeds/fruit trees and edible native trees.
  • Implement earthworks, greywater and rainwater harvesting
  • Use low-water methods: ollas, cardboard covering and organic mulch to hold the moisture
  • Enrich soil with local compost and mulch
  • Regenerative and no-till farming techniques  
  • Position complimentary plants nearby to keep away pests. enrich the soil or attract pollinators. 
  • Keep chickens for poop to fertilize the garden and bcause chickens eat pests 
Composting food scraps keeps them out of our landfills. At the landfill, food and yard waste  release methane, a greenhouse gas that's 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Compost is a natural way to nourish our gardens without nitrogen fertilizer made from fossil fuels. 

Local First Shoppers

Local First Shoppers lower their carbon footprint by purchasing fresh, seasonal produce from local farmers and gardeners. They keep their shopping dollars in the local economy by shopping at local businesses whenever possible.

Imported non-local ingredients can require up to four times the energy of an equivalent locally sourced diet.. The typical meal in the U.S. currently travels anywhere from 1,200 to 2,500 miles from pasture to plate.

Buying local has a strong multiplier effect in the economy in addition to reducing the transportation carbon footprint. A 10% increase in purchasing from locally owned businesses in lieu of national chain stores would yield nearly $200 million in incremental major metropolitan area economic activity and create 1,300 new jobs each year. A dollar spent on local products and services can circulate in the local community up to 15 times.

Some examples of what Local First Shoppers do:
  • Shop for local produce at farmers markets, Co-op, & Community Supported Agriculture
  • Support local artists by purchasing their work at gift giving time
  • Shop at locally owned thrift stores and repurpose shops 
  • Dine out at local restaurants and brewpubs that use locally sourced ingredients
  • Bank at local credit unions that have divested from fossil fuels
  • Purchase Zero Waste Products from local businesses
  • Shop at local bakeries that use native ingredients
  • Avoid products made with palm oil to protect the Rainforest 
  • Shop at businesses that have adopted low-water and energy efficiency features 
  • Rent apartments that use rainwater to irrigate native landscaping and gardens
  • Show support of local businesses by using cash instead of credit 
Local restaurants and businesses create a sense of place and community that makes Tucson a town that people are proud to call home.

Zero Waste Shoppers 

How we shop has a huge impact on the planet. Zero Waste Shoppers try to avoid purchasing products in single-use plastic or Styrofoam. They also use less paper products in order to save trees that sequester carbon. 

Their sustainable lifestyle is an example of how we can transition from a wasteful consumer lifestyle. The goal is to cut back on the manufacturing of single-use plastic that is made from, produced and transported with fossil fuels. The container is used for a moment and then ends up in overflowing landfills (that produce carbon dioxide and methane) and often ends up in our oceans where it is consumed by sea critters. It has been said that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish. Even recycling requires energy, though not as much as mining and then manufacturing new items.

Striving for a Zero Waste lifestyle includes following the 7 R's: Refuse, Reuse, Return, Repair, Repurpose, Recycle, Rot

Some examples of what Zero Waste Shoppers do:
  • Tote reusable grocery and produce bags to the grocery store or farmers market
  • Bring a reusable water bottle everywhere
  • Reuse glass jars to store food
  • Replace paper products with reusable napkins and scraps of cloth to save trees 
  • Avoid plastic packaging by bringing your own bags when buying bulk
  • Get your own jars tared (weighed) at the check out counter before refilling with peanut butter
  • Bring reusable takeout containers and silverware to restaurants
  • Refuse to take plastic silverware when getting take out
  • Dine at restaurants and food trucks that provide compostable takeout containers 
  • Repair appliances rather than purchasing new ones
  • Wear hand-me-down or thrift shop clothes and accessories
  • Buy quality clothes that can be mended rather than fast fashion that ends up in landfill
  • Resist impulse buys of cheap plastic products
  • Cook ugly produce and compost food waste
  • Harvest the fruit from their fruit trees and share it with a neighbor. 
  • Buy products made from produce rescued by Iskashitaa Refugee Network
  • Stop dying hair with chemicals
  • Shave with reusable razors rather than disposable shavers 
  • Recycle as a last resort, but recycle properly
  • Join the conversation at Zero Waste Tucson 

Vegetarians for the Planet

The rain forest is being mowed down to pasture methane-farting cows. We need to protect those ancient trees because they sequester carbon and make the air we breath. The Rainforest has been called the lungs of the earth.  (Not to mention all the biodiversity and wildlife habitats that are being lost.)

One reason that Vegetarians for the Planet have stopped eating meat is to cut down on carbon and methane emissions (and because they love animals, of course.) Vegetarian-only diets generate up to a whopping 42% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and lead to dramatically lower overall environmental impacts compared to non-vegetarian diets.

I realize that not everyone is ready to give up their juicy burgers. But if everyone cut back on their beef consumption, it would have a huge impact. 

Water Conservers

Water is a precious resource in the desert - especially after a 20 year drought and with climate change looming. Our main water source, Colorado River Water is pumped 326 miles to Tucson in Central Arizona Project (CAP) canals. Coal powers those pumps.

Water Conservers are conscious of the water they use and aim to save it.

Some examples of what Water Conservers do:
  • Turn off the tap when brushing their teeth or shampooing hair
  • Conserve water by using the same water more than once
  • Pour dishwater on compost pits or bushes
  • Soak recyclables in dirty dishwater
  • Put a bucket in the shower to collect water while it is heating up
  • Take showers outdoors to water landscaping 
  • Use greywater from washing machine to water trees
  • Replace lawn with desert landscaping
  • Replace high-water-use appliances with water-efficient appliances
  • Install low-flow toilets
  • Use composting toilets

Water Harvesters

Rainwater Harvesters work on water security in the desert by making the most of our rainfall. Greywater Harvesters supplement that by reusing water from washing machines and condensation from air-conditioners.

Some examples of what Water Harvesters do: 
  • Dig the plastic and gravel out of their yards so the water can sink in 
  • Install catchment basins and cisterns to keep the rainwater in their yards to irrigate native trees, desert landscaping and gardens
  • Reuse greywater from washing machines to water drought-tolerant heritage fruit trees
  • Use the condensation from air-conditioners to help water heritage fruit trees
  • Organize neighborhood green infrastructure projects
  • Join a co-op to install rainwater harvesting features in other people's yards and at schools
  • Start a coop at their church
If we all did rainwater harvesting, there would be enough water for everyone in Tucson without relying on CAP water. Green infrastructure directs street water to drought tolerant trees that shade Tucson and sequesters carbon.

Outdoor Exercise Enthusiasts

Biking and walking contribute to a healthy lifestyle enjoying our lovely desert - with the knowledge that we aren't contributing to pollution or worsening climate change by driving everyday.

Nature and Wildlife Lovers 

With more and more of our wildlife going extinct everyday because of lack of habitat (and climate change threatening to aggravate the situation), many nature and wildlife lovers are transforming their yards into edible forests and habitats for birds and pollinators by planting native plants in mulch covered catchment basins.

River Restoration restores biodiversity by creating lush habitats for wildlife along the river's tree-lined banks. Join a team at Watershed Management Group, the Sonoran Institute, or the Sierra Club.

Pull unwanted "weeds" by hand or eat them to keep from spraying Roundup that kills bees (and has been proven to cause cancer.).We need bees to pollinate our gardens and fruit trees!

I'm gonna throw picking buffel grass in here too. Buffel grass is an invasive species that spreads like wildfire and burns so hot it can wipe out our iconic saguaros. Note: when picking be careful not to spread the seeds. It's best to pick them before they go to seed. Just after it rains is easiest .

Energy Efficient Homeowners 

Energy Efficient Homeowners are mindful of their carbon footprint by reducing the amount of energy they use in their home.

Examples of what Energy Efficient Homeowners do:
  • Turn the thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer
  • Turn off the lights and unplug appliances when not in use
  • Switch to LED light bulbs 
  • Replace old appliances with energy-efficient versions (see Solar Energy Adopter too)
  • Make sure appliances are in good repair and filters are clean
  • Install double-paned windows and increase attic installation
  • Plant trees on the north, east and west side of the house to shade it
  • Make sun tea or cook in a solar oven instead of using fossil fuel energy to cook

Solar Energy Adopters 

There's one resource we have plenty of in Arizona - Sunshine.

When it's time to replace old appliances, air conditioners and vehicles, Solar Energy Adopters buy energy efficient, electric versions to be powered with rooftop solar.  Some install an electric car charger in their garage or carport.

Electric Car Aficionados

Our personal vehicles are a major cause of global warming. Collectively, cars and trucks account for nearly one-fifth of all US emissions, emitting around 24 pounds of carbon dioxide and other global-warming gases for every gallon of gas. About five pounds comes from the extraction, production, and delivery of the fuel, while the great bulk of heat-trapping emissions—more than 19 pounds per gallon—comes right out of a car’s tailpipe.

Electric Car Aficionados can charge their car using solar power.

Environmental Advocates

If we all contribute our best efforts, we can have a huge impact on mitigating climate change, decreasing unhealthy pollution, and protecting resources. But some of us need a little more nudging to take positive action. So that's why we have the Environmental Advocates.

Environmental Advocates contact politicians and those in power to encourage them to support laws that protect our planet and curb climate change. That can mean making a phone call, writing your local, state and federal politicians, or meeting with them in person.  Environmental Advocates also provide public input at  city council and board of supervisors meetings. They weigh in on bills in committee at our state legislature by using Request to Speak.

They can advocate for actions that:
At this point, we all need to do everything we can to mitigate climate change in order for Tucson to thrive in the future. There is something on this list that anyone can do.  Consider what can you do that would have the most impact in the short amount of time we have left.

Need moral support? Join a Sustainability Community

Sustainable Tucson meets the second Tuesday of every month and has an active facebook community.

We are all in this together. Please, share.