Four Ways We Can All Support Progress on Climate

By: Mike Forbes, CEO, Alter Eco

For too long, the path to addressing climate change has been hard and frustrating. With temperatures shifting at unprecedented rates and extreme climate events increasing, the health of the planet is at a tipping point. This is even more important with the onset of Covid-19, as such events contribute to increasing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.


On January 20th, 2021, we moved one step forward in changing this. 


In his first few hours of taking office, President Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, fulfilling one of his first promises. By bringing the US back into the global movement of building a sustainable future, President Biden has signaled that climate change is no longer a waiting game. Now, we can start mending the division that has formed between the US and the rest of the world and hold ourselves accountable in reducing carbon emissions and fulfilling domestic climate policies.


Photo Credit: The New York Times
 Photo Credit: The New York Times

We believe this work is important and Alter Eco has been leaning in to help. Emboldened by our mission to fight for social justice through the business of food, we worked closely with the Environmental Voter Project. We helped increase voter turnout and raised environmental awareness by writing non-partisan letters to the wider community.  We are confident that this reawakened commitment to reversing climate change will enable us to set more ambitious goals for the future, and we spent some time this week talking as a team about what needs to happen next.  Here’s what we think:


The time to get to work is now.

This positive political shift towards tackling climate change is only the first step forward in creating greater opportunities for change. With over 20 million US jobs lost due to Covid-19, we have a great opportunity to put people back to work in meaningful careers that help people and planet.
 Why not to look towards a clean energy workforce now?
Photo Credit: The Middle Market
A promising and sustainable reality, investing in clean energy leads to three times more jobs than equivalent investing in fossil fuels. What’s more, prior to Covid-19, jobs in the renewable energy sector were increasing 70% faster than those in other sectors of the economy. This shows immense potential for a post-Covid economic revival. As millions of people who lost their jobs during this terrible pandemic are desperate to get back to work, now is the time to make the switch. We should be investing in projects such as renewable energy and green buildings.  These green jobs are critical so working class communities that rely on fossil fuel extraction for income aren’t left behind and disenfranchised as we transition to a greener economy. 

Let’s take clean investments even further.

From the underrated threat of harmful fertilizers to the exhaustive use of industrial machinery, our farming methods continue to contaminate soils, pollute bodies of water, and rely on destructive fossil fuels. As is the case in animal agriculture, concentrated feeding operations in large specialized farms lead to the routine use of antibiotics to treat animal diseases—putting environmental and public health at risk. The reality is our current agricultural model isn’t working. It’s endangering animal and plant diversity, but also hurting rural communities.


The good news is, we can change it.  
We can start investing in organic and regenerative agriculture, by rebuilding and restoring degraded soil biodiversity. This will absorb greenhouse gas emissions, create healthy ecosystems, build up fertile soil, and spur biodiversity. Studies also show that regenerative methods outperform conventional crops in both yield and profitability. The benefits are endless.
That’s why at Alter Eco we launched the Alter Eco Foundation to lead the efforts in regenerative agriculture. Through agroforestry, we are working with our co-ops to expand crop diversity, protect the soil, and provide farmers with sustainable retirement plans. These changes are possible -- and they’re already happening.

There is so much more we can do as a community.

 In a time of rampant inequality and divisiveness, nature can be part of what brings us all together. The beauty of nature inspires us!  Everyone will benefit from working together towards preserving and funding our National Parks and Forests. Our National Parks alone have over $12 billion in urgent repair needs, not to mention the more important tasks of preservation and education of treasures like Grand Staircase National Monument for generations to come.
But change also happens at a granular level—and we as consumers are its gatekeepers. From food to clothing, every purchase we make impacts people, economies, and ecosystems. Were the farmers who produced it paid a fair wage? Did they ethically source the ingredients? Did the farming practices help protect and restore the environment? These are the questions we can, and should, be asking. Through education, research, and awareness, we can start making conscious choices, and become regenerative consumers.
This is what drives us to go beyond producing tasty, eco-friendly sweets. We make Fair Trade Certified chocolate that is committed to regenerative agriculture and compostable packaging, but that also invests in a living income for our farmers and consistently chooses clean ingredients. From soil health to social fairness, environmental justice is baked into our chocolate bars.

We can aim higher.

When President Kennedy came into office, he made it his mission to get a team of astronauts to the moon. He planned to do this in less than a decade. No one thought it was possible. An unpopular idea at first, people had no idea how we would be able to get there. Yet, it galvanized us, and we did it. So, let’s follow his example and aim higher. Why not reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030?


As Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, […], because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."


We can choose in this decade to do the hard work it takes to reverse the effects of climate change. Let’s get started! 

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