How Much Can You Personally Fight and Reduce Climate Change?

As we’ve written before, climate change is one of the most important problems – and biggest fights – of our generation. And recent progress – not to mention historic levels of concerning weather developments – is not encouraging.

At an average global temperate increase of just +2° Celsius (close to the United Nations’ and Paris Agreement’s climate change reduction targets) scientists anticipate we’ll see ongoing spikes in forest fires and other natural disasters. Nearly all the world’s ocean reefs and the wildlife that relies on it will die out.

At +3° many major coastal cities are underwater or will need to be completely re-engineered to withstand rising sea levels.

And at +4°, Europe will be in permanent drought, while large parts of China, India and the southwestern United States become deserts.

The time to act is now, one of the many reasons why Brightest is partnering with 350.org and the grassroots #RiseforClimate movement this summer.

But climate change also can feel like a big, daunting problem. After all, it effects the entire Earth. We need sweeping economic and policy changes to tackle it. So what can the average person do to help prevent it? 

While we do all need to work together to fight climate change, the good news is there are many easy things you, your family and your friends can do to reduce your personal carbon footprint. Best of all, many of them are easy, small changes.

To show you how, we made a new infographic we hope you’ll share. Continue reading “How Much Can You Personally Fight and Reduce Climate Change?”

Add a Brightest Action to Any Website

We’ve added embeds to Brightest for every action so you can now embed them within your own website – just like a YouTube or Soundcloud player.

For anyone looking to make your social impact stories or content more actionable – whether you’re an individual, journalist, blogger or anyone else looking to help others get involved in a cause you’re passionate about – Brightest embeds will empower your readers to take action and make a difference.

Here’s a sample embed:

To embed a Brightest action, just click the “Embed” button, copy the code, and paste it into the HTML section of your website.

Don’t just read or report the news, do something about it.

3 Ways You Can Help Stop ICE’s Detention of Immigrant Families and Kids

Update: Thusday, June 14 was a national day of peaceful protest in 50+ cities across America organized by Families Belong and local activists. The next, even larger national protest will be on Saturday, June 30. To find your nearest event or get updates on the movement, visit our Brightest listings or Families Belong directly.

Under the Trump administration’s directive, ICE, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division, is committing one of the largest, direct human rights violations in America since Roosevelt’s internment of over 100,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. In 2017 alone, the agency arrested 110,568 people, a 42% increase over the same period the year before.

Thousands of immigrant families have been swept up, separated and had members detained in ICE raids – many of them long-standing U.S. residents with no criminal record. Dozens of detainees have died or been assaulted while in custody. And federal authorities are even unable to locate 1,475 children who should have been responsibly placed in foster or protective care.

Stop ICE from Detaining Immigrant Families and Children
Credit: The Associated Press, 2018

Worse, under Jeff Sessions’ new “zero tolerance” policy, any illegal border crosser is immediately arrested (and separated from any children they’re with), without the ability to request asylum through the proper channels.

Most recently, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley (and the press) was denied access to an ICE detention center in McAllen, TX, where the Senator observed “children [most of them 12 years old or younger] in cages” and little kids sleeping on concrete floors.

ICE, DHS and the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants is cruel, heartless and inhumane, so much so that the United Nations’ Human Rights Office has directly called on President Trump to “immediately halt” its accelerating policy of separating children from their parents and detaining them.

Immigrant Children Detained and Imprisoned by ICE

So what can we do about it? If you’re someone concerned with the fair treatment and well-being of others, what are some of the best ways you can contribute?

Here are several immediate actions you can take today:

  1. Support Local Organizations Fighting on the Front Lines

While protest can be cathartic, social media outrage can help spread awareness (particularly by keeping the hashtag #FamiliesBelongTogether trending), and blocking ICE vehicles might interrupt a deportation or two, one of the most constructive things you can do is help one of several grassroots organizations actively working to help immigrants and migrants and defend them from ICE and other aggression. Puente, a grassroots migrant justice organization in Phoenix, wants communities to work together to keep a look out for ICE and gather information on raids, while taking legal and advocacy action to help fight back. Puente needs ongoing local volunteers and legal help, or you can donate to them directly.

Another admirable organization fighting on behalf of immigrants is The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) in Los Angeles, which provides pro bono legal services and runs community education and support programs  throughout southern California. Others include Al Otro Lado and the Women’s Refugee Commission.

2. Lend a Hand (or a Dollar) to National Organizations Involved in Resisting Trump and ICE

In addition to perennial civil rights champions like the ACLU, there are a variety of other municipal, state and national organizations working to defend immigrants from deportation and inhumane detention.

They include:

The Young Center for Children’s Immigrant Rights (with volunteer opportunities on Brightest in states that include Arizona, California and Texas)

Brooklyn Defender Services and its legal network for immigrant defense

The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC)

Florence Project (FIRRP)

Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES)

Freedom for Immigrants

Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CARA)’s Family Detention Pro Bono Representation and Advocacy Project

National Partnerships for New Americans (NPNA)

The Immigrant Defense Project (IDP)

All of these organizations can accept a quick donation if  you’re busy, and most also offer volunteer programs for both lawyers and people without legal expertise.

To find immigrant defense organizations in your local community (and ways to volunteer your time), try a Brightest search.

3. “Vote them out.”

The ‘them,’ obviously, is any member of Congress or other elected official who isn’t willing to stand up to ICE’s human rights violations and protect immigrant rights.

In the immediate days and weeks, one action you can take is to contact any local representative who sits on a committee or group responsible for Homeland Security (so, by extension, ICE) or immigration policy. Use a service like Resistbot to call, fax or write a letter expressing their concern about ICE’s detention of families.

Encourage your own representatives in Congress to speak out against immigration detention, especially if your representative serves on one of the committees listed below:

– Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, whose duty is to oversee Homeland Security. There are 15 states with Senators on this committee: Arizona, Delaware, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Wisconsin (both Senators are on the committee), and Wyoming.

– House of Representatives Committee for Homeland Security, whose duty is also to oversee Homeland Security. There are 16 states with representatives on this committee: Alabama (3rd District), Arizona (2nd District), California (35th & 46th Districts), Florida (19th District), Georgia (1st & 11th Districts), Louisiana (2nd District), Massachusetts (9th District), Michigan (10th District), Mississippi (2nd District), New Jersey (10th & 12th Districts), New York (2nd, 4th, 11th, 24th, & 26th Districts), N. Carolina (6th District), Pennsylvania (4th, 10th, & 11th Districts), Rhode Island (2nd District), S. Carolina (3rd District), and Texas (4th, 10th, 18th, 21st, 23rd & 34th Districts).

– House of Representatives Committee on Oversight & Government Reform – National Security Subcommittee, whose duty includes overseeing Homeland Security as the Department’s work as it relates to National Security. 10 districts are represented in the National Security Sub-Committee: California (33rd District), Florida (6th, 7th District), Georgia (10th Districts), Illinois (2nd District), Massachusetts (8th District), Michigan (14th District), Oklahoma (5th District), Tennessee (2nd District), and Texas (23rd District).

– House of Representative Committee on Appropriations – Homeland Security Subcommittee, the group that sets Homeland Security’s budget which provides funding for ICE. 11 districts have representatives in this committee: California (40th District), Iowa (3rd District), Maryland (1st District), New Jersey (11th District), N. Carolina (4th District), Ohio (9th District), Tennessee (3rd District), Texas (7th, 28th, & 31st Districts), and Utah (2nd District).

If you need help with messaging, context on ICE and CBP or social media resources, the team at Detention Watch has put together this free toolkit.

But advocacy can only go so far: real change in how we treat and care for immigrant families and kids can only come this November 8th by voting for it. We need a Congress that will hold DHS and ICE accountable for its rampant abuses.

To find out your local representative’s stance on Trump’s immigration policy, use this helpful search tool created by NPR.

There’s also clear precedent from the Supreme Court that the federal government cannot make local police act as immigration agents. And, despite its funding and headcount increases under the Trump administration, ICE still has to rely on state and local police to help them identify people for deportation and enforce their toxic policies. As a result, your state representatives (and local police commission) can also play an important role in either enabling or blocking ICE’s actions, and may be easier to get in contact with.

What’s ultimately important – just like the March for Our Lives movement to bring about responsible gun safety reform – is keeping this story in the news cycle through the November mid-term elections. In the past few days it’s been getting wall-to-wall front-page coverage, but as we know the speed and volatility of policy attack and unpredictability have made it hard for much of the media to sustain a consistent narrative since Trump took office.

One fact we do know however, is that today the U.S. has the largest immigrant detention system in the world.

It’s up to each and every one of us to free these kids and end it.

kids held in immigrant detention center by ICE

17 Easy Ways To Fight Climate Change & Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Climate change is one of the most important issues of our lifetime. At the current rate global temperatures are rising, in the coming years our planet (and us, and our children) will see rising sea levels, threats to wildlife, lands, and agriculture, and more frequent, stronger natural disasters like hurricanes and droughts.

But climate change also can feel like a big, daunting problem. After all, it effects the entire Earth. So what can the average person do to help prevent it? 

While we do all need to work together to fight climate change, the good news is there are many easy things you, your family and your friends can do to reduce your personal carbon footprint. Best of all, many of them are easy, small changes.

Here’s a list of 17 ways you can fight climate change in your own life, home, school and community:

1. Only buy and use white garbage bags

Black garbage bags can’t be recycled due to their dark pigment; white garbage bags can.

2. Speaking of which, remember to recycle and compost

Well-run recycling and composting programs cost less to operate than waste collection, landfilling, and incineration, and they have a big positive impact on our environment. When just one college, Stanford University, increased student recycling, it saved the equivalent of 33,913 trees in the first year. Recycling and composting diverts over 100 million tons of waste away from incinerators and landfills every year, preventing that waste from becoming air and water pollutants that harm the Earth and contribute to global warming.

3. Stop using plastic bags; bring your own bag to the grocery store (or, if you must, use paper bags and re-use or recycle them)

An estimated 100,000 marine animals die every year from plastic bags, and plastic bags contain harmful additives like dioxins that can harm our health and the environment.

4. Try to limit your use of plastic water bottles

Next time, skip the Dasani or disposable Poland Springs bottle and use a re-usable drinking container. In a single year, the production, transportation and consumption of plastic water bottles produces 46 billion tonnes of carbon pollution, so every bottle not created and conserved is a plus for fighting climate change.

5. Buy and eat local food

Buy local, sustainably-grown and produced food. Yes, it may cost more, but it’s better for you and reduces your carbon footprint.

6. Eat less meat (especially lamb and beef)

Meat – particularly red meat – are the highest carbon footprint foods in our diet. Not only does livestock use more land than any other human activity (and often treats animals cruelly and unethically), the meat industry is also a major source of water pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions. One study estimates that if Americans went meatless one night a week, it would be equivalent to taking 30 to 40 million cars off the road for a year. And if you do choose to eat meat, consider substituting red meat for fish, chicken and eggs. One kilogram of consumed lamb creates 39.2 kg of carbon emissions, versus 27 kg of CO2 for beef. By comparison, chicken contributes 6.9 kg of CO2 per kg of food, tuna 6.1 kg, and eggs 4.8 kg. If you’re serious about reducing your own carbon footprint, lowering your meat consumption is one of the biggest bang-for-your-buck things you can do.

fight climate change eat less meat Continue reading “17 Easy Ways To Fight Climate Change & Reduce Your Carbon Footprint”