Celebrating SanDiego350’s 10th Anniversary!

By Masada Disenhouse, Cofounder and Executive Director

In December 2011, 15 people got together to celebrate a successful climate action march and decided to create an organization to build the grassroots climate movement in San Diego. 10 years later, we’ve come so far! 

I wanted to take the time to reflect on our 10th anniversary, and thank our volunteers and supporters, who make everything possible:

In 2011 our march had about 350 people participating. In the last few years we’ve been able to turn out thousands of people to demand climate action, including 4,000 students in the Climate Strikes this year. 

In 2012 we raised a few hundred dollars, cash that our treasurer Janina, a grad student at UCSD, kept in a cookie box under her bed. Now we have a fundraising team, the equivalent of 4 full time staff, and head into 2022 with a budget of about $400,000. 

In 2011 we had no teams. The Public Policy Team was our first team, in 2013. Since then, the “PPT” has grown to include about 80 volunteers and 5 committees – working on everything from transportation to state legislation and Building Electrification. 

But some things haven’t changed—at all:

  • We still believe that building an inclusive, people-powered movement is the way to get the policy, economic and societal changes we need to see—and that every person has the ability to make a difference. 
  • We remain committed to centering equity in our work. 
  • We know what we’re up against and we choose to fight the fossil fuel industry and their political allies to achieve a healthier, more sustainable, more just future. 
  • We find joy and resilience in the community we’ve built and we depend on each other. 

There are so many accomplishments to celebrate, that it’s hard to focus on just a few, but I’ll try:

  • My conservative estimate is that we’ve mobilized more than 25,000 San Diegans to take action on climate change since 2011.
  • We have grown to more than 15 volunteer-led teams, many with their own working groups, and engaging hundreds of active volunteers in ongoing campaigns and efforts. 
  • Since our youth4climate program began in 2019, it has empowered, mentored, and engaged hundreds of young people in San Diego County through youth-led programs and campaigns.
  • We’ve built coalitions with diverse partner organizations to advance climate action, including environmental justice, social and economic justice, youth, labor, faith, and other organizations. 

Looking back on 2021 (read about our 2021 accomplishments here), I am amazed at the resiliency and commitment you have all shown. As we continue to navigate the many changes and challenges of the pandemic era, we have all found a new rhythm that allows us to continue our mission to fight for a healthy, equitable, sustainable world while maintaining our deep sense of community. 

While we decided to postpone our “Celebration for a Brighter Future” an in-person fundraiser to celebrate our successes over 10 years and raise funds to support the organization’s campaigns, we hope the evolving pandemic situation will allow us to reschedule it soon for sometime in the spring. Stay tuned!

We could not do any of this without the dedication of our volunteers and the generous contributions of our donors. You make it possible for SD350 to be proactive, organized, effective and BOLD! I am so grateful for every one of you!!!

Please join me in celebrating everything we’ve built together as SanDiego350 continues to lead the way on climate activism and movement building in San Diego. 

Amnesty International Award

On December 11th, the North County Chapter of Amnesty International awarded SanDiego350 their Digna Ochoa award. Below are the comments by SD350 executive director Masada Disenhouse to students and Amnesty members gathered at Buena Vista High School.

Good afternoon Amnesty International friends, and RBV / MV students!

It’s such a pleasure to be here with you today and I’m grateful and honored to receive the Digna Ochoa award on behalf of SanDiego350. 

Climate change is fundamentally a human rights issue. Millions of people are suffering from the devastating effects of the climate crisis now, and this problem will increase exponentially in coming years if we don’t shift to a sustainable economy. 

This is an environmental racism issue, because the people most impacted by climate change are those who did the least to cause it, primarily people of color. 

After a tropical cyclone hit the southeast coast of Mozambique in 2019, 146,000 people were displaced and had to be rehoused, and nearly 2 million people needed assistance. The cyclone damaged 100,000 homes, destroyed a million acres of crops, and demolished a billion dollars worth of infrastructure.  

Entire populations of low-lying Pacific islands are being forced to abandon their homes forever, primarily because they can no longer access clean drinking water due to sea level rise contaminating their aquifers.

This year saw deadly heatwaves in Pakistan, unprecedented wildfires in Greece, and severe flooding in Germany and China. In Madagascar, a prolonged and intense drought drove 1 million people to the brink of famine. In the Pacific Northwest hundreds died during a heat wave that shattered records. 

Here in California, we’re still pumping trillions of gallons of oil a year – and the people living near those wells, who suffer from respiratory illnesses, heart disease, preterm births and other health problems, are primarily people of color. 

People migrate from their homes in big numbers when they can’t access the most basic human needs and rights. Every year more people face hunger, displacement, unemployment, illness and death due to climate change. 

In 2020 the number of people forcibly displaced by weather-related disasters and other climate impacts was 31 million, a sharp increase compared to a few years earlier.

And climate change is just getting started. 

Today, 1% of the world is a barely livable hot zone. By 2070, when you all will be your grandparents’ age, that portion could be up to 19%. Billions of people who live in these areas will be forced to migrate because of unlivable heat, drought, flooding and other impacts. The UN recently estimated that by 2050, 143 million people from South America, Subsaharan Africa, and Southeast Asia will be forced to flee their homes because of climate change. 

And unless these people are able to move to more liveable places, more and more of them will face war – and death. Already, many of the world’s enduring conflicts have been tied to climate related drought, including Syria and Darfur. 

Covid gave us front row seats to how climate change will disproportionately impact more vulnerable groups of people. How it exacerbated existing inequalities related to race, wealth and gender. And how unprepared we are to face a global disaster. 

But climate change will impact far more people. And there is no vaccine for climate change.  

So how do we stop climate change and climate injustice? How do we ensure that vulnerable people are protected from the devastating impacts of climate change? 

First of all it’s important to recognize that climate change is a political problem. We’ve understood the science since before I was born. We know that we need to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, from cars to transit, from extraction to reforestation. 

There’s a reason that our government hasn’t acted on climate. And it’s the same reason there is such a chasm in this county between the haves and the have nots. Why access to clean air and good health is correlated to skin color. Why we’ve been going backwards on reproductive rights for my entire lifetime to the point where Roe v. Wade could be overturned. Why Black people in this country still live in fear of police brutality 58 years after MLK’s I have a Dream speech. Why union membership is at an all time low and workers are forced into a gig economy that denies them a living wage, health insurance and paid time off. Why what should have been a straightforward scientific problem was deliberately turned into a divisive political issue by the fossil fuel industry. 

And that is because our government is not by the people for the people. It is by and for the almighty dollar, which mostly means by and for the corporations. 

I won’t sugar coat it for you. This is a pretty dark time in American history. We’ve seen an increase in hate crimes against Asians and jews. The violence at the US Capitol. Censoring books on race and human rights. People making up their own facts because they don’t want to face reality. 

But that’s not the way it has to be. And I for one, am not ready to despair. Even though we face challenges, people in other generations have risen up and overcome – and we can too. 

Our power starts with the dream of a different world… A world where your skin color or gender or where you were born do not determine your value or potential. Where everyone has the right to clean air and water. To a livable climate. To a safe place to live. To employment that sustains their family. 

You are in a position to bring this dream to fruition. Throughout American history, youth have led some of the biggest shifts towards justice, often bringing a radical edge that the urgency of the problem requires. Young people were at the forefront of the women’s suffrage movement, the Civil Rights movement, ending the Vietnam war, the same sex marriage movement, and the immigration rights movement. Increasingly, youth are leading fights for climate action and climate justice. And in this fight youth have more standing than anyone else. 

This is why SanDiego350 invests a lot of our resources into training, mentoring and empowering youth to take meaningful action to combat climate change and climate injustice. 

What we don’t have is time. Many of these past efforts took decades if not centuries to win. Many continue to this day. But this fight… the outcome of this fight will be decided in the next several years. This is not some day. This is not about gradual change. This is now or never. 

So what should we do? 

Speak Up! Digna Ochoa , who this award is named for, was a courageous human rights lawyer in Mexico who persevered in representing environmental activists and raised human rights abuses by government authorities despite extreme threats to her life, and who was in fact killed for her persistence. We can honor her sacrifice by raising our voices up for human rights, for justice and for science driven solutions. Do what you’re doing today. By being here today to “write for rights” you’re inspiring others to action, and you’re making a difference!  Don’t let your voice be silenced. Don’t let what matters be kept in the dark. Speak truth to power. Educate yourself and your network. Don’t allow what Martin Luther King Jr called “the appalling silence of the good people” to stand in the way of the just, sustainable future we all dream of.

Educate, organize, and vote.

While young people have the most to lose from climate change, they’re also least likely to vote. And that’s partially intentional – understanding that young people tend to lean progressive, conservative forces have made it harder for college students to vote where they go to school and to get acceptable IDs. But that’s shifting. In the 2020 presidential election, over 50% of people ages 18-29 voted – higher than any prior election. So that’s good. But you know what? Almost 80% of people over 60 voted. I know most of you can’t vote just yet, but all of you will be able to very soon. And your mission is not just to vote, but to educate, organize and turn out everyone you know. Because we will not succeed if we are not able to replace government officials with those who will prioritize a livable future. 

To quote former President Obama “So I’m going to need all of you to educate your classmates, your colleagues, your parents, your friends. Tell them what’s at stake. Speak up at town halls, church groups, PTA meetings. Push back on misinformation. Speak up for the facts. Broaden the circle of those who are willing to stand up for our future. 

“Convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution. [ ] Remind everyone who represents you at every level of government that sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change is a prerequisite for your vote.” (I urge you to watch that 2013 speech)

Together, we have the power to rise up, to overturn the shackles of injustice and corporate power and to fight for our future. Fight for our right to live healthy, happy lives. For the rights of those who come after us. And I for one am all in. Are you with me?

Closer to Sustainable: Considering our relationship with meat and where we go from here

By Victoria Wallace

On Survivor, the long-running reality TV show that sends Americans to remote beaches to compete for $1 million, contestants are periodically divided over the fate of a chicken. While the gritty realities of survival are featured less on the show than social and physical competition, enough poultry-based drama makes it onto the screen for trends to emerge.

Subsisting mostly on a meager diet of white rice, winning teams on the show are often rewarded with live chickens—and the subsequent dilemma of what to do with them. Typically, utilitarian teammates assign themselves the role of butcher, while their squeamish counterparts look away. In season 2, experienced hunter Michael Skupin leads the debate over the chickens’ fate. The sole dissenter, Kimmi Kappenburg, leaves camp, while Skupin and fellow contestant Rodger Bingham team up to do the deed with “just a hatchet and a block of wood.”

Kappenburg isn’t alone in her discomfort about killing birds on reality television. The intimacy and violence of killing chickens on Survivor has continued to ruffle feathers, on-screen and at home. Perhaps most notably, season 12’s gentle-spirited Tai Trang successfully advocated for a rooster named Mark, intermittently charming and annoying teammates with his do-no-harm philosophy. On season 38, California resident Wendy Diaz infamously hatched a plot to free her team’s birds, while controversially admitting she has no qualms about eating factory farmed chickens at home.

Survivor contestant Tai Trang and his pet chicken, Mark. Credit: CBS

Chicken-related squabbles on Survivor illustrate a widely observed feature ofindustrialized society: a profound separation between meat-eaters and the animals sustaining them. Cows, as a concept, do not often appear in the imagination of someone eating a Totino’s pepperoni pizza roll.

The consequence of our estrangement from farm animals is that people in rich countries are eating more meat than ever before. But this level of meat consumption is untenable. If every human being ate the same amount of meat as the average Briton, 95% of habitable land on Earth would be needed for agriculture. If everyone ate as much as an American (over 200 pounds of meat per year on average), agriculture would occupy 178% of global land—literally, more land than exists on this planet.

Advocates of climate justice know that radical change is needed, that modern lifestyles are impractical and unsustainable. Unfortunately, this earthshattering realization is rarely accompanied by a clear path forward. What does sustainable meat consumption look like?

Ancient humans were hunter-gatherers, careful observers and managers of local ecosystems. Around 9,000 – 10,500 years ago, people started to keep herds of livestock for consumption—beginning with sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs. For the first time, humans owned animals. Hunting strategies were replaced by concerns over the wellbeing of the herd. “Domestication,” anthropologist Brian Fagan writes, “means a shift in focus from the dead animal to the living one.”

Flocks and herds were small and closely managed. Sustainability was central to subsistence herding; an oversized herd would quickly overgraze and destroy good pastureland. During the day, animals would be driven to pasture and vigilantly guarded from predators. In the evening, they would be kept near or even inside human settlements. Herders would have recognized each animal individually, carefully selecting breeding pairs.

The investment in breeding, rearing, and managing livestock put a high value on meat consumption. The slaughter of animals was often ritualized, imbued with spiritual and social significance. Large, communal feasts were common in a world without modern refrigeration and preservation technology.

As cities grew and technology evolved, livestock became a commodity. Individual animals were valued at a price per unit, rather than their significance to the health of the herd. Agricultural intensification and mass production further reduced the cost of meat. Now, you can pay less for a Quarter Pounder than certain brands of bottled water. As our lives become further removed from the lives of the animals we eat, we seem to value them less.

The devaluation of animals and their meat is accompanied by the rise in factory farming, which obscures the realities of meat production. From birth until death, we almost never lay eyes on the creatures we eat. The diversity of animal life on Earth is somewhat misrepresented by depictions of polar bears in the Arctic, giraffes on the scrubby savannah, and toucans gracing the branches of tropical rainforests. It is estimated that 96% of mammals on Earth are humans and livestock, and 70% of birds are poultry. We live on a meat planet.

It’s clear that we meat-eaters must eat less meat if humans are to survive and thrive on this planet. But, instead of eating less meat out of disgust or despair — what if it came from a place of reverence? Our predecessors, who lived alongside the animals they ate, held them in high esteem. Livestock were killed for cyclical feasts and gatherings. Meat was celebrated, never taken for granted.

Of course, there are practical reasons why we might not all immediately adopt the meat-eating habits of a subsistence herder. Wherever you are, you might consider these ways to move toward a (more) plant-based diet:

  • Start small. If you eat meat every day, try Meatless Mondays. If you eat meat three times a week, you might aim for twice a week.
  • Think about enjoying meat at celebrations, and sticking to a mostly-plant diet on normal days.
  • A rule of thumb is that four-legged animals (pigs, beef, and sheep) are worse for the planet than two-legged animals (turkey and chicken) or no-legged animals (fish and shellfish). If you can’t skip meat, opt for two legs or no legs.
  • Most of us were raised on meat-based meals. Get comfortable making a few meat-free recipes you love, so cooking meat-free is just as easy as an old family recipe.
  • Keep an eye out for plant-based substitutes for eggs and dairy.
  • It’s harder to change your habits alone. Make plans with likeminded friends to share recipes, eat at a vegetarian restaurant, or cook together.

Farewell from our Board President, Kim Kishon

As you may have heard by now, I’ll be stepping down from my role as Board President this month, to prepare for becoming a new parent! Before I go, I want to reflect on all that I’ve done with SanDiego350 and all that SanDiego350 has given me during my 8 years as a volunteer. (Photo – 2015 Campaign for a strong Climate Action Plan)

For starters, here’s a short list of what SanDiego350 has given me:

  • Lasting friendships
  • Hope and inspiration
  • Movement-building education
  • A part-time job, paid in meaning and fulfillment
  • Hundreds of Google Docs
  • A network of kind, caring, dedicated people
  • Meeting one of my climate heroes, Bill McKibben, twice!
  • Invaluable experience building a grassroots nonprofit organization
  • A greater understanding of the climate crisis and how to advocate effectively for policy solutions
  • Volunteer leadership experience
  • Teamwork, collaboration, community and a sense of belonging (which is woefully undervalued & under-prioritized in our society)

The list could go on for days, but I’ll stop there.

So, what did I do to earn all of that?

In my time as a volunteer, I have tried many things that were new to me, growing and learning with others along the way. Most of the time, I worked behind the scenes to develop our leadership structure and guide our strategy. I led efforts to hire our first staff members, develop a larger and more active board, create internal policies, support conflict resolution and delicately guide difficult conversations that helped us stay on track. One of my most rewarding recent experiences involved laying the foundation for our JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Team, by hiring and supervising our first Justice & Equity intern and supporting volunteer leaders. Most of the time, I handled odds and ends that needed to be done, to care for the health and growth of SanDiego350: planning fundraising parties, interviewing candidates, onboarding volunteers, plus writing email blasts and speeches. I did none of this alone: it’s true that collaboration and teamwork are essential to moving anything forward.  (Photo – Garden Party Fundraiser 2017)

After 8 years of movement building with SanDiego350, I’m thankful to each of you who have given me inspiration and hope for the future. In this organization, I have met some of the most genuine, kind, driven and passionate people. Together, we have marched, assembled last minute rallies, facilitated workshops, created countless Google Docs, painted an office space we barely used (thanks, pandemic), and everything in between.

Our marches and rallies have brought me to tears: overwhelmed with sorrow by the crisis we face and overjoyed and empowered by the sight of so many people who care enough to do something about it.  (Photo – 2017 People’s Climate March)

Our meetings and events have given me tangible actions to make an impact locally, helping me feel part of the solution.

Our press coverage has filled me with pride: every time I see SD350 on the news (or the front page of the Union Tribune, which has happened at least four times!), I am in awe that I have the privilege of being part of such an impactful group.

I’ve witnessed SanDiego350 grow from a handful of 10 committed volunteers who met in a church basement and kept our funds in a jar under Janina’s bed, into an organization with hundreds of volunteers, well over ten teams, paid staff (green jobs!), solid funding, an active board, and frequent impact on local policy.

I am in awe of the people who dedicate themselves to this organization– you give me hope, which I need as I prepare to bring another human into the world. I’ll miss my day-to-day involvement and I can shift my focus, knowing that SD350 is devoted to a brighter future.  (Photo – receiving award from our Treasurer Bill Wellhouse at the Dec 2021 Party for the Planet)

I want to especially thank Masada and Joyce:

Masada has been throwing opportunities and ideas at me since 2013, helping me grow right alongside SanDiego350. Masada’s devotion, creativity and bravery keep taking the organization to bold new heights. Masada is the primary driver for SanDiego350’s grassroots power.  And thank you to Joyce, whose steady, compassionate leadership led the Public Policy Team, putting it on the path to being the powerhouse it is today and who has served tirelessly on the organization’s Executive Committee. Joyce will guide the organization as she fills the role of Board President.

The Future of Climate Justice Begins with Knowledge of the Victims of Now

By Sophia Lee

Look at the bigger picture, not just in regards to our own futures affected by global warming, but physically bigger, as in its current effects around the world.

The phrase “climate change” seems so abstract nowadays, especially with political tensions and the Covid-19 pandemic still at a head. Our nation’s internal conflicts and priorities have made it easy for us to forget problems that more directly affect the bigger picture such as global warming. And by “bigger picture”— I don’t just refer to our own futures, I am referring to the people of now all over the globe who are currently victims of the adverse effects of climate change. 

Many seem to think that climate change isn’t a big issue now— but that it will be in a few decades, and thus, addressing the issue can be put off in place of more direct and personal problems. Those people likely don’t know that, according to Statista, “In the last few years, global temperatures have been consistently among the hottest on record. The global anomaly in surface temperature might be the cause of an increase in sea level, a decrease in arctic ice and the growing number of weather-related catastrophes, including storms, floods and droughts.”

And who do you think are the most affected by such natural disasters? According to Mercy Corps, “While everyone around the world feels the effects of climate change, the most vulnerable are people living in the world’s poorest countries, like Haiti and Timor-Leste, who have limited financial resources to cope with disasters, as well as the world’s 2.5 billion smallholder farmers, herders and fisheries who depend on the climate and natural resources for food and income.”

Meanwhile, industry critics of climate change claim that it is impossible to massively cut down greenhouse gas emissions without large financial and economic repercussions. However, according to The Center for American Progress, “There is no need to postpone greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The technology exists to reduce them through comprehensive application of energy efficiency, wind power, and solar power. For instance, McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, concluded in a recent study that the ‘United States could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 by 3.0-4.5 gigatons of CO2 emissions using tested approaches and high-potential emerging technologies.’ This would equal a 40 percent to 64 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from today.” If one looks hard enough, there is massive space for improvement in regards to not only our countries, but also the world’s carbon footprint. This is largely due to the fact that the majority of greenhouse gas emissions come from America and China, and thus, the wealthier countries can make the greatest impact despite being virtually unscathed from the effects of climate change in comparison to the rest of the globe.

As a typical busy student with a vague but ultimately shallow view of climate change, I remember asking my teacher a question during my freshman year: “But when will climate change happen?” It wasn’t until I started to get more involved with climate justice and youth advocacy later on that I learned the current and far-reaching effects of climate change, especially in poor communities and areas targeted by natural disasters.

Now, I know for a fact that my former worldview was too narrow— and that ultimately, when I was asking that question, what I really meant deep down was, “When will climate change affect me?”

Targeting support for climate change through statistics and approximations of some abstract future where climate change puts the reader at a disadvantage is not enough. Remember: climate change activism is not just about science or self-interest, it’s a cause with a purpose that’s ultimately centered around saving people: you, me, and everyone around the world. I can’t think of a better way to appeal for climate justice than to let others know that climate change isn’t an issue of tomorrow, but is behind the end of many victims today.




Tips and tricks to celebrate the holidays sustainably

By Alec Lundberg

Trying to be more sustainable over the holidays? We’ve got you covered! There are many things we can all do to greatly reduce our carbon footprint.

Changing your diet AND eating locally can significantly help reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions! Meat and dairy makes up 14.5% of all global CO2 emissions. Beef alternatives like the Beyond Burger and the Impossible burger are around 20 times smaller than that produced by the same amount of beef. For some plant-based foods, production emissions can be below zero. This means that the production of these foods removes CO2 from the atmosphere— This is particularly true for nuts because some nut trees can be incorporated onto agricultural land – increasing its uptake of CO2. Additionally, transporting food by air emits around 50 times as much greenhouse gases as transporting the same amount by sea.

Switching to a vegetarian, vegan, or other type of diet can make all the difference! A switch to veganism, for example, could save almost 8bn tonnes of CO2e a year by 2050, when compared to a “business-as-usual” scenario. (By comparison, all food production currently causes around 13.7bn tonnes of CO2e a year.)

Dairy-alternatives like Oat Milk have significantly smaller carbon footprints in terms of land-use impacts and water requirements compared to regular dairy.

“The latest academic studies find that plant milks cause less than half the emissions of dairy milks, but these could be reduced even further by using renewable energy in production and when recycling the packaging.” Another thing to keep in mind when grocery shopping is that certain vegetables have a lower carbon footprint than others, with zucchini, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and fennel being the lowest. Peas and beans also have a low carbon footprint because they absorb nitrogen. It’s been scientifically proven that eating less meat and dairy helps keep C02 emissions low. This is crucial if we want to meet the standards set by the Paris Climate Accords!




Start a garden and grow your own food! Gardening yourself gives you the greatest amount of control over what goes on your plants and into your soil. By growing your own food, you’ll get peace of mind knowing what you are eating and what has gone into producing that item. Not only does commercial farming emit harmful chemicals into the air as mentioned above, but it also pours harmful chemicals into our soil and water. Conventional farming utilizes an extreme amount of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers to grow their commercialized crops, filling our earth and the foods that we are consuming with harmful chemicals, some that have even been proven to cause cancer and other diseases.

By growing your own garden, you are the one to decide what goes on your plants and into your soil, allowing you to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals polluting our environment and waterways. Organically growing your own food is sustainable and nourishes your soil by using safe and natural fertilizers and products. Growing food yourself also eliminates the concern of monocropping, which greatly reduces biodiversity, relies heavily on pesticides and commercial fertilizers, and often involves heavily mechanized farming practices. You’ll also avoid consuming plastic packaging, which often can’t be properly “recycled.” Yes, it’s true, growing a garden is one of the most sustainable practices on the planet!



Travel light, green, and offset emissions! The travel sector accounts for 8% of global carbon emissions. Climate change research by the BBC found that compared to air travel, you can reduce your CO2 emissions between 50% and 80% by taking a train, coach, or even a full passenger car instead. If you must travel by plane, you can still make more climate-friendly choices! Choosing a greener airline can offer greener forms of air travel. Major carriers such as Virgin Atlantic, United Airlines, and JetBlue have each launched sustainability programs to improve fuel efficiency, initiate recycling programs, and adopt the use of biofuels. For a more detailed list of popular airlines, view this list from greenvacations.com. Packing light can also make a difference— The heavier the plane, the higher the fuel consumption and the bigger the carbon footprint. And if you’re embarking on an action-packed holiday with surfboards, skis, or camping goods, try to rent them locally instead. Don’t forget, if you’re worried about the emissions incurred during travel, there are a myriad of ways to offset them! You can purchase carbon offsets to restore the natural balance at websites like https://sustainabletravel.org/.

Live in a bike-friendly neighborhood? Electric bicycles are selling like hotcakes – and they have been for years.

Even in the US where the public has been slower to catch on to e-bikes, new electric bicycle companies have reached over a hundred thousand sales in just two years. The more established electric bicycle companies in the US are raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in funding as investors awaken to the huge surge in e-bike adoption. In Europe, electric bicycles are even more common and are actually projected to outsell cars by the middle of this decade. Not just outsell electric cars. All cars.


How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint When You Travel? – Terrapass

Invest sustainably! Did you know that there are all kinds of sustainable funds now offered on investment platforms? Make your dollar truly green with affordable funds that don’t invest in fossil fuels and instead support alternative/renewable energies, water conservation, and companies that have pledged to mitigate climate change!


Lastly (and maybe most importantly)… Call and email your politicians! Demand that your senators and representatives pass sweeping environmental changes. Keep up the pressure and let your voice be heard! It’s important to know that just 100 of all the hundreds of thousands of companies in the world have been responsible for 71% of the global GHG emissions that cause global warming since 1998, according to The Carbon Majors Database, a report recently published by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). Only your politicians can hold these companies accountable and enact laws that enforce climate accountability! Remember, Climate Change affects us all, some more disproportionately than others—particularly minorities and indigenous people. Often, minorities live in areas that are more prone to destruction due to Climate Change. Everyone is entitled to a clean and healthy planet. Go Green this Thanksgiving!




Sustainable Habits (Into the Unknown)

By Mariaisabel Blancarte

How It Started

Sustainable habits are vital and essential to our everyday lives and to the way the world operates. Although not always easy to adapt to, they allow us to make replacements that contribute to the overall health and conservation of our planet. In all honesty, prior to learning about the effects of plastic, specifically with straws, I was hesitant about using paper straws myself. They felt odd to drink out of, and I didn’t like the way they became soggy. I definitely was…not a fan. However, I later came to see that the small compromise of drinking out of a paper straw far outweighed the negative effects that plastic straws, and plastic overall cause to our environment. Similar to many of you all, I saw the negative effects that plastic straws have on marine life during a class at my university. The video displayed a helpless turtle who was struggling to breathe due to a plastic straw that had become stuck in its nose. It was extremely saddening to see, and it led me to looking deeper into plastic straws and the way that they not only harm animals, but the environment as a whole. What makes plastic straws so detrimental to our environment? They are “one of the most common types of single-use and overproduced plastics… and are also not biodegradable”. This means that once we finish using them, if not disposed of correctly (if not recycled), they can end up in wildlife habitats. This then leads to toxins being released into environmental and marine systems and also poses a physical danger to those animals that may consume the products by accident.

In efforts to curb these negative effects caused by straws, there are great alternatives. As previously mentioned, paper and metal straws are swaps that can prevent use of non-biodegradable material. However, there are many sustainable habits and products that aren’t so common. In this blog, I’ll cover commonly known sustainable practices, but also go into practices and habits that aren’t as widely known.

Covering the Basics

Reusable Water Bottles and Masks

Before getting into the less common and known sustainable habits, it’s always essential to cover the basics. One great way to avoid using plastic products, aside from metal straws, is through the use of reusable water bottles. Reusable water bottles are a great option because they require less oil use for production and hence, “release less carbon dioxide”, which is amazing for our atmosphere and environment as a whole. Along with other noteworthy reusables, are masks. Even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, masks were a concern for the environment. This is because the “majority of masks are manufactured from long-lasting plastic materials, and if discarded can persist in the environment for decades to hundreds of years”. By making use of reusable face mask options, especially with materials such as cotton, it can help reduce plastic used, and hence avoid landfill and toxic chemicals in the land and sea.

The Less Common Sustainable Practices

Eat Less Meat

Many individuals may not know that meat consumption is directly related to the conservation and sustaining of water. According to Footprint, “A single pound of beef takes, on average, 1,800 gallons of water to produce”. By limiting the meat purchased and consumed, everyone can take part in conserving water. By sustaining water that is clean, it can allow us to put water to better uses that are good for our environment. 

Buy Used Items

Another great sustainable practice is going the “used” route. For example, as mentioned by Arcadia, there are many items that we use in our daily lives or as household items that can be bought used. For example, these products include “furniture, clothing, tools, and more”. Major companies that are known for selling used items include Goodwill, as well as the Salvation Army. What makes using “used” items such a great sustainable practice is that by re-using an item, it prevents it from being disposed of improperly and ending up in a waste system that can directly negatively affect wildlife and cleanliness in the environment. 


Finally, voting is an amazing way to participate directly in the sustainability of the planet. In order to ensure the safety of our communities, and our environment as a whole, it is vital to be politically involved. As mentioned by the Center for Biological Diversity, we should “vote for candidates with strong environmental platforms. Urge your representatives to pass stronger policies to limit greenhouse gases, fight climate change, and protect our wildlife”. By voicing out our concerns and demands as a community, we can ensure that our views and earth are represented in critical policies. As humans on this earth, it is our responsibility to keep it safe, one sustainable practice at a time!


“How Do Straws Hurt the Environment?” Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Accessed October 13, 2021.

KOR Water, “How Reusable Water Bottles Help the Environment,” Kor Water (Kor Water, April 16, 2019).

Keiron Roberts Research Fellow in Clean Carbon Technologies and Resource Management, Cressida Bowyer Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, Simon Kolstoe Senior Lecturer in Evidence Based Healthcare and University Ethics Advisor, and Steve Fletcher Professor of Ocean Policy and Economy. “Coronavirus Face Masks: An Environmental Disaster That Might Last Generations.” The Conversation, September 18, 2021.

“The Water Footprint of Food.” FoodPrint, August 11, 2020.

Arcadia, Team. “10 Sustainability Practices You Can Follow at Home.” Blog. Arcadia, August 2, 2017.

 “12 Ways to Live More Sustainably.” 12 Ways to Live More Sustainably. Accessed October 14, 2021.

Youth4Climate’s Level Up Summer Camp Brings Climate Justice Programming to Morse and Hoover High

By Chris Kracha

This July and August, SanDiego350 launched an in-person Youth4Climate (Y4C) summer camp at two San Diego High Schools for the first time, as part of the Level Up program – with support from the SD Foundation and the San Diego Unified School District. This program was created to provide summer learning and enrichment opportunities for students who have less access to these types of programs. The camp was held four days per week, for five weeks at Morse and Hoover High Schools.

At the beginning of camp, we were all still emerging from our COVID bubbles. After over a year of isolation and zoom class, it gets hard to break out of one’s shell! 

But by the second week, we were making jokes, playing games, and doing projects together. The field trips were especially helpful with getting everyone used to being around each other again. On our hike in Manzanita Canyon, I got to know each of the campers much better, and showed them some native plant names and traditional uses. Joel was one student who was really interested in plants, and by the end of the hike, we had gathered handfuls of fragrant fennel buds to take home.

Early on, campers started to realize that living “green”, supporting environmental causes, and getting involved in their communities was easier than they had previously thought. When we played a game of “personal action BINGO”, one camper, Jiyaulei, said she had no idea that so many of the actions she and her sister took at home were good for the environment: They were already using public transit, reusing old food containers for storage, air drying clothes, and more! Another student named Michael had a similar realization, and started to question why so much advertising and corporate messaging focuses on changing the individual actions we take, when everyone in the room was already taking many actions themselves.

In the middle of the camp, we focused on building personal resilience and developing support networks for ourselves among our friends, family, peers, role models, and community groups. This was my favorite part of the camp, because I got to share many of the methods I use to keep myself calm and resilient. Some students benefited from this as well. My co-facilitator Alyssa Nguyen – a high school student at Mt. Carmel High School and active in the Youth4Climate Program – was able to use some of the personal resilience methods to help out a student who came to camp visibly distressed. By the end of the day, we were all playing charades together and there were no tears to be seen.

Later on, we began to explore the common roots between economic and racial injustices and environmental injustices. Ronald and Nafeesa were two students already involved in social justice groups who were able to connect their current efforts to environmental change. Many other students became even more interested after learning that environmental injustices disproportionately impact their communities and communities around them. Once we learned about environmental injustices, we focused on how organizing our communities can combat injustices of any kind. 

By the end of the camp, everyone had made new friends. Melaina, Jiyaulei, Jiyaunah, and Nafeesa were all relieved that they had met fellow students at Hoover High, before they entered high school for the first time in-person! Alyssa and I were a camp counselor dream team by the end of the camp, and we had both become much more confident leading and teaching groups around our own ages. On the last Wednesday of camp at Hoover, we spread out in the grass, munched on vegan banh mi from a local Vietnamese cafe, and played a few rounds of Uno.

The last day of camp was also the last field trip. We traveled to Mission Bay where we had a picnic of vegan burritos and played games, like egg and spoon races in the sand. The campers also noticed all the trash littering the beaches around the bay and we took this opportunity to take action together. We used our trash grabber to clean up the litter around the area. It was inspiring to see the campers so concerned for the wellbeing of wildlife and the oceans. They were so eager to spring into action! We discussed the interconnectedness of the San Diego waterways and the importance of keeping the roads, as well as nature spaces, free from trash. Spending time in nature on a beautiful sunny day at the bay was an amazing way to finish off our camp!

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month: Fighting for Environmental Justice

By Monica Gil dos Santos, Marketing and Communications & JEDI Committees

From September 15 to October 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration created to honor Latinx and Hispanic Americans’ histories, cultures, and contributions.

This celebration was first introduced by President Lyndon B. Johnson as National Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 “to pay special tribute to the Hispanic tradition.” Johnson created this week to celebrate the Independence Day of five Latin American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua – that earned their independence from Spain on September 15. With Mexico, Chile, and Belize celebrating their independence from Spain and the United Kingdom on September 16, 18, and 21, the week was extended by President Ronald Reagan to the first Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988.

According to the Census Bureau, the U.S. Hispanic population is 60.6 million as of July 1, 2019. This makes people of Hispanic origin the largest ethnic or racial minority in the USA. Throughout the country, Hispanics help advance our economy, improve our communities, and bring a diverse and vital perspective to social, justice, and environmental issues. Yet, they are one of the marginalized communities disproportionately impacted by climate change.

According to a study published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2019, Hispanics breathe 63 % more air pollution that leads to health damage than they make, while Caucasians are exposed to 17% less air pollution than they make.

Housing Discrimination and Environmental Injustice

All over the world, marginalized groups and minority communities, especially people in low- and lower-middle-income countries, have been impacted by the increasing effects of climate change. A recent study found that the countries most affected by climate disasters are in the Global South, such as Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Puerto Rico, Bolivia, and Haiti.

Also in the U.S., people of color suffer from a multitude of environmental injustices. For example, is it no secret that there is still residential segregation. People of minorities tend to live in neighborhoods considered “hazardous” by lending institutions, giving them no opportunity to improve their housing or economic situation.

According to a study published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2019, Hispanics breathe 63 % more air pollution that leads to health damage than they make, while Caucasians are exposed to 17 % less air pollution than they make.

In California, some regions are advised to stay indoors to avoid outdoor pollution exposure on hot days, potentially being stuck in a home without cool air. For example, 64 % of disadvantaged communities in southern Los Angeles live below the poverty level with no access to air conditioning or affordable energy, making them more vulnerable to hot temperatures during heat waves due to global warming.

Aside from the impact of extreme heat, severe weather such as hurricanes also become more frequent due to climate change. In 2005, New Orleans’ Hurricane Katrina caused approximately 2,000 deaths and roughly one million residents’ displacement, with 75 % of the displaced residents being African American. More than 30 % of these residents didn’t own a car, making it difficult to leave the city in time. With no financial resources, people of color find themselves in a dangerous position of life and death due to climate hazards.

Furthermore, many people living in poverty and marginalized communities rely on agriculture and natural resources to survive. All over the world, people of color and low-income communities are less responsible for climate change yet more vulnerable to the effect of climate change, including heatwaves, storms, hurricanes, floods, and other disasters.

Driving Change in Climate Injustice

This year, we want to show you some ways to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month:

  • Practice self-education.
  • Elevate the voices of impacted communities and spread the word
  • Donate to organizations advocating for marginalized people of color and/or environmental justice, such as SanDiego350, Environmental Health Coalition and Latino Coalition for a Healthy California
  • Get involved in climate action and volunteer, SanDiego350 is always looking for more volunteers!
  • Support small-scale Hispanic farmers and businesses
  • Advocate for federal action to reduce emissions of pollutants that cause global warming and affect human health
  • Call on elected officials to protect most vulnerable communities from climate hazards and invest in equitable solutions to the climate crisis

Let’s end climate injustice.

Let’s speak up.

Let’s act.

¡Sí se puede!

Here is how you can get involved with SanDiego350:

Fill out our volunteer interest form or email us at volunteer@sandiego350.org for more information.

Member of the Month: Bella Santos

Meet September’s Member of the Month, Bella Santos! Here she tells us about how she got involved and her advice for other’s who are interested in making a difference.

How did you first get involved with SD350, and when was that?

I was connected to San Diego 350 through the Youth4Climate Summer Camp in 2020 and continued to get more involved in the organization. I was actually connected through a Girl Scouts page where a local mom shared the opportunity!

What drives your activism?

 Being able to connect with so many other like-minded youth who are passionate about environmental justice is so motivating. Seeing how our efforts translate to victories is so empowering! Whether it’s discussing climate change or our regular lives, I always enjoy spending time with the folks around me.

What do you recommend to people who want to have a larger impact through the environmental movement? What do you prioritize in your own activism?

I always tell people who want to get involved to just get started somewhere. Just attending one call will allow you to connect with others, learn something new, and take collaborative action for the planet. From there, you can see where your passions fit into the working puzzle of San Diego 350. In my activism, I make efforts to show youth the endless opportunities for involvement. Whether you’re interested in protesting, organizing, or even graphic design, there is always a place for you in the movement! I work to prioritize using a JEDI lens in my activism after learning that BIPOC and low-income communities are hit the hardest by the climate crisis despite contributing the least to emissions. As many are already being negatively impacted today, it is important that we take urgent and equitable action. 

Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?

I’m a rising junior at Westview High School in Rancho Peñasquitos. I am a Girl Scout and tri-sport athlete playing soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey! Within SD350 and Youth4Climate, I am a part of the teams Youth v. Oil, Plastic Free Gen Z, Eco-Club Coalition, and was the Spring Media Fellow. I am currently working on spearheading a Y4C summit called the Eco-Club Coalition Leaders in Action Workshop (ECCLAW) on August 28 from 2:30-5 PT. This ECC kickoff is an opportunity is for youth and their advisors to help jumpstart and grow their eco-clubs for the coming school year. We have updates for all of our events on our Instagram @youth4climate.350 !!