At Stonyfield, we’ve been concerned about climate change for 35 years. Our co-founder, Gary Hirshberg, studied climate change in college in the late 1970s and it was a main motivation for him in joining the New Alchemy Institute after college to advance renewable energy, as well as the board of the Rural Education Center that ultimately grew to become Stonyfield. So it’s in our roots, our bones, our DNA to care about our impacts and to act on climate.
Last week’s announcement that the United States will be pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement is devastating. The historic Paris agreement was more than 20 years in the making; a very hard fought win after two decades of stalemate. It is the result of a unique moment when the world came together in unanimous fashion to envision a new future for our global population. Many of the people most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change are not on our shores, but in other parts of the world where the very poor struggle to survive and climate change is compounding existing challenges. And farmers, both nearby and around the world, are facing increasing pressure from insect pests, increased extreme precipitation events and drought among other consequences of climate change.
But at Stonyfield, we are optimists by nature. We think about the future and challenge ourselves to do better for our consumers, our employees, our suppliers, our communities and the Earth. We were the first US manufacturer to offset the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the energy use of our manufacturing. We built the largest solar electricity system in our state in 2005. We were the first dairy company to use plant-based packaging. And today, we’re joining with hundreds of other U.S. businesses, investors, cities, states and universities in telling the World that we will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement. We’re still in!
While we disagree with the direction the current administration is taking, we see hope and opportunity in many other directions. US businesses have been increasing commitments to developing new renewable energy projects in record setting numbers. 40 members of Congress, including 20 Republicans, have joined the Climate Solutions Caucus. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets to march for climate, including many of our own employees!
And farmers have many tools at their disposal to reduce emissions through improving soil health and increasing carbon sequestration in their soils. Organic farmers, who already focus on soil health, are uniquely well positioned to help create a future where carbon is a net sink, instead of a net source, of GHG emissions. At Stonyfield, we are actively developing solutions to assist farmers with increasing their soil carbon sequestration to both reduce their impact and create new sources of income.
Our country, and our global community, has a great opportunity to respond to climate change through innovation and we’re so excited to see that many businesses, cities, and organizations are already doing so. Those who came before us were innovators. Our ancestors found great agricultural and industrial opportunities and efficiency gains from the use of fossil fuels but didn’t understand their consequences. But now we know. The question remains open: What will we do with this knowledge? Instead of being shackled to 20th century fuels, infrastructure and farming methods, we’re helping build a new world. We will continue to move forward. Stay tuned……
And you? What are some easy ways to fight climate change as an individual?
We like this full list – but here are four easy ways to fight climate change on your own:
- Reduce emissions: walk, bike, or take public transportation when you can!
- Be thoughtful at home: never leave appliances on standby. When you can, adjust your home temperature by just 1-2 degrees. You may not notice a big difference and doing so will save energy.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In that order.
- Eat locally when you can, and visit your farmers market to consumer what is in season.