“Our Planet – Our Future” Kick-off Meeting for the United Nations Los Angeles Chapter

Kick-off Meeting: “Our Planet, Our Future”, Giroux Glass, Inc. was a co-sponsor of the United Nations Association of the U.S. – Los Angeles Chapter (UNA-LA) event on October 26, 2019 – at Emerson College where Barbara Kotsos, Brian Peregrina and I attended. Brian’s lovely wife and board member of the UNA-LA Chapter, Radhika Vekaria, spoke to the group as well. The timing of the event was no coincidence: Oct. 24 was the 74th anniversary of the United Nations, and their chosen theme for the year is climate crisis, “the defining issue of our time,” and they’re dedicated to making noise about it.

It was heart-warming to see so many people who care about the many issues the United Nations deal with worldwide, including: poverty, human rights and  climate change. Jillian Boardman, Chapter President, welcomed all guests and explained the LA Chapter’s mission to bring the United Nations global goals to LA. The keynote speaker, Rachel Bowen Pittman, Executive Director, UNA-USA, assured us that the group consists of 100% volunteers. She also emphasized that the most important issue is no longer climate “change,” it is a climate “crisis.”

Predictions from decades ago are all coming true. Just one example: 14 of the 20 most destructive California wildfires have occurred since 2007. We need to hold ourselves accountable. We need to hold our peers accountable. We need to hold our elected officials accountable. We need to fight against policies that fail to preserve our world. We need to stay in the Paris Agreement, which we are technically still part of until November 4, 2020.

Following this inspirational speech was a panel discussion with:

  • Rachel Bowen Pittman, Executive Director, UNA-USA
  • Jonathan Parfrey, Executive Director, Climate Resolve
  • Estelle Reyes, SVP Enhancing Community, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator
  • Lori Yalem, Major Account Rep, Homeboy Electronics Recycling

The panel provided some devastating statistics that call all of us to action in our personal lives. We annually throw out electronic waste equivalent to the weight of 125,000 jumbo jets. Only 12% of it gets recycled. The rest poisons our environment with toxins leaking. Homeboy Electronics Recycling picks up and so do many other free electronic recycling services. There is also important “right to repair” legislation, which allows consumers the ability to repair and modify their own electronic devices without the services of the original manufacturers.

From left: Radhika, one of the board members co-founder this new LA chapter, Speaker Lori Yalem from HomeBoy Electronics Recycling, and panel discussion on initiatives.

We heard of many actions we can take as individuals. We can vote with our wallets by not supporting companies whose policies hurt the environment; invest in environmentally-conscious companies instead of coal mines. Calvert Funds is one of the largest responsible investment companies in the US.  We can buy refurbished items. We can repair and re-use. They asked us if we’d be willing to wait a year before buying the next phone upgrade when the one we have still works perfectly fine. We can support certified B Corporations who balance purpose and profit. Did you know that B Corporations are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment?

Jonathan Parfrey declared that “California rocks.” What he meant was that we can show the rest of the world that we can do very well economically while doing what is right for the environment. Maybe other states will see us lead by example and will follow suit. Some examples: AB32 attempted to get us to 1990 emissions levels by 2020. We accomplished it by 2016! SB32 requires that we be at 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and we are well on our way! By 2045 the State of California will be emission neutral, due to legislation signed by Governor Brown.

We then watched a video of Greta Thunberg, the eloquent and passionate 16-year-old fighter for a livable planet. In a captivating speech, she requests that we stop hoping and start acting. She insists that all the solutions are already there – we just need to implement them. We need to act!