November 2021 Sustainability Newsletter

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November 2021 Newsletter




Avo holding the earth

2021 NM Climate Summit

 Thankful for the Community

Change Makers!

Last month, the County's Sustainability staff attended the first ever 2021 New Mexico Climate Summit, led by Speaker Brian Egolf. The meeting served as a regional kick-off before the global climate talks at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland. The NM Summit featured panel discussions with numerous experts in the climate field. References were made throughout the two day event on the many opportunities New Mexicans can expect for jobs and innovation as the State transitions to cleaner energy.

Future energy transitions will require contributions from many in the Santa Fe community. This month we give thanks to the contributors throughout the County that currently provide essential environmental stewardship services. Many have been committed to service to the planet for a number of years and foster our community vibrancy in crucially important ways. Their services create impactful jobs and skill development opportunities while protecting the surrounding environment and public health. Cause IQ reports that "There are 65 environmental organizations in the greater Santa Fe metro area. Combined, these Santa Fe metro environmental organizations employ 360 people, earn more than $28 million in revenue each year, and have assets of $131 million." 

The listed organizations reflect 34 in natural resource conservation, 13 in land conservation, 8 in pollution abatement and control businesses, and 7 in water quality and wetland conservation, to name a few key areas of focus. We can expect the need for these types of fields and jobs to increase in the coming years in response to the state’s 30x30 initiative and commitment to decrease greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

We hope that you will show your gratitude by taking action to help these change makers in the excellent work they are doing for the planet and all of us!  

UNCO Solar Flower

The Beauty of Clean Energy

There is an increasing national and global focus on meeting emission reduction goals through a rapid and equitable transition to clean energy sources. In New Mexico, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham recently called on the Legislature to embed in statute the state’s commitment to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Re-evaluation of community development policies to transition to solar energy is an obvious next step toward fulfilling this commitment. 

The amount of sunlight the Earth receives in just an hour and a half is enough to power the world for a full year. Humans have been relying on the sun’s energy to grow crops and warm homes for thousands of years. The first rooftop solar panels were installed in New York City in the 1880s. Since then, solar panels have become more efficient and widespread. However, the aesthetics of the panels still sometimes causes contention among neighbors.

Fossil fuel burning power plants that emit harmful pollutants may be invisible to some, but these are disproportionately located in low-income communities and communities of color. New Mexico’s Community Solar Act aims to make clean solar energy more accessible and will likely mean we will see more solar panels pop up in the state.

Today, artists and scientists are experimenting with ways to make clean energy more beautiful and discreet. In 2020, community members in San Antonio, Texas designed and installed a “solar mural” at a local elementary school. The mural, which is applied to the face of the panels, depicts the school’s past and current students. Solar panels can also be incorporated into sculptures. For example, the University of Northern Colorado installed a solar “flower” with petals made of solar panels. The flower blooms during the day and closes at night when the panels are not in use.  Communities are even planting wildflowers beneath standard solar arrays to provide habitat for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators!

From a sustainability perspective, even simple panels represent a community’s effort to make changes that will benefit future generations—and that is beautiful in itself.

Triple Bottom Line

What Can I Do? Think Local!

As we all know, the pandemic has taken a toll on small businesses. This holiday season, give your thanks to local businesses by challenging yourself to do all of your holiday shopping locally. This keeps money circulating within our community, which supports job creation, community prosperity, and well-being. After all, economic development that helps the community is key to creating a sustainable community. In addition, buying locally-made crafts and food products shortens supply chains, minimizing the energy needed to transport goods across the globe, which reduces harmful climate-warming emissions.

In need of some inspiration? Visit Santa Fe County's AgriGate page for a list of local food producers, check out local farmers markets, or simply visit your favorite locally-owned shop. It's good for people, prosperity, and the planet!

Our November Picks

(Click on orange title and text below for associated links and information.)

SO logo

The Sustainability Office is Hiring!

Visit the Santa Fe County Job Opportunities page and look for the “Volunteer Coordinator” job posting. Applications are due November 29.


Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival

Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival

November 12-14

The 22nd annual Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival and its recycled material art market, adult and student juried art exhibits, and make-and-take art activities return to the Santa Fe Community Convention Center November 12-14! Learn all about this exciting event here.

single use plastics

Single-Use Plastic Ban Survey

Commissioners Hughes (D-5) and Hansen (D-2) are considering introducing a resolution to establish a working group to analyze and make recommendations on a potential ordinance banning various single-use plastic and polystyrene products in Santa Fe County. And they want to hear your voice! Take the short survey here.

acequia art and photo contest

2021 Acequia Art & Photo Contest!

Submit poems, videos, paintings, sketches, mixed media, models, and more that show, “What does acequia culture mean to you?” or “Why are acequias important to your family, culture, or community?” Full contest details available here. Submissions due November 30!

story of plastic

The Story of Plastic

Speaking of plastic, the makers of the film "The Story of Plastic" have made the full documentary free to watch during the month of November. The documentary can be watched on YouTube by following this link.

small business saturday

Small Business Saturday

November 27th, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, is "Small Business Saturday". Skip the madness of Black Friday and support your community by shopping at a small business! In addition, November 27th is a gross receipts tax holiday in New Mexico.

Sustainability Comments or Questions?

We are your local advisors on all things sustainability in Santa Fe County. Call us about anything from water conservation, cleaner transportation, solar and renewable energy, composting, recycling, etc. Or let us know what you would like to learn more about in our newsletter. 


Jacqueline Beam,

Adeline Murthy,

Caitlin Weber,