The Time for Environmental Action is NOW!

The EFM Notebook

A Commentary on What’s New and Newsworthy

by Susan Holloway | Bio

NOTE: EFM Notebook is best viewed horizontally, when using your phone.                      EFM Notebook Index

Finding Agency in the Midst of Chaos

12 Sep 2020 1:52 PM | Gayle Marsh (Administrator)

Golden Gate Bridge during the daytime…this is not normal! 

This has been a very challenging week for many California residents. Even those who not dealing directly with fire hazard are likely feeling deeply unsettled. Waking up to pumpkin colored sky and falling ash is extremely weird. I hope you are relatively safe and comfortable.

I have tried to counter my pessimistic ruminations by taking baby steps toward the goal of environmental sustainability. Here are a few things that have given me a sense of happiness and purpose in the last week or so.

Positive step one

On September 9th I attended a webinar on e-vehicles sponsored by Drive Clean Bay Area. The presenters, including EFM Graduate Annika Osborn, provided a helpful overview of the new models. They touched on the environmental benefits of e-vehicles and addressed some potential concerns, including “range anxiety.” I appreciated hearing about all the rebates and discounts available for those who purchase e-vehicles.

Communities of color cause less air pollution
but suffer from it more

The webinar also took on the issue of socioeconomic and racial inequities in air pollution and indicated the responsibility of privileged community members to address them.

Go their website ( and download their informative guide to buying and driving an e-vehicle or sign up for a webinar. The lease on my current gas guzzler ends in a month, and I am committed to replacing it with an e-vehicle.

Positive step two

I got a subscription for Bite toothpaste bits. The bits come in a refillable glass jar packed in cardboard. No plastic tube that will never biodegrade, and no chemicals in the toothpaste. Each bit is approximately the size of a fat aspirin and they foam up quite nicely once you start brushing.

Did you know that the ancient Egyptians invented toothpaste? Read more at



Have you ever tried to do the wash in high heels?


Positive step three

More on the domestic household products front…I started using a new laundry detergent called “ECOSNext.” It is basically a cardboard box full of rectangular sheets that melt in water. One sheet per laundry load. No harmful chemicals in the product and no plastic container. Woohoo! I learned about the company in a webinar sponsored by the Center for Environmental Health, a great local organization dedicated to addressing the use of toxic chemicals in everyday products. One of the webinar presenters was Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, president and CEO of Ecos. As a company, Ecos has achieved carbon neutrality, water neutrality and TRUE Platinum Zero Waste certification.  

Positive step four

With less than two months until the election, I made several financial contributions to organizations helping elect leaders who will address climate change and social injustice.

The organization “Vote Save America” has a very informative website with everything you need to know about registering to vote and supporting get-out the vote efforts: (

Voter suppression, lack of community resources, inflexible work schedules — all of these rob voters of their voice. Black, brown, indigenous, and other marginalized communities continue to be the victims of targeted voter disenfranchisement efforts. 

The two most important things we can all do: 1) be sure to vote in November (or earlier, preferably!); 2) do everything possible to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to do the same.

Moving forward with happiness and purpose

An article I read recently on “The World Counts” website made the point that we are destroying the planet in the process of trying to achieve meaning and purpose through consumption. They provide a thoughtful exploration of other ways we can live truly meaningful and purposeful lives. Here’s the link if you want to read more:

I also liked this thought from an article in the Greater Good Magazine, a publication of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley:

Having more agency means taking responsibility for your life. The next time you sense something happening around you—or within you—that doesn’t feel quite right, don’t ignore it and reflexively press on. Exercise the discipline to stop, pay attention, and work on finding a better path for yourself. By practicing more agency, you’ll have more influence over your life and greater impact on the lives of others.

To check out other interesting articles from the GGSC:

That’s it for this installment of the EFM Notebook! Do you have comments on what you’ve read so far? Suggestions for future topics? Send me your thoughts at

Many thanks to Rob Badger and Nita Winter for sharing Rob’s beautiful image on the Notebook banner. Check out their award-winning book at Visit to see more birds and other images.

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