¡Agua es Vida!

Celebration of Water in the Desert and Short Film Showcase

Artwork by Emma Nakpairat.

Saturday, 16 September 2023!

Celebrate water in the desert with fun family activities like build your own rain basin and a Living Lab tour at Watershed Management Group.

Then head to the Loft for a short film showcase featuring music by Ted Ramirez and short documentaries about everyday heroes working to keep our rivers flowing and securing water for generations to come. Followed by a filmmaker and water expert Q & A.

Find more details here.


Biodiversity:Local Perspectives on a Global Issue

Tuesday, September 12, at 6:00 pm,

Jaguar photo courtesy University of Arizona and USFWS

As we see all too often in the news, the world’s biodiversity faces many challenges and threats, even including risks of multiple extinctions across the globe. In the US, concerns about biodiversity seem to be highlighted by this year’s 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, and globally we begin to see an awakening to the need for action, for example, the recent launch of the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund.
Closer to home, we’re fortunate to live in one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. Yet here too, the flora and fauna in the Sky Islands and the Sonoran Desert face many threats challenging their survival.
Join us for our next monthly meeting, Tuesday, September 12, at 6:00 pm, for an overview of key issues impacting biodiversity in our region. Our speaker is Laiken Jordahl,Southwest Conservation Advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, based here in Tucson. Laiken will give a brief overview of regional biodiversity and then share work being done to protect biodiversity in the borderlands in the face of myriad threats, including border walls and militarization, industrial-scale mining, and rampant and illegal cattle grazing of our vanishing wetlands – all of which are contributing significantly to biodiversity loss in the region. Following his presentation there will be ample time for Q & A.
Laiken works to protect wildlife, ecosystems, and public lands throughout the desert Southwest and U.S-Mexico borderlands. Before joining the Center, he worked with the National Park Service studying threats to wilderness character at five different national parks and monuments and with the Bureau of Land Management on recreation planning for the San Juan River. He has also worked as a natural resource legislative fellow in the U.S. House of Representatives. For four years Laiken worked as the Center’s Borderlands campaigner, fighting wall construction in Arizona and across the southwest, before recently transitioning into his current, more general role as a Southwest Conservation Advocate.


The Future of Tucson’s Housing

Tuesday, August 8 at 6pm

Join us at Sustainable Tucson’s monthly meeting, “The Future of Tucson’s Housing,” on Tuesday, August 8, at 6 pm for an inspiring and informative event that will reshape the way we think about our homes and their impact on the environment and our community.

Discover how we can take charge of our local part in a national problem and build a resilient, sustainable future for Tucson! Our focus will be on tackling the challenges of our aging homes and making them energy-efficient, cost-effective, and eco-friendly through the groundbreaking Green Retrofit II program.

At the meeting, you’ll have the opportunity to: 🏠 Learn about the current conditions of our old houses, both in the past and today. 💰 Find out what you can do to make sustainable upgrades without breaking the bank. 👷‍♂️ Discover the innovative Green Retrofit II program, for training the skilled workforce we need to repair and upgrade our homes. 🗣 Engage in a thought-provoking panel discussion on making repair, preservation, and upgrading of our homes a top community priority.

The impact can be enormous! Buildings account for 76% of electricity use and 40% of all U.S. primary energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. But with cost-effective technologies, we can cut building energy use by over 20% in the next few decades. By fixing the nation’s 56 million old homes, we have a unique chance to combat climate change while supporting economic and social stability for millions of American families.

Green Retrofit II has ambitious goals, including: 🛠 Training a skilled workforce to repair and upgrade Tucson’s 200,000 aging and uninsulated homes. 💡 Raising awareness and providing financing tools for widespread repairs and upgrades. 🏡Collaborating with neighborhoods to implement sustainability initiatives.

Who should attend? Everyone who cares about: 🌍 Housing, environment, and social justice. 👷‍♂️ Sustainable job opportunities and rehabilitation workforce training. 🏠 Affordable, comfortable, and efficient homes for all residents. 💼Supporting local businesses and financial institutions interested in sustainable home improvements. 🏘 Creating resilient and vibrant communities for the future. 🌱 Advocating for climate change mitigation and social equity.


Joining Forces for Clean Energy: A Practical Guide to Saving Money and the Planet

6:00 p.m. Tuesday, July 11

As temperatures rise, broader segments of Tucsonans are helping clean up our energy emissions and enjoying financial benefits from doing so.
Local initiatives are making solar affordable to more households and smoothing the transition to electric transportation. Existing state and federal support to electrify and clean up household and workplace energy use are undergoing a massive restructuring that includes replacing fossil infrastructure with heat pumps to efficiently cool and heat our living and work spaces and our water.
Hear stories of people who two years ago would not have been able to afford greening their energy use and find out what new options may be within your reach.
Among those sharing will be Flor Sandoval, Program Director of the Sonoran Environmental Research Institute, who oversees the Solar Empowerment Program; Ben Nead, a member of the Tucson Climate Coalition and a volunteer advisor to the City of Tucson on electric vehicle charging for multifamily housing; and Solar Lawyer Bruce Plenk and solar installer Duane Ediger, both members of Sustainable Tucson’s Energy Transformation Working Group.


“Chemical Recycling” of Plastic: A Burning Issue

Tuesday, June 13 at 6:00pm

As public concern grows about the plastic waste crisis, the petrochemical and plastic industries are promoting a suite of environmentally troublesome technologies that they misleadingly call “chemical recycling” (also known as “advanced recycling”) as a solution to the crisis.  Chemical recycling isn’t really recycling at all.  This supposed cutting-edge technology most often involves turning plastic into fuel. Here in Tucson, the Environmental and General Services Department has solicited seven project ideas for turning plastic or mixed waste into gaseous and/or liquid fuels that will be burned, using pyrolysis and gasification systems. The Department is also studying two proposals that would turn discarded plastics into chemical feedstocks to make new plastic.

Chemical recycling represents a dangerous false solution to the plastic epidemic. These high-heat systems most often use plastic materials to generate a limited amount of fuel in a one-time process, destroying them rather than giving them another material use. These processes, which are energy-intensive, generate greenhouse gases and toxic fumes. Some also produce hazardous waste. Chemical recycling will not solve the plastic waste crisis. What is needed instead are policies that reduce plastic production and waste, particularly single-use packaging.

Join us at our June 13 monthly meeting to learn about the health and environmental hazards of chemical recycling. Our guest speaker will be Dr. Veena Singla, Senior Scientist, People & Communities Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Time for Q&A will follow her presentation.

Dr. Singla, who is also an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University, oversees a program that addresses health disparities linked to harmful environmental exposures. Her research investigates how toxic chemicals and pollution related to systems of materials use, production, and disposal threaten the health of impacted communities.

Dr. Singla currently serves on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee, the National Toxicology Program Board of Scientific Counselors, the Board of Directors for Clean Production Action, and as associate director for the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice Program. 


Air Quality in Pima County

One of the key foundational issues for living in a healthy environment is ensuring that we can breathe clean air. We know that this is far from true for many places and communities around the world. But what about right here in Pima County? Do we enjoy the clean air we all desire? Or are there days when we experience poor air, and are there parts of the county that experience a risky degree of pollution? How can we all help to ensure our local air quality is the best it can be?
Join us for an in-depth look at “Air Quality in Pima County” at our next monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 9, at 6:00 pm on Zoom. We’re pleased that our presenter for this topic will be Natalie Shepp, MPH, Senior Program Manager for Outreach & Education at Pima County Department of Environmental Quality. She’ll focus on local air quality issues, and review local sources, health effects, and solutions to air pollution. Time for Q&A will follow her presentation.
And to prepare for what you’ll be hearing from Natalie, you can take PDEQ’s Clean Air Challenge, hosted on their website throughout the month of May <#ThisIsCleanAir Challenge>. For the Challenge, you’ll take a quiz to test your knowledge about air quality and how your habits protect the air we breathe. Quiz takers also earn a chance at winning a prize.

Young Advocates for Sustainability

Tuesday, April 11
6:00-7:30 pm

Watch the meeting:

Join us to hear a panel of young activists (teens to 20’s) who are working for a sustainable future. Panelists will share their key engagements in the community, other issues that are on their minds, and what they wish others would do to assure a brighter future. After they answer a few prepared questions, the floor will open to the audience. Bring your questions!
Panelists are Rocky Baier, recent UA grad, co-founder of Tucson’s Repair Cafe; Ali Soland, member of Youth for Blue Skies, a collaborative program of the Ironwood Tree Experience; Adriana Bachmann, Ambassadors of Sustainability, climate communicator; and Garrett Weaver, member of Tucson Climate Coalition.


Sustainability in the Statehouse

Tuesday, March 14 @ 6:00

What’s happening in our state Legislature to bills that impact environment, natural resources, and related issues? Join us at our next monthly meeting for answers to that question.

Our speaker will be State Senator Priya Sundareshan, who will give an overview of legislative activity (or lack of activity) on issues such as sustainability, environment, clean air, water, environmental justice, electrifying transportation options, and emissions reduction in the fight to control the climate crisis.

Senator Sundareshan represents Legislative District 18 and is also the Director of the Natural Resource Use and Management Clinic, James E Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. It will be valuable to hear the perspective of an environmental lawyer on the way our legislature is addressing issues of importance to our organization – and to the future of our state.

Speaker Bio: Priya Sundareshan was elected to the Arizona Senate in 2023 to represent LD 18 and currently sits on the Elections, Government, and Natural Resources/Energy/Water Committees. Born and raised in LD18, Priya loves Tucson and the opportunities she had for an excellent public education and exploring the outdoors. She teaches natural resources law at the University of Arizona, and previously advocated for sustainable resource management with the Environmental Defense Fund. As a voting rights advocate, Priya has led voter protection efforts and engagement on redistricting within the Arizona Democratic Party. Having studied engineering at MIT and law and natural resource economics at UA, she knows we need more science-based decision-making in politics, especially when it comes to preserving our

beautiful state for future generations. As a mother of two small children, Priya wants her children and all children to inherit a sustainable world and sustainable Arizona.


Love and Protect
Our Beautiful Sonoran Desert

This month we are featuring the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, an important local organization advocating for and working to preserve our natural environment and biodiversity. But why does the Sonoran Desert need protection, and what is this Coalition doing to protect it?

Join us to get the answers to those and many other questions at our Monthly Meeting, 6:00 pm on Tuesday, February 14 — Valentine’s Day, the perfect time to express your love for our beautiful Sonoran Desert! 
Our speaker will be Carolyn Campbell, Executive Director of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, who will share with us her passion for the Sonoran Desert. Carolyn will give us an overview of the important work of the Coalition, including its role in developing Pima County’s award-winning Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. She’ll review other notable successes and key challenges, and she’ll suggest some ways in which we can get involved. 

Carolyn Campbell, Executive Director, helped found the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection in 1998, responding to a need for a unified voice to advocate for the implementation of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. Over the last 20 years, under her leadership, the Coalition has become the lead environmental advocate and facilitator on Sonoran Desert conservation planning.

After graduating from Arizona State University in 1982 with a B.S. in Political Science, Carolyn worked as a Congressional Aide to Representative Morris K. Udall in his Phoenix office from 1984-1990. She was the founder and State Chair of the Arizona Green Party from 1990-1998, and from 1994-1997 she worked as Chief Council Aide for Tucson City Councilmember Molly McKasson. Over the years, she has served on many local committees and boards of local organizations, and has received numerous local and regional awards.
Throughout her time calling Tucson home, she has been, in her own words,  “a passionate voice for Sonoran Desert land and wildlife conservation.”


Make your voice heard about our water future

Image of the one water process, which includes groundwater, surface water, reclaimed water, and stormwater.
Tucson is working on the One Water 2100 Master Plan.

The City of Tucson is working on the One Water 2100 Master Plan to determine how Tucson will manage water resources for the next 80 years.

Your input on the plan is needed! The One Water 2100 Survey will be open through January 31, 2023 to get feedback from the community.

Sustainable Tucson prepared an info sheet to provide some background on the options in the survey. You can access the info sheet here and then use the link in the info sheet to take the survey.

Be part of our water future!