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The holiday season is the most wonderful time of year; Christmas trees, Thanksgiving feasts, good will toward men and holiday movies never cease to warm up the coldest season. However, no matter how wonderful it is, it's also a very wasteful time of year. Tinsel, paper snowflakes, single-use wrapping paper, excess food, Amazon boxes and cranking up the heat have an impact on the planet.
Having a waste-free holiday doesn't need to make it any less festive, fun or traditional. Here are a few ways to give Mother Earth a break this year.
Thrift shopping sometimes gets a bad rep despite being one of the most eco-friendly ways to buy your goods. There are even different kinds of thrift stores, consignments stores and markets to suit your needs. According to the 2020 U.S. Census, only about 16-18% of Americans shop at a thrift store at least once per year.
There are thrift stores by the dozen for every type of need in Austin: visit Goodwill Blue Hanger on 6505 Burleson Road, which sells clothes by the pound for the most bang for your buck; visit Thrift Town on 5700 Manchaca Road for a wide selection, or if uniqueness is what you're after, visit St. Vincent de Paul on 900 W. Braker Lane.Or, visit Revival Vintage on 100 N Loop Blvd for an upscale thrifted gift—because used ≠ not giftable!
There is no truly waste-free way to grocery shop yet in Austin, though a few stores have tried and met an untimely end, but don't let that deter you from shopping sustainably. The easiest way to reduce waste while grocery shopping is to make bulk sections and reusable containers your friend.
H-E-B and Central Market have extensive bulk sections for dry goods including coffee, tea, nuts, spices, trail mix, dried fruit, snacks and more. Wheatsville Co-op offers bulk sections that carry laundry detergent, soap and self-care products. You can even use your reusable containers in these sections.Some services offer sustainable grocery delivery, like Trashless, which delivers local groceries in reusable containers and will pick them up when they're empty.
Upcycling allows you to take otherwise useless products and make them into something new, without creating new waste. The process can be done with just about anything—clothes, furniture, scraps or even garbage—if you're crafty enough. The City of Austin holds fix-it clinics to teach how to repair basic household objects, which is a must in the home improvement sphere.
Donate your used items
Marie Kondo-ing your house? Don't throw away the items you don't want anymore—donate them. Even if you don't think someone will want it, if it is still in good condition, it is worth a shot.The Austin Common offers a Reuse Directory to help combat the $11 million worth of reusable products that Austinites throw out every year. The directory offers guidance on how to buy, rent, repair or get rid of something sustainably, even showing the differences between organizations so you can do so based on your ideals.
Give an experience as a gift this year
When you give an experience as a gift, the possibilities are endless and the waste is much lower. After all, an experience will last forever in your loved one's memory. If your loved one likes to kayak, get them a one year rental pass on Ladybird Lake. Take your daredevil indoor skydiving at iFly, get them an annual pass to their favorite museum, take them on an Austin Biplane tour or even race car driving.
Whatever you do for your holiday season this year, why not try to make it just a little bit greener. Mother Nature will thank you.
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a record-setting second quarter during an earnings call broadcasted from the Giga Texas construction site in Southeast Travis County on Monday.
The electric carmaker reported more than $1 billion in quarterly net income and the production of more than 200,000 vehicles for the first time despite challenges such as a global semiconductor shortage.
"It … seems that public sentiment towards electric vehicles is at an inflection point, and at this point, I think, almost everyone agrees electric vehicles are the only way forward," Musk said.
Exterior shots taken just a while ago of Giga Texas (while @elonmusk is reportedly at the Gigafactory!) during today's earnings call!
Hope @peterdog15 got to catch the technoking in his video! #fastestinhistory #Tesla pic.twitter.com/WqeDlb5wU3
— Austin Tesla Club (@AustinTeslaClub) July 26, 2021
Despite rising consumer demand and adequate factory capacity, Tesla faces what Musk described as a "quite serious" global semiconductor shortage, which will determine the company's growth rate for the rest of the year.
With increased revenue and production, Tesla is investing in new factories, Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn said. These include Giga Texas, the $1.1 billion manufacturing plant that broke ground last summer and is slated to open later this year.
The Giga Texas factory in Southeast Travis County has rapidly increased in size since ground broke last August. (Tesla)
Musk commended the construction team for "incredible progress," transforming what was basically a vacant site into "a mostly complete large factory a year later."
I was at Giga Texas yesterday. Team is making excellent progress. Building will be almost a mile long when complete.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2021
Giga Texas will produce the highly anticipated Cybertruck, along with other models, but Musk said scaling its production will be difficult, especially given the supply chain delays caused by the pandemic. "It's going to move as fast as the slowest of its up to 10,000 unique parts," he said.
In other news, Musk said Monday's earnings call would likely be his last regular appearance, only jumping on future quarterly calls when big announcements warrant it.
Tesla Solar recently made news when it announced plans to build the nation's most sustainable residential community in Southeast Austin earlier this month. The newly built homes will feature Tesla solar roof tiles and Powerwall battery storage as well as electric vehicle charging stations.
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The city of Austin released a shortlist of seven candidates for the police chief position left vacant when Brian Manley retired in March.
City Manager Spencer Cronk hopes to announce an appointment by the end of August, which will require City Council approval.
The finalists, chosen from a field of 46 applicants, include:
- APD Interim Chief Joseph Chacon, who previously served as an assistant chief in the department for almost five years
- Anne Kirkpatrick, former police chief in Oakland, California, who was fired last year after a federal monitor criticized her handling of a fatal 2018 police shooting of a homeless man
- Dallas Police Department Assistant Chief Avery L. Moore, who is a 30-year veteran of the department
- Atlanta Police Department Deputy Chief Celeste Murphy, who manages the department's community services division
- Dekalb County Police Chief Mirtha V. Ramos, who previously served as division chief in the Miami-Dade Police Department
- Wichita Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsay, who is a former president of the Minnesota Police Chief's Association as well as one of the first police chiefs of a major U.S. City to call George Floyd's death a murder, as reported by the Wichita Eagle
- Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Emada E. Tingirides, who is also commanding officer of the department's newly formed Community Safety Partnership Bureau, which serves L.A.'s underserved communities
City staff will interview the finalists in the coming weeks, with several community input opportunities to come, according to a Monday press release.
The city conducted a public survey in March and hosted community input meetings in April to learn more about what residents are looking for in their next police chief, which helped shape the selection criteria for the position.
"They want to see the Chief be reform-minded and transparent and have a track record of fostering community involvement and accountability," Cronk said in the release. "The candidates selected show these characteristics in various ways."
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Days after Austin began once again recommending masks in public spaces, Austin ISD announced Monday that kindergarten through sixth-grade classes will have virtual options this fall.
The district will discuss the move in a special board meeting Monday evening starting at 5 p.m., while full details will be released Friday.
Teachers will not have to fret about the new option—no educators will have to juggle both virtual and in-person learning. Instead, certain teachers will specialize in virtual education, according to a press release.
The news comes after a recent spike in COVID cases in Travis County and across the nation. Children typically suffer fewer symptoms of COVID when contracted, but they are now catching the virus more often than their older counterparts without a vaccine available to them and as the more contagious Delta variant is quickly being spread.
While local health officials are recommending everyone wear masks, public school districts are unable to mandate masks due to an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott in May.
Parents have expressed concern about classrooms with masks unenforceable and children under the age of 12 ineligible for a vaccine. Some have even said they would look for alternative schooling if AISD did not offer a virtual option for students.
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