Our favorite way to holiday shop

The climate community’s eyes are on COP28, but all we want to do is shop


Hey team, and welcome back to one5c. This week we’ve got one eye on Dubai and the other on our holiday shopping list. There are already plenty of headlines coming out of the UAE, but we’ll be sharing them sparingly, because we want to focus most on the news that’ll help y’all put COP28 in perspective here at home. Besides, it’s December, and the Holiday Distractatron 5000 has powered into high gear. We’ve got your back on that front, too, and this week’s shopping advice happens to be a personal favorite of mine. 

While we’re on the subject of gifts, can we interest you in a climate-action newsletter for the pickiest world-savers on your list? It’s free. —Corinne

Thrift a gift, save the world. HiTecherZ/Shutterstock

The sustainable, affordable way to holiday shop

If you’re stumped about how to balance your love of the planet with your love of shopping, may we suggest a secondhand holiday? If you’re new to this particular flavor of regifting, let us assure you it’s easier than you think. Here’s a 30-second primer on where to look and what to look for: Thrift shops and online marketplaces like eBay, Whatnot, and Everything But The House are full of steals on artwork, glassware, accessories, and kitschy throwbacks to whatever design era fits your vibe. We also recommend checking out Instagram or your social network of choice for ideas before diving in. In fact, a couple of our favorite accounts are running recurring features for that very reason: @sarahsain and @2ndstory_studio. The tag #thriftgifts is also quite handy.

Tripping into environmentalism

When did you realize just how crucial it is to fight for a safer, healthier, and more sustainable planet? It could have started in your upbringing, or maybe a really epic trip to one of our national parks sparked a moment of inspiration. For some the turning point was more trippy. Turns out there are real parallels between taking psychedelics, like magic mushrooms, and a newfound commitment to saving the planet, reports Winston Ross for Bloomberg. Some proponents say that the feelings of self-love and acceptance that crop up during trips can make our brains more prepared to think about the most terrifying truths out there—including how we have trashed the planet and need to do more to save it. Of course, the road to legalizing psychedelic treatment nationwide is still murky, as is the science connecting tripping to environmental activism. But, hey, whatever works… 

Degrowth vs. green growth

Whether or not anyone uses the words, tensions between attendees in Dubai often boil down to a couple economic POVs: Let capitalism keep chugging, or rein it in. The former, known as green growth, is the idea that “technology will save us if we get the incentives right,” writes public policy expert Mark Fabian. But it’s no simple feat to uncouple emissions with economic largess. The idea of degrowth, in contrast, pushes for a radical change in what we view as a successful society, namely shifting the spotlight from economic growth and onto social, human, financial, and natural wealth. But that’s not exactly easy to do on a planet where having money tends to equal having a voice. Fabian breaks down the common ground between the two schools in his latest for The Conversation.

Is COP28’s ‘loss and damage’ fund enough?

The climate crisis comes down hardest on the nations and people that have contributed the least to it, and the nations that are responsible haven’t done a whole lot to help protect and prepare those groups. On the very first day of COP28, however, things appeared to take a positive turn: Countries including the UAE, the U.K., Germany, Japan, and the U.S. reached an agreement to help developing countries facing floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. The catch? The entire fund is only $400 million—and the U.S. contribution is contingent on congressional approval. For context, rebuilding after the Lahaina fire this summer will take an estimated $5.5 billion.

More from COP28

  • U.S. pledges $3 billion for green climate fund to aid developing nations in climate adaptation; U.N. estimates put annual need at at least $215 billion.
  • New rules in the U.S. aim to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by 80% by 2038. The greenhouse gas is so potent, that’s the equivalent of taking 28 million cars off the road for 15 years.  
  • Climate Envoy John Kerry announced that the U.S. would join the Powering Past Coal Alliance, a group of nations committed to building no more coal-fired plants and phasing out existing ones. 
Mic-drop climate stat

A state senator booting drilling from backyards

Drilling for oil in backyards outside Los Angeles. Sergey Novikov/Shutterstock

The Candidate

Lena Gonzalez, a California state senator, represents the Golden State’s 33rd District, which includes nearly 1 million residents in Los Angeles County. Though Gonzalez has put forth plenty of climate-focused laws—including one to ban fossil fuel investments for state pensions—her signature legislation is a 2022 bill aimed at keeping dirty fossil fuel businesses out of constituents’ backyards. The law went into effect early this year, but she’s currently fighting a temporary suspension spurred by a push from the oil industry. 

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The Local Story

California’s oil production has decreased significantly in the last 40 years, but it still ranks in the top 10 U.S. states for crude oil production. Unlike other major oil-producing states, California doesn’t have legal restrictions about how close oil and gas drilling can be to where people are. Around 25% of the state’s active oil and gas wells are located near homes, schools, and hospitals. 

Spending time too close to drilling sites can lead to health problems including respiratory illnesses, birth defects, and cancer. Recent research also shows a higher risk of severe COVID-19 complications. Based on these findings, California public health experts recommend keeping neighborhoods at least 3,200 feet (a little more than half a mile) away from drilling areas. Almost 3 million Californians live inside that boundary, most of whom are people of color. Many other residents work near wells, either in the industry itself, or at schools, health care facilities, and other jobs. 

After two unsuccessful attempts to create an oil and gas “setback” zone at the state level, lawmakers passed SB 1137 in 2022. Authored by Gonzalez, the law prohibits permits for new oil and gas wells within a 3,200-foot radius of homes, schools, and hospitals. The law also represents a significant step in phasing out fossil fuels, as a quarter of the state’s oil and gas production happens inside the buffer. 

Fossil fuel producers launched an effort to repeal SB 1137 days after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it into law. A coalition of petroleum companies spent more than $20 million to gather 1 million signatures needed to put a referendum on the 2024 ballot this past February. This success paused SB 1137 just one month after it went into effect.  

Sen. Gonzalez and a coalition of more than 100 scientists have called on Newsom to stop issuing new oil and gas permits while SB 1137 is on hold. Meanwhile, Gonzalez is also urging California’s two biggest public pension funds to stop investing in fossil fuel companies as part of her ongoing efforts to fight fossil fuels. 

The National Picture

Around 18 million Americans live within 1 mile of an active oil or gas well. This includes marginalized groups such as people of color, people living below the poverty line, the elderly, and children. In certain states like West Virginia and Oklahoma, more than half of the population lives near a well. In addition to health risks, extraction through drilling, fracking, or mining can also wreak havoc on the nearby environment. Drilling can result in spills and accidents, while fracking has been linked to water and air pollution, methane leaks, and even earthquakes.