Women drive the sustainability conversation in Austin.
By Cy White, Illustrations by Jessica Wetterer
In May 1991, Susana Almanza co-founded People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources (PODER) in order to ensure that East Austin residents have a voice in conversations surrounding economic development and environmental protection. PODER was established by Chicana/o East Austin activists and community leaders all intent on the mission of environmental justice. In the year of PODER’s founding, Almanza attended the First People of Color conference and with other leaders of color wrote the 17 Principles of Environmental Justice, which form the foundation of PODER’s mission.
Every year, the Texas Campaign for the Environment (TCE) holds its Trash Makeover Challenge. The event is a themed fashion show and silent auction. The fashion show highlights local artists and designers who create elaborate couture pieces. Each piece is made of at least 90% recycled materials, a tactic to both denounce “fast fashion” and offer viable alternatives in the industry. The fashion show also acts as a fundraiser for the TCE. In 2022, the event came back for their first in-person event since 2019 and raised over $90,000 for TCE.
In 2021, with input from almost 200 members of the community, Austin’s City Council conceived the Austin Climate Equity Plan. The plan’s main goal is to achieve net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, meaning reducing the use of fossil fuels to nearly zero. The plan maps out 17 goals and 74 strategies to cut emissions significantly by 2030.