Verdant North’s guide on Impacting Climate
This is the digital list of things covered in episode 3 of the Verdant North Podcast. Feel free to share this info around, and thanks for doing your part to make the world a little better!
Did you know the USA has the biggest carbon footprint per capita? Yes, we are worse than China on a per person level. http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/science/each-countrys-share-of-co2.html#.WTGBzlKZPow
So what can you can actually do? This is a list of real things you can do, inspired by my pal Ben Bradley. Just the other day ol’ Benny-poo made a post about choosing the renewable sources option for our electricity bills. Without bitching, he gently noted that Excel Energy offers a renewable sources option, and it only costs about 5$ extra per month on his power bill. He even gave instructions and links. What a great idea Benzo! Leadership skills right there. I’m taking your lead, and running with it.
1) Water wisdom and quality: Water in the most efficient way possible.
- Water in the morning when it is cool. This reduces evaporation, and plants don’t like to be wet in full sun anyway. Watering when it’s hot reduces how much water actually gets into your plants. Watering at night can lead to fungus and rot issues! Info on lawn watering here: http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/lawn-garden/how-to/g849/the-smarter-way-to-water-your-lawn/
- Water less frequently, but deeply. For those of us with perennial plants and lawns, it is a great idea to water really well just a couple times a week. This encourages plants to have deeper roots to access water, and that keeps the law greener between waterings. More info on watering different parts of your yard here: http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/watering/#gardens
- Sweep up your grass clippings. Don’t let them get washed down into the storm drains, this adds a ton of nitrogen to our local Mississippi waters, and can lead to algae blooms which is gross and affects fish and plants in the water.
- Keep water on your property with rain barrels and rain gardens.
Info on rain gardens and volunteer opportunities here: https://metroblooms.org
There are often grants to assist you with costs around this kind of thing! Look for local grants and scholarships!
Minnehaha water shed district offers them occasionally here: http://www.minnehahacreek.org/grants and Hennepin county offers some here: http://www.hennepin.us/residents/environment/natural-resources-funding
Greater Minnesota areas have options too! https://stormwater.pca.state.mn.us/index.php?title=Funding
South Dakotans have info on grants for water projects here: http://denr.sd.gov/dfta/wwf/consolidated/consolidated.aspx
North Dakotans have many opportunities on their Agricultural lands: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/nd/programs/financial/cig/
Wisconsin has opportunities for communities here: http://dnr.wi.gov/current-promotion/ and individuals here: http://fyi.uwex.edu/sewraingardens/resources/other-organizations/
Iowa has a ton of options based on county here: http://www.rainscapingiowa.org/index.cfm?nodeID=85618&audienceID=1
Nebraska has cost share programs here: http://lincoln.ne.gov/city/pworks/watershed/grant/
Shout out to BOSTON! You get involved too!! https://www.epa.gov/soakuptherain/soak-rain-rain-gardens
- Make peace with an imperfect lawn. The less fertilizer and herbicide you use, the less gets in our water. A lawn watered a little less will grow slower and need less mowing. If you use the water deeply twice a week trick, your lawn will be able to go between watering just fine. Use hand power, flame weeders, and boiling water to kill off weeds. (Be smart and don’t burn or boil your ornamentals or yourself!)
- Consider a NO MOW yard with low water plants. This idea is called xeriscaping. It utilizes plants that need little/no watering once they are established. The return on investment is a beautiful yard you don’t have to fuss with often. Learn more here: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/xeriscaping/
and here: https://hubpages.com/living/Xeriscaping-Basics-For-Midwestern-Gardeners
- Shower less or co-shower and flush less. If you’re all about hippy bonus points with water wisdom, these are things everyone can do. It may take some getting used to. Reduce where you can. If it’s yellow let it mellow… unless you ate asparagus.
2) Air quality, Greenhouse Gasses and Carbon: (Green House Gasses are produce by our cars, the electricity we use, and things burning.)
- Skip the fire pits since they add to poor air quality in your city. You are directly releasing carbon right into the atmosphere without even capturing the energy created by combustion like your car or electricity plants do. You could at least reduce the number of time you DO have back yard fire pit parties. Find a good balance, get creative with lights and candles, and face it: everyone is there for the beer anyway. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fire-pit-environmental-dangers/
- Plant things that are great at fixing carbon! Berries and big grasses and grains do a great job. https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-12-27/some-advice-starting-your-own-backyard-carbon-farm
- Tilling releases carbon too. Whatever you can do to reduce tilling on your property will help carbon stay locked in the dirt. Use mulches where you can, this also helps with weed suppression and water conservation.
- Home compost if you can- or participate in your community’s efforts to recycle organics. Compost basics by the EPA can be found here: https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home
- Plant shade trees to cool your house in the summer and protect you from strong winter winds. There are a ton of guides to picking out trees for your property based on what you want them to do for you, for the birds, and based on what soil and water requirements you have: http://www.myminnesotawoods.umn.edu/2008/11/recommended-trees-for-minnesota-by-region/
- Shop as local as you are able and consider running to the corner store on your bike! Biking could save 11% of our GHG emissions: http://usa.streetsblog.org/2015/11/18/how-much-can-bicycling-help-fight-climate-change-a-lot-if-cities-try/
- Eat a little less meat. Meat production is a huge part of greenhouse gas. Even just one day a week without meat can make a difference. It’ll be easy, like lent all year. Check out the Meatless Mondays movement: http://www.meatlessmonday.com and Thug Kitchen, Eat Like you Give a Fuck: http://www.thugkitchen.com
- Air dry your clothes. Outside, inside, wherever.
3) Community impacts and other notable ways to control waste:
- Support your energy company’s efforts to go renewable. Enroll in the renewable energy programs, they only cost about 5$ more per month. Xcel has info here: https://www.xcelenergy.com/programs_and_rebates/residential_programs_and_rebates/renewable_energy_options_residential
- Support your community government’s efforts to recycle. MPLS has a great organics recycling program. They take all your chicken bones, pizza boxes, food waste, and turn them into compost.
- If you have a local church, brewery volunteer group, or environmental organization, support their efforts too. Make friends with your neighbors in town. See what organized efforts are going on. Come together, right now!
- Contact your city reps and mayor and ask if your city is going to uphold the Paris climate agreement guidelines. Shout out to Pittsburg! I like your sass. http://www.pittsburghpa.gov/green/pcap.htm
Minnesota has it’s own agenda too! http://www.startribune.com/minnesota-will-proceed-with-its-own-climate-change-strategy/425826963/
- Reduce your plastic waste. You already bring around a water bottle and reusable coffee cups, and know about reusable shopping bags; why not also carry around your own metal straw or a fork? It’s a tiny shift that will keep plastic out of landfills and waters. If you’re dining in, do you really need a lid and a straw anyway?
- Reduce your textile waste. Clothing takes up a huge amount of space in landfills. Donate old clothes, upcycle things like Refashionista does http://refashionista.net if you are talented (I wish I was), make T-shirt yarn if you are a crafty bad ass http://www.instructables.com/id/t-shirt-yarn/, or look at other ways to recycle fabrics http://earth911.com/recycling-guide/how-to-recycle-clothing-accessories/
4) Country wide and Global things you can do:
- Contact your state reps and annoy the Capitol. Express your concern about climate change and the way it’ll impact our territory and the world. Tell them how you’d like things to be handled. Tools like ResistBot make it as easy as writing a text and it’ll get faxed directly to your reps. https://resistbot.io
- Support businesses that are carbon neutral when you can. Here are companies that are trying to be carbon neutral, you’ll be surprised at the big boys on the list: http://climateneutral.com
- Take the carbon neutral pledge and measure your individual impact. There are a few companies who will help you figure out your own footprint, and give you great ways to offset your carbon impact by donating to organizations fight that to lower GHG emissions all over the world. http://climateneutralnow.org/Pages/Home.aspx you can buy offset credits with these resources from the united nations: https://offset.climateneutralnow.org
- Learn about the rainforest and how it is a HUGE carbon fixing part of our planet. Donate to places that work to protect the rainforest and give farmers in tropical countries help as they switch to sustainable crops: http://www.rainforest-alliance.org
- Support your National and State Parks and their conservation efforts. Go drive around the badlands and grasslands in SD! Go feed donkey in the Black Hills! Camp in a yurt in MN! Canoe in the Lake of the Woods! Go fishing and enjoy the lovely lakes up north. Take a hike. Soak it in while you got it. Just remember to leave it cleaner than you found it. Pack it in, pack it out.
- Take a crazy vacation where you do a little eco volunteering. Plus, you might learn a thing or two about another culture and make some international FB friends. http://www.unitedplanet.org
This is a big list of options, but it is by no means comprehensive. Do a little research for your home town and try out something that works for you. Have a conversation in your household to see what seems reasonable for you to try. Think about what you can do inside the house, what you can do in your yard, think about your community efforts, and make use of the fact that you can contact your local and national reps in a dozen different ways.
We can all try to do a little something. Don’t be overwhelmed, pick 3 things to try now and work some projects into your future. Spread the word and thanks everyone for listening/reading!