Forty-six years ago, the first Earth Day was held to unite efforts around the world to create a healthier and more sustainable environment for everyone. While we can look back at the great strides that have been made since that day, it’s clear there is still much work left to do – and it’s work that requires something from each of us.
At Green Umbrella, the region’s environmental sustainability alliance, we’re working daily to unite businesses, nonprofits, local governments, universities and individuals in a collective effort to make Greater Cincinnati one of the most sustainable U.S. metro areas by 2020. Our Action Teams tackle key topics – including water, land, outdoor recreation, food, waste, transportation and energy – to reach our region’s sustainability goals.
This environmental work has the benefits of improving the health of our residents while creating thriving communities in which to live, work and play. Creating solutions like bike and pedestrian-friendly communities can help us be healthier, avoid chronic diseases like diabetes, and breathe cleaner air. Those same solutions also help us attract new businesses and employees who want to live here.
We’re making progress. With over 300 partners to date, we are accomplishing more together, and faster. The Cincinnati region is top-rated for our parks and growth in bicycle commuting. We also now have Red Bike, Tri-State Trails and a master trail plan, Taking Root – our region’s tree planting campaign, the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council, MeetMeOutdoors.com, and a series of free and well-attended community events that get our region outdoors and into nature.
There’s still work to do, and we need your help. We’re asking you to find one thing you can do locally this month from the list below. To get started or become a member, visit www.greenumbrella.org.
1. Eat Local: Take the Local Food Pledge to shift 10 percent of your food budget to locally grown food.
2. Get Outdoors: Find Tristate area events including the free Opening Day on the Trails Challenge.
3. Go Solar: Get a free assessment and see if your home is solar ready.
4. Select Native Plants: When you plant, choose native trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses.
5. Become a Transit-Friendly Destination: Apply for your workplace or business to become a certified Transit-Friendly Destination.
6. Recycle: Help reduce landfilled paper and cardboard, which is 67 percent of the waste stream for an average office.
7. Choose Active Transportation: Bike, walk or run, especially for errands within 2 miles.
8. Know Your Watershed: Volunteer for citizen water quality monitoring and watershed cleanup events.
9. Plant a Tree: Join our region’s effort to plant 2 million trees by 2020.
10. Plan to Attend: Learn how we can build a more environmentally sustainable and economically vibrant region at the June 10 Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit.
One person, one day, one thing. Together we can make the Cincinnati region a healthy and sustainable place to live, work, play – and call home.
Kristin Weiss is executive director of Green Umbrella.