It’s Earth Day! As we enter the second year of largely virtual Earth Day celebrations, we are reflecting upon the unprecedented events of the past year and what they mean in the context of the environmental movement and climate action. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been pervasive and uneven. Structural and interpersonal racism, class divides, political partisanship, and inequity have been laid bare. And, we experienced the worst climate change trends in our recorded history. The impacts of which were even felt right here in Routt County.
This year, as President Biden has pledged to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030, remember that the call for continued climate action lies with communities, and actions on the individual-level only stand to increase the salience of climate action. So, join YVSC in completing as many of the actions in our Earth Day Challenge as you can, and tag YVSC on Facebook or Instagram to show us how many you’re able to complete.
- Donate to an environmental organization: By donating to organizations, like YVSC, not only are you making an investment in a sustainable, more equitable community, but you are also making an investment in the longevity and natural heritage of the Yampa Valley.
- Attend a virtual event: In keeping with the need of the times, many organizations have shifted their Earth Day celebrations to a virtual format, which fortunately comes with greater accessibility to more people. Check out some of the virtual celebrations: Earth Day Live: Debating Planet Earth’s Urgent Issues; One Earth Film Festival: Earth Day Mini Film Festival; The Nature Conservancy: Change Starts Here
- Sign up for YVSC’s monthly newsletter: By signing up for YVSC’s newsletter, you can stay up-to-date on everything happening at YVSC, from events and program updates to recycling tips and opportunities to get involved.
- Cook a meal using local food: Support our local agricultural producers by cooking a local meal through Community Agriculture Alliance! Not only does eating local cut down on emissions and encourage sustainable agricultural practices, but it also helps support the local economy.
- Create something to express your relationship with nature: How do you interact with the natural world around you? Does spending time outside improve your mental health? Have you been impacted by climate change? Have you watched natural landscapes that you love change over the years? Share your relationship with nature with us by writing a poem, painting, creating a collage, or singing a song.
- Volunteer with an environmental organization: By volunteering with an environmental organization you can help build community through sustainability action. Sign up for YVSC’s volunteer list to stay up-to-date on future volunteer opportunities.
- Register to vote: Voting is one of the greatest privileges that we have in the US, and by participating in future elections, you can do your part in voting for the environment.
- Get outside: What better way to show our appreciation for the Earth than by spending time in the natural landscapes that we all love so much. While you’re out there consider picking up any waste that you see along the trail and be sure to practice Leave No Trace principles.
- Address patterns on environmental injustice: Many of the most predominant issues of environmental injustice are deeply rooted in systems oppression that haven’t received the attention they need. Create dialogue and participate in local and national discussions to call for action against environmental injustice, and make room so that these communities can have a seat at the table.
- Sign up for an energy assessment: The largest sector of emissions in Routt County is Stationary Energy (54%), which accounts for the electricity, natural gas, and propane used in buildings. By having an energy assessment done on your home, you’ll learn about the fixes that you can make your home more energy efficient. Not only does this help cut down emissions, but it can also help reduce your energy bills.
- Call or write your state representatives: Let your state representatives know that you want more action taken to mitigate the effects of climate change and improve the sustainability of the future. Learn more about how to advocate for the environment at https://conservationco.org.
- Learn more about environmental justice: The effects of climate change and pollution affect communities of color and low-income communities at vastly uneven rates. Learn more about how and why this happens at https://naacp.org/issues/environmental-justice/.
- Amplify BIPOC voices: Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) have long been advocates for environmental action and have led movements to protect lands and communities. However, their voices have often been silenced by mainstream environmentalism. Creating space for those most unequally impacted by the climate crisis is essential for progress in the sustainability movement. Among many other actions, The Years Project, suggests ensuring non-hostile and supportive spaces, being accountable for your mistakes, and decentering mainstream climate narratives.
- Learn the history of lands and waters: The Yampa Valley is rich with indigenous history. This land was home to the Ute tribe long before their forced removal, and it’s critical to recognize the impacts of colonialism that are still active and being felt today. By acknowledging the history behind the reason that we have the privilege to enjoy this valley, we are taking a first step in giving respect where it is due.
- Consider composting: 30-40% of our food supply ends up in the landfill in the U.S. every year, which produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Consider composting at home or sign up to compost with Innovative Regeneration Colorado to reduce the amount of food that ends up in the landfill.
- Pledge to support environmental literacy: Incorporating environmental education at a young age is an important step in fostering environmental stewardship for years to come. Sign Earth Day’s petition to support climate literacy.