There are many small things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint: buy less stuff, take public transportation, eat less beef, turn down electric things, turn off electric things, etc.
But in the end, what will make the biggest difference are wholesale changes to current policies. Unfortunately, policies are subject to politics, and right now thinking about politics can makes you want to just throw your hands in the air and give up right.
While we may not be able to affect change at the national level (as easily), we still can take action to support local policies. In fact, many believe local action taken by municipalities can have a significant effect on climate change, since their public transportation options can help reduce emissions and their infrastructure projects can improve how we protect our lands and waters.
Recently, more than 180 U.S. mayors have committed to uphold the goals of the Paris Agreement, despite our president’s announcing the United States’ pulling out. “In the meantime,” the Climate Mayors wrote in a statement, “America’s cities will continue to lead the way in moving forward in protecting our residents from the disastrous effects of climate change, and creating a thriving 21st century economy.”
Austin nonprofits can help you play a role in taking climate action. Aside from taking those small steps above, consider taking extra steps to support those organizations building a better environment and advocating for better local policies.
Contribute to a healthier environment
TreeFolks operates by the simple tenet that having more trees in an urban setting is better for people and the environment. You can learn about trees, help plant trees, donate to help reforest areas hit by tree-devastating disasters and more. This organization even provides free trees to Austin Energy customers. Just call them!
Sustainable Food Center can help you learn to grow your own food with its classes, community garden trainings and free materials, all using sustainable gardening practices. Take a class to start your own garden or sign up to help teach a class or contribute to someone else’s garden.
Hill Country Conservancy works with local land owners to help them conserve their land and protect it from development. Right now, the call from developers is very strong in Central Texas. But Hill Country Conservancy helps them work through land protection deals that don’t just benefit them, but also benefit our local ecosystem that relies on untouched land. You can help by donating or becoming a member of its young professionals group, EPIC, or its Violet Crown Trail group. Members have access to educational and volunteer events.
Advocate for a healthier environment
Texas Campaign for the Environment says it helped launch Austin’s zero-waste initiative and helped create the curbside organics pilot project, which currently offers a third bin for compostable waste to 14,000 Austin households. You can sign up for its newsletters to stay up to date with local environmental news, take action by using their talking point to write letters to your representatives and donate to is sister organization, TCE Fund.
Clean Water Action operates in many states, but in Texas they are currently campaigning for the Edwards Aquifer, trees and Onion Creek. The site helps you take action by communicating with your representatives and volunteer by helping at events, conducting research, lobbying elected officials and more.
Sierra Club just celebrate its 125th anniversary in May, and there’s a reason it’s lasted so long. The grassroots organization is always looking for volunteers who can help organize events, man information tables, lobby elected officials and otherwise make a fuss about environmental and social justice. Check out the Sierra Club’s Lone Star chapter for news, events and upcoming opportunities.
Environment Texas is a citizen-based environmental advocacy project of Environment America. It researches environmental issues facing the state and educates the public about these challenges by reaching out to the media and to community groups. It’s a great resource for understanding environmental issues and how national and local policies are or are not addressing them. Members support Environment Texas financially and through volunteering.
Keep up with news and opportunities about climate change, sustainability and the environment by following Austin EcoNetwork.