Community Participation in Sustainability
Our present and future are contingent on the sustainable practices we implement today. We must take action to heal the harm suffered by the climate and marginalized communities both in the past and present. This requires equitable participation on the part of every member of our community to lead, support, and implement sustainable practices. With this stated, the global onus is not on the individual. Many companies and larger entities perpetuate the narrative that individual actions will save the Earth. Unfortunately, this is just not true. In fact, 100 corporations and the billionaires that run them are responsible for 71% of global emissions. Without properly regulating these corporations and dismantling the systems that encourage their exploitations of natural resources and human lives, we cannot effectively mitigate climate change on the global scale.
However, on a community level, individuals have a significant impact on the resiliency, mitigation abilities, and sustainability of Middleton. It is important to note that the amount of responsibility and ability varies based on the level of privilege and power each member of our community has, and that equity is an essential component of sustainability in our community. Consequently, outlined below are tangible actions and mindset changes necessary to meet our community's sustainability goals. Through public, private, and individual changes, we can transform our community to be resilient and mitigate the drastic effects of climate change. Center your actions not on reducing your own carbon footprint, but on your actions can contribute to wider systemic change and create a ripple effect in your community.
Changes to Your Daily Routine
- Use public transportation, walk, or bike around the city and to work/school.
- Vote with your wallet: reduce your overall consumption and focus your remaining consumption on locally owned businesses and services.
- Organize: Join community organizations working towards social justice and sustainability goals. Contact your representatives to push for stricter environmental regulations and sustainability across the city, state, and country.
- Reuse, repair, repurpose, or donate items instead of throwing them away.
- Be conscious of your food consumption: support local food and farmers' markets, limit your food waste, and reduce your consumption of animal products (particularly beef).
- Reducing Wasted Food - United States Environmental Protection Agency
- "Climate change food calculator: What's your diet's carbon footprint?" - BBC
Changes to Your Home
- Go solar: add solar panels to your home for a lowered cost through a solar group buy. Find out more on our Community Resources page.
- Switch to LED lighting
- LED Lighting Energy Saver - Department of Energy
- Compost food waste
- Composting at Home - United States Environmental Protection Agency
- Line dry your washed clothing/linens
- "Top Tips for Line-Drying Clothes the Right Way" - Farmers' Almanac
- Switch to an electric vehicle. Find out more about your options on our Community Resources page.
- Switch to electric power tools and yard equipment. Find available options on our Community Resources page.
- Add a raingarden and rain barrel to your yard
- Rain Gardens: A Guide for Homeowners and Landscapers (PDF) - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
- "How to Buy, Install, and Use a Rain Barrel" - Lowe's
- Switch your yard from lawn to groundcover/native plants that don't require mowing
- Groundcover and native plantings in place of lawn are simple changes in your yard that can have an immense effect on your home and community. Native plants promote and support biodiversity, reduce air pollution, and are also fantastic for improving water infiltration - crucial for flood mitigation.
- Pollinator-Friendly Native Groundcovers - Wisconsin Pollinators
- Wisconsin Native Plants (PDF) - Natural Heritage Conservation Program and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
- "More energy saving tips" - Architectural Digest
- "101 Ways to Live Sustainability" - Curbed
Explore these organizations working towards climate justice and sustainability and see how you can get involved.
"The Sunrise Movement is a youth movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. We’re building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people." Learn more about how you can take action.
"Sustain Dane’s vision is a thriving and inclusive community with a sustainable environment and economy we are proud to pass on to future generations. Our mission is to inspire, connect, and support people to accelerate equity and sustainable actions for community wellbeing." Learn more about their programming and workshops.
Dane Buy Local
The mission of Dane Buy Local is "a sustainable, resilient, and fair local economy in vibrant communities that residents are proud to call home and a public that recognizes the cost of “big box” cheap vs. purchasing from locally-owned, independent businesses. We believe that national prosperity and a better quality of life, for all, begins at the local level." Explore their website to learn more about their vision and how to contribute.
How can you best contribute to fighting the effects of climate change and encouraging sustainability? Try this exercise to find your fit. Draw the Venn diagram and fill out the three circles to think more critically about the intersection: what you should do. In finding what you should do, make sure you continually talk about your actions with others to encourage wider involvement and community organizing.
Explore the interactive tools below to further your understanding of sustainability and your ability to work towards a healthier planet and community. Click on each image to get started.