Connect to Action: Taking Determined Steps to Reduce Our Carbon Footprint

Rally 17Feb13 Not Easy Being Green The report from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), reported on in the New York Times on 3/31/2014, warned of climate risk and the impact on human society in the coming decades.  “Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” said the chairman of the IPCC, at the news conference.

As I struggled to think about how to respond to this report, I found myself drawing on the concept of “active hope” conceived by authors Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone.

Active hope is a practice, like gardening or yoga.  It is something we do rather than something we have.”  (p. 3, Active Hope:  How to Face the Mess We're in Without Going Crazy)

Active hope involves identifying the outcomes we hope for and then playing an active role in bringing them about.  We don't wait until we are sure of success.  We don't limit our choices to the outcomes that seem likely.  Instead we focus on what we truly, deeply long for, and then we proceed to take determined steps in that direction.”  (p. 37, Active Hope)

 Following are 5 determined steps that you can take right now to reduce your carbon footprint . . . and develop a sense of active hope.

  1. Make your home more energy efficient.  If you own a home, call Elevate Energy and schedule a home audit. Better yet, invite some friends and have a party and get it for free. Elevate Energy helps facilitate the Energy Impact Illinois program, which offers rebates, incentives and low cost loans to help you get the recommended work done to increase your home’s energy efficiency. (Skyler Larrimore,, Elevate Energy | 773-407-3784)
  2. Support local food resources.  Join the Sugar Beet Coop -- so we can have a year-round, local-food resource here by early 2015.
  3. Compost.  If you live in Oak Park, sign up for the village CompostAble program.  Or set up your own backyard composting.  Food waste in landfills is one of the biggest sources of methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.
  4. Plan trees.  Support our trees and forests through American Forests, the Arbor Day Foundation or another organization that plants trees, and visit your local Forest Preserve.  Trees are effective at capturing carbon dioxide and storing it for a long time.
  5. Use your voice.  Join an environmental advocacy organization and get involved in advocating for policies that you want to see become reality.  Some examples in which GCC volunteers participate include:  Citizens Climate Lobby (Chicago West Chapter meets in Oak Park), Frack Free Illinois,, Food & Water Watch and the Sierra Club.

Referenced New York Times article:

Referenced book:  Active Hope, How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy, 2012, by Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone.

Submitted by Sally Stovall