Sustainable New Year’s Resolutions from CA’s Environmental Program Manager
Guest Post by Natalie Yee, CA Environmental Program Manager
CA is always looking ahead to how we can continue to improve our sustainability efforts, from taking action to address climate change to advancing clean energy in Columbia.
We couldn’t do it without a community who truly cares about protecting our environment. In the spirit of New Year’s motivation, we put together some ideas for goals that are good for you and the ecosystem! Cheers to being great environmental stewards together in 2023. 🌎
Embrace the pathways
Our pathway system is a special and unique component of living in Columbia. With 95 miles of pathways, it’s pretty incredible that you can commute to work, walk to school or pool-hop in the summer without needing to drive.
Every time you choose to walk, bike or scooter instead of drive, you’re helping the environment — especially since transportation is the biggest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. CA also appreciates your efforts to keep our pathways clean! If you bring anything into open space, remember to take it back and to properly dispose of trash and recycling in our bins.
There are plenty of ways to get involved in areas that you care about, with the bonus of meeting like-minded new friends. CA’s Open Space team welcomes volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. Here are a few opportunities:
- Attend a Pull and Plant event: Volunteers are taught to remove non-native plant species and replant the area with native plants, which is helps provide habitat for wildlife and preserve biodiversity. These events take place throughout the year, so there’s lots of chances for you to help restore Columbia’s native plant habitat.
- Become a Weed Warrior: If you’re interested in taking Pull and Plant to the next level, apply to become a Weed Warrior. This program trains and certifies individuals interested in leading volunteer groups to remove non-native invasive plants in open space. The training, which will be held this March, involves a four-hour class room session and a four-hour field session.
- Participate in Stream Waders events: Multiple Stream Waders events are coming up this spring! This is a great opportunity to learn more about the relationship between land use and stream quality, as well as stream stewardship ethics. Participants will sample the streams for macroinvertebrates, remove litter, measure water chemistry and plant live stakes to reduce erosion.
If you’re interested in getting involved, contact CA Open Space for more information: OpenSpace.ResourceRequests@columbiaassociation.org.
Reduce your food waste
According to the EPA, food is the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills in the United States, where it emits methane (a powerful greenhouse gas).
There are so many simple ways to reduce your food waste, so aiming to be more mindful of this is a great goal. For instance, you can compost food scraps, bring your own reusable containers for leftovers when you eat out, and try to make a list for the grocery store to reduce unintentional waste.
Commit to recycling
While CA doesn’t handle Columbia’s recycling, we are big fans of being “waste wise” and Howard County’s work to achieve a recycling goal of 75% by 2030. A lot of people may not realize that certain items can actually cause contamination at recycling facilities, so here’s a helpful guide that can turn you into a recycling expert in 2023!
Here’s to a great year
These are just a few suggestions to help jumpstart your year. We are so grateful for a community of stewards who care about our protecting our environment — you all inspire us on the daily! Our team is working on some resolutions of our own, from more Adopt-a-Spots in Columbia (these are dedicated areas of open space that a certified Weed Warrior takes care of) to continuing to lay the groundwork for electrifying our fleet of vehicles. Be sure to follow CA on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on these efforts.