Choosing Sustainability this Season

By Elle O’Casey

The end of each calendar year prompts us to not only look back but to look forward. For many of us reflecting on the year we’re about to leave behind, 2016 was a rollercoaster year full of ups and downs and many unexpected turns along the way. Our collective experiences no doubt differ widely, yet one fact remains: we are about to enter a new year.

As the latter half of 2016 played out, it often felt like we were witnessing a bitter fight. The November election left many feeling like we live in a country where people can’t seem to agree on much of anything anymore. Helplessness and divisiveness are not qualities we should use to describe our actions or the actions of our fellow citizens. They are qualities we should leave behind as we head toward 2017.

The reality is while it may seem we live in a country divided, there is one area where we are reaching greater consensus with each passing year — the environment. Recent public opinion polls and voting records show that a majority of us believe we can and should do more to protect the environment and our public spaces. An article in Outside magazine ran a piece last month titled, “Republicans and Democrats Alike Voted to Support the Outdoors.” The article demonstrates how voters in states across the nation chose to increase funding for existing and proposed parks and public spaces in their communities.

When it comes to appropriately sited renewable energy, particularly solar power, there have been dramatic increases in support over the past few years. In one of the latest Pew Surveys, researchers found that nine out of ten U.S. adults favor expanding use of solar power.

As consumers, we are demanding sustainable food systems. More Americans than ever support local and organic foods and show this support by their purchasing power. Retail sales of organic foods doubled from 1994 to 2014, with a 10% annual growth rate.

On the urgent issue of climate change, the majority of Americans now believe global warming has already begun, that it is human caused, and more than half of us see it as a ‘critical threat’. A 2016 Gallup poll showed that “Americans are taking global warming more seriously than at any time in the past eight years. Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults say they are worried a “great deal” or “fair amount” about global warming, up from 55% at this time last year and the highest reading since 2008.”

Yet, in another Gallup Poll administered last May just 29% of the American population believe the government is doing enough to protect the environment, and 57% of people believe the government is doing too little.

Local residents explore the Home Energy Makeover trailer sponsored by Sustainable Woodstock during last month's Button Up Day event

Local residents explore the Home Energy Makeover trailer sponsored by Sustainable Woodstock during last month’s Button Up Day event

The reality is we must take local action to help ensure sustainability where we live, work, and play. We also have a responsibility to advocate for sustainable practices at the national level. Sustainable Woodstock plays a distinctive role in our communities, focusing on addressing long-term environmental and economic challenges that affect our quality of life.

Sustainable Woodstock sponsors, participates in and serves as the catalyst for a broad array of activities to help Woodstock and the surrounding communities become more resilient. “Sustainable” and “resilient” mean that a local region can meet many of its basic needs, such as food and energy, with less dependence on complex and fragile global systems, and can more effectively adapt to expected changes in the climate, availability of resources, and the global economy.

Supporting the work of Sustainable Woodstock will directly contribute to stronger communities. Given the average American’s growing concern for and desire to protect the environment, join your fellow citizens and choose to make 2017 your year of action. Give to Sustainable Woodstock this holiday season and offer your time throughout 2017 via a variety of Sustainable Woodstock events and volunteer opportunities. So, if you’re an individual with a personal passion around sustainability or a member of a community organization that wants to link with Sustainable Woodstock, we should talk! Email Sally Miller, Director of Sustainable Woodstock and she’ll be in touch with you.

Do Just One Thing: Become a local champion of sustainability

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