Many of the actions needed to address climate change and create healthy ecosystems and communities require large actions by government and industry. Insisting your elected representatives take the issue seriously is one of the most important things you can do. Yet every person can also make everyday choices that support climate change solutions and reduce our personal contribution to climate change.
Support groups led by Black, Indigenous, people of color and youth in our communities who are taking action for climate solutions that create community health and resilience.
Black, Indigenous and people of color are disproportionately affected by the adverse impacts of climate change. The youth of today are organizing for real climate change solutions because their futures depend on it. Give these groups your voice, time and money.
Eat more plants, less meat and reduce food waste.
Livestock production creates a significant amount of greenhouse gases that contribute to the warming of the climate. I am an omnivore and am rebalancing my plant and meat consumption because it’s an easy step in support of climate health.
Walk, bike and take public transit more often.
This is a way to reduce your carbon footprint daily. With more bike lanes and transit routes opening regularly, it’s becoming easier and easier to get where you need to be without using gas. There is a positive cycle to transit where more users spurs more options which encourages more users. This makes public transit an easy choice.
Take care of your soil.
Do you have a yard or garden plot? Soil is especially adapted to storing carbon. Build up the carbon- and water-storing ability of the soil by preventing erosion and mulching around plants. Compost your food waste and add it to the soil or garden.
Plant drought-resistant native trees and shrubs.
Ponderosa pine is a long-lived tree that can store carbon for decades, even centuries. It is drought resistant and was more common in the northern Willamette Valley before widespread development. If trees are too big for your space, consider shrubs like Oregon grape (tall or low-growing), oceanspray (a magnet for birds feeding on the insects that feed on its seeds), kinnikinnik (great ground cover) or snowbrush (improves soil by taking in nitrogen from the atmosphere). All these native plants provide the additional benefit of habitat for wildlife.
Support green power.
Many power companies, including Portland General Electric and Pacific Power, allow ratepayers to easily enroll in renewable options based largely on wind and solar energy, and to support habitat projects.
Consider native plants from the southern parts of the Willamette Valley.
On a small scale, in your backyard, this is appropriate. After all, many people already include non-native species in their landscaping. Adding in West Coast drought-tolerant native plants may create a more resilient backyard.
On our large-scale habitat restoration projects, Metro is not yet incorporating plant species from outside of our region. Some ecologists support doing so. Others seek more understanding of how to add new species to restoration projects without unintended consequences. We know our summers will be hotter and drier, and it is tempting to bring in drought-tolerant species growing in Southern Oregon or Northern California. But establishing plants here on a large scale, when the climate is not yet similar enough to where they grow now, may result in dead plants. Metro is still learning how to make climate resilience a part of creating healthy habitats for the future.
Actions for climate solutions and a sustainable future are within reach for all of us. You can make our region more resilient through any of these practices.