We Can Do It!

A recent story on NPR noted an environmental change for the better: the ozone layer is on the mend. Which, if you are worried about skin cancer, climate change and the like, is great news – and history in the making!

So how did this happen? First, people heard a hard truth: that chlorofluorocarbons – organic compounds once used in everything from refrigerators to fire extinguishers – were thinning out the ozone layer above Antarctica. Then, they took steps to change personal habits and shift policies. Fast forward a few years, and voila! The ozone layer is not in the dire straits it used to be.

Can we really do something that amazing? Can we really take personal responsibility, tweak a few things in our lives, enact some policies and have it work to save the planet?

Apparently the answer is “Yes!”

On Saturday, September 13th, over 150 people gathered at TreePeople for two great events: our volunteer park work day, and the Community Sustainability Workshop. People came to Coldwater Canyon to learn about native plants, how to make wise landscape choices, and how to harvest the rain. They came to find out how to lead community tree plantings in their neighborhoods, how to buy rain barrels, how to learn about grey water, and how to help spread the word about the great work that TreePeople does every day. They came to learn and go home and make change happen.

And that same day, our volunteers all gathered at our Center for Community Forestry because they heard there was something they could do to help. They helped spread mulch, and helped prep our forestry yard for the planting season ahead.

So what will these actions lead to?

Well… if 10 homes are landscaped, using rain tanks and rain gardens, we can capture 1 acre foot of water each year, or 326,000 gallons. That’s enough water for 2 families of 4, for the entire year. Which is cool, but there is power in numbers: if just 25% of the homes in the north east valley switch to more sustainable landscaping, we can capture enough water for 40,000 families for a year.

And when we have policy and incentives (which TreePeople also plays an instrumental role in advising agencies and utilities on rebate programs) we see a significant uptick in the numbers of people willing to do their part to help combat the drought. And with all these cools things going on, it just might work!

It really is all that amazing, and you can be a part of it. For starters, our next Community Sustainability Workshop is on October 18th. Join us and find out what you can do to make our city more sustainable, and together we’ll make history!

By Lisa Cahill

Lisa Cahill first began her work with TreePeople as a volunteer Citizen Forester. She currently serves on the board of directors for the reDiscover Center, continues to volunteer as a Citizen Forester, has been on the Mar Vista Green Garden Tour and serves on several green committees at her church and children's schools. She most enjoys working in the garden with her husband, watching her children and vegetables grow.