Environmental Activism | 7 Easy Ways to Get Your Community Involved

With all the dismal news swirling around us we may feel helpless, insignificant, or as if our actions don’t matter. 

Well, I am here to tell you that they do! Seriously. And, getting involved in your community is one of the best ways to keep eco-anxiety at bay. Get more tips for banishing eco-anxiety.

Environmental Activism: 7 Easy Ways to get your community involved from www.goingzerowaste.com #activism #environment #getinvolved #plasticfree #zerowaste #sustainable #gogreen #helpothers

I am an environmental activist. I advocate for a less wasteful life in my community, and I am going show you how to do it too.

I’m a wife, a mom, I work, I know that time is SO valuable. I am just your average gal - I promise!

I’m going to be honest, being an activist can be a huge commitment, but it doesn’t have to be! Sometimes it’s as easy as asking a question or talking to the right person. Yep. It’s really that easy.

1. with the school:

During a meeting I asked if they would eliminate single-use, plastic straws in the cafeteria. 

It took some time, but eventually the did - which prevented 3,600 students from automatically being given a straw every day!

Environmental Activism: 7 Easy Ways to get your community involved from www.goingzerowaste.com #activism #environment #getinvolved #plasticfree #zerowaste #sustainable #gogreen #helpothers

2. with the PTA:

In 2016, I set a personal goal to reduce the waste at the school and school events in my district.  Every year we have a HUGE carnival where thousands of plastic trinkets are handed out as prizes.

  1. I decided to work with the event chairs and PTA president

  2. I explained why the prizes weren’t needed

  3. I explained the impact of plastic our environment

  4. Reminded them that most kids played with the toys for a few minutes before throwing them away or having to be decluttered a few months later

So, they decided to ditch plastic prizes! As a bonus, this also saved the PTA a significant amount of money.

Environmental Activism: 7 Easy Ways to get your community involved from www.goingzerowaste.com #activism #environment #getinvolved #plasticfree #zerowaste #sustainable #gogreen #helpothers

3. with a local non-profit:

I work with Go Green a non-profit organization that has really upped my community outreach.

I have worked with several organizations to “green” their events which means reducing landfill waste, setting up recycling, and composting. 

For instance, the Boy Scouts program is strong in our community and each troop has an annual Pancake Breakfast fundraiser that caters to more than 500 hungry guests.

While at the event one year, I looked around at all the waste and thought there had to be a better way.

I spoke with one of the troop leaders which then lead to me presenting a more eco-friendly pancake breakfast to the committee.

Everyone was on board so we swapped out the Styrofoam plates, plastic cups, plastic cutlery, etc. for either reusable or compostable items, while adding composting and recycling.

The original event created 18 large trash bags, the new zero waste event created only two! 

Environmental Activism: 7 Easy Ways to get your community involved from www.goingzerowaste.com #activism #environment #getinvolved #plasticfree #zerowaste #sustainable #gogreen #helpothers

4. with the grocery store:

I love to shop from the bulk bins when I can. This helps me reduce my packaging waste. Check out the Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Grocery Shopping.

I use my produce bags to buy nuts, granola, rice, beans, raisins, etc, but I would love for there to be more of a selection so I’m collaborating with the Bulk Regional Manager at Whole Foods to expand their bulk section. 

Hopefully this will come to fruition, especially since Illinois is about to pass a bill (HB3440) which will (FINALLY!) allow customers to use their own containers at bulk sections. Cross your fingers!

Environmental Activism: 7 Easy Ways to get your community involved from www.goingzerowaste.com #activism #environment #getinvolved #plasticfree #zerowaste #sustainable #gogreen #helpothers

5. with gifting:

Speaking of my reusable produce bags, they always get attention when I’m grocery shopping, usually at checkout.  My rule is if someone asks me what they are or where I bought them, I give them one of mine for free!

I see this as a way of inspiring people to use reusable produce bags as well as paying it forward in hopes that they will do the same. In fact, while handing over the bag, many have excitedly told that they will do just that – how cool!

Environmental Activism: 7 Easy Ways to get your community involved from www.goingzerowaste.com #activism #environment #getinvolved #plasticfree #zerowaste #sustainable #gogreen #helpothers

6. with the local government:

A new eatery opened on Lake Michigan which is a hot-spot for waste!

I attended our Park District’s bi-weekly meeting to advocate for better sustainability practices.  Given the proximity to Lake Michigan, I lobbied hard for the elimination of plastic straws! A no-brainer in my eyes. It’s still a work in progress but giving up is not an option.

Environmental Activism: 7 Easy Ways to get your community involved from www.goingzerowaste.com #activism #environment #getinvolved #plasticfree #zerowaste #sustainable #gogreen #helpothers

7. with my neighborhood:

Lastly, block parties are big within my community.  Often times they create a lot of unnecessary waste.

To combat this, I created an Event Greening one-pager that provides suggestions on how to reduce waste at any type of event. 

I worked with our local government to have this one-pager added to the Village Block Party website right next to where the block party permit application resides so that residents can’t miss it! 

I am set to personally green two block parties this summer and the hope is that the one-pager will inspire residents to do the same.

Environmental Activism: 7 Easy Ways to get your community involved from www.goingzerowaste.com #activism #environment #getinvolved #plasticfree #zerowaste #sustainable #gogreen #helpothers

impact:

The best thing about working in your community is that you get to share the message outside of yourself. Think about ALL of the people you can influence.

Not only are you bringing awareness to the those working and volunteering, you’re bringing awareness to the guests who witness first-hand how a few simple changes can reduce waste significantly. 

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Guest Post: Nicole Boomgaarden, from Chicago, is the founder of imperfectzerowaste.com. She works part-time as a Sr. Business Analyst in the financial industry. Serves as the liaison with local school districts to help them adopt sustainable practices and environmental education. Enjoys playing softball, volleyball, dancing, reading and sharing her knowledge around how to live a greener life on her Instagram account @imperfect_zerowate.

3 Tips for Hosting a Zero Waste Workshop

Once you feel you’ve become a master at the basics of zero waste living, the idea of passing on your knowledge floats through your mind. Best way to do that?  Host a zero waste workshop.

I know that may sound a bit intimidating, but honestly, hosting workshops is a lot of fun. It’s also a lot of planning and work, but well worth it (and no, you don’t have to do it for free). 

Three tips for hosting a zero waste workshop from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #ecofriendly #workshop activism #sustainaability #DIY

If you’re looking to spread the zero waste message in your community, here are three tips I have for hosting a (successful) zero waste workshop.

Related: 10 Ways to Be a Zero Waste Activist in Your Town

1. find a good venue:

First and foremost, you need to know where you’d like to host your workshop. 

Perhaps you feel comfortable letting people into your home. Or perhaps hosting a workshop online sounds more appealing? I’ve seen Zero Waste Chef do this and it works for her.

If you’re thinking of hosting a workshop online, just be prepared: You’ll want to have a functioning webcam and computer. It sounds simple enough, but it’s very important your technology doesn't fail you in the middle of a workshop session.

If you’re hosting a workshop online, you’ll also have to think about how you’ll go about doing it (as in, what platform you’ll use). Will it be a skype call? A private youtube video?  On Crowdcast?

Once you figure out what platform your online workshop will run from, you also need to think about how you’ll set it up. Will it be a bunch of slideshows and pictures with your voice? Or will you be standing in front of the camera and demonstrating or talking as you go along?

Related: How to Find a Local Zero Waste Community

Thinking this through will definitely help you create the best workshop for your viewers.

If you prefer an in-person workshop, you’ll need to choose a physical venue to host it at. This can get a bit tricky, but there are generally two places you can‘t go wrong with: The library or a local coffee shop.

I’ve reached out to my local library and local cafes with a great response rate. You can shoot them an email or even just walk in and talk to them face to face about it. I do recommend developing a decent rapport with the owner beforehand, but this isn’t essential.

Look around and see what venues align with your own values and ask them if they’d be willing to host a workshop with you.  You might be surprised at what you find!

Ask them what their policy on events is, and make sure to set up a time and date that works well with the owner. Most workshops tend to run for about 2 hours, give or take.       

Three tips for hosting a zero waste workshop from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #ecofriendly #workshop activism #sustainaability #DIY

2. choose a great topic:

Next up? Choosing a great topic to talk about at your workshop. Honestly, you might want to think about this before pitching to any local venues about hosting a workshop.

As a general rule, people like to make things, so consider hosting a DIY oriented workshop. When someone makes an item themselves, they value the item even more because they have a sense of ownership over it.

It’s also really nice for your attendees to be able to walk away with something physical. It leaves them with a good memory and a physical representation of what they learned.

I recommend starting your workshop by introducing yourself, explaining what zero waste is, and then having everyone introduce themselves (if the group isn’t too big). Then you can dive right into making some fun zero waste DIYs together!

Here are a few DIYs that are fun to make:

These are just a few ideas. Feel free to get creative and think up some of your own zero waste DIYs you’d want to share. 

It might help to stick to a general theme too. For example, if you wanted to create a zero waste cleaning workshop, you might want to focus on making toilet fizzies and/or all-purpose cleaner.

I personally like to stick with two simple DIYs for my workshops, and I suggest you do the same (especially if you’re new to this). My favorite DIYs to make at a workshop are definitely toothpaste and body scrub, since they’re so simple.

Be sure to ask your vendor for their opinion too! Perhaps there’s a specific DIY they prefer doing. When I hosted a workshop at Amour Vert, they weren’t crazy about the idea of using anything oil heavy. Which makes sense, just incase something got crazy and oil got everywhere… it wouldn’t be a good combo.

Be sure to list all the DIYs you would be up for creating to give them a list to choose from.

If you’d rather not make anything, don’t be afraid to just get up and share what zero waste waste means to you and how it manifests in your daily life. You can bring in your zero waste to go kit and a few other zero waste essentials to show the audience too, to create a more immersive effect. 

Three tips for hosting a zero waste workshop from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #ecofriendly #workshop activism #sustainaability #DIY

3. know what to expect:

There are several things you should know about setting up your own workshop for the first time. First and foremost, you don’t have to do it for free. 

Talk to the vendor you’re hosting it at about ticket pricing. You can create the event on Eventbrite for free and charge however much you think is best.

Also, please be aware that your vendor may charge you per hour for your workshop. 

So, let’s say you host a two hour workshop and the space is charging you $30 an hour: You’ll have to pay them $60 upfront, or after the workshop is over, depending on their policy. Be sure to clear this up with your vendor as soon as possible.

Also, be sure to discuss with your vendor the ingredients and supplies you’ll need for your workshop. More than likely, you’ll have to buy all the ingredients needed to make the DIYs, so take this into account when creating your ticket price.

Take into consideration any bowls, mixing spoons, measuring spoons, and measuring cups you might need. Ask the vendor if they have any in shop you can use for the workshop, or bring some from home.

Related: Life Without Bulk Options

You’ll also have to calculate the ingredients to buy depending on your audience size. This can be a bit tedious, but you definitely want to make sure there’s enough for everyone!

I recommend finding a DIY recipe you love online and just multiplying the ingredient measurements by the amount of people you estimate will come to your workshop. 

For example, let’s say a body scrub recipe calls for 1 cup of coconut oil, and 2 cups of coffee grounds. In order to make enough for 10 people, you’d need 10 cups of coconut oil and 20 cups of coffee grounds.

Don’t forget to try and get your ingredients as sustainably packaged as possible! I try to get all of my ingredients in bulk, or in paper or glass packaging for workshops.

I really hope this helps you deliver a fun, educational workshop! Have you ever hosted a zero waste workshop before? What are some tips you have to share?

Three tips for hosting a zero waste workshop from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #ecofriendly #workshop activism #sustainaability #DIY
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Guest Post: Ariana Palmieri is the founder of Greenify-Me.com, a blog dedicated to zero waste living and sustainability. Her work has been featured on MindBodyGreen, Green Matters, The Penny Hoarder and several other publications. Get her free e-book "10 Ways to Reduce Trash" by signing up to her newsletter and learn how to reduce your waste today.

Where to Buy Carbon Offsets and Why You Should

As I started writing this post, I wondered why do we call them carbon offsets instead of greenhouse gas offsets?

Other than the fact carbon offset just sounds a lot better.

Carbon / Carbon Dioxide / CO2 is a greenhouse gas but it’s not the only greenhouse gas. It’s not even the most potent or strong greenhouse gas out there! But, it is the most prevalent one making up about 64% of the greenhouse gases released.

Where to Buy Carbon Offsets and Why You Should from www.goingzerowaste.com #carbonoffsets #ecofriendly #zerowaste #travel

Greenhouse gasses trap heat in the atmosphere which is where we get the term “Global Warming.” Other greenhouse gases include Methane, CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons), Nitrous Oxide, and Fluorinated gasses.

Fluorinated gasses for instance only make up about 1% of the greenhouse gases emitted, but are some of the biggest problems because some of these gases can last for thousands of years. They can trap anywhere from a few hundred to 23,000 times more heat than the same amount of CO2! (source)

Fluorinated gases come from leaking coolants in fridges and air conditioners are ranked as the number one way to fight climate change in one of my favorite books Drawdown.

So, what does this have to with buying carbon offsets? Not, much other than I just think it’s interesting.

Back to offsets, for me, it comes back down to everything we do has an impact. There’s no one perfect choice to be made but rather a series of choices ranging from ok to good, better, and best.

Each choice you make has a GHG (greenhouse gas) price tag associated with it, and a you can calculate all of these GHG price tags from events, flights, or by year and figure out your carbon footprint.

Where to buy carbon offsets and why you should from www.goingzerowaste.com #carbonoffsets #zerowastetravel #zerowaste

how to calculate your carbon footprint:

The quiz at footprintcalculator.org is my favorite one. You can popover and plug-in the details of your life/last year and then it will calculate how high your carbon footprint is including how many Earth’s we’d need to survive if everyone lived like you.

Back when I lived in the tiny home, my carbon footprint was one earth. Which is great because we have one earth, but now that we moved to a slightly bigger place Justin and are at about 1.3 earths.

It can feel a little discouraging when you feel like you’re doing a really good job, but still can’t get seem to reach that one earth goal.

But, I don’t want you to be discouraged! Having that knowledge is good so you can improve certain aspects of your life.

And, sometimes these things just aren’t avoidable depending on where you are in life. My husband commutes to work. He uses public transit, which is a better option, but it still doesn’t erase his carbon footprint - it’s still there.

Thankfully, this is where carbon offsets come into play.

Where to buy carbon offsets and why you should from www.goingzerowaste.com #carbonoffsets #zerowastetravel #zerowaste

what are carbon offsets:

I kind of want to start calling them GHG offsets, but I digress. Carbon offsets are a way to offset your carbon footprint.

Of course, the number one goal should be to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we’re responsible for and then offset what’s leftover.

This is a way of neutralizing your footprint by supporting organizations and projects that will remove (insert your desired amount) of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere.

It’s kind of like going into a ceramic store and smashing one of the ceramic cups. Yeah, you probably shouldn’t have done it, but as long as you pay for it you’re even.

Where to buy carbon offsets and why you should from www.goingzerowaste.com #carbonoffsets #zerowastetravel #zerowaste

what to look for when buying carbon offsets:

Carbon offset programs have often been criticized for being scams.

While you can certainly buy into a scam, I’m going to help you know what you should be looking for to avoid being scammed AND give you some of my recommendations for getting your offset on!

There’s transparency:

You know your gut reactions? Trust them. Typically a company that is doing good is transparent. You should be able to easily get the information that you’re looking for on a website.

They’re certified:

Check out Green-E which helps individuals figure out which offsetting programs are reliable, and The Climate Action Reserve which sets standards, rules, and protocols for offsetting projects.

The seller can prove it’s real:

Let’s say that you want to fund a project to support a landowner in the rainforest. The landowner will receive monetary compensation for leaving his trees standing tall.

The seller should be able to prove that this scenario is real. That there is a landowner in the rainforest who’s agreed to this and that it’s not some future hypothetical situation. Make sure that the person/group/organization they’re working with actually exists - right now.

Where to buy carbon offsets and why you should from www.goingzerowaste.com #carbonoffsets #zerowastetravel #zerowaste

It’s verified and enforceable:

A third party should be able to verify what’s being said is actually true. A third party should be able to head to the landowner’s area to check on the trees and make sure it’s all going according to plan. If it’s not going to plan, then the third party can penalize the landowner.

It’s a permanent solution:

The third party also needs to verify that the solution is mostly permanent. (obviously sometimes a natural disaster might strike which is out of anyone’s control) But, on the whole it’s important to make sure the project is one that’s going to last.

For instance, if you choose to plant trees as part of your carbon offsetting program, (one I tend to select) it takes a tree 40 years to reach maturity and absorb 1 ton of carbon. If you’re planting trees in a forest that’s going to be cut down 10 years later, then it’s not an efficient carbon offset.

The offset must be additional:

What if the landowner never had any intention of cutting down his trees? Did you actually offset anything or just make a donation/gift to the landowner?

Beyond that is leakage. So, let’s say the landowner refuses to cut down his trees and passes on a deal with a logging company. If the logging company buys the plot of land next door, then your dollars shifted the deforestation rather than preventing it which is called leakage.

Where to buy carbon offsets and why you should from www.goingzerowaste.com #carbonoffsets #zerowastetravel #zerowaste

where to buy you carbon offsets:

1. reformation:

This cool girl brand has been carbon neutral since 2015. They’ve partnered with Native Energy, which is focused on renewable energy projects, to bring carbon offsets straight to their e-commerce platform which I think is AMAZING.

Next time you’re shopping for a sustainable party dress you can offset your flight, year, or your zero waste wedding!

Check out their Carbon is Cancelled Campaign. They’ll even give you $100 in store credit if you switch your bill to wind energy.

Where to buy carbon offsets and why you should from www.goingzerowaste.com #carbonoffsets #zerowastetravel #zerowaste

2. conservation fund:

The Conservation Fund has been in business since 1985 and they have a very robust website with lots of different projects to choose from.

They have saved more than 8 million acres of land and water in all 50 states, and every dollar invested in their Revolving Fund goes directly to protecting land, over and over. By recycling these dollars, they have saved lands valued at more than $6.3 billion.

3. terrapass:

Terrapass works with several different types of projects across America. They work with farms to make the best use of animal waste, help create solar farms, and installing methane capture in landfills.

You can head to their project lists to find a project near you.

4. cool effect:

I’ve copied and pasted a section from their about page. Notice any of the verbiage?

“Every international carbon standard requires a project to provide and prove measurements based on peer-approved scientific methodologies.

“This documentation is reviewed by two independent Technical Advisory Committees. Cool Effect verifies, once more, the work of these Committees as well as validates the financial durability of the project.

This process guarantees projects that are scientifically and financially strong and ethically sound.

“It also guarantees that our projects are 100% additional—which means that the reduction in carbon emissions would not have happened under any other circumstances.”

Where to buy carbon offsets and why you should from www.goingzerowaste.com #carbonoffsets #zerowastetravel #zerowaste

5. arbor day foundation:

This is where I typically purchase my offsets.

I also like that they have a selection of cards you can buy and each one plants a tree! I like that I can pick out out which forest to plant them in. I especially like that they have a section for the forests that were damaged in the wildfires in California. Yay for helping my state!

6. us forest service

You can also go really old school and write a check and send it to the US Forest Service. While this isn’t technically an offset package, you’re still offsetting because you’re planting trees. They will be planted in protected areas so you know they’ll reach maturity!


I really hope that you’ve found this blog post helpful. I would love to know if you’ve offset your carbon footprint and what program you chose for it?