Saving the Planet Starts at Home

Northwest Metro Climate Action encourages changing simple habits.
Fixing a leaky faucet conserves water, prevents damage and reduces your water bill.

The issue of climate change feels daunting to most, something too big for any given individual to have an impact upon. But the passionate members of Northwest Metro Climate Action (NWMCA) beg to differ; it in fact starts with changing the energy habits and culture of local communities.

“We can all do things personally and at the local level to affect a positive change, and I think that makes the task a little less scary and more manageable to most people,” says Jody Anderson, a member of NWMCA involved in community outreach. “I truly believe that most people want to do the right thing in terms of climate change, but don't have the information necessary to make actionable change.”

Formed about two years ago, NWMCA has garnered around 30 official members and the organization continues to grow. The group hosts regular events like movie nights, where they feature films that highlight issues of climate change around the globe, and brings in local experts to speak at Plymouth or Maple Grove libraries once a month.

Another member, Greg Laden, a scientist and science writer, works to help the public understand the complex science behind climate change in more digestible terms. “My experience is that almost every conversation about clean energy involves things that are out of date,” he says. “You can’t have a good democracy unless everybody in it is reasonably educated about the scientific issues, and climate change is a really important issue for us today, [specifically] energy transition from fossil fuels to non-fossil fuels.”

NWMCA has two central goals: to help local residents become savvy in their clean energy consumption, both at a personal level in relation to their own habits and with whatever influence they have on area businesses or industries, and to help elected officials understand the importance of addressing the issue and follow the lead of their constituents.

The latter focus is of special importance because many environmental issues are dealt with at the state level. “Part of it is showing up as an informed citizen to the town halls, and writing letters to your representatives,” says Laden. He adds that working at the grassroots level is effective for this very reason, and that enacting change politically can be done with a well-informed, invigorated community.

“We’re at the point now where everyone is ready to move. What we need to do now is help people to understand, ‘What does that mean to you?’” he says. While effects of climate change can seem irrelevant in Minnesota, Laden says the effects have already been felt in relatively small ways. Take for example: pond hockey. “You can’t skate on ponds anymore in Iowa. Forget it, it’s done,” he says. “Southern Minnesota, forget it. There’s no more skating on ponds anymore, it’s not safe.”

Both Laden and Anderson have hope for the future based on what they’ve seen in their own community. Along with small changes that people can make in their own lives, there’s also great power in changing the conversation around the issue. As Laden says, “we need a cultural change in our communities in favor of positive, fossil-free energy transition. That’s something everybody can do just by choosing their words.”

Tips to cut back your energy consumption

Turn off lights when you leave a room.
Fix any leaky faucets in your home.
Program thermostats to adjust when you’re away from your home or sleeping.
Use LED light bulbs.
During the winter, use a high-efficiency furnace and seal your windows with extra insulation or plastic.
Check with your energy provider about programs that utilize renewable energy sources such as Xcel Energy’s Windsource program.
Contact the Home Energy Squad to come give you an energy efficiency assessment.