Column: Make a difference this Earth Day

April 16, 2018 12:11 PM | Anonymous member

Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, Community Press guest columnist Kristin Gangwer

This year, as Green Umbrella celebrates 20 years as Greater Cincinnati’s hub for environmental sustainability, we are excited to reflect on the sustainability successes our region has achieved.

Notably, in 2017, Greater Cincinnati was named the nation’s No. 1 metro area for sustainability by Site Selection Magazine. Additionally, we now have 116,000 acres of protected green space in the region, points of purchase for local fruits and vegetables have quadrupled since 2010, and we saw over 2 million visits to outdoor venues in 2017 alone.

Even with all of our success, as we move towards 2020 and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, this is not a time to rest. Through Green Umbrella’s seven Action Teams, individuals, organizations, corporations, and government agencies throughout the region continue to make progress on a range of sustainability priorities.

For example, the Greenspace Action Team’s Greenspace Gems campaign recognizes and celebrates natural areas with outstanding scenic value, biological diversity, scientific importance or historic interest. Likewise, the Waste Reduction Action Team’s Save the Food Cincy campaign strives to reduce wasted food in schools, businesses and households.

This Earth Day, we hope you will act locally with Green Umbrella and make a difference in the places where you live, work, and play.

At home

• Support local farmers, your health, and the local economy by shifting 10 percent of your food budget to local food. Find a farmers’ market or sign up for a CSA.

• 40 percent of food (about $1,500 per household) is wasted each year. Shop with a plan, and store your food well so it doesn’t go to waste. Compost plant-based food scraps. Find great tips on how to reduce food waste and save on grocery bills.

• Green your home! Switch to LED lightbulbs, explore solar energy, replace aging appliances with energy-efficient ones, and prevent air leaks around doors and windows. Looking to purchase or sell a home? Search for, or list, a home’s green features using the new Green MLS tool.

• Plant native trees and plants, which require less water and maintenance to grow and help absorb excess rainfall. Join our region’s effort to plant 2 million trees by 2020.

At work

• Bike, walk, or ride the bus to work – even if it’s just one day a week. Download a free transit app (CincyEZRide, Bus Detective, Transit) to purchase fares and plan your route. Ask your employer to become a Transit-Friendly Destination.

• Advocate for healthy, local food options in your cafeteria, and for practices that minimize wasted food. See if you can start on-site composting at work.

• Advocate for low-mow landscaping at your work site, which helps reduce stormwater runoff.

At play

• Get outside! Visit one of the region’s Greenspace Gems to see the best of what our region has to offer.

• Take part in May Bike Month. Attend movie screenings and join in on rides to get the whole family excited about cycling.

• Get involved in your community and learn something new at the same time. Check out the hundreds of events hosted by our members on our Events Calendar.

Together we can improve the quality of life and the environment in Greater Cincinnati. To learn more and become a member of Green Umbrella, visit

Kristin Gangwer is Green Umbrella interim executive director.

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