"I CHANGE by walking my talk and showing others how easy it is to be the change they want to see in the world."

—Brad Smith, Sustainability Communications Specialist for Boulder County

Aside from increased local wildfire and flooding and decreased snowpack and water runoff, I see climate change affecting my community most by creating apathy towards an issue we all have the power to change. I often hear “my actions don’t make much of a difference” when compared to what is happening at larger scales. People feel powerless regarding one of the most powerful issues to face humanity – climate change. And to this my response is “be the change you want to see in the world,” thanks Gandhi. It all starts with an individual’s choice to act in a way they want to see others acting and while that may not create a giant onset of change at the beginning, slowly it can ripple out to create systemic change. No one ever got anywhere by standing still. Start taking one step in the direction you want to see this issue go and soon you will find others doing the same, living into the future they want. This can grow and ultimately create huge amounts of change in your own life, community and beyond. I believe that I can trace back all my “green” behaviors back to 10 years ago when I was challenged to use a reusable bag at the grocery store. “Without this small decision I would not have gotten a job at a local health foods store to learn about our food systems or met the diverse people there who inspired me to live overseas to experience different ways of living.

A friend once told me the impact of altering small behaviors does not necessarily result in huge greenhouse gas savings but it does train us to be uncomfortable and to slowly but surely find comfort and confidence in our new way of life and then the next change can be larger, more impactful. For example, start back yard composting and soon enough you might find yourself organizing a neighborhood garden but you likely would not have gotten to that point without first taking a small step in that direction. I ride my bike or take the bus to and from work and around town to run errands. I started riding only on sunny days. Then I took my first go at a rainy day, then a snowy day and now I commute via bike or foot every day of the year and am on the brink of selling my car. Our home tried to grow our own food and when that failed due to lack of sun in our yard we joined a local Community Supported Agriculture program. We still compost at home. I vote everyday with my dollar to support the types of businesses I want to see more of. I ask the question “is this something I need or do I simply want it?” before purchasing something. I have upgraded my home to be more energy efficient. This has not only resulted in environmental benefits but I am more comfortable and saving money on my bills every month.

I consider myself fortunate to work in Boulder County’s Sustainability Office serving the people in the place I love most in a field I truly believe in – sustainability. This office serves to ensure Boulder County and its residents are using our resources in a sustainable manor. We do this through community services, policy, partnerships and walking our talk as an organization. We would love to see these tools replicated around the country because ultimately this is how we will get the biggest impact. From organizing electric vehicle and rooftop solar discounts for our residents to providing home energy advising, we aim to make choosing the right decision easier. Please check out BoulderCountySustainbility.org to learn more about our services and impact. Feel free to reach out to me when you have questions about replicating the work we have done here. You can contact me at 720.564.2720 or bsmith@bouldercounty.org; I am happy to help.

Do something and do it with a smile. It does not need to be perfect, just a bit of effort goes a long way.