"I CHANGE by making collaboration a key in reducing my community’s emissions and by creating a just economy."

—Karim Beers, Coordinator, Get Your Green Back Tompkins County

I’m fortunate to be the coordinator of Get Your Green Back Tompkins, a community-initiated and community-supported campaign that works collaboratively to help people and organizations take key steps in the areas of food, transportation, waste and building energy that simultaneously reduce our community’s carbon emissions, save money and create a socially just local economy.

Transportation, food, home energy, and waste are the four biggest areas of our carbon footprint. We provide information on the practical things we can do in our daily lives to protect our living environment, save money, and contribute to good jobs for people in our community. In the area of transportation, we recommend considering getting a fuel-efficient car if you need to drive, walk and bike whenever possible, carpool and ride the bus. Food steps include growing your own food and joining a CSA (community supported agriculture). Energy steps one can take include making your home as energy-efficient as possible, use renewable heat and solar power. To reduce waste people can compost, shop second hand stores and recycle.

Organizations and businesses can support commuting choices, have bike racks, a fuel efficient fleet and fuel efficient building featuring lighting upgrades and solar. Organizations can also put in place green purchasing policies and local food purchasing policies, recycle, compost and serve as a CSA drop-off.

We provide data and information regarding all these steps. People can also pose questions in one of our online community forums.

We have also started an Energy Advising program that provides personalized support by linking people to local resources including local energy experts and what we call ‘Energy Navigators’. Energy Navigators are concerned and capable residents who help their friends, neighbors and other community members make environmentally and financially sound energy decisions by providing them with useful, locally relevant, unbiased, research-based information and resources.

Energy Navigators participate in a ten-week training that helps them understand their own energy use and make progress towards their goals, and prepares them to help others in the community with their goals.

If you would like to know about Get Your Green Back and Energy Navigators or have ideas you would like share, please email me at kwb6@cornell.edu.