Resolutions for a Warm Winter and a Cool Summer
By Alex Beasley, Donor and Public Relations Manager, Trees Atlanta
Talk of politics and climate change inundate our daily lives. If it feels like hope is lost, you’re not alone, but you can make a difference on an individual and community level. Collectively, we can create positive change for future generations. As you make your 2020 resolutions, consider these 12 ideas for a greener Atlanta.
1. Assess your property’s canopy cover.
Not only will shade trees keep you (and your community) cool and healthy, but they reduce your energy consumption to save you money. Through Trees Atlanta’s NeighborWoods program, residents of Atlanta, Brookhaven, Chamblee, and Sandy Springs are offered up to three free shade trees for their front yards.
2. Reduce impervious surfaces around your home.
Concrete removal creates space for trees to transform your concrete jungle into an urban forest. Concrete reflects and retains heat. At a local level, non-shaded impervious surface adds to the urban heat island effect and on a large scale, perpetuates climate change.
3. Save our sewers!
Instead of concrete, consider semipermeable hardscapes, which keep water onsite to naturally infiltrate the groundwater table. Flooding overwhelms our creeks and an already overburdened sewer system, leading to one of the highest sewer rates in the country. Rainwater collection systems such as cisterns and rain barrels are another solution to keep your landscape lush without having to use treated water. Plus, the water is free! Chattahoochee Riverkeeper offers simple and inexpensive kits.
4. Toss your turf.
Stop wasting time and money on your lawn, when you can create year-round interest and benefit our ecosystem. Native perennials and grasses are diverse, beautiful, and beneficial to our native pollinators and birds.
5. Go green with local schools and churches.
This is a great solution for apartment dwellers or those with small (or tree-covered) yards. Tree plantings in our community centers, schools, and churches are a great way to maximize your efforts to transform landscapes and people. Involving youth in tree planting is also a great way to educate and empower them.
6. Consider the birds.
Birds aren’t just beautiful, but they play an integral part in our ecosystem. To give them a leg up in the urban environment, birdhouses, owl and bat boxes are inexpensive and easy ways to provide habitat and set your yard apart. Check out Atlanta Audubon Society’s store for some great last-minute gift ideas.
7. Leave your leaves.
Why not skip raking and spend more time with your friends and family? Many pollinators and native bird species, including Georgia’s Brown Thrasher depend on winter leaf cover for foraging and habitat. Leaves also insulate your trees’ roots and provide them with rich soil as they break down into compost.
8. Pollinators need a home too!
In addition to providing abundant native flora for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to snack on, consider adding a pollinator house to your yard. It’s a great way to add character and beauty to your landscape while helping pollinator populations thrive. Pollinator houses also create a unique gift for the whole family to enjoy year-round.
Not only is composting a great way for kids to understand how healthy soil is made, it also reduces methane otherwise created in a landfill. Compost wheels and piles are affordable and simple. No room to compost? Try Compost Now!
10. Go green with your gifts and meals.
Why waste money on wrapping paper and bows when Atlanta’s urban forest provides us with all of the holiday decorations we need. Reduce your carbon footprint is as easy as eating and shopping local. Finally, don’t forget to chip your holiday tree! Most Home Depot locations offer this service free of charge. You can almost smell the mulch now…
11. Go outside.
Take your family and friends outside for a hike. Resources like ’60 Hikes Within 60 Miles’ and ‘Hiking Waterfalls in Georgia and South Carolina’ offer some breathtaking sights. Care to Skip the trip to the mountains? Enjoy metro Atlanta’s urban forest by hiking Cascade Nature Preserve, Fernbank Forest, or the one-of-a-kind Doll’s Head Trail.
12. Give to a local environmental nonprofit.
Environmental nonprofit staff and volunteers work hard to ensure a greener future, but they can’t do it on their own. We need your help!