'The time is now' to positively impact environment

I believe the science that our increasing carbon footprint is destroying the ecosystem of the earth, and that climate change is real. But trying to determine how, as individuals, we can develop an environmentally friendly lifestyle often seems overwhelming. 

Several years ago, while visiting east and west Africa, I came to a fuller appreciation that clean water is a valuable and finite resource. When I returned home, I made a point of turning off the water while brushing my teeth and washing my hands, to save water. 

When my husband and I landscaped our backyard, we included a rain garden. We learned that rain gardens remove pollutants from stormwater, recharge the groundwater supply, and are a natural habitat for birds and pollinators. 

We carefully recycle plastics, glass, paper (although I think that we are making some mistakes, including things that should not be in the blue bag). I just leased a hybrid vehicle. And, we have become more aware of opportunities to make other changes, like adding solar panels to our roof for a renewable energy source. 

Alone, these minor changes will make just a small dent in our carbon footprint, but imagine if 45,000 other people in Cleveland Heights made similar changes in their lifestyle to support our environment. Together we would make a difference. 

As mayor, I will push the city toward the use of environmentally friendly strategies. One of my first actions will be to create an Environmental Task Force. We have residents with expertise in clean water, clean energy, solar energy, recycling, climate change, tree and green-space preservation. I want this task force to educate the city staff and residents about the implementation of simple, cost-effective, environmentally friendly strategies. I would like to see recommendations for specific policies that can be adopted for immediate and long-term reduction of our carbon footprint. Most importantly, members of the task force will be at the decision-making table for residential, commercial and other relevant projects, to provide advice and recommendations. An example of a possible strategy would be the encouragement of construction of all-electric “hybrid” homes powered by solar panels, as well as power from the grid. 

Working together as individuals, and in concert with city operations, we can have a positive impact on our environment. The time is now, the need is urgent, and it must be a priority for our city.

Barbara Danforth

Barbara Danforth is a 22-year resident of CH, living in the Forest Hill Historical District. A candidate for Cleveland Heights mayor, she is the former chief prosecutor, city of Cleveland; and former CEO of YWCA Greater Cleveland.

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Volume 14, Issue 8, Posted 3:19 PM, 07.30.2021