Climate change action in Columbia Heights

Climate activist Greta Thunberg at the 2019 UN climate action summit in New York.

Recently, representatives and leaders of 193 countries met to confer on one of the most important issues common to all of life on Earth: climate change. Our world climate is changing in a way that is neither natural nor supportable. The facts are in. The science is settled. The damage is nearing inevitable. Attendees of the 2019 UN Climate Summit discussed what steps humanity should take. What we do (or don’t do) now will impact many generations to come. Their voices are already making it clear that they are watching… waiting… hoping.

Deciding to fight climate change

Even as the US withdraws from the Paris Climate Accords, we as individuals have the power to make a difference, however small it may feel to us at the moment. It can be overwhelming to face the seemingly insurmountable task of reversing the damage already evident across the planet, but if we each commit to doing what we can locally, then the global challenges becomes easier. Long term, humans need to make the incredible step of transferring all energy sources from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Excel Energy is working to become 100% carbon free by 2050 and 80% less carbon by 2030. But until that happens, what can we do right now?


  • Research the environmental stances of those running for office. From a city council member or mayor, to a county position, state representative, US senator, and so on. Government decisions can have a tremendous effect on how quickly and effectively climate change issues can be addressed.


Not everyone can afford to buy electric vehicles yet, but we can all make better decisions about how we get around.

  • Utilize public transportation whenever you can.
  • Decide to drive smaller, more efficient vehicles, which actually cost less to purchase and maintain than the big trucks and SUVs that so many of us choose to drive without any real need for them.
  • Be conscious about how much unnecessary mileage you put on your car.
  • Replace that quick drive to the corner store with a nice walk or bike ride.


Is a lot of plastic, paper, and aluminum ending up in the landfill?


Did you know that most “weeds” are actually flowers?

  • Topsoil is alive, and a dwindling resource. Never sterilize it with “chemlawn” or weed-killer.
  • Grow flowers and plants friendly to pollinators (butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds).
  • Establish a compost for yard waste.
  • Utilize a portion of your yard to grow food. Garden vegetables are delicious!


There are a lot of things we can do inside our homes to become “greener” and fight climate change.

  • Get reusable shopping bags and keep them in your trunk.
  • Ditch the plastic bags that you use for everything these days. Get metal and glass containers for the leftovers and lunches. Remember, glass and metals can be recycled infinitely, unlike plastic, which eventually becomes unrecyclable and unmanageable.
  • Shut off lights, and switch to more efficient light bulbs.
  • Get a programmable thermostat to maximize heating and cooling efficiency.
  • Stop using plastic soda straws. Metal ones are great!
  • Cut down on meat consumption. The production, processing and distribution of meat requires huge outlays of pesticides, fertilizer, fuel, feed and water while releasing greenhouse gases, manure and a range of toxic chemicals into our air and water.
  • Be aware of the chemicals in your cleaning products. Choose environmentally friendly concentrated products, which often work just as well or even better than the products we grew up with. This is especially true for laundry detergent. Stay away from detergents containing phosphates.
  • Limit laundry to cold or warm water, and if it’s a nice day, hang your clothes on a clothesline to dry.
  • Before you throw out a broken appliance, look for a service manual or a repair tutorial on YouTube. You might be surprised how many things can be repaired if you take the time to give it a shot. Can’t figure it out on your own? Attend one of our local Fix-It Clinics.


  • Take part in community clean-ups organized by groups like HeightsNEXT!
  • Adopt a drain on your street and make a commitment to keep it clean and free of debris so that our storm drain systems function as they should.

These are just a few of the things we can do to make a difference. We all have so much power to make a difference if we just choose to be good stewards of our world. And the more we do, the more the next generation will see it as the norm and follow in our footsteps. But let’s face it; many of them already do see it as the norm and are just hoping we will catch up.