Everyday Stewards

OWN IT NEO!

It all begins with individual choices. You can do something every day to make Northeast Ohio a more vibrant, resilient and sustainable place to live. We encourage Northeast Ohioans to take stock of current practices and choices and reflect on what it might mean to change, and then take ownership of that change. This section can help you identify a few ways that you can personally support the Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision. It is not exhaustive, nor is it intended to be, as there are many paths of individual contribution. Do something, however, that is not already part of your personal routine, so a new net benefit results in changing the indicators measures.

THERE ARE MANY POTENTIAL PLACES TO START. YOU CAN OWN THE VISION…

+ Investigate transit, biking or carpool benefits to encourage sustainable commuting practices. A host of incentives exist for companies to encourage employees to carpool, take transit, or bike to work; look into these incentives and reach out to your firm’s HR coordinator to start a conversation or see what you can do to promote an existing program.

+ Encourage your employer to install showers when physically possible and financially feasible. Installing showers and dressing space within bathrooms sends a firm signal that a company encourages active forms of commuting to the office—resulting in a net reduction of energy use through transportation, and reducing contributions to smog-forming emissions.

+ Research public transit options where you live and try taking it to work. If you live and work in an urban or suburban context, chances are you are served by some form of public transit. Try riding the bus or train to work; you will help start a virtuous cycle of reducing congestion and emission of smog-forming chemicals during peak commute hours, supporting current operations, and bolstering the case for improving service.

+ Try walking or biking for recreation and light errands. While sometimes limited based on availability of sidewalks and other supportive infrastructure, walking and biking for light shopping and errand-running can be a great and practical way of getting your daily physical activity in while alleviating congestion, emissions, and wear and tear on roads.

+ Don’t idle. Any benefits you might think accrue from idling are outweighed by wasted fuel and polluting emissions after a mere 30 seconds. Save on money and smog by turning off your car’s engine, especially during the warmer months of late spring and summer.

+ Don’t top off at the pump. When you top off, you not only overwhelm built-in emissions control mechanisms in your car, but you release smog-forming volatile organic compounds into the air. Not topping off helps to keep Northeast Ohio’s air clean.

+ Look into local community supported agriculture (CSA) organizations and buy a share. You’ll get fresh, locally-sourced produce delivered to your doorstep!

+ Read labels and seek out locally-produced foods at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Your next meal will generate value for Northeast Ohio and cut down on the emissions associated with transporting food long distances.

+ Drink from the tap, especially if your community does not offer recycling. This helps to reduce the amount of bottles in landfills and lakes, contribute to reduced municipal recycling costs, and in the long run transform the way this is done.

+ Look into creating an organic fruit, vegetable, or herb garden on your lawn, or getting a plot in a community garden. This puts dollars and cents behind the satisfaction of living (partially) off your own land.

+ Incorporate a rain garden, rain barrel(s), and/or permeable pavers on one’s property to capture stormwater runoff. This will help to reduce the burden on the sewer network and incidence of combined sewer discharges, which pollute Northeast Ohio’s waterways.

+ Use household cleaning products, solvents, and paints that are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or contain no VOCs. This helps reduce the incidence of smog forming emissions, which keeps Northeast Ohio in attainment of national air quality standards and thus prevents additional federal regulation of industry and transportation.

+ Try composting as a means of diversifying waste streams and providing nutrients for gardens. By composting, you divert important nutrients from being wasted at the landfill to your personal or community.