Much evidence shows the importance of celebrating small victories when undertaking big projects.
Whether building a house or teaching a history course, acknowledging milestones on the way to completion can improve project participant morale, increase productivity, and nurture a sense of community.
Our collective energy to address the climate crisis — a truly global project — requires the same approach. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by news of droughts, polluted water, and biodiversity loss while losing sight of the positives that are happening, too.
This month, as we start this season of “thanks,” I want to share some of the work I’m thankful for in our community. I recently put out a call to readers of my monthly newsletter, Waste Wise News, to ask for their sustainability and waste prevention “wins,” and the following is a sampling of some of the responses I received.
I hope they inspire you like they did me.
• Reader Shaylea Sullivan helped her company connect her company with NextStep Recycling to recycle their old electronics.
• Lisa Bee-Wilson said she purchased 95 percent of her clothing and shoes used, saving her money and natural resources.
• Jo Rodgers was excited by the 16 youth plaintiffs (ages 6 to 22 years) who won a climate lawsuit against the state of Montana this past summer.
• Shauna Neigh, a project coordinator with Cottage Grove, said she was proud of the city’s efforts to extend the effluent water line, or recycled water, to Bohemia Park. Cottage Grove currently uses effluent water to maintain the Middlefield Golf Course.
• Jared Bauder, a resident in Eugene-Springfield, put food scraps in his yard waste curbside cart, helping to reduce methane emissions.
• Jeff Orlandini, Lane County Waste Management division manager, said the division is excited to partner with Emerald People’s Utility District (EPUD) to provide space on a closed portion of the Short Mountain Landfill to place a solar array starting in 2026. This will be the state’s first landfill solar array.
How about you? What were your wins in 2023? Maybe you started composting, ate less meat, bought air purifiers to prepare for wildfire smoke, wrote a lawmaker, attended a fix-it fair, planted native plants instead of a lawn, reduced air travel, installed heat pumps, biked to work, or something else?
Big or small, take time to celebrate.
And then get back to doing even better.
Daniel Hiestand is the Waste Reduction Outreach Coordinator for WasteWise Lane County and a columnist for The Chronicle.