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Bloomington Resident Says First Step In Combating Climate Change Is Community Involvement

Rhonda Baird

Bloomington resident Rhonda Baird contributes to a supportive environmental lifestyle at home, taking part in a lot of perennial planting, soil-building practices, recycling, composting, and reusing materials. (Courtesy Indiana University)

This story is part of a four-part City Limits: Climate Change series on what individuals and community leaders in Bloomington can do to combat the adverse effects of our warming world. Read Monday's story here, Tuesday's report here and Wednesday's story here.

In early October, City Limits: Bloomington asked people to tell us what they’ve done, big or small, to try to reduce environmental impacts in their lives.

We also reached out to Bloomington resident Rhonda Baird, who’s been active in the local environmental activism scene, about what she does to be environmentally friendly in her everyday life.

For three years, Baird worked as a coordinator for the Solar Indiana Renewable Energy Network, also known as SIREN, which educates and promotes renewable energy and energy conservation in Indiana. She says that as coordinator, one of her main priorities was to connect with solar contractors and others to help promote solar energy efforts in the area.

“It’s a viable alternative to fossil-based energy production in Indiana,” she says. “It’s something homeowners can do for themselves to support their work toward a brighter future, a cleaner future.”

READ MORE: Solarize Bloomington Still Offering Path To Affordable Power

Baird says working together with groups that care about the environment is a perfect first step to try to make a difference in the environment.

“There are things that can be done at a policy level from city level or county level, but a lot of it can just be done by people working together collaboratively,” she says.

Baird contributes to a supportive environmental lifestyle at home, taking part in a lot of perennial planting, soil-building practices, recycling, composting, and reusing materials.

She believes even the smallest efforts in your daily life can make a huge difference in the future.

“The household scale is where people make choices about what they’re doing for the future and so when you’re able to really look at what you’re bringing into your home, you’re really setting things up for the next generation,” she says.

Baird says fossil fuel use is a major way in which people contribute negatively to the environment.

In Indiana, fossil fuels are a main source of energy. Coal provides fuel for more than 50 percent of all energy consumed in Indiana and around 95 percent of the energy that generates electricity.

Baird also says that overconsumption can hurt the planet, though it’s not something people like to talk about.

“We’re all buying things that we don’t necessarily need and that we don’t understand the implications of externalized costs, and the manufacture of those items,” she said.

Baird makes several suggestions to people who want to make changes in their life to support the environment and to address climate change. She says turn down your thermostat and decrease electricity use, unplug appliances that aren’t being used, ride a bicycle instead of driving a car, share rides in a car, use solar panels if investments can be made, don’t cut down trees unless absolutely necessary, and plant gardens.

Have a question about climate change in Bloomington? Ask City Limits:

For our local government, climate change is top of mind.

City Limits wants your help digging into Bloomington’s responses to climate change.

You might wonder what impact more mass transportation would have, or even how to measure the kind of difference Bloomington and its citizens can have on such a massive issue.  

Here’s how it works: You submit a question you’d like us to explore about how Bloomington has changed over the past few decades, what you want to see for the city in the future and how ties with IU continue to shape the community.  

So: What questions do you have about tackling climate change on a local level?

Interested in an ongoing conversation how Bloomington is changing? Join our Facebook group!

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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