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City Officials: We're Working To Combat Climate Change, Too

Bloomington Courthouse

(Barbara Brosher)

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.

Bloomington is working to tackle the issue of climate change with open conversations and specific data.

An anonymous question for our City Limits Climate Change series asks, “What can the city and its residents do that will actually make a difference, and what can we do to measure how effective those actions are?”

As someone who works in sustainability, Bloomington Director of Economic and Sustainable Development Alex Crowley has seen work on this year-round.

He says there are many things individuals can do, but it comes down to paying attention to daily habits.

“I would say that an individual could and should take a look at what their behaviors are and ask themselves the question: is there a better way?” Crowley says.

Bloomington's Sustainability Action Plan Has Workable Solutions

Crowley says Bloomington’s 2018 Sustainability Action Plan is a starting point for the city and individuals to see how they can make an impact. The plan includes information on how to adapt with climate change with certain aspects such as water, waste, local food and agriculture and transportation.

Part of the plan also includes taking inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in the city. That inventory was released last month and identifies greenhouse gases produced by the city in order to determine strategies to minimize those emissions.

“It helps us to really understand and analyze where the emissions are coming from both within the city operations but also from the community,” Crowley says.

The city will review and analyze the data to identify problem areas that can be fixed. The city will also be looking for any changes that can help them figure out what is working and what is not.

Public transportation, waste disposal and individual energy use are the biggest areas on a long list of things within the city that need attention. Crowley says individuals contribute 90 percent of the emissions in the city.

What Can We Do As Citizens?

Crowley says people can reduce their carbon footprint by taking public transportation, switching to solar energy and paying attention to what they throw away. He says 38 percent of all waste collected in Bloomington is compostable and the city offers a composting service that is reasonable for all residents to use.

Crowley also recommends people consider riding bikes or taking the bus on daily commutes. Small things like changing lightbulbs to LED, washing clothes on cold and turning the lights off when you leave a room can make a difference.

Crowley understands some people may not be able to do all of these things but he says the most important thing is to really examine your habits and become aware of what you can change:

“So you can displace certain behaviors—you don’t have to do it all the time—but you can displace them, and every bit counts,” he says.

Conversation About Climate Change Is Just As Important As Individual Action

Lauren Travis works with Crowley as assistant director of sustainability for the City of Bloomington. She says it’s important to have conversations about climate change because that's what will ultimately have the most impact.

“All of those things are important, but also just recognizing that individual actions are not sufficient in and of themselves but those help build normalization and support for policies and initiatives,” says Travis.

She says that climate change is something individuals should act on, no matter where they are.

“I think it’s also really important to be hopeful and recognize that these things that we’re building towards will help build a more resilient and prosperous community in the future,” says Travis.

Travis says she is working with the community and climate activist groups to brainstorm additional ways of addressing climate change.

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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