Our planet, our wellness

by Kristin Smith


Tips from eco experts

WELLNESS IS A collective endeavor that includes the state of our own mind, body and spirit and that of the planet. In contemplating sustainable, green initiatives, I reached out to local experts passionate about improving the health of our community. I posed the following two questions:
› What is one practical thing you would share someone who supports a sustainable lifestyle?
› What practices would you like to see Decatur incorporate in the next 10 years?

Here’s what I learned.

Greg Coleson, Chief Technology Officer at 412technology.com

I would have a conversation about what they are currently doing to combat climate change, then make suggestions related to that. The single largest thing they can currently do is get involved in the Decatur Strategic Planning process going on now and advocate for the city to focus on combatting climate change.

Have all the residents using some renewable energy source for all their electricity, heating and transportation. Again, the Strategic Planning process is going on right now and it will set the direction for the city for the next 10 years. Encourage everyone to sign up and participate.

More at decatur2030.com.

Michael Paul Black, Decatur Resident and Georgia State University Faculty
I would echo Greg’s call for input toward a more sustainable city through participation in the 10-year strategic plan. It is the smallest thing a person could do with the biggest impact.

I’d like to see City of Decatur strive for carbon neutrality over the next 10 years. Climate scientists have told us we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent over the next decade to avoid the worst effects of climate change. We can do better than that. We need to get the current greenhouse gases in the atmosphere back to safe levels. Scientists contributing to Drawdown have shown us how to get there, and Georgia Drawdown is working on state-specific solutions.

Many cities have joined the efforts by committing to 100 percent clean energy. Even this is not enough to address the climate crisis, but it is a good first step, and we can help Decatur make it. [This] buys us time to do the other things we need to do to address global climate change.

Jill Jordan, Sierra Club member, former member of Environmental Board and chair of Conservation Committee
Pledge to reduce your overall consumption of disposable items, whether it is changing your habit of buying a daily frappuccino that is served in a plastic cup with a plastic straw and a plastic lid to perhaps having one every other day or once a week, or even making your own at home.

I’d like to see the city of Decatur encourage a car-free lifestyle by offering convenient and low-cost or free transit options (trolley or shuttles). This would also reduce the congestion and traffic as population density continues to explode. The city also needs to get more serious about recycling and face the fact that most of our household recycling ends up going to a landfill due to contamination or lack of education on what is acceptable, for instance newspapers still inside the plastic bags.

Mary Jane Leach, member Decatur Environmental Sustainability Board
I echo Greg and Michael’s calls for climate change focus and hitting those targets within our city infrastructure and processes. I would also ask that the City focus on climate adaptation for the two major climate impacts: urban heat and flooding, and to implement the most effective strategies for those.

During the Climate Summit at Georgia Tech last Fall, I heard the new GT President Cabrera say that to meet the needs of the coming climate challenge, we must “organize ourselves.” It is going to take all disciplines working on these issues. I would ask the city to put resources toward all of the things needed to reduce our climate impact and prepare our citizens for the impacts we are already experiencing. I believe we are at our best when we are creating solutions, so what can each of us bring? Our business community, our students, faith communities and city staff? It’s a scary time but also an exciting time. Let’s garner the resources, technical expertise, cooperation and communication to do this well and do it quickly.

Kristin Smith is a Certified Integrative Health & Wellness Coach. More info at kristinsmithwellness.com.