Every year since 1970, people around the world have come together to celebrate our planet and support environmental action. April 22nd is the perfect time to reflect on our past and envision a better future. It’s a time to connect with one another, reflect on progress made, and new solutions needed.
We cannot solve the climate crisis alone. Together nonprofits, government agencies, universities, businesses, individuals, teachers, community groups and faith leaders can create solutions that none of us could accomplish on our own. It is going to take all of us. But, including everyone means infusing equity into the decision making process.. We must not only listen to scientific voices, but also those of vulnerable communities who are impacted the most by our changing climate. We must consider spreading kindness and care not only to ecosystems but also our brothers and sisters worldwide who are facing environmental justice issues and inequity.
This year’s theme of, “Invest in Our Planet,” is an all-encompassing action that everyone can partake in at all levels. Here at Extension, we are committed to investing in our planet and community not just on Earth Day, but every day. Read on to learn more about ways you can save and how we invest in our community.
Investing in Our Community
Ways to Save
Supporting and educating our community members is integral to our mission. Every day we strive to invest in all members of our community by making our classes, programming, and information as equitable and accessible as possible. In reaching everyone, we see our programming though an equity lens and invest our efforts in vulnerable communities. Most of which are diverse and experiencing financial hardship.
We know times are tough, and a good portion of our community members (and others around the nation) are struggling to make ends meet. Our “Ways to Save” project provides a range of cost-saving tips on many of the common expenses people face every day, like utility bills and food costs. Our budget tips apply to those on any income and include lots of do-able ideas that can make your money go further and most importantly, help you invest in yourself.
So, where can you find these “Ways to Save” tips? Check our social media accounts (instagram.com/ufsarasotaextension and facebook.com/ufsarasotaext) for a series of short videos that offer top tips, or catch the video playlist at our YouTube channel. Find savings-related classes at our Eventbrite.com page. Check our online information at sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/sarasota and scgov.net/extension. And, of course, come back to this blog site for more #waystosave posts.
Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability invests in energy efficiency to help cost burdened community members who struggle to pay their utility bills. We do this by teaching energy and water efficiency workshops geared to renters and low-income families. Each participating family also receives a Do-It-Yourself efficiency kit that helps them save money right away.
In 2022, the Energy Upgrade program reached approximately 900 residents; Saving households an estimated $22,174 in utility costs, over 158,436 kWh of energy and about 367,836 gallons of water.
Savings experienced by these residents allow them to have a little bit of wiggle room in their budget during these challenging times.
Partners for Green Places
Investing in human service non-profits that serve low-income community members is an incredibly impactful way to support their clientele. Our Partners for Green Places Program used energy assessments coupled with energy and water efficiency projects to reduce operational costs for human service non-profits. The savings experienced by the nonprofits from implementing the energy and water upgrades are then used to further the important missions of these organizations, which include providing food, clothing, education, and more to local families
We are excited to report that this partnership and program will continue investing in our community with additional funding committed by our foundation partners and merge into Southface’s GoodUse program (southface.org/gooduse).
Ways Individuals Can Invest
You can learn more about what to do, where to start, and how to make a difference at earthday.org. There are many ways to invest in our planet, not only financially but with time through civic action, volunteering, citizen science, eating plant based foods, fighting fast fashion and more. “Don’t underestimate your power. When your voice and actions are united with millions of others around the world, we can create an inclusive and impactful movement that is impossible to ignore.”- Earth Day 2023.
Invest in Yourself
Personally, I am extending my deepest compassion to anyone who reads this that is struggling to invest in yourself. Meaningful self-investment is not just financial, to me it is more about prioritizing physical and mental health. It is extremely easy to neglect yourself when you are focused on making it day to day and I hope this encourages you to take the time- even if its five minutes- to take a deep breath and release the tension in your body.
One of my favorite quotes by Warren Buffet is “Anything you invest in yourself; you get back tenfold.” So, invest in yourself (whatever that means to you) and see it return tenfold.
We are extremely grateful for our partners in city government, other government agencies, non-profits, neighborhood groups, business partners, foundations, and community councils who helped us invest in our community in a myriad of ways.