By Adrienne Longenecker, CFRE
Since 1970, April 22 has marked Earth Day. On that day, people and organizations around the globe hold events that celebrate the environment and demonstrate support for environmental protection. While some do commemorate the whole month of April as “Earth Month,” Hill Country Conservancy believes Austin is ready to live out the ideas and principles of Earth Day all year long.
To be honest, this should be an easy shift for Austin to make! Our city is proud of being green. There’s nothing weird about Austin’s standing as a national leader in its commitment to the environment. We have multiple conservancy projects in motion at all times, including:
• Becoming net-zero in emissions by 2050
• Becoming zero-waste by reducing trash sent to landfills by 90% by 2040
• Providing green building resources to construction professionals, homeowners, and residents
• Adhering to helpful water conservation measures
• Planning for urban forest renewal
And that just scratches the surface! We haven’t even started to address the various measures to extend and expand green spaces across the city, including increased bike trails that can help lower our city’s reliance upon private vehicles.
From Earth Day to Earth Year
At Hill Country Conservancy, we believe the crucial step in helping people move from a simple Earth Day celebration to an Earth Year lifestyle is to provide them a meaningful experience in nature. Why? Because actually getting outside in nature in a significant way is key to developing a conservation ethic that then helps you become a good steward of natural resources.
Not only must we protecting the resources we have now, but we must also implement intentional plans and processes for developing more abundant natural resources. Such preparation is essential for improving the quality of life and economic growth in Austin for present and future generations.
Corporate Responsibility is the New Black
It’s easier than ever for your business to get involved in a year-long appreciation of the environment. In fact, more and more companies are engaging in corporate social responsibility. Not only does the company earn goodwill from its customers and community for such actions, it helps them attract millennials and Gen-Z employees who place value in working for a socially conscious.
At Hill Country Conservancy alone, your company can showcase its commitment to the environment through activities such as:
• Schedule volunteer opportunities for your employees
• Encourage families with young children to visit the newest section of the VCT south of Slaughter lane to the creek and do a nature scavenger hunt
• Visit a conservation easement, located on a private ranch in the Hill Country, with HCC staff for a private tour
• Enjoy a bird and nature hike on HCC’s preserve, the Nalle Bunny Run, located on the shores of Lake Austin in west Austin
It’s All About Getting Outside
To be clear, there are plenty of actions you can take inside to conserve our resources and protect our environment:
• Use energy-efficient lighting
• Use ambient lighting during the day instead of turning on lights
• Create an office recycling program
• Switch to recycled paper
• Plant a small herb garden
• Install low-flow faucets and toilets
• Reducing and reusing has more long-term beneficial effects than recycling
But no matter how you choose to celebrate Earth Day in your personal life or around your office, make sure those plans get you outside. To develop a true “conservation ethic” that effects actual change in your behavior, you need to be in the middle of nature experiencing the world around you. As in, you need to be in the environment to be a real environmentalist, especially if you want to cultivate increased awareness of environmental concerns throughout Austin.
Join Hill Country Conservancy in transforming Earth Day into a year-round movement!