As a recreation organization, you are committed to the principle of conservation. This comes in the form of efforts within our parks as well as facilities and operations. And we know, real change only happens when a formal commitment to track progress leads the way.
According to NRPA, 72% of park and recreation agencies have defined specific measures that gauge the success of their sustainability activities. This is awesome! Whether you’re part of the 72%, looking for a new initiative, or simply wanting to make your footprint a deeper green, we’ve got some ideas for you.
The greatest resource we have towards sustainability is each other. You have the unique opportunity to engage your community in your efforts. This could look like:
- Growing the next generation of stewards through youth engagement opportunities such as community gardens, nature explorer programming, kid clean-ups, nature-based play spaces, kids running groups on your trails or outdoor sports camps just to name a few.
- Educating adults on best practices and immediate needs within your community. People want to live in a green way, but often they lack the expertise to know how to make it happen, or to help you make it happen. Give them the information. Teach them how to make rain gardens, explain how solar energy can be applied to any building space, host a rain barrel or compost sale and teach-in, invite volunteers for invasive species weeding days.
- Connecting communities to the great outdoors through the countless outdoor park amenities such as walking and biking trails, gardening opportunities, playgrounds and inviting park space.
You truly are stewards of the precious natural space in your communities. Protecting, open natural space within our park system is one of the most important things you can do. Make an effort this year to commit to improving one of these key outdoor conservation needs:
- Water conservation
- Protecting animal habitats
- Remediating invasive species
- Land management
For more details on the impact these four efforts can make, check out this list of commonly implemented sustainability practices of you and your peers.
You’re running a business just like everybody else, fighting the constant battle to reduce waste within your workflow and facilities. Being operationally responsible is a must for park and recreation departments. In fact, according to NRP, nearly 60% of agency parks and facilities are quantifying their water usage. How would you rate yourselves these days on your efforts? This year, outwardly commit to improving your efforts around:
- LED lighting
- energy star appliances
- low flow plumbing
- food sorting: composting, recycling, or saving unopened items.
Waste comes in other forms, too, namely paper. Using an online, hosted software service such as ACTIVE Net can cut the piles of paper from your office, while also reducing administrative time that can be put toward green initiatives.
We all know change doesn’t happen overnight, but taking active steps to commit to new conservation initiatives every year will change your footprint for the better. The best news of all? You have the power, position and influence to help others in your community do the same.