Now that we are leaving the Paris Agreement what can Mainers do to help combat climate change

You’ve heard the news by now. The United States is saying “bye-bye” to the Paris Agreement. As a Mainer, a farm kid, a feminist, and 8th-grade science fair winner, I have always identified as an environmentalist at heart. I grew up with the privilege of nature being my home as opposed to a place to visit.

In kindergarten, my teacher Mrs. Smith read us a picture book about saving the world via being conscientious about our energy usage, recycling and other nineties feel good elementary school environmentalism. I don’t recall the exact book but I remember her telling us “if we don’t use our electricity wisely someday we might not have it any left to use.” While other kids probably shrugged off the story as not as good as “Berenstain Bears on the Moon” from the day before, I was shaken to my little five-year-old core. That night I refused to go to sleep until my mother unplugged every appliance we were not using. I remember fighting with her to unplug the oven. As you can assume, adult me took Thursday’s announcement pretty hard.

I wasn’t that surprised. I mean given the track record of this administration so far I was like:

But just because you expect something doesn’t mean it won’t cause blinding rage.

But I am not great with anger, it lasts a short while and then just turns right into sadness.

After the sobbing stopped I felt a little better and decided to accept this news. Instead of lamenting on all the problems with it, the looming disasters, and irreversible damage, I chose to take some action. Sometimes finding a bunch of small solutions that are within reach is better for you than focusing on the giant problem that is out of your hands. When I feel powerless I have been trying to get empowered these days in tangible ways.

So what is a Mainer, a farm kid, a feminist, and 8th-grade science fair winner to do? Turns out there is still some hope my friends. Here are three easy things you can do right now:

  • Support your local farmers by buying local food and other goods. You can do this by buying straight from the farmer OR you can ask your grocery store for these products. (They will listen!) Buying stuff from closer to home helps keep carbon emissions down. Think about it, tomatoes being trucked in from Florida are going to need a lot more gasoline than one being trucked in from a Maine farm. Also, any grandma will tell you there ain’t nothing as tasty as something that is freshly picked. The longer it’s been since your sweet corn has been picked the more flavor it loses. If you are buying from a farmer in your region odds are you will be getting a VIP pass to flavor town.
  • Sign up for the Maine Green Power program. It is something every Mainer with an electricity bill can do. How the program works is that you can keep whoever you are already purchasing electricity from and every month you pay an extra flat fee (about as much as a Netflix subscription costs) on top of whatever you are already paying. Maine Green Power then uses the revenue to pay Maine generators for their RECs AKA renewable energy certificates. (Here is a video that breaks down what exactly RECs are and why they are important) Basically, every Mainer that enrolls in the program tells their power company “I want to buy renewable energy! Get me away from fossil fuels!” And through the magic that is voting with your dollars, the power companies have to use more renewable energy, therefore, displacing our use of non-renewables. If every Mainer joined this program our entire section of the grid would be run off renewable energy!
  • Donate to the Natural Resource Council of Maine. This is a non-profit organization that in my opinion protects the heart of Maine. This is their mission statement:

“The Natural Resources Council of Maine is our state’s leading nonprofit membership organization protecting, restoring, and conserving Maine’s environment, now and for future generations.We work statewide for clear air and water, healthy people and wildlife, protected forests, sustainable communities, and clean energy solutions and efficiency. NRCM was created by Maine people, for the benefit of all who love Maine. Since 1959, NRCM has led efforts to keep Maine a special place. NRCM harnesses the power of science, the law, and the voices of more than 20,000 supporters from across Maine and beyond.”

You can become a member or just donate whatever you can give or they also have a “take action” button on their website that is a great resource for staying involved with issues related to the protection of Maine’s air, land, waters, and wildlife. Basically, they are doing amazing work for you already and now more than ever they could use your help to continue doing so.

Remember that sometimes things feel overwhelming but that you often times can make a lot of difference in your home and your community. If more people start making changes and continue the work we have already started, we can still have an impact on this little blue dot that we call home. We are in this together kids!

Jasmine Haines

About Jasmine Haines

Jasmine J. Haines is an Aroostook county native and the 6th generation raised on her family’s farm in Fort Fairfield. Self-proclaimed "Maine's biggest fan". This is her agricultural adventure.