‘Charge Ahead’ toward greener Durham

Jan. 05, 2014 @ 05:38 PM

The mission statement of the Durham City-County Sustainability Office is brief and to the point.

Its mission, announced at the top of its home page, “is to help protect and improve Durham’s environment through wise use of natural resources by providing guidance and resources to City and County employees, businesses, and citizens.”

Mandates such as that can led to some less-than-exciting pronouncements, requirements and lectures, of course.

The county’s “From Commute Trip Reduction Ordinance,” for example, while important and worthwhile, is not the stuff of bumper stickers, with language such as:

“”The Board of Commissioners has created a program to address the issue of traffic congestion in Durham County through the Commute Trip Reduction Ordinance and may contract with another governmental or quasi-governmental agency to provide for the efficient and effective provision of services and reviews as set out hereafter.”

Given the “eat-your-spinach” nature of some of what it takes to move toward a more sustainable and environmentally conscious community – although Durham has more fertile soil for this than many cities – injecting a bit of fun into the crusade can only help.

And that’s what the folks at the sustainability office are setting out to do this year with “Charge Ahead Durham.”

Tobin Freid, the city-county sustainability manager, outlined the plans for “Charge Ahead” in an article in our Durham Herald section Sunday. It will be, she wrote, “a fun, easy way to save energy, conserve water, reduce waste and reconnect with nature. And if that wasn’t good enough, you also can win some awesome prizes along the way.”

Fun, easy, prizes – those are enticing words, so we hope and think the program should attract a sizable number of participants.  (After all, 265 people already have signed up for and logged nearly 500 hours of exercise as part of the County Health Department’s recently begun “healthier Durham” challenge).

“Charge Ahead” will launch later this month. If you want to be notified as soon as it is ready to go, visit the website www.ChargeAheadDurham.org. Once it starts and you’re signed up, the challenge will email three actions or charges each week. “We’ll tell you why it’s important, how to do it, what equipment you will need and how you will impact the environment,” Freid wrote.

The actions will vary in difficulty and cost, both in money and time, but many will be “low- or no-cost/effort habit changes.” Completing the tasks will earn participants points toward the prizes.

One goal of the program will be to let participants see how their individual efforts can collectively have a significant impact.

“Sustainable communities meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” the sustainability office says on its website. “To achieve this goal, truly sustainable communities are environmentally healthy, socially responsible, and financially secure.”

“Charge Ahead Durham” sounds like a great way move us toward that goal and have some fun doing it.