I spent Saturday at the Green Alliance Sustainability Fair in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. Cool Choices had an exhibit and we did a workshop; we were talking about the free county-wide Cool Choices program we are launching in the Waukesha County later this fall.

The fair occurred in a clearing at a state park, which meant we were talking about environmental sustainability just a few yards from hiking trails on a crisp and sunny Wisconsin day. Perhaps as a result, I did not encounter anyone at this event who opposed protecting Wisconsin’s amazing natural resources for future generations. Opinions did vary, though, on what needed to happen and how.

Conversations on Sustainability

Green Alliance Sustainability Fair 2017-2I tend to enjoy these kinds of events and the ensuing conversations. My own approach to solutions is a yes, and approach—yes, your efforts are great and we need the efforts of others as well. Yes, education is important and policy matters too. At Cool Choices, our own programs put a premium on connections—we inspire sustainable practices while also helping people connect with local resources, highlighting opportunities and increasing engagement across multiple efforts simultaneously.

Sustainability fairs like this one highlight the diversity of local interests. In the space of a few hundred yards one could learn about plastics recycling, raising chickens, advocating for federal policy changes, transitioning to electric vehicles, and educating children on environmental issues. Drawn to the event by an interest in one topic, the attendees likely learned about some other efforts they had not even heard about previously.

Expanding Your Sustainability Journey

Ideally that’s how our sustainability journeys work. We start out interested in one thing, motivated to reduce our energy costs or eat more local food, perhaps. And then as we learn more and interact with people who are making similar changes they talk to us about their own actions and their stories inspire us to think about other ways we can be more sustainable. My efforts to reduce our household energy usage have influenced friends to make their own reductions just as the vegetarians around me have nudged me to think about my food choices. While my sustainability journey is my own, it is deeply influenced by the others I encounter along my path.

And this, of course, is why sustainability fairs—and conversations about sustainability more generally—matter so much. Humans are social creatures and nothing—nothing—influences us as much as the people around us. So, please, share your story. Tell a friend about what you’re doing to reduce your impacts, share your successes with colleagues. If you aren’t sure who to tell, share your story with us—we are glad to help spread the word! The key is to talk about what you are doing because that will help others do more.


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