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Sunrise in Duluth. Photo by Richard Thomas.
When I think of the environment, I am reminded of the waves crashing on the shore of Lake Superior, stepping through mounds of beautiful rocks and birds singing from the sky.
The Northland is truly beautiful and we have been given a wonderful environment to cherish and protect. However, the reality is that humans are negatively impacting the environment through the emission of greenhouse gasses.
If we work together to take climate action and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we can make a difference in our own lives and future generations.
Duluth has taken many steps to advance sustainability initiatives and now has a new, innovative way to take action together – the GetGreen Duluth mobile app.
The City of Duluth became a climate leader in 2018 after committing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
While this commitment was an important move for our city, it only applies to city operations and buildings.
In response, the Duluth Citizens’ Climate Action Plan (DCCAP) was developed as an effort to spread this greenhouse gas reduction goal community wide.
Since the DCCAP launched in November 2020, the City of Duluth has committed to achieving carbon neutrality community wide by 2050, and used the DCCAP as a guiding document for the first City Climate Action Work Plan.
To further advance the DCCAP, local nonprofit Ecolibrium3 has partnered with GetGreen and Grid Catalyst to create an exciting new tool to take daily action on the climate with a mobile app.
The GetGreen app was created to help individuals and communities reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and live more sustainably. The app aids individual and collective action by providing sustainable options and alternatives to everyday tasks, creating a daily habit of climate stewardship. It shows users where to start and what to do to reduce their carbon footprint.
Using proven behavioral modification approaches, the app’s gamified reward system allows users to earn points, or "green leaves," as they complete actions. Green leaves represent the amount of carbon users have offset – each leaf equaling 10 pounds of averted carbon emissions.
Users can also go beyond reducing their own carbon footprint and further their environmental impact by removing carbon through certified projects around the world and in your community.
Duluth was chosen as the pilot site for a location-specific version of the app, testing how it can bring a community together to take climate action. In the Duluth version of the app, users can complete actions from the DCCAP, such as advocating for the expansion of the Duluth Natural Areas Program, riding one of Duluth’s electric buses, and planting native species in your yard.
Several Duluth actions also support local businesses, resources, and organizations. For example, shopping at the local food co-op or filling a growler of beer at one of Duluth’s many breweries.
Additionally, users can make their voice heard by writing to local leaders about local sustainability initiatives using the app.
“Duluth is taking meaningful steps to help address the climate crisis, and in the process is setting an example for towns and cities across the country and around the world,” said Brian Ringer, CEO and co-founder of GetGreen. “Duluth’s leaders know they have to engage members of the community to achieve their emissions reduction goals and for the program to be a success. We at GetGreen are happy to play a role in activating that engagement, converting intention into action, and contributing to a more sustainable Duluth.”
Green leaves earned in the app will benefit the Duluth featured project, a micro-mobility hub in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.
With transportation accounting for approximately 26% of Duluth’s greenhouse gas emissions and more than half of most people’s greenhouse gas emissions, changing the ways in which we get around can really add up.
The hub will expand people-first transportation options in our community. To be located at the Lincoln Park Community Hub, it will offer a variety of traditional bikes and e-bikes for check-out, along with unique mobility devices that can meet the needs of families, older individuals, and those with physical limitations.
For neighborhood residents that experience high levels of poverty and disability, this will provide an option to increase transportation access. The Hub will expand transportation options for those who lack access as well as serve as a pilot test for increased shared mobility options in Duluth.
“GetGreen is a fantastic way to get our community involved with the Duluth Citizens’ Climate Action Plan. GetGreen has crafted a platform that has allowed us to implement the Duluth Citizens’ Climate Action Plan on an individual and community level,” said Ecolibrium3 CEO Jodi Slick. “Using GetGreen Duluth will help us create the Duluth Micromobility Hub in Lincoln Park. This hub will increase transportation access for neighborhood residents experiencing high levels of poverty and disability by providing low-carbon mobility devices for check out. GetGreen has really opened the road for community change in Duluth.”
Using GetGreen Duluth, we can come together as a community to make a difference in our environment by taking climate action. GetGreen is for everyone because climate action is for everyone.
Big movements start with small actions, join me and start using the GetGreen app to make a difference in your community.
To download the app, search GetGreen on the App Store or Google Play. For more information about GetGreen visit ecolibrium3.org/getgreenduluth.
Reese Van Houten is an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving the Northland as the Communications and Community Resilience VISTA at Ecolibrium3. Originally from Michigan, Reese grew up with a passion for her environment and activism, which led to an academic career in sustainability and politics. Since starting at Ecolibrium3, Reese has organized the launch and conducted outreach and recruitment for GetGreen Duluth. Reese also works with the Ready North Network for disaster resilience and is building community capacity in the Lincoln Park neighborhood and greater Duluth.