All hands-on deck for the environment

In this eye-opening passage, readers are persuaded to focus on the true impact of every aspect of life and how to take the time to shift to a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
Published on
June 30, 2023
Allies and Partners
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ACES leaders and Youth Corps team members

Editor’s note: 

This is one in a continuing series of guest opinions about fostering environmental
stewardship and leadership coordinated by ACES — The Alliance of Climate and Environmental

As the birthplace of the Coast Guard and a Revolutionary war navel combatant, Newburyport has always responded to calls to action in time of emergency. And on this July 4th the Earth is facing drastic impacts from climate change as we see and hear in the news and on our daily weather reports.
Global ecosystems are being threatened. Ecosystems are formed in the interaction of all the components of the physical space considered. Sometimes small changes can make a big difference. We are all capable of impacting those small adjustments needed to help climate. But we will need all “all hands-on deck” working on these multiple issues.
Like all ecosystems our local communities are complex and dynamic. Each element of the ecosystem impacts every other element. Are there pollution sources near our homes that impact health and wellbeing, like gas leaks under your streets? Is plastics waste a problem? Are there parks, playgrounds, community gardens and open spaces nearby for families and seniors to enjoy? How well protected are our water sources, including the Merrimack River?
Is the community well designed to minimize car use and driving. Can people walk or bike to places. Are there in fact places, destinations for them to walk to? Destinations like shops and services that can be close enough to their neighborhoods so that walking and biking on an everyday basis is possible. Is public transportation well used? Density, both as historically developed, and within later twentieth century zoning ordinances is a key marker of environmental health. Newburyport's historic core, including the South End especially, is dense and that density has produced variety and walkability that makes it so attractive.  Unfortunately, as big chain retail businesses and automobile-based malls came along, neighborhoods like these were damaged a bit as "corner store" culture declined.
So where are these ideas taking us? Every decision by you for your family, by the local government, and every independent business decision has an environmental impact. Here are somethings you can do to help climate recover:
*** Drive a little less and walk a little more.
*** Eat a little less meat per week.
*** Have a Mass Save audit of your home's energy usage.
*** Mow your lawn a little less often.
*** Go thrifting and closet swap with friends especially as kids grow.                                                                 
*** Patronize local farms, they are a bulwark of environmental stability.
With a city as historic as Newburyport, there are lots of layers of practice and regulations that can slow down sensible adjustments for example to building codes for our looming climate crisis. What changes are possible to encourage modern upgrades for insulation, heating, and cooking? All those, and zoning that may have a priori limits on density, building height etc. should be revisited and maybe minor changes made that can help meet both climate and housing needs.
The world is facing a very complicated set of climate and environmental problems on many levels. But there are ways to work on these problems together. Ways that will involve many micro interventions on a community level. A pollinator garden here, a few more walkable stores or restaurants there, a little more density flexibility where that might make sense. Teaching kids how to use our free MVRTA services to meet friends sometime. Finding local resources for produce, such as backyard gardens and farm shares. 
Solving the climate conundrum won’t be accomplished with just one big change at the national level. It will need small communities like ours to grow more of our own food, consume more sensibly with the climate in mind, and save energy. It needs a new generation of climate patriots. It will take all of us. And having the nautical DNA that Newburyport has, we should declare “All Hands-on Deck For Climate”.
ACES Youth Corps team members encourage you to foster these climate friendly habits in your own routine, and to engage in the ways that you are able. Every bit counts, and your contributions and choices are important. Please provide any thoughts about other habits and practices could benefit our environment and send us a note at To learn more about ACES and its Initiatives, visit


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