by Hannah Bonds
With all the craziness of everyday life, it’s easy to forget to take care of your home: Earth. The non-profit Green Light New Orleans helps residents do their part to help save our money, city, and planet through tackling three major problems: energy, food, and water.
The numbers are impressive, since its founding by Andreas Hoffmann in 2006, Green Light New Orleans has installed 220 rain barrels, 550 gardens, and 600,000 light bulbs, impacting over 27,000 houses in the Greater New Orleans Area. Through the non-profit, residents can apply to have Green Light volunteers install Compact Fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs in their homes at no cost (they also provide gardens and rain barrels for a small fee). Switching to CFLs saves 75% of the electricity used by a household, and through their work, Green Light has offset 266 million pounds of CO₂.
Unlike a majority of cities, New Orleans faces a unique problem: flooding. “I have kids. I want my children and my future grandchildren to be able to continue to live in New Orleans. Because we have so many challenges, it’s important to understand the way we deal with water,” says Executive Director, Andreas Hoffmann. Using rain barrels as well as depaving unnecessary concrete allows the water to be absorbed by the soil on your property rather than flooding into the streets. Hoffmann says, “The conversation has to change to ‘How to keep water from going into the city’, rather than relying on the pumps to remove it. Everyone can participate.” To that end, Green Light New Orleans supplies and installs rain barrels for a small fee to area homeowners. Of course, as this is New Orleans, these aren’t just ordinary barrels–they’re painted by local artists and volunteers.
Any age- from kids to adults- can volunteer to work with the non-profit, but Green Light focuses on educating kids about the importance of sustainability. Through learning and volunteering, kids can learn the best ways to take care of their city and planet. “The most important part is that the kids understand what they are doing–they have to think so that they can take care of the future generations as well,” says Hoffmann.
Hannah Bond is an intern with nola family magazine.