Since getting started in 2006, Green Light New Orleans has changed nearly 600,000 light bulbs in New Orleans residents’ homes. That has created savings of $27 million and has cut the city’s CO2 emissions by more than 266 million pounds. This progress would not have been possible without the help of 16,000 volunteers like Nicole and Nick.
Nicole and Nick began volunteering with Green Light over the summer. President Donald Trump had just announced that the nation was exiting the Paris Climate Agreement. Nicole, who hosts a public radio show on WHIV-LP New Orleans, says she and Nick, who recently completed a PhD in public health at Tulane University, were curious about what could be done to combat climate change locally. She reached out to Green Light Executive Director Andreas Hoffmann to get a better understanding of local efforts aimed at combating climate change and reducing CO2 emissions.
Andreas explained that when a lot of individuals take on small actions—replacing light bulbs, installing rain barrels and building vegetable gardens, for instance—the effect can be huge.
That was enough to get the couple involved. They have been consistently volunteering with Green Light ever since.
“Our favorite part of volunteering with GLNO is that we are invited into people’s homes and get a glimpse into how people are living throughout our city,” Nicole said. “People are so kind and appreciative. It has definitely helped us feel more connected to our community.”
Nicole and Nick have made quite an impression on the Green Light clients they have worked with as well. Although the couple does not have any children, many of the residents whose bulbs they have changed have offered baby-sitting services should that ever change.
Nicole and Nick’s experience highlights one of the most unique aspects of volunteering with the light bulb-replacement program: Green Light volunteers get the unique opportunity to interact with New Orleans residents in living rooms, kitchens and garages. What starts off as a simple light bulb-replacement can turn into a cup of coffee and a conversation about how the volunteer and the client ended up in New Orleans, or about which club has the best jazz in the city or who makes the best po’ boy in town.
Nicole and Nick said they keep coming back to Green Light because of the importance of environmental work.
“We want to continue because greener energy both saves money, and is better for the environment,” Nicole said. “We actually give our clients information that describes how many bulbs we installed, how much their carbon footprint will be reduced over the life of the bulb, and what the cost savings will be over time. The more we associate lower costs with reduced environmental insult, the more likely rally people around environmental issues and a better chance of making a positive impact.”