The driving force behind Green Light New Orleans has always been the idea that small, individual actions, repeated many thousands of times by thousands of people, can add up to make a huge difference. This was true of Green Light’s first program, which empowered individual households to the point that more than 600,000 light bulbs were installed at 27,000 homes and businesses in the New Orleans area over a 12-year period.
It’s still true, and we’re seeing it play out again with the rain barrel program. Last year nearly 300 New Orleans residents decided to begin taking more responsibility for their stormwater and had a rain barrel installed at their home.
Catching 50 or 100 gallons of water on your property during a storm where millions of gallons of water make it into the city’s stormwater system may not seem like much, but if we have the same success with rain barrels that we had with light bulbs, we could install two barrels at 27,000 homes, and we’d be catching 2.7 million gallons of water during each rain event. That helps prevent our drainage system from being inundated during floods, and releasing the water after the storm passes helps prevent subsidence, which is causing our ground to sink and is exacerbating flooding.
So how do we ensure Green Light is able to continue doing this work and building this movement? Through small, individual actions. That starts with committing to a monthly Green Light membership. For as little as the cost of a cup of coffee each month, you can help give Green Light New Orleans a steady financial foundation so we can focus on creating a more resilient, sustainable city. We’re asking if you can spare just $3 per month to help make your city more sustainable. Can you spare $3, $5, $10 or more per month to help your city?
Lastly, we don’t want anyone to think Green Light New Orleans has the market cornered on flood prevention tools. We’re not silly enough to think rain barrels are the only tool New Orleans needs. If we’re going to truly ensure this city has a vibrant and sustainable future, we’ll need rain barrels, depaving, tree-planting, rain gardens and improved grey infrastructure. There are many great organizations throughout this city that are helping to take on this problem, including The Urban Conservancy, SOUL, the Water Collaborative and others. If you want to help make a difference in your city, consider donating to or volunteering with one of these great organizations.