Shedd Aquarium Leader Shares Easy Ways to Take Action in Your Community to Help the Environment

Daily news about the state of our planet can be disheartening. Global warming, threatened wildlife, polluted oceans, natural disasters, deforestation and fresh water depletion barely scratch the surface of the environmental issues we’re facing as a society.

If you’ve ever thought “what can I do, in my little part of the world, to make things better?” applying an environmentally responsible lens to everything you do, from how you spend your money to the actions you take in your neighborhood or community, can have a bigger impact than you might think.

As part of a broader discussion about sustainable living with leading eco thought leaders: we talked to Andrea Densham, a senior director of policy for the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, about the steps we can take in our communities to make a positive impact on the environment. 

The Time Is Now

Densham says we are currently in a pivotal “moment in time” to take action together to enact change. Densham points out that we need enough safe and protected places for the aquatic wildlife in our waters, as well as a stable and sustainable environment to inhabit today and for generations to come.

Densham and her team at Shedd meets with policy holders regularly to present science-based solutions, but “we also need the help of our society to enact changes. Now is the time to think about what we can all do within our local municipalities, with business owners and with youth who are on the forefront of civic engagement.”  

Andrea Shedd Aquarium, going green webinar, sustainability

Three ways to create impact on a community level:  

  1. Commit to moving towards “reuse.” One of the important components of reuse is to figure out a way to move away from single-use plastic. Unfortunately, not all plastic is recyclable, and even if it is, we often don’t recycle it well. Plastic goods are made out of petroleum and their production is a carbon-heavy process. 
  2. Encourage businesses you work for and those you patronize to move towards reuse. If and when they do, acknowledge and thank them for doing it. The same goes for your local municipalities. 
  3. Ask your local municipalities and businesses to stop using pesticides and nutrient pollutants. Pesticides can get into water sources, like lakes and waterways, which are harmful to both wildlife as well as humans. Ask these entities to switch to more nature-based and regenerative solutions instead.  

“Each of these things are business decisions as well as individual decisions,” says Densham, “but any business, municipality or NGO can make better decisions on products to use, so I encourage individuals to think through that lens.” 

Going Green 2021: Building Resilience By Living Sustainably was generously sponsored by Blisshaus, Hadley Construction, Valley Memorial Park, Nice Guys Delivery, Garage Solutions and IRG

Watch the full presentation below:


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Donna Berry Glass

Donna Berry Glass is a freelance writer in Marin County who writes mostly about family and kid-oriented topics. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family exploring the natural beauty of Marin, snuggling with her Cavalier King Charles spaniel while reading a good book or whipping up something delicious in her space-challenged kitchen. Donna is a supporter of the California Academy of Sciences, a world class science museum and research institution, and the Institute on Aging which provides much needed services to seniors and disabled individuals.