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Throughout this month, Washington Informer contributor Curtis Knowles—you may know him as the creator of stellar news segments on WIN-TV—went around the District to ask more than 20 people what they do to protect the environment. The answers he received included an incredible list of ideas, and I want to share a few that resonated with me:

  • Use a reusable water bottle & get a faucet water filter so you can fill it with tap water
  • Whenever possible, take public transit, walk or carpool rather than drive alone
  • Participate in community cleanups and tree plantings
  • Turn off lights when you’re not in the room, and use LED lights 
  • Get rooftop solar panels
  • Enjoy & appreciate nature, and teach the youth to do the same

What inspired me about the responses Curtis received was their range: from the easy-peasy stuff, like turning lights off, to the big deal investments, like adding solar panels to the roof. Every piece of it matters. We all have to do what we can to protect our communities and our planet. 

And the planet needs a lot of protecting. Climate change is very real, and it’s already changing our world; our children’s world will feel drastically different from our own, especially if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels within the next few years. The plastic and other waste that we throw away never truly disappears. Infuriatingly, the worst impacts of these problems on our health and livelihoods will not fall on the worst polluters. They will fall, instead, on the same communities that have nearly always faced the heaviest burdens. 

When I think about protecting our earth, the threats it faces can sometimes feel heartbreaking and overwhelming. Yet, since I joined the Informer in June, I’ve found inspiration and deep, deep joy in connecting with dozens upon dozens of people doing work in the environmental space. Some are educators, scientists, artists, activists. Many are parents. 

Recently, I spoke with some folks from a community group in Southeast. They’re fighting for a tiny green space in their neighborhood. It’s the place where their children play and have played for decades, and these neighbors hold close to it. Talking to them showed me why this year’s theme—which the Informer is celebrating alongside groups around the globe—is “Invest in Our Earth” rather than “Protect Our Earth.” 

We want protection for our communities, our families, our children. But protection is only the beginning of what we want for them. We want investments so that they can thrive. We want them to be cherished and held close. To be loved.

Protecting our planet is protecting our communities, families and children. And loving our Earth is loving them, too. 

In this sustainability supplement, I hope you can find inspiration in even more ways that people, organizations and communities invest in our Earth. Some of my favorites include D.C.’s school gardens program, which Sam P.K. Collins writes about, and the amazing history of the first Earth Day, which James Wright discusses. 

And if you or someone you know has something to share about what investing in our earth means to you—please reach out! You can find me on Twitter at @KR_Benjamin or at



Kayla Benjamin covers climate change & environmental justice for the Informer as a full-time reporter through the Report for America program. Prior to her time here, she worked at Washingtonian Magazine...

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