As attention-grabbing slogans go, “More green in your pocket and community” is not too shabby.
“Money always talks,” said aFewSteps.org Technical Team Chair David Director, smiling knowingly outside the Swarthmore SEPTA station with Residential Team Chair and Secretary Beth Murray on a recent sunny afternoon.
“People aren’t motivated sufficiently by a desire to clean up the environment,” Director said. “Everybody says, ‘Yeah I’d love to clean up the environment, love to clean up the air, but I’ve got more important things.’ And everybody does. But when you say, ‘There’s money to be saved,’ then people listen.”
Director, of Nether Providence, and Murray, of Swarthmore, said they hope that message translates through various education and outreach efforts aFewSteps has undertaken in recent years — and that it comes free of the stigma against certain practices that some in the green sector might have imparted in the past.
“(We) absolutely never want to make people feel like they should be doing something other than what they’re doing,” Murray said. “We want to talk to them about what their options are, what they could be thinking about.”
To that end, Murray said aFewSteps has sponsored various workshops, begun working with local houses of worship in a “Biggest Loser” format to cut energy consumption, and has a cadre of “sustainability coaches” with backgrounds in fields like engineering and architecture that can help homeowners put together an action plan aimed at reducing overall energy use.
Unlike a typical energy audit, Director said the coaches might spend two or three hours going over a broader range of ideas — everything from installing energy-saving light bulbs to the food in the pantry or recycling efforts. Anything, in short, that might shave a few wasteful kilowatt hours off the grid, as well as the PECO bill.
All of these efforts are in line with aFewSteps overarching goal, which is to reduce greenhouse gases by 20 percent from 2005 levels among the four communities making up the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District by 2020.