Letter to the editor: Fight for the climate like a preschooler

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The LENA Project’s Straw-Less Initiative has, with the help of preschoolers, encouraged local restaurants to go strawless or provide alternatives to plastic straws. — The LENA Project on Facebook

By Tricia Windschitl, The LENA (Lessen Empower Notice Act) Project

“Do small things for the Earth and make big things happen.” —Teo, age 5

In 2018, I was led by a group of preschoolers to take on single-use plastic waste in our community. They wanted to protect the Earth and her animals. At the beginning of their campaign, Lucas taped a sign on his back. “Everyone who follows me will see my message. They will tell someone, and they will tell, and they will tell. The end.”

Many local restaurants responded, and the children received a proclamation from Mayor Throgmorton. At the end of that summer, Lucas said, “I know what our next project should be….” Lucas believed in his ability to make change. Lucas was 4 years old.

Four-year-old Lucas, wearing his sign. — courtesy of Tricia Windschitl

The LENA Project was created to keep Lucas’ message visible, and so he would not have to carry it on his back alone. In 2019, we broadened our focus and joined The James Gang to become a nonprofit. The LENA Project aims to encourage sustainable, waste-free and climate conscious actions in Iowa City.

It will take every one of us to create environmental change. We can each do our part by refusing single-use plastic, biking to work, turning down the heat, composting our food waste, etc. In addition, we can join forces to vote, advocate and apply pressure to create systematic changes. Some say that small steps will not be enough to halt climate change or create a better future. Perhaps true, but if we aren’t willing to take small steps, how can we expect those who hold power to take the big steps? And you never know what path that small step will take you down.

Join Lucas and The LENA Project in 2020 to create a community where we all put a sign on our back and take the necessary steps together to create a brighter future and better world.

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