FAIRFIELD — “Raise money. Save money” was the subject of a sustainable living presentation given by a knowledgeable team of collaborating organizations benefitting Operation Hope of Fairfield.

The community came together last Wednesday evening to learn about sustainable living choices and to support Operation Hope. A team of local “green” organizations including Trinity Solar, the Fairfield Sustainable Task Force, the Sustainable Fairfield Youth Group, Pollinator Pathway, and New England Smart Energy, provided valuable information on how simple everyday lifestyle changes can make a difference in your carbon footprint, creating a lasting impact on our environment.

“We put the event together tonight so we could spread the word on how important it is for making sustainable choices in your lifestyle,” said event organizer Lori Scala, Trinity Solar, Stewardship Program Manager CT. “I have been working with Operation Hope with a fundraiser through solar energy. We are reaching out to and educating the community on solar power. For every person we sit down with and educate about solar, we donate one hundred dollars to Operation Hope. If we end up putting solar up on their roof, we donate $1,000. Tonight we aren’t only focused on solar, I wanted to reach out to the community about other ways they can be more sustainable too. We want to get the word out, it’s simple things, don’t use a straw, recycle, we are in trouble right now and it’s important - we really need to make a difference.”

“It’s great to see how many people are committed to protecting our community from a sustainable perspective,” said Carla Miklos, Executive Director of Operation Hope of Fairfield. “There are so many ways people can participate and save money too.”

“I’m excited about the partnership Trinity Solar has with Operation Hope and the way they benefit nonprofit organizations, it’s a win win model,” said Scott Thompson, chairman of the Sustainable Fairfield Task Force who spoke of Top Ten Tips for a sustainable lifestyle. “For the town we are looking for every way we can to raise awareness about how easy it is to go solar, cost effective, good for the planet and good for our air quality. There are also incentives offered. We suggest residents have a home energy audit done, New England Smart Energy in Fairfield is here tonight and they are great. We suggest people get involved; there are so many great organizations that advocate for our planet and when they have members, that makes our collective voice heard all the more powerfully.” Thompson added that driving electric vehicles, recycling and eating less meat also help.

Scala said, “Last year Trinity installed our 50,000th residential install, so last year alone we did over 10,000 — that equates to about 25 million trees being planted and taking 12,000 cars off the road.”

“We are seeing actual manifestations of climate change and climate devastation all around us,” said Rabab Hussain, Sustainable Fairfield Task Force member. “Between the huge fires in Australia, the hurricanes and global warming all over the world, there is so much impact and we are concerned our governments world over aren’t taking charge so we feel it’s important to fire citizens up to take charge on a small level, to think globally but act locally.”

The Town of Fairfield’s Sustainability Plan is ambitious and is run largely by a group of citizen-volunteers working in cooperation with Town officials and other stakeholders to advance the broader use of clean, renewable energy sources town-wide, helping to safeguard the town’s natural environment, and make Fairfield a more sustainable community. Dozens of action areas that have an impact on Fairfield’s environmental health, quality and sustainability have been targeted as focus areas with specific goals.

“We want the entire Fairfield community to engage with and to help shape our Towns sustainability efforts and so we strongly recommend residents offer their comments and ideas.” (www.fairfieldcleanenergy@gmail.com).

“I am here as chair of the Fairfield Forestry Committee, we are the lead organization for the regional program called the Pollinator Pathway,” said Mary Hogue. “We are promoting organic land care to bring back the pollinators, without pollinators we wouldn’t have food or those gorgeous flowers and trees. Oak trees are the host plant for 534 caterpillars, trees all have flowers.”

Fairfield’s future, our youth, too are leading the way with green efforts within the community. The Sustainable Fairfield Task Force (SFTF) newly added an energetic youth group component. The Sustainable Youth CT (SYCT) Group, comprised of student representatives, has launched a sustainable mission of their own and is working with area restaurants to cut down on the use of plastics in an initiative called, “Plastic Straw Free Ct” which encourages reduction in restaurant’s use of plastics.

Member Asad Syed, a Fairfield Woods Middle School student, spoke during the event of sustainability and the changes residents can make. “I wanted to be a part of the movement to help save our planet. We’re showing others, that despite our age, youth are capable of making an impact in the fight against climate change. If you throw out plastic instead of putting it in the recycling, it can impact our oceans, if you eat meat, that can impact our skies (methane gas). I want people to know if you do make that one little change you can impact the world and if you keep making those changes, little by little, eventually you can save the world.” Fairfield’s schools too have joined the efforts and are in the process of making greener changes.

Trinity Solar, in keeping with their Stewardship Program, will contribute $100 to your organization when a member sits with a consultant, $1,000 to your organization when a member has solar installed and $500 to your organization and $500 to a referrer for installs outside your organization. “We are grateful to Trinity Solar for the creative way people can support Operation Hope just by learning more!”, said Miklos.

The SFTF, which was formed to encourage community action in support of putting Fairfield on the path to using clean renewable energy sources, said they provide support for Town practices and projects that can help Fairfield manage its growth to safeguard the health of its environment, ensure the reliability and economical use of its natural resources and preserve the quality of life of its residents — today and for the future. Visit www.fairfieldct.org/stsf for more information.