The environmentalism debate is widely characterized by hard and fast division. Need an example? Two words: climate change.Yet, what if in the midst of public division, more and more areas of environmental bipartisanship are quietly appearing?

What’s uniting us? Kitchen table environmentalism.

While many might think that the left has had a monopoly on environmental issues for the past several decades, that’s not quite true. Yes – liberals may have been more successful at passing policy initiatives (and overreaching while doing so, if I might say) and capturing the public eye, but conservatives have always been involved in environmentalism.

Benji Backer, president of the American Conservation Coalition, put it well when he commented:

“Conservation is inherently conservative. Hunters, fishers, outdoorsmen, hikers – that’s a large chunk of conservatives and we know that conserving land is important, we understand the importance of public lands and private lands, and the government not being too intrusive but also having necessary protections.”

The problem is not that conservatives have been uninvolved or ineffective – the problem is that we have focused on divisive issues as our main agenda for too long. There will always be a split over climate change, the effectiveness of the Environmental Protection Agency, and energy subsidies. If we want to facilitate actual impact, we can’t put the primary focus on the environmental issues that politically divide us.

We must focus on the ones where we can reach some sort of agreement. We must focus on issues that aren’t driven by Washington politicians but are driven by neighbors sitting around kitchen tables, hashing out the problems they are all facing.

Kitchen table environmentalism.

Yes, the larger problems need solutions as well; we will have to do talk about the EPA, climate change, and energy subsidies. But, if we abandon the kitchen table issues in favor of the headline forming ones, we will continue spinning our wheels while the lands and creatures of our country keep facing the same problems.

Let’s talk about declining honeybee populations and what we can do to boost them. Let’s talk about public land management and how it should best be handled. Let’s talk about local land conservation, and listen to the folks who are uniquely knowledgeable about the handling of their own state. Let’s talk about green innovation.

Too many decades have passed thinking that the best route of protecting the environment starts in Washington. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We need grassroots environmental solutions, not bureaucratic ones.

Want environmental change that has deep, well grounded, realistic roots? That type of change starts at the kitchen table.

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