COLUMBIA — On Saturday afternoon freshmen Edith Lopez and Sterling Summerville trudged through the rain, passing out home weatherization kits that will conserve energy in Columbia resident’s homes.
The MU athletes were participating in the Hip Hop Caucus Clean Energy Now! Tour, a program that promotes the importance of a clean energy economy. Armed with only their sports sweatshirts and handful of kits, Lopez and Summerville made their way throughout North Columbia.
The kits distributed in Columbia's First Ward included:
- A compact fluorescent light bulb that saves about 75 percent less energy than regular bulbs
- A window insulating kit that helps seal in heat and air conditioning in a home (10 to 25 percent of a home’s heating and cooling is lost through windows)
- Adhesive foam tape to reduce heating and cooling fees by stopping drafts and sealing gaps
- Faucet aerator that reduce splash and increase spray velocity while saving water
- Switch and outlet sealers and rope caulk that help stop drafts and help conserve energy
- Water saving shower heads that increase water pressure while using less water
They explained to residents how using energy-conserving products in their homes could lower their utility bills and help sustain the environment for future generations, and they promised the products would require no more than a screwdriver or blow dryer to install.
Most homeowners were welcoming and grateful to receive the products, thanking Lopez and Summerville and readily giving contact information so that the Hip Hop Caucus can follow up to see how successful the products were in Columbia homes.
“It will help out future generations,” Lopez said to one homeowner. “It sounds cheesy, but it’s serious.”
Lopez and Summerville participated in the Hip Hop Caucus Clean Energy Now! Tour as members of Community About Raising Excellence, a community-service based organization to uplift minority athletes at MU.
Lopez liked that CARE catered to minority athletes because as a Latina soccer player, she said she is conscious of a lack of athletes of similar descent. Both Lopez and Summerville were happy to be involved in what they saw as a worthy cause — helping a community in need.
The Hip Hop Caucus mirrors CARE's mission. The non-profit organization encourages youth in urban areas to get involved in political policy. The Clean Energy Now! Tour, is a collaboration between The Alliance For Climate Protection’s Repower America and the Hip Hop Caucus that promotes a clean energy economy to young people and communities of color.
The tour started on Thursday in New Orleans and ends Wednesday in Washington D.C.
Before fanning out into the neighborhood, volunteers gathered at the Fifth Street Christian Church Saturday to listen to community representatives, student activists and program leaders speak about the importance of clean energy before distributing the kits throughout the area.
The Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, spoke about the tour that he said is fighting poverty and pollution at the same time. Yearwood said while the Civil Rights Movement’s fight for equality defined the 20th century, this century will focus on a new movement.
“Our movement for our generation is fighting for existence,” Yearwood said
State Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, said that while he knows that the public is aware of energy issues like global warming and oil dependence he realizes that the importance of energy lies in a simpler need — jobs.
“One of the most compelling reasons for renewable energy is one of the most personal reasons,” said Webber. He added that initiating energy conserving practices reduces bills and creates employment opportunities.
Repower Missouri State Director Andy LaVigne said enacting small changes in the home to conserve energy can dramatically lower one's utility bills. LaVigne also said knocking on doors and providing energy conserving products is the first step to national and economic change when it comes to energy conservation.