It is often said that Maine is a purple state – which it is, of course, a fact I’m proud of. But even more than purple, Maine is a green state, both figuratively and literally (being the most heavily forested state in the union). As a new gubernatorial administration takes hold, and as climate change causes our ocean to creep up our beaches, I thought I would offer a few millennial’s-eye solutions for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

The largest portion of Maine’s greenhouse-gas emissions comes from transportation. This makes sense – we’re a big, rural state. I myself have a 45- to 50-mile round-trip commute every day (depending on whether or not I stop at Hannaford on the way home).

I propose we create a program, administered through local banks and credit unions, of subsidized, low-interest car loans specifically for purchasing electric or hybrid vehicles, made available to people of all income levels and credit scores. I currently drive a 2006 Subaru Impreza with about 160,000 miles on it, and will most likely have to replace it in a few years, which will involve getting a loan from my credit union (shoutout to Casco Federal).

Now, like a lot of Mainers, I’m a little leery of the idea of driving an all-electric vehicle in a Maine winter (not to mention I am extremely devoted to Subaru ownership). But Subaru’s got a 2019 Crosstrek hybrid vehicle. If all other terms and conditions of the car loans were the same, and getting a hybrid car would shave a few points off my interest rate, you bet I would go for that hybrid! I suspect I’m not alone.

Like many people, I work in an industrial park. Most industrial parks are purely utilitarian – you don’t go there to admire the architecture – and, I’ve noticed, are full of green spaces that aren’t really that green. Big lawns covered in a quarter-inch of grass are better for the environment than asphalt, certainly, but there’s only so much carbon a quarter-inch of grass can absorb, and landscapers have to use gas-belching mowers to keep them trimmed.

It only takes a few trendsetters to make a trend. No gardener can resist a good gardening contest. I think we should combine those two facts and create a contest for best industrial-park climate garden.

The contest could be sponsored by, say, a few local hardware/gardening supply stores and perhaps a newspaper (hint, hint, hint) and include both contests by size – small, medium and large – as well as category: most bee-friendly, most butterflies attracted, best use of native Maine plants. Prizes could include publicity (an above-the-fold photo! think of the prestige!), bragging rights, a statue made by a local artisan and, of course, increased employee satisfaction and productivity. (Looking out at a blank green square is boring. Looking out and seeing wildflowers and birds? So much better!)

Industrial park landlords and landowners, if this idea makes you nervous, remember – if it doesn’t work out, you can always bulldoze over it, and turn your land back to flat and boring. And landscapers, if you worry that a lack of lawn means we won’t need you to mow it – put away the mower and bring out your spades and pruning shears. The gardens will need you more than ever.

Finally, we need to encourage carpools and ride-sharing in rural areas. This means a lot of “synergy” – big business buzzword! – between towns and companies.

For example: Let’s say Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones live half a mile away from each other – Mr. Smith in Derry, and Mr. Jones just over the town line in Treeville. They also work half a mile apart from each other at businesses located in downtown Derry – Mr. Smith at a mechanic’s, and Mr. Jones at the local supermarket. But between them and their jobs is 25 miles of rural driving. How do we connect these neighbors so that they can work out a carpool schedule – Mr. Smith drives Monday and Wednesday, and Mr. Jones Tuesday, Thursday on and Friday, and on the way to the business district where their jobs are located, they pick up Mr. LaPointe and Mr. Allen?

Seems like a job for local chambers of commerce, or perhaps for some civic-minded volunteers with clipboards (and I know for a fact that Maine has no shortage of civic-minded volunteers with clipboards). But for very little overhead, and a little old-fashioned organizational elbow grease, the rewards could be rich: In addition to reducing carbon emissions with fewer vehicles driving every morning, it would also save every carpool participant gas money and help their vehicles last longer (the fewer times an individual vehicle has to drive over a salty, cracked Maine road in the winter, the better). And, of course, it would bring neighbors together, which is what Maine is really all about.

Maine is a green state. Now it’s time to prove it.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainemillennial