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Balancing Self-Sustainability With Community Living

Person planting seedlings in a small flower bed

Balancing Self-Sustainability With Community Living

The need to become a more sustainable society is clearer than ever before. Yet, in an age where making the changes to become more sustainable are highly important, many of us are left wondering exactly what we can do that will make a difference. The need to change is vast, and sometimes it feels like one person could never make an impact.

Fortunately, that mindset is not true at all. Becoming more sustainable at an individual level is pivotal in the global effort to fight climate impacts. And there are a lot of small things that one person can change about their habits that will make a substantial difference.

There are even a lot of community opportunities that can bolster the changes that one person can make, and balancing self-sustainability with community efforts can be a great way to kickstart some positive changes in your local area. Here are some ways you can make it happen.

A More Sustainable You

Becoming more sustainable isn’t necessarily about completely overhauling your life. If you try to change everything at once chances are it will become overwhelming and you’ll find yourself falling back into the same habits. Rather, it is about making small incremental changes that ultimately add up to make a huge difference in your waste and energy outputs.

For example, one small thing that adds up to a big difference is converting from plastic grocery bags to reusable ones. Somewhere between 500 billion and 1 trillion disposable plastic grocery bags are used globally every year, and very few of those get recycled, which means our bags are creating an awful lot of waste. Choosing a reusable bag instead can save hundreds of thousands of bags over your lifetime.

Another way to become more self-sustainable is to grow your own food. Fresh garden produce is fantastic and provides great health benefits with only a bit of a time commitment on your part. Furthermore, gardening profoundly reduces the distance food has to be transported to make it to your plate. A short walk across the yard takes no carbon energy, while storing and transporting produce from across the country/globe can be very intensive.

Community Opportunities

Becoming more sustainable by yourself is great, but there are a surprising number of ways that you can actually get your community involved as well. There are often like-minded, sustainable families in your community that are eager to come together to create a healthier environment. In some ways, working from a community perspective could actually help you achieve your goals of becoming more sustainable more effectively.

A number of highly sustainable communities exist that can be modeled after, though committing to that level of sustainability may be quite difficult. For instance, nearly all highly sustainable communities function off the grid. They do this by installing home solar panels, wind turbines, or capitalizing on small hydro opportunities on nearby creeks. Working towards going off the grid could be something your community works together to achieve.

Many communities are working towards becoming more sustainable and that can even help you in the housing market. For instance, if you strive to make your home more sustainable by doing things such as improving insulation, installing electronics that reduce energy usage, or using native landscaping, you will likely save on electricity costs and your home value will go up. If all of your neighbors also jump on board, the value of the entire community will be benefitted.

Bringing It All Together

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to bring your goals of becoming more sustainable and the community together. Just as it is possible for the whole community to increase home values by going green, there are plenty of other means to capitalize on working together. After all, teamwork makes the dream work!

Perhaps the most significant example is through community gardening. Community gardens can bring people together and help everyone in the neighborhood to bring home fresh produce regularly. In some areas, shared plots are set up in the entire space, while other community gardens have plots for individuals as well as a shared space. Many people love the community aspect because it is easy to trade away veggies that you have an excess of in return for something you didn’t grow. This can help everyone get more bang for their buck and experience a much greater variety of produce.

Your community of like-minded neighbors can also come together to decrease the reliance on traditional transportation methods as well. For instance, you could develop a carpooling strategy that will reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Or you could come together to advocate for safe transportation alternatives such as the development of a bike path that you can use for commuting to and from work.

There are potentially thousands of ways that you can make small, individual changes that improve your sustainability. Coming together with the greater community to achieve sustainability goals can help increase the power of your success. Becoming more sustainable is attainable for all of us, it is just a matter of making the small changes that add up.

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