As an environmentally conscious person, your family is likely already doing a lot to reduce your carbon footprint. However, you’re just one family in a vast sea of others in your area, so how much difference are you really making? What if you could get other people in your neighborhood involved in your efforts? What if you could create an entire community of eco-minded people?
A Pew Research poll found that 66 percent of people are willing to make some major life changes to reduce their impact on the environment and the possibility of climate change. However, sometimes they just aren’t sure what they can do other than recycling. By forming a community, you can share tips, ideas and help one another in affecting serious change.
- Organize a Community Get-Together
Either invite your neighbors to your home or organize a get-together at a local community center in your neighborhood. Share your heart and soul about saving the environment for future generations and discuss how a group can have a greater impact. Bring a list of resources and future meeting dates to share with attendees. You’ll also want to collect contact information.
- Start a Community Garden
Is there an empty lot or park area you can utilize to start a community garden? A community garden allows neighbors to grow organic vegetables and reduce the need to purchase produce in the store. Store-bought produce may not always be organic and may contain pesticides. Crops grown with chemicals can create run-off in streams.
- Plant Trees at a Community Park
A community park allows you to reserve some space for trees and plants to grow and for neighborhood children to play. Trees add oxygen into the air, improving its overall quality. However, many trees in the United States are under a disease threat. Before you choose what to plant, be aware of the treatments for diseased trees and which ones are disease-resistant.
- Teach Classes
Offer classes to community members on topics such as starting a compost pile, installing solar panels and reducing energy consumption. You may even want to invite guest speakers in to talk about organic gardening or other green topics. Whatever you’ve learned about green living may be a tip someone else can use to start their journey. Be open to other people in the group who want to teach their skills as well.
- Get Group Discounts
Have six neighbors ready to install solar panel systems on their roofs? If you go in with that type of buying power, you can likely get a discounted rate for everyone. Solar panels aren’t the only thing you can get a discount on as a group. Other items might include wind turbines, rain barrels and even recycling bins. Any time you can buy in bulk, you can likely save money.
- Repurpose Swaps
Instead of throwing out those old kitchen chairs, take them to a quarterly neighborhood swap and see if someone else can use them. Anytime you can repurpose an item instead of sending it to the landfill, you are doing two things for the environment. First, you are preventing more waste. Second, you are giving someone an item that is already made instead of them buying a new item that uses precious resources in its production.
- Produce Sustainable Food
In addition to a garden, you can create things such as a community chicken coop. The neighbors can take turns caring for the chickens and also share the eggs that come from the hens. Depending upon the regulations in your community and the space you have, you may even be able to add other options such as goats and cattle. The idea is that everyone takes a turn working and everyone shares in the benefits.
In the United States, owners spend about $900 per month on cars. That cost includes insurance, maintenance, car payment and fuel.
To combat this high cost, create a community carpool program. Get a list of what area of town each neighbor works in and the time of day they work. Then, match up people going to the same area around the same time. While people will have to be a little flexible and perhaps arrive at work a bit early or leave a bit late, the cost savings in fuel will be worth it. In addition, you’ll all be putting less emissions into the air.
- Try Car Sharing
Speaking of automobiles, some communities have started car-sharing programs. Instead of owning a car, you simply go to one of the cars parked on the street and rent it for the amount of time needed. This works particularly well in urban areas where work may be a bike ride away, but you need a car once a week to go visit your elderly grandmother. You then simply pay a rental fee for the amount of time you need to use the car.
You avoid the cost of insurance and car ownership. It is an excellent solution for many people and is also easier on the environment, as you only use the car on special occasions.
These are a few ways you can start an eco-friendly neighborhood and campaign for a better environment for everyone. Share the reasons why you are eco-conscious, and your neighbors are much more likely to get on board with your efforts. Even if they don’t join the community group, they will be more likely to throw their support behind your efforts when you campaign for a car-sharing program or space for a park.
About the author: Emily Folk works as a freelance conservation and sustainability writer. To see more of her work, check out her blog, Conservation Folks, and follow her on Twitter. Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash