Sustainable living is a lifestyle that extends far beyond the family recycle bin. While reducing your own ecological footprint (or your family’s) is a good start, it really takes a community-wide effort. Confining green living to the narrow scope of just your own family view is actually contrary to the nature of our environment. Each ecosystem is its own community, and all the inhabitants have specific jobs they fulfill to maintain balance for all. Our own communities are like that, and when we bring green living to a community, we help families and our own ecosystem become better balanced. Here are some ways to bring the green lifestyle to your own neighborhood, town, and society.
Reconnect to your community.
You can’t reach people or introduce change to them when you are disconnected from them. Life happens and when you are juggling work, family, kids, and other responsibilities, it may be hard to remember your neighbors. Carve out some time, perhaps a few hours each week, to reconnect with neighbors and community. Make it a family project.
Shop local businesses.
Supporting local business not only puts money back into the community, it is also a demonstration of your personal commitment to your community. It takes you from simply a neighbor, to an influencer.
Buy from local farms.
This keeps resources flowing in your community, helps reconnect you with neighbors, and gives you access to fresher, healthier food. Many local farmers sell their products at farmers’ markets, which are usually closer, thus reducing your food miles. There may be a community garden nearby. If your local area doesn’t have one of these resources, it may be a good project to explore.
Start a carpool.
One of the best ways to reduce your own carbon footprint is limiting car use. Extend that to your neighbors by starting a carpool. Plan carpools for going to work, taking the kids to school, or grocery shopping. Even if just two people ride together, that’s one less car on the road.
Start a biking or walking group.
Combine fitness with limiting car use and you have an opportunity for some healthy family fun. Walking or biking is a great way to get fit, bond with family, and reduce your carbon footprint. Don’t limit outings to just your own family, though, start a biking or walking group. While reconnecting with neighbors, you are also encouraging a healthier lifestyle for them, and helping the environment. It could lead to more people choosing to bike or walk to places, as well.
While going green is a fairly well known concept, many people don’t have a full understanding. Their perception may be more fanatic than realistic. As you pave the way to take your community to a greener way of living you are going to have to do a little educating now and then. Distribute information, hold meetings, or host workshops so that people can learn more and experience the lifestyle in a hands-on, personal way.
Encouraging your community to go green is a wonderful idea, but you can’t force people to do things they don’t want to do. If you have some who are resistant, don’t force or guilt them into joining in. Step back, keep on working alongside your neighbors, and let your actions tell the story. When they see the good your project is doing, many will come around. When they do, be there with a smile and an encouraging word—and get back to work.