Sustainability at the nuclear level is no doubt easier than building a sustainable community. You’ve already got the basics down with your own family — from recycling aluminum tin cans and using compostable plastic. Your entire family has already mastered the basics of tackling sustainability at this level.
Now, however, you want your immediate community to be a part of it, but it’s no easy task. It’s not just a matter of calling up your next-door neighbors and hoping they could also adopt a sustainable lifestyle. And no, being too boisterous about your cause by staging meat-free demonstrations in local fast-food restaurants won’t help either.
Needless to say, much about sustainable community living depends on the entire community, as the name suggests. Agreed, that a single person may provide the fuel for collective action, but it takes work. Not to mention that there are other stakeholders who are already in the motions of sustainability — think the homeowners association, neighboring communities, and even your other residents.
This is why developing a sustainable community rests in the hands of everyone involved — be it the mayor, town hall chief, children, local government, and other institutions involved in the community. Strong local communities are engaged and follow clear objectives on sustainability from the get-go. It may be difficult to achieve, but the main thing is that everyone must be on board with any project geared towards this cause. Here are 10 simple ways to achieve that.
No sustainable community will be complete without any practice of energy conservation. Aside from the simple conservation of energy resources, such communities must be aware of any current and emerging studies on the use of renewable resources. This means staying away from fossil fuels, coil, natural gas, or oil. Instead, there should be a movement towards more renewable sources, such as solar, geothermal, wind energy, and so on.
By making this decision, communities aspiring for sustainability can reduce their reliance on coal, gas, and other non-sustainable sources. Heads of local government units can implement policies and regulations to that effect. For example, they could finance gas station projects that use clean fuel.
Another example is that any ongoing construction project should be completed in the fastest timetable possible. Doing this can contribute to less energy usage, efficiency, and occupancy for the residents.
Practice Waste Reduction
The average American household will produce almost 20 pounds of waste daily — to put things into perspective, this accounts for a significant chunk of the almost 140 million tons of waste that goes to the landfills.
Part of what makes up this trash includes recyclable materials, but not every single household will be mindful of what they throw out. Not to mention the lack of education on the different types of waste produced and the nuances of each — i.e: recyclable, compostable, non-biodegradable, etc.
Much of this confusion can be addressed by promoting eco-friendly waste management strategies. Curbside pick-up for trash, for example, can be complemented by the provision of separate waste bins with proper labels. With this, any biodegradable waste that goes into specific color-coded trash or any discarded PET bottles will be recycled. It all boils down to how well a community is able to publicize such efforts and get everyone on board.
Promote Local Businesses
The lifecycle of a single piece of trash can undergo several stages. In steel manufacturing, for example, the process always starts off with sourcing raw iron ore, which is metallurgically cleaned, treated, and fabricated before it becomes a customized car part. The same is true for the farm-to-table journey; the level of sustainability depends on how much energy has been used up and other ethical considerations that were involved in the end-consumer product.
That being said, the local business makes up part of the backbone of any sustainable community. Note that corporations account for a significant portion of trash and global greenhouse emissions. This is mainly due to unsustainable practices and heavy reliance on non-renewable manufacturing.
Compare this to local businesses, who are more likely to source their resources from local industries — be it agricultural, manufacturing, construction, and the like. Communities must be able to encourage the local population to patronize local enterprises, particularly those that get their raw materials or ingredients from nearby farms and suppliers.
Build Green Spaces
Much of the urban landscape to date is mired with inefficient modes of transportation, congested roads, and absence of civilian walk spaces. Communities built in such environments may find the task of sustainability overwhelming — what with the existing status quo — but designing and building green spaces may be a good start.
Both local and private entities can collaborate to facilitate the building of various kinds of green projects, such as playgrounds, parks, or even something as simple as residential greenery. These locations do more than just add a layer of greenery and beauty to any community, but they also serve as safe havens for wildlife and other kinds of habitat to flourish.
For the public’s benefit, green community spaces also encourage physical activity, promote social interaction, improve flood management, and contribute to sustainable community growth.
When designing any kind of sustainable community, efficient transportation should also be in mind. Wide, spacious roads are indeed a mark of urban development, but there should also be avenues for other modes of travel for the everyday community.
More than just constructing roads that vehicle owners can benefit from, sustainable communities should focus on building commute-friendly spaces. This can be done by creating a bike lane, encouraging people to use this over fuel-powered vehicles when traveling short distances. Local organizations could also be a force for change in this regard — they could set up public bike rental stations all throughout the community. As simple as it sounds, it’s a great way to promote less energy-intensive ways of moving from one location to another, while also engaging in physical activity.
Publicize Project Results
It needs no saying but the public plays a crucial role in the realization of any sustainable community. Whenever a new project has been successfully completed, they should be the first few key people to hear about the news and any positive impacts the project has had on the community.
Publicizing project results is not just a way to become more transparent on outcomes and finances to the residents, but rather it demonstrates just how impactful their actions can be.
When community residents see that they could also be a force for good that other communities can emulate, the more they will be encouraged to maintain sustainable lifestyles for the good of the entire community.
A sustainable communityhas one thing that sets itself apart from other kinds of communities — it values collective action. While compounded individual actions do lead to a positive, overarching result, it can only be possible with collaboration and being proactive about sustainable practices.
Aspiring communities can start adopting a more environmentally friendly and sustainable lifestyle even as early as now. From simple actions, such as using a bike to visit local businesses to implementing green projects, the elusiveness of this almost-fantasy ideal will no longer be.