creating a sustainable neighborhood

10 Steps for Creating a Sustainable Neighborhood

Ever notice acres of land once populated with critters are now the site of a manufacturing warehouse? Perhaps nearby creeks look less lively, as well. The local environment is changing — and not always for the better. Everyone in a community is responsible for making their neighborhood more eco-friendly. Learn what’s exacerbating the climate crisis and how to fight it as an empowered community in order to create a sustainable neighborhood.

creating a sustainable neighborhood

1. Get to Know Your Neighbors

The tech age, COVID-19 and numerous other factors have made humans more insular. People spend more time alone now than ever before and habits from generations past have gone by the wayside, like getting to know your neighbors. You can only create sustainable communities by forging equally well-intended relationships. That’s how knitting a climate- and goal-centric community begins.

Introduce yourself to everyone and locate like-minded people. Nurture these relationships to catalyze a green movement. The monumental task of designing a climate-aware community feels more manageable with support and collaboration. It promotes unified growth and accountability in the face of eco-anxieties.

2. Share Resources

Does everyone in the cul-de-sac need an 8-foot ladder or riding lawn mower? What if one person grew enough tomatoes to share and the house across the street perfected cucumbers? Maybe someone can fix garage doors, while another is good for providing sound tax advice.

These scenarios all have one thing in common — they lower carbon emissions by taking money away from the most destructive organizations. Reducing consumerism and reliance on corporations means communities become greener and more self-sufficient. It requires mutual generosity and equal contributions so everyone benefits.

3. Start Small

Getting a sustainable neighborhood started is the hardest part — maintaining momentum is the most rewarding. Start with small goals, like setting up a community garden or trash clean-up event. Then, expand into new horizons, such as advocating for a municipal compost program or asking grocery stores to stock imperfect foods.

4. Vote

Rallying eventually leads to political action. Writing to your representatives, making phone calls and voting for green regulations and legislative action is the most significant way to gather as a community. Hold meetings to increase awareness on green topics up for a vote or collaborate to put more eco-related issues on ballots, such as:

  • Expanding public transportation
  • Protecting natural lands and resources
  • Enforcing stricter corporate environmental standards
  • Public funding for expanded renewable energy or EV charger access

5. Promote Climate Education

Climate education is optional in most schools in the U.S., which means Earth’s next generation of stewards is missing out on a critical foundation. They may not be learning about endangered species, water conservation, e-waste and everything in between. If you’re an educator or parent, speak with boards and advocate including these topics in curricula. 

6. Support Local

Sustainable neighborhoods shop at the family-owned, corner market instead of a chain dollar store trying to run such stores out of business. Small businesses should source materials from artisans or nearby experts, instead of getting international shipments. Shopping local keeps economies boosted, while lowering carbon emissions.

7. Rewrite the Rules

Too many communities have rules that actively dissuade people from being environmentally friendly. For example, many HOAs don’t want residents to put up solar panels because they are deemed unattractive, which raises worries about reducing property values. Starting petitions and making voices heard to combat these unfair establishments strengthens eco-communities.

8. Stay Positive

Environmental news and conversations are usually fear-inducing, but creating a sustainable neighborhood means choosing climate optimism instead. Creating a positive atmosphere and celebrating any climate progress keeps morale high. 

It empowers people making contributions of all shapes and sizes, which is important for fostering community and growth mindsets. It does everything from volunteering to house people after a natural disaster to restoring a city park.

9. Acclimate to Native Species

People must know what animals and plants belong. Planting the wrong plant or tree invites invasive species or new predators, endangering areas. Hosting public seminars at libraries, distributing information in online groups and educating one another are essential for neighbors to become familiar with what flourishes and nourishes their region.

10. Appreciate Nature

Sustainable mindsets form alongside a respect for nature. The thread keeping environmentally aware communities together is an appreciation for the Earth and everything on it. Motivations can easily dissolve without this natural connection. Encouraging environmental tourism, continued education and curiosity around nature is the best thing for a community’s sustainable development.

Eco-Communities of the Future

It’s time to step out of our comfort zones into a more communicative and environmentally focused future. One community’s journey may not feel like it has a huge impact on the world’s climate progress, but imagine if 100, 1,000 or 10,000 neighborhoods cared to the same degree. The planet would be on its way to a happier species.

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