Five Tips for Sustainability in Your Own Community


Think global and act local. That’s a motto you have heard me say on my radio show and have read in my column many times before. But what you may not know, it originated with Patrick Geddes, a Scottish urban planner in the early 20th century. Thinking globally means to take the more than 7 billion people who live on the planet Earth into consideration. And, thus, acting locally means we all need to become more active participants in what is being done. Simply, we need global action to be guided by local demands.

Too often, businesses and individuals focus on big goals—i.e., how can I make a lasting difference in the world? While that vast vision is important, the way we go about that effort is in our own homes and communities. And, so, I want to challenge you today to consider sustainability in your own community.

Let’s return for Geddes for a moment to see the impact he made and then I will give five ways I believe we can all encourage sustainable living in our own community. As a regional planner, Geddes transformed some of the worst urban areas through a spiritual approach that was low cost while still paying attention to detail. He focused on small specific changes that made a copious impact.

As such, a sustainable community then needs to continually adjust to meet the needs of its residents, while continuing to focus on the environment for future generations. It is a case of small changes making an immense difference. Let’s look at just a few ways small changes can reshape our own communities.

Shop locally. This can include shopping for goods or purchasing food. Maybe consider joining a CSA (community-support agriculture) program. Here you pay an upfront cost and will receive produce straight from a local farm. That means helping support our local farmers as much as possible and eating more of the locally grown crops seasonally. Food thought: Have you ever considered a plant-based diet?

Create a garden and compost bin. How you cultivate and dispose of food has a considerable impact on the environment around us. Perhaps consider a garden in your backyard or join an urban garden. If not a garden, maybe a compost bin to dispose of your leftovers. It all makes a significant difference. Soil thought: How much you protect the soil and cover your crops will determine the success of your garden.

Plant a tree. As trees grow, they help the climate by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing it in trees, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. A full-grown tree cleanses the air of more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. You can improve your environment just by planting a tree. Tree thought: Even the smallest of tree will contribute, but you must plant it.

Consider your transportation. Maybe walk, bike, carpool, or consider a hybrid or EV (electric vehicle). Transportation leaves an enormous carbon footprint and if you can do a more environmentally friendly method of transportation, it could make a sizable impact. Mobility thought: It’s all about one step at a time.

Get involved. Consider a cause in your own community. Join an organization, volunteer for a good cause, or simply walk around and pick up waste in your community. We don’t have to wait for Earth Day to do these good deeds. They can make a difference all year long. Community thought: It takes a village.

All this to say, we need to think global and act local. What are you doing in your own community to make a difference in the world?

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