Eco-friendly living has become much more popular and mainstream in the past decade or so. People are realizing that now, more than ever, we need to shift the focus back to sustainable living. Living more simply and in tune with nature is better not just for the environment, but also for us. As a family, we’re always looking for things we can do to help the environment as well as teach our kids all about the natural world and how to conserve.
By taking simple steps to green our communities, we can easily see how connected we are to the environment and how much of an impact even tiny steps can have on making the planet a greener place.
10 Simple Ways to Green Your Community
This list of 10 easy ways to make your community greener are ones that anyone can put into action right away, and are also fun to do with the whole family.
- Buy Local – This one is huge. Supporting local farms is so important to us. Buying local means you’re reducing the amount of carbon emissions it takes for food to get to you, while also helping fellow community members. Make a point to chat with the farmers or workers at your next visit to the farmer’s market. You can learn so much, and I think it’s awesome to be able to talk to the people who actually grew my food. Along with farmer’s markets, you can shop at stores that make a big effort to stock locally and scope out local farms where you can even buy directly from. This doesn’t have to be focused only on farms either. Try shopping at local stores for as much as you can 🙂
- Connect with Nature – Look for the green spaces and other natural areas and get out in them as much as possible. Use the local trail systems to walk, hike or bike. Plan picnics in parks. Organize play dates in outside spaces. Get the family out on regular walks. While you’re outside, you’ll become more in touch with nature and can encourage those around you to join in as well.
- Ditch the Car – If you live in a community with a great public transit system, or in an area where you can easily walk to amenities, think about ditching the car, even once in a while. Try to plan specific days where you get out on your feet, your bike, or even public transit to reduce the amount of emissions you’re putting into the air. Not relying on the car also helps to slow down days, which can be so beneficial for all of us. Plus, family bike rides are awesome.
- Start an Eco Club – Why not start your own environmental club? You can meet up with like-minded individuals and probably even make some awesome new friends while you’re at it. When we first moved here, I joined a local eco moms group, which was great as it let me connect with other moms who had similar ideas as myself and we always discussed green living and natural parenting. Start your own eco parents group or if you’re not a parent, just a regular eco club. Plan for hikes, park meet-ups, trash pick-ups, and other events that help green the community. If you don’t have time to start your own, chances are there is already a local environmental group where you live. Whether it’s a small independent one or a chapter of a larger environmental organization, think about joining.
- Organize a Trash Pick-Up – It drives me crazy when we’re out for our daily walk and I see discarded cups or other pieces of plastic littering the sidewalk or lawns. Even more so when I see it piling up on a beach. Plastic pieces are so detrimental to wildlife, especially birds and fish. Organize a trash pick-up day with a group of friends, your neighbours or even a small group of family members. Bring bags and gloves and head to an area like a big park or a beach, where you can spend just 30-60 minutes helping green the community by picking up garbage. When others see you doing this, it will encourage them to think about where they’re leaving their own garbage and hopefully even entice them to pitch in!
- Compost – It’s amazing how much waste can be diverted from landfills simply by composting. Our city unfortunately doesn’t have a compost pick-up system, which is so disappointing, and something many of us are hoping happens soon. When we were living in Toronto though, we found ourselves putting out hardly any garbage due to the amount we composted. Now, we use our backyard composter, but many people don’t have their own or aren’t in a position to have one (i.e. apartment living). If you have the ability to compost in your own yard, do it! It’s a great way to help the environment. If your town doesn’t have a compost pick-up, this is a great issue to bring up to your local council or government, pressuring them to put one in place.
- Join a Community Garden – There’s nothing like getting dirty in soil to reconnect with nature. Growing your own food is so incredibly rewarding. I absolutely love community gardens as they bring the community together and encourage people to live more sustainably. Community gardens also help green the community with the abundance of rich soil and fresh veggies, not to mention the plots saved specifically for this purpose. Find one near you to join or else start your own:)
- Pick Your Own Food – In the warmer months, we love going berry picking. You might not even know that tons of farms open their fields to pick-your-own, from cucumbers to strawberries. It’s a great way to connect in your local community while supporting the local farmers. Pick Your Own is such a great resource for finding PYO farms in numerous countries.
- Recycle Your Goods – Have an old computer monitor or phone that you’re no longer using? What about batteries or CFL light bulbs? Make sure you’re discarding these items in a safe, proper place. All cities should have a specific place or drop-off boxes where you can leave these. Many hardware stores also have old battery and light bulb boxes. If you’re just getting rid of something you no longer want but is still usable, try to recycle it first by putting it online (Kijiji and Craig’s List are both awesome) or donating it to your local charity or thrift store. Think before trashing an item to try to keep our landfills from piling up even more. Another awesome way to get rid of things is to host a monthly swap. Meet up with others and swap all your goods. You never know who might be looking for your used toaster or some outgrown kids clothes!
- Get Political – Use your voice to make sure your community council members are doing everything they can to help the environment. From planning more green spaces to offering incentives for eco-building, there is so much that council members can do. Make your voice heard by reminding them of the role they play in greening the community.