Everyone shares the responsibility to help protect the environment and reduce their carbon footprints but individual efforts only go so far. By working together as a community, efforts to reduce our impact on the environment are multiplied.
There are several green communities springing up around the nation where residents work together to reduce their carbon footprint drastically. But even ordinary communities can take simple steps to make their communities greener and set an example.
The bedrocks of living green are to reduce, reuse and recycle, but how can communities become involved in environmental protection?
Reducing how much we use can be translated to a community standard in several ways. Start by going paperless, community newsletters can be sent electronically. Explain in the newsletter that going paperless helps the community reduce its carbon footprint and to please not print the newsletter unless absolutely necessary.
Communities can prioritize adding bike lanes and making sure trails are well maintained and lit to encourage bicycling and walking instead of driving. Bike to Work days are a great way to encourage people to get off the roads once in a while, and save gas.
Community drives to get homes weatherized can help residents green their homes. ConEdison Solutions offers a Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audit kit to get started. Home Owners Associations can be encouraged to approve home efficiency upgrades and renewable energy options such as solar panels.
Communities can find ways to reuse things. Replace paper cups at meetings with reusable mugs. Decorations can be reused and stored away for several years.
Reusing, instead of buying new is a great way to reduce our carbon toll. Community sponsored garage sales can be a great way to help buy less new stuff and get rid of the old without throwing things away.
Community tool libraries or bike trade in programs are a great way to help the community consume less new stuff.
Community wide recycling programs are a great opportunity to make a large difference. By taking recycling community wide, the costs can be kept low for everyone and encourage more people to use it. The community could partner with a recycling company to sponsor recycle days; collect hard to recycle items like motor oil and batteries.
When purchasing new goods, try to look for the use of recycled materials and minimal packaging to minimize new waste and recycle everything possible.
Carbon offset projects can be fantastic community building events and help communities go green. Plants help remove carbon from the air and return oxygen to the atmosphere. Community gardens can allow residents to grow some of their own food. Tree planting and green-scaping will make a community more appealing, too.
Preserving open space in building and zoning plans, especially preserving mature trees and planting new ones helps keep communities healthy.
Communities that come together and find solutions to energy problems make a bigger impact that individuals working alone. Be a leader in your community. Get involved and look for positive ways to help your community preserve the environment.