Posts Tagged ‘urban’

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By: Jane Marsh

Living in urban regions presents various challenges to the eco-conscious citizen. When renting an apartment in a ten-story building, it is nearly impossible to influence the consumption patterns of every resident. Though managing utilities and choosing appliances is a distant dream, you can alter your lifestyle to shrink your carbon footprint.

1. Skip the Straw

Our local baristas may stick a straw in our iced coffees without a second thought. The thin plastic tubes allow us to drink with ease and cause environmental degradation. These single-use items are non recyclable, spending hundreds of years in landfills.

Most straws are non-biodegradable and break up into microplastics over time. Storm surges and heavy rain carry microplastics into rivers and the ocean. They disrupt the natural composition of the ocean floor, poisoning aquatic life and the marine ecosystem. Urban residents can limit plastic pollution by asking the barista to hold the straw.

2. Take the Bus

In the city, taking public transportation is ten times safer than driving a car. Taking the bus both limits your likelihood of getting in an accident and shrinks your carbon footprint, as the transportation sector generates 30% of American greenhouse gas emissions.

Nearly 82% of all transportation emissions derive from personal cars and trucks. Buses only account for 6% of the carbon released, making it the greener transportation option. Eco-friendly individuals can leave their car keys at home and hop on the public bus.

3. Practice Sustainable Pet Care

Dogs are lovely city companions, making apartment living feel more like home. Many owners bathe their furry friends too frequently, wasting water and harming their coats. Overbathing can cause hot spots, sores, flaking and itchy welts.

You can decrease your water use and improve your pet’s health by bathing them less often. Biodegradable dog bags also offer a sustainable solution to plastic pollution. Individuals can locate compost bins in their neighborhood to dispose of their used baggies, providing nourishment for the earth.

4. Shop at Thrift Stores

Fast fashion companies generate synthetic textiles out of plastic. When we throw away old clothes composed of this material, they pollute the ocean with microplastics. Rather than placing these articles in the trash or financially supporting their production, you can buy secondhand clothing.

5. Adopt a Flexitarian Diet

Beef production emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. The air pollutant contributes to adverse human health effects and climate change. Adopting a flexitarian diet can significantly shrink one’s carbon footprint.

A flexitarian diet consists of fruit, vegetable and grain consumption, with the occasional mean containing meal. Urban residents can limit their meat intake to increase the sustainability of their lifestyle.

6. Bring Your Own To-Go Container

To-go containers made of recyclable materials may end up in the blue bin without food remnants. For example, if an individual can thoroughly cleanse a pizza box of grease, cheese and crumble, they can place it in the recycling bin.

You can limit this challenge by bringing your own to-go container. Individuals can reuse glass and hard plastic containers for many years, decreasing their production of waste.   

7. Get a Reusable Cup

Single-use plastic coffee cups end up in landfills, contaminating soil, water and harming wildlife. The toxins that leak from plastic containers also cause adverse human health effects, like cancer. City residents can reduce environmental and human harm by investing in a reusable cup.

8. Grow Indoor Plants

Indoor plants may increase the aesthetic appeal of an apartment while filtering air pollution. Plants absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and release clean oxygen. They improve your indoor air quality, helping you breathe easily, and offset your carbon emissions.

9. Transport by Bike

If you live far from a train or bus stop, you can invest in a bike to travel sustainably. You can reduce your carbon emissions by 0.5 tons annually by completing one trip a day by bike. When you travel solely by cycling, your footprint shrinks even further.

You can generate an eco-friendlier transportation method when using a thrifted bike. Rubber production has adverse effects on the environment and patching up tires can reduce negative impacts. Riding a vintage bike can also enhance your style, making you the trendiest cyclist on the road.

10. Make Green Cleaning Products

Conventional, store-bought cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that pollute the air and contaminate the soil. You can make your own eco-friendly cleaning products to reduce your environmental impact.

An all-purpose cleaner that is environmentally safe contains vinegar, water, soap and essential oils. Individuals may fill a reusable spray bottle with a ¼ cup of vinegar, two cups of water and a drop of soap and oil. Shake up the solution, spray and wipe down all surfaces and watch your apartment shine like the top of the Chrysler building.

Small Changes, Big Impacts

Though the eco-friendly methods presented above may seem small, their environmental impacts add up over time. If you are looking to enhance the sustainability of your lifestyle, you can start by adopting a small change, like skipping the straw. When you are ready to make a larger impact, you can hop on a vintage bike for your workday commute. 

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Jane Marsh is an environmental writer. You can keep up with her work on her site Environment.co.

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By Kate Seitz

 

 

Growing up, the extent of my thrift store experience involved sifting through racks of old t-shirts at the Salvation Army. Dated Cleveland Indians gear that perhaps no longer seemed relevant to a disgruntled fan. A cast-off souvenir from Jamaica. An outgrown pee-wee hockey league championship memento. For whatever reason, my girlfriends and I couldn’t get enough of these worn tees, and the more random the motif, the better.
It wasn’t until a few years back that I realized the multi-faceted benefits of thrifting and really came to view it as a means of discovering a wide range of unique items (clothing, home décor, kitchen tools, you name it) that still have plenty of life left, and for a fraction of the off-the-shelf price. I have since vowed to embrace my admiration for all things vintage and recycled and take the time to find distinctive, second-hand items instead of rushing to the nearest mall to buy new.
I’ve stepped foot in pretty much every thrift and consignment store within a 15 mile radius. I’ve hounded Craigslist for many furniture and athletic equipment needs. I’ve discovered a charming cluster of antique stores out in Loudoun County, Virginia. And I’ve even turned up some great vintage shops on Etsy. My favorite finds thus far include a hand painted dish set; my current road bike; various vintage necklaces; a leather couch and matching chair; a beautiful oak-framed mirror dated 1906; and various dollar-a-piece picture frames and flower vases, many of which I used as décor at my wedding reception and are now sprinkled around my apartment. All for a pittance of what it would cost to buy these new.

1) A sample of my thrifted jewelry collection

2) A hand painted dish set I found at an antique store.

 

 

Thrifting sometimes gets a bad rap for being tricky and tiresome. It does indeed require patience to sift through other people’s cast offs. It sometimes can lead to buried treasure, and other times leave you empty handed. But boy, is it a joyous occasion when you dig up a worthwhile piece. To me, giving a second life to thrifted finds is simply recycling what would otherwise end up in a landfill. Our country’s consumer-driven nature constantly bombards us with reasons to buy new, upgrade, purchase the latest and greatest. Some of this may be necessary, and in fact good for innovation and economic growth. But many times, it’s downright wasteful.

These days, whenever I feel the need to make a purchase, I first evaluate whether a thrifted item would fit the bill. This mantra continues to lead me to unique finds that have an interesting history, or that perfectly worn-in feel. It truly is a win-win, both for the environment and the wallet. The next time you’re looking for new workout tees, jewelry, dishware, a new kitchen table…whatever!….I encourage you to first check out the multitude of options out there for buying second hand (Craigslist, Etsy, a local thrift/antique/consignment store, a neighborhood yard sale (my fave, especially in the summertime!), an EcoWomen clothing swap) and see what treasures you uncover. Happy hunting!

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By Vesper Hubbard

Devora kimelman-Block, Jess, Tonya Tolchin, Meredith Sheperd_2

In April, DC EcoWomen hosted a panel discussion for EcoHour on local farming. We heard about kosher meat production from Devora Kimelman-Block (KOL Foods), about private DC gardens from Meredith Sheperd (Love and Carrots), and small-scale produce farming from Tanya Tolchin (Jug Bay Market Garden). These women have all made admirable commitments to sustainable practices that promote the health and well-being of their friends, families, and communities.

Devora started off the talk with her story. Over a year ago she found herself trucking cattle to a kosher slaughterhouse in Baltimore in order to get the food she needed prepared according to her family’s diet. As she was taking these time intensive and costly trips she thought about how the task fit into her own spiritual journey and how the process could be made better. Prior to 2007, when she decided to found her own slaughterhouse, people had to choose between kosher and sustainability. What started as a hobby quickly turned busy and she found investors to help her turn the venture into a full time job. She also commented that people before WWII considered meat to be a treat rather than a daily diet staple. Her company encourages meat minimalism.

Tonya grows veggies, flowers and herbs on an organic farm in Prince Georges County in Maryland. As a child she grew up in a town with one of the best agricultural programs in the country but did not find a lot of personal interest in it. Farming was not considered “cool.” Once in college however she became interested in the subject of food shortages and took a course linking farm ownership with poverty issues. She quickly found her way onto a local farm and food bank and started volunteering her time. After college she came to DC to work with Sierra Club. Once married, she found that she and her husband had an enjoyment for farming and decided to start a farm, an idea that seemed absurd at the time. However after some serious business planning their farm was underway. Tonya remarked that the times of have changed and people are beginning to see the value in local farms and personal agriculture again.

Meredith runs Love and Carrots a local company that starts gardens for people in urban areas. It all started when she moved into a house in the DC area with a great yard but the soil was no good. Her closest community garden had a 2 year waiting list to join. After observing the yard space of her neighbors, she decided to start a business creating gardens in these underused green spaces. She deals with people who have been separated from gardening but want to learn. She commented that people have been culturally removed from the action and concept of personal and local agriculture. Now local farming has become a new and large trend.

There were lots of questions from the audience and some of the tips/answers the ladies offered were to really vet farmers. Ask lots of questions to get to know them especially if you are looking for certain qualities in your food, whether it is organic, sustainability or other standards. Tonya offered that her company/farm offers internships to professionals and students who want a chance to “try on” farming. Devora spoke to being a woman in the Kosher food business and said her gender has not been a sticking point. She is the main point person for her organization so most people know her gender immediately. She also offered that people should start cutting down their diet to eating meat twice a week rather than every day. Such is a more sustainable practice.

Farm resources:
Realtimefarms.com – A crowd-sourced nationwide food guide. We enable you to trace your food back to the farm it came from, whether staying in or dining out, so you can find food you feel good about eating.