For many of us, creating an urban homestead or going “off the grid and pipe” may not be feasible due to space, time and cost limitations. If this is you, then don’t be content with merely cheering on sustainable pioneers from the sidelines. The following is a list of easy and effective greening tips which can have a huge impact on your urban-life footprint:
- Bokashi indoor composting (pictured above)
A composting bin for all of my food scraps that doesn’t smell? This method of composting utilizes a select group of microrganisms to anaerobically ferment organic waste in a process that is odor free! For apartment dwellers, a Bokashi-style composting bin is a simple way to provide organic compost for porch plants and divert pounds upon pounds of “waste” from landfills.
For more information on affordable Bokashi indoor composting kits, visit the SCD Probiotics website
- Know your food: CSAs and farmer’s markets
If you don’t have the space to grow food on location, consider joining a community supported agriculture (CSA). These innovative farms are sprouting up all over the place and are a great way to participate in a local, organic food system. For Angelenos, consider joining the Edendale Farm of Silver Lake.
If you are not up for a CSA membership, consider stopping by one of the many farmer’s markets scattered around Southern California. It is nearly impossible to know your farmer by reading the food packaging from the supermarket. Farmer’s market shopping allows you the unique opportunity of talking with your farmer about their process without having to travel to the farm yourself. In addition, farmers market shopping reduces packaging waste, transportation (product) loads and --believe it or not -- prices.
To find a local CSA or farmer’s market near you, visit LocalHarvest.org
- BYOC: Bring your own container
The number of single-use containers Americans throw out every day is astounding. From plastic water bottles, sports drinks and aluminum cans, to Starbucks cups, we fit the profile of a Class A throw-away society. Even if all of these containers were recycled, which we all know is not anywhere near reality, the life-cycle impacts still place a huge burden on the environment.
So instead of worrying about which form of single-use container is best for the environment, invest in a reusable stainless steel or glass container. Sticking to your reusable whenever possible will save a ton of waste, money, and even calories!
- Borrow over Buying
Instead of buying every tool or ingredient you may ever think of needing, try building a rapport with fellow tenants or neighbors in which sharing and borrowing is commonplace. Sharing is only limited by your level of personal comfort; however, any amount of reciprocal exchange lowers expenses and impacts while promoting a stronger sense of community.
- Buy foods packaged in large glass containers
When buying packaged foods and goods, look for a large-volume glass option. Larger packaging means less overall packaging used. Glass containers are also very easy to repurpose or upcycle.
Unlike plastic, glass containers have no chemical off-gassing and will remain durable enough for reuse indefinitely. Two quart containers are perfect for sprouting your own beans and grains, pickling vegetables and holding freshly made juices and brewed teas.
- Learn about local recycling options
Many of us have made recycling aluminum, plastic, and glass containers a part of our daily lives; however, the fact is that most of the “trash” we produce can be recycled. Those items that cannot be easily recycled (i.e., batteries or PVC plastic) should be disposed of in a responsible manner.
With the help of online recycling educational tools and directories, such as earth911.com, developing a regiment of conscious disposal is just a quick away.
- Reusable bag behavioral therapy
Forgot the reusable bags for your grocery store shopping? Join the club. Ditching the plastic bag is more a matter of behavioral training than developing a deeper concern for the environment. Consider having two sets of bags so the car will always be stocked -- even for those last minute stops.
Thankfully, LA’s new plastic bag ban will provide a financial incentive for residents to kick the dirty habit.
- Walk, pedal or pool
While utilizing algae-, bio-, wind-, water- and sun-based power sources for transportation would reduce our dependence on fleeting natural resources and lower global green house gas emissions, man-power is the purest of green technologies. Walking or riding a bike is perfect for shopping and other local activities. Apartment dwellers may want to invest in a folding bike. These innovative devices can easily fit in a closet or vehicle trunk.
LA is the capital and iconic face of sprawl; thus, riding a bike or walking to work may not be a feasible luxury. Research and see if your workplace, apartment complex, or neighborhood offers a car-sharing or car-pooling program.
- Take a stay-cation
The grass is always greener for most people in developed countries. The obsession with “new” and “different” often extends to how we view vacationing -- hence the term “getaway.”
For your next trip or holiday, consider exploring the beauty and culture of your home environment. Try booking a stay at a local eco-lodging destination. For LA residents, check out the LA Arboretum in Arcadia or plan a trip to Ojai. Stay-cations lower transportation emissions and credit card statements without sacrificing the therapeutic benefits of true escape.
- Use the sun
A great way to significantly reduce energy consumption is to properly use and refuse the sun. Place chairs or couches near windows so that sunlight provides enough lumens for reading and work. Before summer comes back around, invest in some tall plants or good shades to place outside of sun-facing windows.