Connecting the Dots to Live More Sustainably

Culinary herb garden

Culinary herb garden

Note that the article posted a moment ago was published accidentally! Please read this version instead!

Are you a vegan? Do you shop locally? Buy organic food? Belong to a time bank, co-op or informal sharing collective? Avoid plastic? Collect water in rain barrels? Buy electricity from a renewable generator? Use local currency? Commute via bike or public transportation? Live in an eco-friendly home?

There are many ways to live more sustainably today…and many “movements” advocating for one of these ways or another. But in this information-savvy age, with so many opportunities to “follow” those who think just like us, we can easily slip into a “silo” when it comes to our views and actions. Making connections between these silos can open doors to some surprising and innovative ways to live more sustainably.

Just consider some of the doors opened by edible gardening. Read more

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Helping Others This Thanksgiving

Many of us will spend Thanksgiving sharing a wonderful home cooked meal with family and friends. But for a growing number of people, that simple pleasure remains far out of reach. Over the past few years, the economy has led to a sizeable increase in the number of Americans facing “food insecurity.” Now Sandy has made matters worse.

Fortunately, many people have responded to the recent disaster by generously donating  time, money and household goods to local organizations as well as those serving the hardest hit areas at the Jersey Shore and in New York. Schools, organizations and individuals also have been helping by donating items to food banks, many of which lost supplies during the power outage and need to re-stock their shelves.

If you would like to volunteer to serve a meal on Thanksgiving (or next month, on Christmas) or donate food items, which will continue to be in need in the weeks ahead, take a look at these food pantry listings, both local and at the shore.

Local Food Pantries

www.fishermansmark.org

http://www.trentonsoupkitchen.org

http://www.foodinbucks.org/pantry_central.php

http://flemfp.com

Jersey Shore Food Pantries

http://www.app.com/viewart/20121114/NJNEWS/311140075/?odyssey=tab%7Cmo

http://www.foodpantries.org/ci/nj-brickstpopular%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE

Happy Thanksgiving!

Lessons in Sustainability, Compliments of Sandy

In the aftermath of the worst storm most of us have ever experienced, adopting a more sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle may take on a greater sense of urgency.

Generally speaking, the sustainability movement is a response to the understanding that resources we have long taken for granted – in particular, food, water and non-renewable energy sources – are not in endless supply. But it’s one thing to take “politically correct” steps to forge a brighter future. It’s a whole other thing to experience what life might be like without our most precious resources.

Now that many of us have had that experience, living for days or weeks without electricity, running water, phone service, television, Internet or easy access to gasoline, we may want to move plans for living more sustainably onto the front burner. Following are suggestions for 1) becoming more self-reliant in emergencies like Sandy; 2) strengthening our community ties; and 3) reducing our dependence on vulnerable “modern” resources. Read more

Growing food…and sharing it

Spring garden

Spring garden in the Delaware River Valley

Are your flowers getting crowded out by zucchini, lettuce and heirloom tomatoes? If you’re growing more of what you eat these days — whether to save money, enjoy fresh ingredients or ensure your food is healthy and chemical-free — you’re far from alone. Surveys conducted a few years ago by the Garden Writers’ Association and the National Gardening Association found that approximately 40 million Americans are growing food in backyard or community gardens. As edible gardens multiply, so do opportunities to share surplus harvest with friends, neighbors and the rising number of individuals in need.

A boom in edible gardening

The two surveys tracked a significant increase in the number of U.S. households growing food. For example, 19% more households expected to grow vegetables, fruit and herbs in 2009 than in 2008. (Updated survey results are expected soon.) The economy was a big factor for many of these edible gardeners, who hoped growing food would help lower household grocery bills while also improving the safety and taste of their food. – Read more

Philabundance offers opportunity to share your harvest with neighbors in need

It may seem a bit early to think about harvesting your garden’s bounty. But if you’d like to share some of that harvest with people in need, consider participating in the Philabundance Share the Harvest program. Simply plant an extra row or two of whatever you are growing. Then donate your produce any Saturday between July 7th and September 22nd, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at one of the Bucks County pickup locations: Carousel Gardens, 591 Durham Road, Newtown, PA, or Seasons Garden Center, 1069 River Road, Washington Crossing, PA. Your donations will be distributed to area food pantries. – Read more

Share and share alike

 

English: Zotwheels Bike Share at the Universit...

Image via Wikipedia

Is sharing the new sustainability? For many people, the so-called “sharing economy” has become increasingly appealing. Tossing aside consumption in favor of “access,” people are embracing forms of sharing that include bartering, borrowing, swapping, gifting, donating, time-banking and collective consumption.  This new sharing can be as casual as purchasing a lawn mower jointly with a few neighbors or swapping babysitting services with a small circle of friends. It can involve more formal arrangements, such as joining a food co-op or CSA or sharing studio space with fellow artists. It’s the M.O. behind Zipcar, Inc. and websites such as swap.com and threadup.org. And, in some forward-looking towns and cities, it can even take the form of municipal bike- or car-sharing programs, time banks or energy cooperatives. 

If you’d like to consume less, reduce the need for income and enjoy the many other benefits of sharing, consider taking a sort of “lifestyle inventory” of your opportunities to share. You may find a surprising number of ways to get started. For example….

1.  Share food. If you and your friends produce some of your own food, whether veggies, herbs or eggs from backyard chickens, consider swapping the harvest with each other or donating some of it to local food banks. You might want to share meals with a small group of friends or neighbors on a regular basis. Or you can participate in a community garden or join a CSA (see Links & Resources), possibly splitting your share with someone else. 

2. Share rides. It’s so hard for us to give up the freedom of our own cars. But if you live close to others who commute to the same location (or one nearby) or who hop on the same bus to New York in the morning, give car pooling a try. And check out NJ Transit’s Zipcar program (http://www.njtransit.com), designed to enhance existing public transportation and eliminate or reduce the need to own a car.

3. Share stuff. We recently purchased two used kayaks with a neighbor. We each keep one at our own home. If one of us needs the other kayak, he or she will simply borrow it for a while. We enjoy the luxury of access to two kayaks at half the price and with less need for storage space. You get the idea. Can you think of some items you could easily share with neighbors or friends?

4. Swap stuff. Kid’s clothes, sports equipment, books, DVDs (if you still collect those), tools, art supplies, things you just don’t use anymore… . Consider having a swapping party (no, not that kind), inviting folks with similar types of items to bring them to a designated location on some regular basis, perhaps once a month or every spring and fall.

5. Trade services. Put your skills to work helping someone you know in exchange for the benefit of that individual’s unique talents. Maybe you can teach someone to bake in exchange for marketing services or fix someone’s PC in exchange for sewing skills. This informal bartering could even inspire you to explore starting a formal time bank, where members can exchange services using a valuation of each skill’s worth based on time rather than money.

Perhaps the sharing economy will be one answer to what ails the “real” economy. If so, maybe we really did learn everything we need to know back in kindergarten.