One of the most important strategies on the zero-waste path is investing back into our community - whether we do that by encouraging our community to rethink its trash footprint through community clean-ups, supporting and or starting community sharing programs, riding or walking more, or visiting local businesses.
I live in Boulder, Colorado. Here in Boulder we are pretty blessed with amazing bike trails for commuting around town, local farmers, CSA's, farmer's markets, local shops, natural beauty, open space without much sprawl (we don't even have billboards in Boulder), and a general open attitude toward new ideas. Mind you, it's not perfect, but compared to other places I've lived, it's a pretty nice place to live.
But what if your community doesn't have all these things?
When I first started on the zero-waste lifestyle back in 2007, I was living in Central Florida. There I had a small apartment, I had to drive everywhere, there wasn't much for local places, or local food. And even bringing my own bag to the grocery store gave me strange looks from others. It was not easy. But I used the opportunity to tell a story. I used the opportunity to encourage others to rethink their lifestyle, to get curious about where things came from, where their food came from, and how small changes really did make a difference.
I did the best I could. I really thought when I first started out that my outlook was pretty bleak.
Then I really began to look closer at my community. I did some research and found a local vegan restaurant. In fact, I found three. I found a local organic tea and sandwich shop that I had no idea existed before. I became part of my community's first organic and local CSA (community supported agriculture), and I found a small undercurrent of people that understood where I was coming from.
I haven't lived in that area in over 10 years, but I've heard from friends that still live there that there is even more than when I lived there! Change came for that town by people joining together and starting something where there was nothing to begin with.
Embrace your community. Seek out something new you didn't know your town/city had. Host a community clean-up, start a community garden, try out the local bus for a ride, bring together like-minded people by starting up a meet-up group, go to a city council meeting, and shop local!
If nothing exists, create it. You'll be surprised on what you can create from just one action!
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