In this guide, we discuss sustainable communities and neighborhoods.
We outline what sustainable communities and neighborhoods are, and how they might be delineated from sustainable cities.
We also list and explain potential ideas for creating or maintaining sustainable communities and neighborhoods.
Firstly, What Are Sustainable Communities & Neighborhoods?
Sustainable communities and neighborhoods might be local groups of people living together in local areas where there is a focus on the pillars of sustainability – resource management, the environment, the economy, and social pillars.
There might be a difference between cities and towns as a whole, and communities and neighborhoods.
Communities/neighborhoods are individual local areas – they can form a part of small villages (especially in rural areas), towns, and cities. Essentially, they are specific groups of people living together.
Cities and towns on the other hand tend to be one large community, or a collection of separate communities and neighborhoods in urban areas.
We’ve already put together a guide on the ways cities as a whole might become more sustainable.
Below are some of the ways local communities and neighborhoods might become more sustainable.
Some of the ideas and tips between cities and communities/neighborhoods are similar, but we’ve also adapted the ideas and tips to a smaller scale and to individuals (as opposed to whole city scapes and large city scales).
1. Look At Examples Of Existing Communities & Neighborhoods With Sustainable Features For Ideas
There’s already a communities, neighborhoods and ‘ecovillages’ around the world that are implementing varying degrees of sustainable practices and systems.
Some villages and more rural communities are very sustainable, taking a holistic approach, working in with and integrating with nature and wildlife, practicing regeneration (and circular communities), and so on.
Some communities that are closer to cities and in more urban areas are implementing more basic practices.
Doing an online search for ‘examples of sustainable communities (or neighborhoods)’ can bring up some current examples and potentially provide some ideas.
2. Consider Buying Locally Produced Goods
Locally produced goods may have less of a transport footprint than goods produced elsewhere and transported to a different location.
One example of this might be locally grown or produced food, that is also processed locally, and only has a short distance to get to local food markets or stores.
3. Consider Growing Some Food At Home
Most people might still have to buy most of their food from the shop.
But, some foods might not take a lot of resources or time to grow at home, such as some vegetables and fruits, herbs, spices, and so on.
These foods might be more sustainable to produce and eat across some indicators than some foods you buy from a shop.
‘Community gardens’ might be a variation of this where foods and different plants are grown close by in a public community garden.
4. Consider Walking & Riding More Instead Of Driving
Walking and riding instead of driving the car to local destinations can be more sustainable.
A few examples of this might be walking or riding to the local shops, sporting clubs, or friends’ and families’ houses, instead of driving.
5. Consider More Sustainable Waste Management Practices
– Dispose of, and sort waste properly at home
This might include being aware of, and sorting waste into the right waste stream bins at home i.e. general waste, recyclables, and also organic waste if you have this type of bin
Some homes might also consider composting for organic waste too
– Have an adequate number of bins even spaced around the community
Having bins spread out across a neighbourhood provides more disposal points for people to get rid of their waste instead of dropping it on the ground.
This might especially be useful for packaging waste, doggy waste, and also cigarette butts
It may also help to have recycling bins available in addition to standard general waste bins.
– Consider fines and penalties for littering
The intended effect of this is to reduce littering
– Consider participating in neighbourhood clean up initiatives
Even with bins and penalties for littering, hard waste is still going to find it’s way into the environment.
Participating in clean up initiatives is one way to contribute to cleaning up the local environment.
6. Consider Using Cleaner Energy At Home, Or Supplying Some Of Your Own Energy
A few ways to do this might be by considering using a local sustainable energy supplier, or, by investing in a solar panel set up at home to generate energy separate of the grid.
There are practical as well as feasibility considerations with doing either of these things though – so, they should be weighed up beforehand.
7. Consider More Sustainable Local Water Practices
– Consider at-home rainwater collection/harvesting
Rainwater collecting or harvesting at home, particularly with a rainwater tank, is one way to augment a water supply separate of the public water supply
– Homeowners, local councils and water suppliers can manage and use water more sustainably
We’ve previously written about how the municipal sector within a community might manage and use water more sustainably
8. Consider Sustainable Practices For Plant Life, The Environment & Wildlife
– Tree planting, and planting/maintaining some areas of vegetation
Local councils might have have goals and criteria around planting trees and vegetation, and helping to maintain them
– Preserve and respect local protected environment and wildlife areas
Some local areas like reserves, parks, and marine areas/beaches (like sand dunes) might be protected for environmental and wildlife reasons
Individuals in the community can help preserve these areas by staying outside the boundaries set for them
9. Consider More Sustainable Local Economic & Social Practices
Where practical and financially feasible to do so, you might consider:
– Spend money with locally owned businesses
Spending money with locally owned businesses economically supports the local community, regardless of where products are produced.
Money might have a better chance of staying in the community too (instead of quickly leaving it)
– Work for a locally owned business
If you’re an employee, working for a locally owned business might help support the local economy
– Employ local labor
If you’re a business owner, employing locally may also help support the local economy and community
10. Consider How Different Local Political Candidates Might Support The Local Community
Before the next local elections, it might be worth considering which local political candidates (if any) support the local community in a way that aligns with your values.
1. Various ‘Better Meets Reality’ guides