How to create sustainable friendships

How to create sustainable friendships

“To have a friend and be a friend is what makes life worthwhile.”

I lost my beloved husband from complications following a routine surgery. His sudden death changed every facet of my life and rocked me to my knees. Now, more than a year after his passing, I am openly speaking of my grief experience with others and sharing how I’ve coped being a young widow.

I was asked recently what was one of the great lessons I learned from losing my husband, and I knew what my answer was without hesitation: the importance of having a diversified life.

Your financial adviser will tell you to diversify your investments, rather than putting all your “eggs in one basket.” If one investment is lost, you’ll still have others to rely upon.

The same is true in relationships. Certainly the relationship with your spouse should be your primary focus, but it cannot, and should not, be your only relationship. Emily Dickinson said, “My friends are my estate,” and I couldn’t agree more.

As a mother of three boys, I lived in a house full of testosterone. My husband knew that not only was time with girl friends beneficial for my mental health, but also the positive tenor of our home. He encouraged me to participate in “girls’ nights” on a regular basis and to take a yearly trip to the beach with my gal pals, a tradition for almost 20 years.

Thus, when my husband passed away, I had a fully developed support system of ladies who, even now, are still meeting countless needs and making me feel included even though I am flying solo. They have been my lifeline during this dark time. Don’t get me wrong, my family members have been wonderful, but they don’t live close enough to me to give me the daily encouragement I need.

Cultivating lasting, loving friendships takes time and effort; however, I cannot impress on you how important the investment in friends is, in both good times and bad. Here are some ways to create and cultivate lasting friendships:

Be you. The greatest gift you can give to others is you—the real you. So, pull off your mask and be authentic!

Be friendly. Mother was right; you have to be a friend to have a friend.

Be giving. What can you do for another that will make their life better?

Be encouraging. The kind words you have for others are a balm for their soul. Spread them liberally.

Be interesting. Cultivate yourself so you have something to share with others. Read. Travel. Learn.

Be loyal. Through thick and thin, be loyal to your friend. From their best moments to their worst, stick by your friend’s side.

Be enriching. A true friend adds value to others by having a lifestyle of value.

Be understanding. Seek first to understand your friend. Then you can help them understand you.

Be direct. If misunderstandings arise, tackle them head-on with gentle honesty. Never let a disagreement fester and damage a friendship.

Be accepting. Just because someone is different from you doesn’t mean you can’t find common ground on which to build a firm friendship. Go outside your “zone” to find friends.

Be flexible. People’s lives ebb and flow. So do friendships. Let it be okay to have changing degrees of closeness with your friends.

Be available. Our busy lives make time a very precious commodity. Schedule regular time with friends and stay in contact via email, text, or phone calls.

Be a listener. Truly listen to your friend. Don’t spend their talking time framing what you’re going to say next.

Be fun. The more fun you share with others, the more fun you have.

Be positive. People like to be around someone who makes them feel better, not someone who poisons their time together with toxic negativity.

Be honest. When a friend’s actions or decisions scare you, share your heart in a non-judgmental way. If not you, then who?

Be dependable. Don’t let your friends down—ever.

Be appreciative. Tell your friends how much they mean to you. You may think they already know this, but a verbal affirmation every so often makes sure they do.

Be respectful. You and your friends may not have the same likes and dislikes in people, politics, or passions. Be respectful of these differences.

Be considerate. Give your friends space and be accepting of their time with family and other friends.

Be supportive. Cheer friends on when they “win,” cry with them when they “lose,” and laugh with them when either of you do something stupid.

Building a lasting friendship is not easy. If you are authentic and are willing to open yourself up to others, you will find that there are many people who are looking for a good friend. So, if you haven’t already, take the time to invest in friendships. They may be your lifelines one day, and you may be one for them.

In most international organizations, including the United Nations (UN) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), conventional wisdom is that international trade supports sustainable development. “Trade growth enhances a country’s income generating capacity, which is one of the essential prerequisites for achieving sustainable development,” the WTO noted in the 2016 UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

This belief is usually based on the relationship between trade and only one — or, at most, two — of the three pillars of sustainability. These pillars are: the economy, social interests, and the environment.

It’s pretty obvious how trade can support the economic pillar of sustainable development. Over the past few decades, we’ve seen the significant role of global trade in reducing poverty, creating jobs, and promoting growth. According to the World Bank and the WTO, developing countries made up 48 percent of world trade in 2015, up from 33 percent in 2000. Meanwhile, the number of people living in extreme poverty was cut in half between 1990 and 2015. Trade helps provide more and better jobs to people, lower prices for products, and stimulate the growth necessary to end poverty. (See Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #1, which aims to eradicate poverty, and SDG #8, which focuses on decent work and inclusive economic growth.)

The effect of trade on social interests is more mixed. The economic benefits of trade can empower people to address major social needs in their communities, like protecting human rights, improving working conditions, and achieving gender equality. Further, trade agreements and rules also have the potential to serve as social safeguards. In 2011, the WTO estimated that 75 percent of the world’s countries were bound by a free trade agreement (FTA) that included provisions addressing human rights. In 2013, around 120 of the 190 countries that were parties to FTAs were parties to an FTA that includes labor rights protections. All of European Union’s trade agreements contain gender equality regulations. (See SDG #5, which aims to end gender discrimination, and SDG #8.) On the other hand, trade agreements can lead to worsening working conditions, as NAF TA has demonstrated. In addition, these provisions are difficult to enforce.

But the big subject that’s overlooked, at least in the SDGs, is how trade can help the environment. The relationship between trade and the environment is complex and certainly not always positive. For example, the global agricultural trade has caused agricultural expansion, deforestation, and biodiversity loss in producer countries. Exports of soya and palm oil bring revenue to countries like Brazil, Indonesia, and Malaysia, but the intensive farming of these crops also causes rainforest and habitat destruction, overfarming, and the destruction of soil and water. (See SDG #6, which focuses on reducing water scarcity and improving access to clean water, and SDG #15, which aims to conserve land-based ecosystems like forests and wetlands.)

Trade may also be an obstacle to combating climate change. According to the WTO and the UN, open trade would increase industrial production and eventually increase CO2 emissions. Also, “trade may increase the vulnerability to climate change of some countries because it leads them to specialize in the production of products in which they have a comparative advantage, while relying on imports to meet their requirements for other goods and services. These countries may become vulnerable if climate change leads to an interruption in their supply of imported goods and services.” (See SDG #13, which focuses on the need for climate action.)

Although some FTAs have environmental protection provisions on paper, they are seldom able to be enforced. Even though there have been documented violations, no Party has ever brought a formal case based on the environmental provisions of any US FTA. In fact, the enforcement of trade provisions usually does the opposite of protecting the environment: Companies regularly use Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) to sue governments for enacting and upholding laws that are meant to protect the environment and communities. This failure to enforce hinders society’s progress toward sustainability.

So, how do we mitigate the harms caused by trade to sustainable development? Sometimes, trade itself can be a solution. In the previous example, if climate change leads to a scarcity of certain goods and services in a country, trade can be a means for the country to obtain what it needs from other regions of the world. In other situations, we may combine trade with other economic, social, or environmental methods for a positive outcome. For instance, countries and cities signed the Paris Agreement in April 2016 and the Chicago Climate Charter in December 2017, committing to international and local efforts to tackle global temperature rise.

Trade impacts different aspects of sustainability in various ways, both positively and negatively. It has a rich context in the real world, so we must understand the full scope of the effects of trade when talking about it as an engine or impediment for sustainability. But trade is not the only tool we have. Sustainable development depends on thoughtful use of the whole toolbox, and tailoring it to achieve all three pillars of the goals.

How to create sustainable friendships

By Siyi Shen, Legal Intern

Originally posted on February 6, 2018

Unless farmers, food companies and retailers can make a profit switching to more sustainable production methods and consumers can afford sustainably produced products, the food systems transition that everyone now agrees is necessary, simply won’t happen.

We need to be rethinking our food – post-covid, post-brexit and post-pretty much everything:

Henry Dimbleby gives us a way foward:

As followed by the national press:

Henry Dimbleby has published the first phase of his year-long review of the United Kingdom’s food network. The report focusses on two areas: the problem of childhood hunger and the shape of British trade policy for food and farming after Brexit…

What exactly those standards will be will, inevitably, have to be informed by the second phase, which will cover the operation of Britain’s food networks, the implications of that for biodiversity and sustainability, and its potential to be a source of new diseases and novel pandemics. It will report at the end of the year.

Patrick Holden of the Sustainable Food Trust writes with an eye on the next phase:

If we want sustainable food systems, it’s all about the money!

If we want to make sustainable food and farming mainstream, it’s all about the money! Actually, it always was. By that I mean, unless farmers, food companies and retailers can make a profit switching to more sustainable production methods and consumers can afford sustainably produced products, the food systems transition that everyone now agrees is necessary, simply won’t happen…

How to create sustainable friendshipsEssentially, we have a dishonest food pricing system and if this was corrected, sustainable farming methods would more than hold their own economically. Farmers, in general, aren’t getting much support from retailers either to help them become more sustainable. The exceptions are the fortunate entrepreneurial few who have switched to organic farming and are selling food with a story and adding value through processing…

The problem, as I see it, is that the Government has taken the opportunity of Brexit to make a dramatic change and swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction, urged on strongly, I have to say, by well-meaning but poorly-informed conservation organisations that know little about the practicalities of food production. Superficially, the Government’s determination only to reward environmental outcomes and not the production of food may sound good on paper, but in reality, it is likely to result in increased intensification on some farms and the abandonment of food production on the rest. Right now, the indications coming from Defra are not encouraging. The current proposed approach to ELMs (Environmental Land Management scheme) payments is to divide the money into three, with a third going for foundation level good environmental practice, and two other tiers rewarding specific environmental projects and money for other measures, such as reforestation and new technological solutions to reduce pollution.

If the ELMs cake is divided into three in this way with equal levels of support for each tier, this would mean that farmers adopting more sustainable practices would only get a third of £80, in other words just under £27 per acre, nowhere near enough to persuade them to make radical changes to their farming systems – and it is radical changes that we need! …

Instead Defra is sitting on the fence, mouthing platitudes about technical innovation, still hanging on to the concept of stewardship and paying too much heed to the conservation organisations and the Treasury – the latter of which would willingly sacrifice thousands of small family farms on the altar of free trade with America.

Home » Sustainability » 6 Ways to Promote Sustainable Living in Your Community

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When it comes to living sustainably, beginning at home is the best place to start. You have the ability to make an impact on so many areas of your own life, from your diet to your wardrobe, just by making more conscious decisions and doing a little research. However, if you’re ready to expand your sustainable living efforts beyond your own household, you might want to consider ways you can help your community become more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Not sure where to begin? Here are a few ways you can promote sustainable living in your community.

How to Help Your Community Become More Sustainable

#1 Start a compost pile.

Composting your leftover food, newspaper, and yard waste can be an excellent way to keep your community green. By composting, you keep easily-degradable materials out of the trash pile and instead return them to the soil in the form of healthy nutrients. While a compost pile can be a worthwhile endeavor even for your own family, do a little research before you begin and see if you can get support from a few friends and neighbors before you start for the best chance of success.

#2 Support local restaurants.

Spend your money where it matters. Do your research before dining out and see if you can find restaurants and other small businesses that source their ingredients locally. Restaurants that purchase their products from local farms can sometimes cost a little more than their counterparts, but you’ll sleep easier knowing you’ve given back to your community and promoted sustainable living.

#3 Volunteer!

Spending time volunteering in your community can be a great way to move toward a more sustainable environment. See what organized volunteer opportunities exist in your area, or set off on your own and collect litter from a nearby park or trail. Beautify your neighborhood by planting bee-friendly flowers wherever you’re allowed to enhance open spaces.

#4 Encourage travel by bike.

If you’re running a local errand and don’t have to travel far, why not ride your bike? Unlike driving, biking releases no emissions into our environment and does no lasting damage. To encourage your community to embrace biking as a means of transportation, see what you can do to make riding your bike easier or more fun. Start a community bike night and coordinate a weekly themed ride around your block, or campaign your local government to designate bike lanes on busy roads.

#5 Sign up for a CSA.

Community supported agriculture – commonly known as a CSA – can be a great way to support sustainable efforts in your local community. To participate in a CSA, you’ll pay upfront for a growing season’s worth of fresh fruits and veggies from a local farm. Your goods are usually delivered or available for pickup on a weekly basis. You’ll be delighted by the variety of fresh ingredients you’ll receive each week to nourish your family, and you’ll feel good knowing you’ve done your part to support a local business initiative.

#6 Encourage local businesses to install electric car chargers.

Electric cars have grown in popularity in the last few years as they’ve become increasingly affordable and capable of traveling longer distances without needing a charge. Whether your community has fully embraced this new, clean means of travel or it’s struggling to take hold, making charging stations readily available can be a great way to encourage folks to make the change. Knowing they’ll be able to easily recharge their vehicles will alleviate one of the biggest concerns of potential electric car-buyers and may increase adoption within your community.

Creating change throughout your community can be hard work, but it can be incredibly fulfilling to make an impact and help your friends and neighbors embrace a greener lifestyle. Have you taken any steps to make your neighborhood or town more sustainable, or do you have any ideas around ways you could improve your area? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Most people try to make themselves more environmentally friendly with big investments like hybrid vehicles or better recycling habits. These are highly impactful, but it’s almost as impactful if you go through your house, room by room, and try to make each room sustainable in its own right.

This strategy is especially effective for two reasons. First, it gives people an actionable and manageable task; going “green” in a single room is far easier and less expensive than trying to convert your life all at once. Second, it allows you to be far more thorough, giving an excuse to comb through the details of your home and lifestyle to find more ways to improve your habits.

In this article, we’ll be focusing on your bedroom—so what can you do to make your bedroom more sustainable?

Bedroom Sustainability

These tactics are the best place to start:

  1. Buy a green mattress.
    How to create sustainable friendships
    Let’s start with the centerpiece of your bedroom: the mattress. Consider upgrading yours to a “green” mattress, which is made from sustainable organic materials. These mattresses rely on plant-based and natural materials, which many people find more comfortable. They’re biodegradable, so they won’t produce much waste when you’re done with them, and are made with less intensive manufacturing processes.
  1. Buy bamboo sheets. Next, consider upgrading your sheets to bamboo. Bamboo may seem like a strange choice of material for bed sheets, but it’s actually an incredibly versatile plant. Bamboo sheets are soft, and have a lightweight feel, so you’ll definitely be comfortable with them. Best of all, they’re produced using environmentally friendly processes and transparent manufacturing, so you know exactly what’s gone into your linens.
  1. Buy locally sourced clothing and sleepwear.

    How to create sustainable friendships
    If you’re like most people, your bedroom is equipped with a closet, where you store the majority of your clothing. If you buy your clothing from a mainstream department store or something similar, you probably don’t realize you’re sourcing artificial materials from all over the world. If you want to make a smaller environmental impact and support your city at the same time, consider buying locally sourced clothing and sleepwear from stores in your neighborhood.

  1. Install LED or fluorescent bulbs. If you haven’t yet, try to convert all your bedroom lights to LEDs. Incandescent bulbs use 60 W of electricity and last for about 1,200 hours, while LEDs use 7 W and last 25,000 hours or more. Fluorescent bulbs are better than incandescent as well, with 14 W of energy consumption and an 8,000 hour lifespan, but LEDs are the best choice for your money. Most people end up preferring the bright, pure white light that LEDs produce anyway, resulting in a better atmosphere for your home.
  1. Use safe cleaning products.

    How to create sustainable friendships
    Eventually, you’ll need to give your bedroom a good cleaning. Cleaning products often use harsh chemicals that aren’t good for the environment—or your pets. Instead, try using all-natural cleaning products, or ones that you create yourself from natural ingredients.

  1. Upcycle your décor. Your bedroom should be a place that reflects your taste and personality, but décor can be both cumbersome and expensive. Instead of wasting money on environmentally impactful pieces, consider upcycling old items and infusing them with a dash of your own creativity; for example, you could use old bottles as centerpieces, or decorate the walls with old car parts.
  1. Buy used furniture when possible. Every new piece of furniture you buy puts a burden on the environment, both because of the materials that new furniture demands and because of the shipping costs of getting the furniture to your location. Whenever you can, buy your furniture used; look at thrift stores and garage sales if you’re interested in striking the best deal. A little TLC can take care of any scuffs and scratches, and many antique pieces of furniture can add charm with their imperfections. Just make sure you don’t buy a used mattress!

Moving to Other Rooms

You’ll note that many of these strategies can be applied to multiple rooms of your house. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can start reaching into other rooms by applying these same changes to them. Pick one room at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed, and start brainstorming about what else you can do throughout the house. Any effort you make, no matter how small, will reduce your carbon footprint, and take us all one step closer to a sustainable society.

The design of a sustainable home should be inclusive of the outdoor space; sustainable landscaping is a particular approach to designing and constructing the outdoor area of the home to improve the existing natural landscape.

The landscape should be either low or self-maintaining and be able to weather the natural cycles of weather and climate to the native environment. It means complementing the natural landscape as well as ensuring that it is economically and environmentally sustainable in the future.

Here are seven ways to create a more sustainable landscape:

How to create sustainable friendships

Using native plants

While sustainable landscaping is about more than planting native species, a large part of creating a landscape that harmonises with the local climate is incorporating plants that will work with the soil and weather patterns.

Native plants that perform well may include exotics from similar climatic zones as they should ideally survive without the need for excessive watering or maintenance.

E.g. Lawns are common in Australian backyards, but they require high levels of maintenance. However, due to the popularity of lawns, it’s important to note that the needs of lawns can be minimised by:

  • Using drought-tolerant native grasses that retain the appearance of a conventional lawn.
  • Reducing the extent of lawn and replacing it with a mix of groundcovers and hardy garden beds

A landscape using native plants links your home to the nearby bush and many animals, especially small lizards may use your garden for habitat. However, avoid natural weeds which may spread into vegetation.

Vegetable Patch

The traditional Australian block of land enabled a family to be able to grow food. Growing vegetables is a way of reducing our footprint by reducing reliance external sources to obtain it from elsewhere.

There’s always a space for food production, and vegetable gardens can usually be made in raised garden beds requiring fertile soils with good drainage, regular watering and moderate amounts of sunlight depending upon the climate.

Landscaping practices like permaculture take an approach using ecological principles to create sustainable environments with an emphasis on food production and resource conservation.

Keeping chooks in your backyard can be beneficial, but check with your local council for regulations and requirements.

How to create sustainable friendships

Conserving water

Houses cover areas of previously natural landscape where rain soaked the vegetation, so it’s important to collect, store and use as much stormwater from your property as possible.

Water bodies like ponds and water features can be integrated into a sustainable landscape solution as part of a passive overall water management system.

Native species are usually the best for Australia’s low rainfall conditions, and low water-use vegetation can significantly reduce the need for supplementary garden watering.

Another great way to conserve water is to use efficient irrigation techniques, providing water in controlled quantities to various plants depending on their needs. With a series of well-placed sprinklers, you can cover a wide area in your landscape with ease.

Natural landscaping materials

Consider recycling site materials such as excavated rocks and using sustainably sourced timber or timber composite products in preference to imported rainforest timbers.

Wherever possible, employ recycled materials and avoid excessive amounts of paving which can contribute to microclimate heating and reduced site permeability.

Natural shade

Sustainable landscaping can be applied to create shade and also provide privacy from surrounding buildings. When considering the site, take into account of existing vegetation which can create great areas for recreation.

Planting shading trees will help cut your air conditioning bills in summer, and if they’re deciduous, In the fall they will drop their leaves allowing more sun to shine into your home and so contribute to reducing heating costs.

Solar-powered lighting

By using of solar lights, homeowners may design a residential landscape in a way that is better for the environment while also reducing energy bills.

They are an excellent way for homeowners to reduce their footprint as they run off stored energy throughout the day. This means homeowners can light their gardens through the night with no additional power consumption.

Natural substances/fertilisers

Composting organic kitchen and garden waste improves the soil and saves you money on chemical fertilisers. Not only that, a generous layer of mulch on the exposed soil around plants and trees can help reduce the loss of water through evaporation.

How to create sustainable friendships
By creating hydrazones, you prevent the water in the soil from evaporating which ensure that plants get ample moisture without frequent irrigation.

Sustainable landscapes have a smaller impact on the natural setting than traditional landscape designs, which allows for lower maintenance needs, even then, there is no such thing as a maintenance-free landscape.

Try some of these ideas and tips for sustainable gardening or ask us about creating a sustainable and low maintenance garden.

Creating a sustainable wardrobe can be a bit of a daunting task. If you’re used to wearing designer brands, and not really thinking about what you’re buying, this could be quite a challenging thing to do! However, it is worth it.

Why do I need to have a sustainable wardrobe?

Sustainable fashion has become increasingly popular. Environmental concerns with the fashion industry are persuading people to create sustainable wardrobes. Statistics show that 8.1% of the world’s greenhouse gas comes from the fashion industry, and by 2030, there is expected to be 148 million tonnes of fashion waste.

The smallest change you make could help the environment! Here are some steps on how to create a sustainable wardrobe.

Step one: Have a wardrobe clear-out

Wardrobes often have clothes from years ago that don’t fit anymore, or clothes that will never be worn again! A great idea is to have a wardrobe clear-out.

The best way to do this is to have two piles labelled ‘keep’ and ‘donate’. When you’re sorting through your clothes, you need to ask yourself the question, ‘’will I really wear this?’’ If you have to hesitate and think of a situation that you might wear it once, it isn’t worth keeping.

Donating your clothes could change someone’s life. Your old t-shirt might not mean much to you, but it could become someone’s favourite item of clothing!

Around 336,000 tonnes of unwanted clothing gets thrown away every year, so make sure to find somewhere to donate your clothing. You can donate your clothes to charity shops, clothing banks or recycle centres.

Step two: Work with what you’ve got

You may have a variety of clothing that you don’t want to give up, but it’s damaged. To have a sustainable wardrobe, it is key to fix your existing clothing rather than buying new options and wasting material.

If you want to try new styles, create new clothing with what you have! This might sound complicated, but you could easily make a casual summer dress out of an old t-shirt.

Step three: Change your attitude to shopping

Creating a sustainable wardrobe is not a quick process. Each small change you make over time will be contributing.

It is vital to change your attitude to shopping. By deciding to shop less, fix and donate your clothes, you are creating a permanent attitude change that can stick with you long term to help maintain a sustainable wardrobe.

How to create sustainable friendships

Step four: Vintage

Vintage clothing is becoming increasingly popular. From collectables to rare clothing, the vintage world gives you the option to have something unique in your wardrobe.

The best part about shopping vintage is that it’s eco-friendly! Buying re-usable clothing from vintage stores means you’re getting a better quality and unique product, for a lower price.

There are plenty of vintage places to shop, including Blue Rinse, Depop and Etsy.

Step five: Make some rules

To make sure this is a permanent attitude change, make yourself some rules for shopping.

If you like shopping often, try to cut down on this, maybe even a shopping ban, or if you cannot shake this need to shop – shop vintage!

Another rule would be to set a budget. If you set a budget, you can try to find cheaper options which will lead you to browse used clothes. Not only does this give you a sustainable wardrobe, but it will save you a lot of money.

Finally, make sure when you’re shopping to ask yourself, ‘’do I really need this?’’ If there is hesitation, put it back. You will be able to find yourself a great alternative in your wardrobe already.

How to create sustainable friendships

It can be a challenge to work out how to live a life that promotes and encourages sustainability. When you’re surrounded by single-use products and non-environmentally-friendly practises, taking the first step is both frightening and tricky. However, you would be amazed at just how easy it is to create a sustainable garden for your family. Here are a few helpful tips and tricks, used by renovations experts, to start you on the right path.

Get the Right Tools

If you’re not a natural-born gardener, then you may not even know where to start. How about beginning with a few essential tools? Head to your local gardening centre and pick up a compost bin, a rainwater barrel, a shovel and spade, and a soil tiller. These few items can put you on the right path to complete sustainability.

Choose the Garden Location

While you might think you can plant a garden at random and see it produce results, that’s not often the case. You have to factor sunshine, water, and shelter into your decision. If you don’t, then you may be extremely disappointed when the time comes to harvest.

If you’re not sure where the best place might be to plant, then draw an area out and watch how much sunshine it gets during the day. Also, pay attention to moisture levels to be on the safe side.

Plant Strategically

Water is a precious resource, so you need to make sure you are planting in such a way as to both preserve it and take full advantage of it. Set your rain barrel up to collect water for use in your gardens. This is a staple requirement of sustainability.

It’s also a good idea to plant your plants according to their water requirements. Place your drought-resistant plants in one area, and your thirsty plants in another. You can then make sure all your plants get as much as they require, without overwatering them.

Composting for Healthy Soil

Price isn’t the only thing that can put you off purchasing compost – so too can the addition of chemicals. If you prefer a chemical-free compost that’s both organic and healthy for the environment and your soil, then why not make your own?

You can create compost out of leaves, wood, natural and organic matter, and newspaper. Alongside boosting your soil health, compost can also prevent weed growth.

Recycle Materials

A huge part of sustainability is reusing materials. The fewer things you buy new for your garden, the more sustainable it can be. Think about the materials you need to build your garden from that may be able to come from another source. For example, scrap wood can form trellis, and plant tags can be pieces of wood, rather than plastic. You can even use old single-use takeaway coffee cups as vessels for growing tomatoes from seed.

The world needs to focus on sustainability more now than ever before. Are you ready to lead the way? Begin planning your sustainable garden. Use recycled materials, plant vegetables and fruits that can sustain your family, and reap the rewards come harvest time.

A community park can provide many benefits to the neighbourhood. In addition to beautifying the urban landscape, parks contribute to improved health, reduced crime, social bonding and even better academic performance for children.

However, as parks require significant upkeep, it’s important to ensure they are built sustainably, reducing waste and conserving natural resources to continue benefiting the community far into the future.

Using recyclable materials

One great way to make a park more sustainable is to source furniture made from recycled or recyclable materials. Park benches, for example, can be made from all manner of sustainable timber, plastics, aluminium and stainless steel that are eye-catching, comfortable and built to last.

The Big Harris Bench is a great example of park seating built from a mix of sustainable timber and steel, and is suitable for any urban community space.

On-site compost bins

Many parks include rubbish bins, but a sustainable community park should also feature recycling and even compost bins. On-site composting allows people in the neighbourhood to responsibly dispose of grass clippings, vegetable scraps and other compostable materials, which will then be used to improve the soil quality of the park’s plants.

Reusing water supplies

Parks tend to contain lots of greenery, which translates into a significant water bill. You can reduce water wastage by collecting both graywater from park facilities and storm water, and reusing these for your landscape irrigation.

Also, some irrigation systems are more efficient than others. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems use up to 70% less water, gradually releasing moisture into the soil rather than flooding it and creating wasteful runoff.

Planting native trees and shrubs

Increasing the number and diversity of plants in a park has a number of environmental benefits, including resistance to flooding and erosion, better air cooling and pollution filtration. Native plants are an even better choice, as being suited to the climate makes them easier to maintain than foreign species.

Some excellent native trees for a community park include the Cabbage Tree (Torquay Palm), Rautini (Chatham Island Christmas Tree) and Southern Rata. To prolong the life of a park’s plants, tree protectors such as grates allow trees to flourish even in more built-up urban areas.

Browse urban furniture

Sustainable community parks are a victory for patrons, the environment and the owner’s wallet. Since a park just isn’t a park without seating, check out Urban Effects’ range of urban furniture for park benches, planters, drinking fountains, bins, bike racks and more.

If parents buy organic food, are their children likley to follow suit? Photograph: Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images

If parents buy organic food, are their children likley to follow suit? Photograph: Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images

Most parents hope that their children will surpass them in education, finance and health. But do we expect them to be more sustainable too? And are they? To explore this, we need to look at how we learn to become responsible consumers – at school, via the media and through family.

Formal education plays a role in children’s environmental learning, and sustainability has been on the school curriculum for years in many countries. We are in the final year of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, and today’s young people have had more exposure to environmental issues in school than many previous generations.

Similarly, young people absorb information about the environment through traditional and social media. These new media sources are important especially since young people share and consume media while socialising.

However, in terms of forming habits and behaviours, the informal “how to” learning that takes place from parent to child, in everyday family life is very important. From being told to turn off the lights or not shower for too long, to the daily discussion and observation of each other’s actions and reactions. Family members note choices and behaviour – do Mum and Dad buy organic or not, do they choose car or bike, are they thorough recyclers?

The reasons for such choices may not be stated explicitly – and they may not even have anything to do with environmental concerns – but parental habits exert a significant influence on children’s environmental attitudes and behaviours. It’s more socially acceptable and convenient to learn and copy observed actions than forming our own opinions.

But what about the transfer the other way – the alleged consumer power of children? We know from consumer research, public debate (and from personal experience) – that children have significant power when it comes to deciding what goes into the shopping trolley, where the family will go on holiday, what kind of electronic devices are “needed” in the household, etc. But let’s take a reality check when it comes to environmental issues – do children and young people actually push their parents to act sustainably?

There is little evidence that children use their power in this way. Children and adolescents have quite positive attitudes when it comes to environmental protection, but when it comes to action, they generally lag behind their parents. In studies carried out in Denmark we looked at 16-18 year olds who were still living at home, and compared the young people and their parents’ environmental worldviews, attitudes and behaviours towards different actions in the home, such as electricity consumption.

The first consistent finding was that parents’ and their children’s behaviour are similar – for better and for worse. The intergenerational transfer of behaviours happens whether they’re sustainable or not. This “transfer” is most apparent in visible areas, such as purchase of organic products that end up on the kitchen table. Whereas a more difficult topic for children to learn about is electricity consumption, since this is typically invisible at home. New technology can assist this informal learning – for instance, we have seen that giving households visible feedback about their electricity consumption increases parents and children’s discussion and learning about electricity and ways to save energy at home.

The second key finding was that parents’ take more sustainable actions than their children. Not only in terms of energy consumption, which they have a natural exposure to, but across a range of issues such as organic purchases. The only notable exception being sustainable modes of transportation, where children came out greener than their parents.

Of course, with both transport and other domestic sustainable choices, the differences in environmental action across generations are partly tied to life stage. Behaviours are formed by the contexts of being legally able to drive, paying electricity bills and a lifetime’s exposure to environmental messaging. Many young people will make more sustainable choices as they mature, with new priorities and experiences, and these later-life choices will draw on the learned behaviours from their family home.

Alice Grønhøj is an associate professor at Aarhus University, she does research related to sustainable consumption and consumer socialisation.

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