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Sustainability in the City: Living an Urban Green Lifestyle

For millions of Americans, there’s no place they’d rather live than in a bustling city. Yet as people throughout the nation have become more environmentally conscious, challenges have arisen as to how urban folks can live in an eco-friendly way. Many cities have adopted new approaches to promoting green lifestyles, yet many people are concerned they aren’t doing enough. The following are simple but effective actions people can take on an individual level to make a difference in reducing energy consumption and energy expenses at the same time, and they can be done by anyone whether you’re in a studio apartment or a two-story house.

Simple ways to go green

City-wide sustainability may seem to be so enormous a task that it would require a great deal of effort to make any progress. The truth is that new approaches to everyday activities can make a big difference and here we’ll outline a few steps you can take to live green in the heart of the city.

Recycling: Imagine the amount of plastic, aluminum, glass and cardboard you use over the course of a month. Then imagine if, after using it all, you wouldn’t need to have that stuff made from scratch all over again. This is what recycling can achieve in reusing materials, rather than dumping them in a landfill and creating new ones all over again from the available resources.

Reuse: Two of the biggest environmental threats are actually rather small in stature: plastic bottles and plastic bags. Tens of millions of plastic water bottles are created each year, and only a tiny fraction of them are recycled. Helping stem this misuse of resources can be done through using refillable bottles and reusing plastic bags or having designated bags for trips to the grocery.

Conserving energy: Energy costs are increasing year to year, so keeping an eye on your energy usage can have major benefits. Whether it be through adjusting thermostats or using energy efficient appliances, simple steps can play a part. Best of all, this is a great way to reduce your expenses.

Transportation options: An advantage of living in a city is having many transportation choices, and anything that helps in reducing harmful car emissions is an excellent means for maintaining sustainability. Traveling to work by bus or train is an alternative to car travel, or you can locate a bike share program if you don’t own your own bicycle.

Shopping choices: In recent years, organic groceries and eco-friendly markets have become more prevalent and are an excellent way to not only eat healthy, but to support locally grown seasonal food. Also, the U.S. EPA has a website devoted to green products to help you make smart shopping decisions.

Additionally, you can attend events on or join groups that help promote green living. If you’re seriously dedicated, you could make your own cleaning products or join an urban farming group.

Sustainability around the nation

It may seem that a single individual couldn’t put a dent in the larger problem of becoming a greener city or nation. Yet the mantra of reuse, recycle, repurpose holds a lot of meaning for anyone, urban or rural citizen, and sustainability starts on an individual level. Many American cities are leading the way in sustainability efforts, such as Austin, TX, and Chicago. The Windy City in particular offers many local activities focused on living green and ecotourism. Keep in mind that if one person makes one small change, and millions of other people adopt that same change, the end result can have a tremendous impact.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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