In my post for the first edition of the APLS Carnival, I am charged with writing about what I do to live sustainably. Instead of my usual environmental diatribe, I decided to share some thoughts about where I live and the lifestyle that it helps me maintain.
I live right in the heart of Minneapolis in a wonderful neighborhood full of kids and parks and unique small businesses to frequent. But this cozy little neighborhood has seen its share of ups & downs over the years. When my husband and I bought our house 18 years ago (!!), our real estate guy told us this neighborhood was 'dicey' and 'on the other side of the tracks' - but we took the risk and bought a pretty nice house that we could never had afforded anywhere else.
There was a time, after we both finished graduate school and finally had full time jobs that I daydreamed about moving to a 'better' neighborhood and a bigger house with a few more ammenities that I was jonesing for. In retrospect, I'm so very glad we never followed through on that pipe-dream. Because living where we do has made it easier to sustain the kind of life we want to live. One that is community minded and environmentally focused. One that we can afford. One that we love!
Admittedly, it's partly the 'keeping up with the Jones' effect that I'm talking about. I know myself well enough that if I lived in a neighborhood where everyone was hiring a home decorator, I probably would want one as well. If I lived in a place where people drove top-of-the-line cars and wore designer clothes, I would be ever so slightly tempted to do the same. But it's primarily because we're surrounded by like-minded people here. Lots of people in our neighborhood shop at the co-op, compost their food scraps and ride their bikes to work. Just like us.
In a nutshell, I think we are less tempted to consume and more likely to be satisfied with life in our little urban enclave. Here are a few examples:
- instead of hiring a caterer for a party, we enjoy making delicious homemade food for our neighbors and friends.
- instead of spending money on cable TV and fancy electronics, we save up for a memorable vacation with family and friends.
- instead of joining a pool, we take advantage of the many lovely beaches in our town.
- instead of heading to the mall for entertainment, we take a family bike ride.
- instead of buying a brand spankin' new car, we appreciate our 'previously loved' one.
- instead of taking out a loan for 'the big remodel', we update our home slowly but surely...and pay in cash.
- instead of bringing our son to a ball game, my husband takes him to volunteer at a food shelf.
- instead of a trip to the spa...well, a girl's gotta do something fun every now and then!
We've grown to love our neighborhood and all the diversity it brings to our lives. By living here we are helping to sustain our community and our city. We are living a lifestyle that is based less on consumption and more on experiences...and that is something we want to sustain. We are also helping to sustain the earth by consuming less conspicuously and more thoughtfully. And that's how we built a sustainable life by staying put!
(Please be assured that I'm not trying to say that you can't build a sustainable life in the suburbs...or anywhere for that matter. Not at all. This is simply my perspective on how it worked out for little old me!)