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Friday July 6th 2012

Sustainable in the City – 6 Tips for Eco-Friendly City Living

Even though many of today’s most radical eco-friendly living initiatives tend to focus on steps you can take when you have a bit of land, such as growing all your own food or living almost entirely off grid, it’s completely possible to live a sustainable life in the city, as well. In fact, because of some of the basic realities of city living, such as having public transportation or being able to walk to the grocery store, city dwellers can be more eco-friendly that suburbanites without even trying.

Get a load of this fact, for instance: New York City’s Midtown area has an average 7.1 metric tons of carbon emissions per person, whereas the United States average is 24.5 metric tons. That means urban dwellers in New York use about a quarter of the average carbon output for United States citizens in general, according to NewYorkWaste.org.

So how can you watch your carbon footprint and reduce your environmental impact while living in the city? Here are six tips to help you go green while dwelling in the city:

1. Walk, Bike, or Use Public Transportation

Of course, the number one way to go green in the city is to cut down dramatically on your fuel consumption by walking, biking, or using public transportation whenever possible. Many city dwellers do this already, since their workplaces and retail and entertainment spots are close by. Plus, with all that traffic from the suburbanites driving into their urban offices, who wants to drive?

While many city dwellers don’t own a car at all, if you do much travel outside of your city, you may need to keep a car for occasional use. If this is the case, you can make your travel greener by checking out gas credit cards that allow you to use your accumulated points to donate money to green charities and initiatives. This can help offset your carbon footprint when you are using fuel to travel to someplace out of walking or public transportation range.

2. Choose an Apartment Wisely

Many of today’s cities feature green apartment buildings that are made with sustainable materials or that simply feature energy-efficient appliances and insulation. Even if this type of apartment building isn’t an option for you, you can cut back on your carbon footprint by thinking small. Living in a small, efficient space rather than a sprawling home or apartment can drastically cut back on your energy usage.
When looking for the perfect apartment to buy or rent, also consider how close your home will be to the key places you need or want to visit on a regular basis. Living within walking distance of your office, if possible, can help you cut back on your carbon footprint even more by avoiding even public transportation.

3. Plant a Garden

Even in the city, it’s completely possible to grow some of your own food, or to at least keep a few plants around to improve your apartment’s air quality. The web is full of resources for urban gardeners, and several great books have been published on the topic during the recent popularization of green living, as well.

When you’re in the city, it’s important to think vertically for your gardens, and your access to sunlight also makes a big difference. If you want to live downtown but grow some of your own herbs and vegetables, find an apartment with a balcony or patio that faces west or south, and then take advantage of stacking pots and other vertical gardening options so that you can make the most of the space allotted to you.

4. Shop Locally

Often times, local shops and farmer’s markets congregate in inner-city areas, rather than in the suburbs, where chains and big box stores are more common. According to sustainableconnections.org, shopping locally reduces your environmental impact in several ways. For one, local businesses tend to source their supplies locally, which means there is less transportation and use of fossil fuels involved in getting products to you.

Shopping locally for your food has even more environmental impact, since local farmers tend to be better stewards of the local earth and environment, as they rely on it for generations’ worth of sustainable farming. Even local farms that are not certified organic use more sustainable farming practices than sprawling farming conglomerates that grow produce for chain supermarkets and box stores.

5. Recycle

Because more cities are focusing on green initiatives, it’s often easier for urban dwellers to recycle than it is for suburbanites or individuals who live in the country to do the same. If you aren’t already recycling whenever possible, find out more about your city’s recycling initiatives, and take advantage of them.

One advantage of apartment living is that urban apartments often offer recycling pick-up services. Even if this isn’t the case with your apartment, check for recycling drop-off points within easy walking distance of your home. You can seriously reduce your environmental footprint simply by recycling whatever and whenever you can.

6. Support Your Local Parks

As today’s cities strive to become more environmentally friendly, more of them are putting environmental initiatives into practice by cultivating green spaces for the communities in the form of local parks. These green spaces help clean up the air in cities, and can even help clean up the water supply that is often contaminated by run-off from the city’s asphalt and concrete services.

By supporting your local parks systems through voting for city initiatives that support and expand city parks, volunteering in your local park, or simply enjoying what the parks system has to offer on a regular basis, you can ensure that your city continues to expand and promote the parks system.

Going green even when you live in the city isn’t actually that difficult. Sure, you probably can’t raise chickens or grow all your own produce, but you can buy locally-raised poultry and vegetables and grow your own herbs instead. These six simple steps can help you reduce your carbon footprint and have a positive impact for the environment, even when you live in the city.

This article was contributed by Daniela Baker from http://www.creditdonkey.com/frugal-commuter.html

This article was originally posted on Natural Environment.