Cities are monstrous. They are these horrible creatures killing our wildlife, polluting the air, overconsuming water, and making everyone obese. Right?
Might be. But this is certainly not the impression most of us have when we think about places where we live. Actually, we LOVE cities.
For most of us, May 23, 2007 is just another day in the calendar, but not for demographers for sure as they know that this date marks the beginning of the new era a.k.a. “Urban Millennium” – the time when more than 50 percent of the Earth’s population became urban.
Over the past 100 years, we have made a huge leap in urbanization – from 13 percent of the world population living in the cities in 1900 to over 54 percent today.
We need the cities because they are awesome.
For most of us, cities are places where we go to look for opportunities such as education, career, and personal development. We love to have a cup of marshmallow cocoa at our favorite cafe on a Sunday afternoon or being completely immersed into the vortex of business affairs during the week. We can’t live without meetups of our local running club and feel completely bummed if we have to miss that awesome party our friend is throwing.
Cities are our homes.
And it’s absolutely lovely when a home is standing amidst a green lawn, not far from a forest where birds are chirping and bunnies are hopping. When everything and everyone coexists peacefully.
Cities are not famous for in being harmony with nature and for most people, the words “city” and “nature” are actually antonyms. In our minds, they are similar to two different realities which are like parallel lines that can never intersect. Or can they?
Everything depends on us. As the old saying goes: “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. Let’s take a look how we, city dwellers, can live in peace and harmony with nature.
1) You are What You Eat
Food is abundant in our cities. It comes in all different shapes, colors, sizes, smells, and tastes. We all need it. We get it by dutifually cooperating with nature. Thus, there shouldn’t be any conflicts, right?
Not really. We have to look at how foods are grown and ways they are delivered to us. A lot of fruits and vegetables are grown with help of different pesticides and other chemicals polluting our soil and water.
Animal agriculture produces more green gas emissions than cars. The problem with large scale food production companies is that they tend to overuse resources, which brings soil poisoning and desertization to the environment
If you don’t want to contribute to destroying ecosystems, there’s a great alternative: farmers’ markets. In most cities, you can find places where local farmers gather to sell goods, usually on weekends. It’s an awesome opportunity for you to stock up on fresh, 100 percent organically-grown groceries. It’s also a great way to support local farmers, who usually find it difficult to compete with big, national chains.
OR…you could grow your own produce instead. If you live in an active community, you can even start your own garden! Community gardens are becoming more and more popular nowadays and it’s a great way to be in harmony with nature despite living in an urban jungle. What can be better than fruits and veggies that you grow yourself?
Plus, working with like-minded people for a common cause can make you feel happier and more fulfilled.
2) Optimize Your Transportation
We all know how bad our cars are for the environment, but the comfort of having a personal vehicle seems to be more important than our own health. Still, there are other ways of getting from A to B.
If you live in a larger city for instance, using public transportation shouldn’t be a problem for you. More people on a bus means fewer cars on the road. Another cool way to save money on your commute and decrease negative impact on the environment is ride-sharing (also known as carpooling). You can share rides with your neighbors, friends, or even strangers. It’s cheaper and more fun to go places with company, after all.
Or you can have a completely car-free life like sustainable-living blogger Alden Wicker of Ecocult. Here’s what Alden has to say about her experience:
“Switching from a car to a bike or public transportation does take some planning, but my advice is to just go for it. There will be some bumps along the way (you’ll learn heels aren’t great when running down the Metro steps, or that bike tires get flat when left unused for a while) but if you keep going (even despite the lack of climate control), you’ll figure out your own tricks to arriving at your destination on time”.
3) Dress Sustainably
Today, we buy 400 percent more clothing than we did 20 years ago. Fast fashion has contributed to 13.1 million tons of clothing thrown away every year and only 15 percent of it gets recycled.
That’s a LOT of waste if you take into consideration the fact that on average, 700 gallons of water are used to produce ONE T-shirt. What can you do about that? Use the principle “less is more” .
In the long run, it’s cheaper to buy fewer, more durable clothes of higher quality. You can also find places where clothing is recycled. More and more stores have recycling programs, which makes it incredibly easy to get rid of unwanted items responsibly.
Businesses can be environmentally-conscious, too. Preciousy, for example, is an online clothing and accessories store that donates 5 percent of its profits to a foundation protecting elephants in Africa. Buying snacks from Project 7 on the other hand, lets you make a donation to Earth-protecting initiatives.
Shopping with such similar businesses is a win-win situation because you get to buy things you love, plus feel good about donating to causes you care about. Certainly an amazing way to be in harmony with nature!
4) Join Green Living Organizations
Show me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.
The environment you surround yourself with plays a huge role in directing your personal growth. So why not join a green living group in your city. You can also support a green cause by becoming a volunteer. Not only will communication with like-minded people feed you spiritually, but you can also learn a lot on how to live in harmony with nature.
5) Spread the Buzz
If you plan on doing something difficult, it’s great to have someone who has already done it. Seeing someone else’s success will give you more confidence that you can do it, too!
If you’re already living green and loving it, why not inspire others? People from all walks of life after all, love to hear inspirational stories. Share your experience and thoughts with your friends as they might not even know that certain problems exist. Show them that living green is really fun and that the transition is NOT that painful.
As Gandhi said: “be the change you want to see in the world”. We are all contributing to the change every day. Let’s make sure it’s always positive! Let’s try to be in harmony with nature – despite living in cities.