Showing posts with label Urban Living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Urban Living. Show all posts

Thursday, 7 June 2012

In praise of feet

Transport is a source of green guilt for me. My other half is a petrolhead and has loved cars and engines and horsepower and other dark arts that I don't fully care to understand since he first uttered the word 'car'. I do not drive as of yet and I am no fan of being a passenger. Still, I find myself being chauffeured about quite a lot. I also don't cycle. Cycling in cities is stressful; cycling in this city is also dangerous judging from some of the many bike/car mash-ups I have witnessed and I am not particularly confident on two wheels. Buses and trains are my preferred choice for longer journeys and the journey to work, until this week - I have started to walk to and from work.

I leave the house at 5.45am, it is light and cool at this time of year. The birds are awake and actually noticeable without the torrent of cars that will fill the roads just a few hours later. I walk hard for an hour until I reach the bridge that takes me off island; and then take a slow mosey up the hill that leads to my workplace. By 7am I have completed the 4.5 mile journey, with half an hour to spare before my shift begins. The journey to work is more pleasant than the journey back home. The afternoons are becoming hot and sticky, the roads are busy and I am tired. But the journey is still invigorating after a day of constantly reacting to telephones and emails.The journey is a time to slow my brain down and be mindful of my surroundings.

I admit to having every advantage. Firstly, my workplace has showering and changing facilities for its several thousand employees. There are bicycle lock ups and onsite security if cycling is your thing. You can buy a hot cooked breakfast should you need a reward for your strenuous journey. Everything is geared up to be cyclist and walker friendly, which cannot be said for the majority of workplaces. I can afford to take the journey slowly, I live in a fairly safe city and I am healthy, if not physically fit.

Feet should be our primary mode of transport, as the transport of the masses for thousands of years. If you wanted to go somewhere, you walked, however far and however inclement the weather. There are ancient footpaths crisscrossing the whole of Britain, some remain as leisure routes, some are now sadly obscured by dual carriageways or housing estates. Feet are now something to be encased in ridiculously impractical shoes as you pay for them to be carried with the rest of you to you destination. I have been looked at with bemusement by colleagues who pay to drive to work and then pay for gym memberships that they resent using. The cyclists don't understand why I would want to take my time getting to work when I can get there in half an hour on two wheels.

Being a whole 5'10" from my brain, where I seem to do most of my living, I have ignored my feet for the most part. I appreciate them once again and have begun to take better care of them. They are frugal (I save almost an hours wages each day by not paying for public transport) and they are a means to better physical and mental health. They are now itching to go other places, different routes, longer distances; to wear comfy boots and to be soaked and rubbed at the end of the day, and treated with the care they deserve - and to be lived in a little more.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Garage Sale

by Amanda of Amanda Brooke

We've been de-cluttering and sorting through our home in recent weeks in preparation for a garage sale. With the attitude that if we don't use it or need it there is a pile of unwanted goods in one corner of our living room growing bigger in size as the weeks go by. Any items we don't want to try and recoup some money from we have donated to local opportunity stores. It's a messy time for us, but very cleansing too!

I posted a link to a website I discovered last week on my Facebook business page for the National Garage Sale Trail. (You can click on the image to be taken to the website) I was impressed by this concept in that it involves the entire nation, promotes selling of goods instead of throwing things into landfill and I thought it would be a good incentive to set a date for ours and become involved. Our local shire is participating and they are providing a list of sales registered with the event in our local area.

One lovely reader of my Facebook page interestingly commented that she believed that the 'Garage sale' was 'dying' and that online selling was replacing them. I was surprised by this as the garage sale is alive and well in our local area with some 10 to 20 listings each week in the classifieds of our local paper. Whilst I agree that online selling is popular and Garage sale numbers may lessen over the years I just couldn't imagine them being a thing of the past. Then I started to wonder is it a reflection of the areas we live in or am I personally worried as I love the community feel of a garage sale and don't want to see their numbers diminishing? Are garage sales less common in more suburban areas? Are they more popular in 'country' areas? Are younger generations more keen to sell online than host a sale? Am I alone in that I love a garage sale...having a good rummage...learning about the history of an item from the original owner...and would prefer to view items before purchase and not have to 'bid' for them? Do local councils make it too difficult to hold sales?

I would really love to hear from readers here from all over the world. In relation to your community do you feel that garage sale/yard sale numbers are diminishing and do you imagine that they will lessen as the years go by to be replaced by online selling?

Amanda x

Saturday, 24 September 2011

City Mouse, Country Mouse

by Linda@The Witches Kitchen

A post on Little Eco Footprints this week called Are we making a mistake living in the city? has been in the back of my mind at odd moments all week.  I live in a rural community.  I moved here as a young hippy mum nearly 30 years ago, living first in a caravan with no power, road access, or running water.  I have never regretted it and although it was diabolically hard in those early years, I do have the best of lives.

But sometimes, like the deserted beach or the fantastic suburban restaurant, things are only fantastic so long as no-one else knows they are.  Is living in the country like that?  Is it only possible to do it without destroying it because most people don't?

My "perfect world" fantasy has everyone living in permacultured villages with tiny ecological footprints, networked and linked with electric railways and internet (powered with geothermal or big desert solar installations), largely self sufficient in food, water, waste disposal, houshold and local energy, trading knowledge, culture, art, craft, manufactured goods and specialist crops.

The villages would be neither city nor country, but a bit of both.  They would have enough population density so that people could get around by foot and bicycle - kids could walk to school and to their friends places to play, neighbours would be close enough to rely on in emergencies or even just to borrow a cup of flour or a tool or visit for a chat.  But they would have a low enough density to allow most of the fresh food production to be local - kitchen gardens, fruit trees, chickens, geese, dairy cows.

That's not a very different level of population density to the older suburbs in Australia. As permaculture writer David Holmgren says, "It's technically possible that the traditional older suburbs could actually produce all of the food needed to sustain the people living there. The amount of open space - both public and private space in backyards - means that you've got a population density not that much greater than some of the densest traditional agricultural landscapes in the world."

FAO says that "It is realistic to suppose that the absolute minimum of arable land to support one person is a mere 0.07 of a hectare–and this assumes a largely vegetarian diet, no land degradation or water shortages, virtually no post-harvest waste, and farmers who know precisely when and how to plant, fertilize, irrigate, etc."  John Jeavons claims that  0.2 hectare can support a family of four. So my fantasy isn't unreasonable.  There's a batch of other references here, if you're interested.

But back to my fantasy.  Households and small businesses would have local grid connected solar power and rainwater tanks for water, with local water and power boards managing supply and floating pricing to force frugality in times of shortage. Along the same principles as the current push for carbon pricing - people figure out ways to use less of something when it's expensive.

Villages would have their own schools, hospitals, and local economies, based on trading everyday goods and services, but would be connected by high speed electric trains to allow some villages to produce specialist and higher education, specialist medical services, centres of excellence in research, arts and sport, and manufactured goods and specialist crops. Villages would also be connected via the internet, allowing work in any kind of knowledge industries to be globalised.

Giant solar installations in the desert would provide the power for the railways and energy intensive manufacturing.  There would be no private cars.  Petrol would be very expensive and reserved for engines and manufactured goods that couldn't do without it. Young adults would go backpacking round the world on trains, bikes and sailing boats.

Thump.  That was me falling back to earth.

In reality, both urban dwellers and country dwellers are a long way from my fantasy. With the prices people are willing to pay for quality food, and the cut that goes to packaging, transport, storage, wholesalers then supermarkets, it's no wonder that many farming practices are the equivalent of strip mining of farmland, as destructive to the environment as concrete suburbs. Much of our food is industrially produced, in CAFOs and ILOs that are just like rural factories. Both farmland and urbanisation are threats to biodiversity. Both lifestyles rely, in different ways, on huge energy subsidies.

I think most rural areas in Australia at least would benefit hugely from a big population influx of people intent on creating a simple green frugal lifestyle. It would move them towards, not away from my fantasy.  But in reality, the majority of the population lives in cities, and it is there that the real work of creating change needs to be done, and will have the biggest effects, for all of us.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

My Little Reminders

By: Notes From The Frugal Trenches

When I lived by the sea all I needed was a walk along the coast to remind myself of my journey, to remember the importance of breathing deeply, loving widely and living gently. When I moved away from a more rural live I was scared I wouldn't find those little reminders, but oh they arrived, little daily reminders about the joy found through a simple, green and frugal life.

I'm reminded of this commitment and life every time I:

:: Purchase fresh produce from local farmers at the market!

:: Put fresh bedding in my vermicompost!

:: Find light in my home or snuggle with the furries

:: Take my knitting everywhere I go - even when in dim light, which may explain the holes which plague my knitting ;)

:: Enjoy a plain Jane cup of tea after a good day's work or a long hike!

Do you have beautiful little reminders which help you delight in your journey/choices/values?

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Bloom Where You Are Planted

By: Notes From The Frugal Trenches

When I think about the culture around me, I think it is a culture of excuses; the truth, is I used to be a part of that culture. All around me I hear the statement if only; if only we had the money to have land, we would hang out sheets to dry, if only we had a bigger kitchen, we would make jam, if only we could afford it, I wouldn't work so much. I used to believe those lies myself. I used to think everyone else had easier options because they had houses in the countryside, or more money, or less demanding jobs. Slowly but surely through small, little steps in my frugal, simple and green journey I began to see the truth.

-I may not have land to plant, but I can grow herbs in my kitchen
-I may not have acres for chickens, but I can volunteer at a farm
-I may not have a garden, but I can hang my sheets inside
-I may not have a big country kitchen, but I can make jam and preserves and cook from scratch
-I may not have solar panels, but I can reduce, reuse and recycle
-I may not have a big garden compost, but I have my vermicomposter in my little city flat

The truth I discovered is this: in almost any circumstance, you can choose to bloom where you are planted, or choose to stay underground. Listing all the reasons you can't simplify, or make frugal, green choices, will never let you break through the barrier to a purposeful life. Thinking everyone else has it easier, or is able to make choices you can't is debilitating. But when you see a life filled with choices and options and gratitude, you begin to bloom into something that grows before your very eyes. Your life may look different to others, you may have unique strengths, challenges and barriers, but your bloom can be just as beautiful.

I'm attempting to choose, even in more challenging times, to bloom where I'm planted, are you?

Sunday, 2 January 2011

The return of the sun

By Aurora, Island Dreaming

Whilst all seasons have their charms and downsides, I think that most people have times of year that they prefer. My perennially pale complexion marks summer as my natural enemy and my feeble circulatory system sees winter as its foe, hence I thrive in spring and autumn. Winter here this year  has been dreary - one day of pristine, crunchy snow followed by weeks of slush, freezing temperatures, greyness and treacherous ice. The rest of the country descended into snowy chaos as we turned into Sweden for a few weeks, though without any of that nation's preparedness. This is one winter I will be particularly glad to see the end of.

I feel the transition from winter is very much a 'countryside' season that can fall flat in the city, with its evergreen shrub beds, annual planting schemes and general lack of wildlife. Nevertheless, now the solstice is past; the first signs of new growth will begin to appear, just as the harshest part of winter descends upon us.The days lengthen by a few minutes everyday, the sun rises a little higher in the sky, warmer days will eventually come. Whilst now is still a time to be hunkering down against the elements in temperate northern climates, it is also a good time to begin planning for the approaching season (if for no other reason than all this dark and cold is getting a little old for my liking).

For gardeners the tasks for the coming months are obvious - tidying, planning, seed selecting and starting. But I am also starting to look at how our menu will change, what produce will be coming into season and what wines and preserves I can make early on in the year. Open-farm 'lambing' days begin at the end of this month and continue through to spring, a great opportunity to get acquainted with local food producers. As we now have an allotment, we might visit a 'Potato day' to pick up some unusual tubers to plant. Most importantly, I would like to bring the season alive for our toddler son  - buds unfurling and baby birds chirping, the wonder of planting a seed and watching it grow - and need to plan as many outings and activities as possible to that effect, both in and out of the city.

The temptation, in the depths of winter, is to try and preempt Spring. Last New Year, in my eagerness to see something grow, I sowed tomatoes and aubergines on my shady windowsill - far too early, far too prolifically. By the time the initially weedy growth matured and got too big for the windowsill, we were still in the midst of frosts and biting winter winds. This year, despite my itching to get on and do something, anything, that affirms that greenery and abundance will once again be returning to my patio, I have not yet succumbed.  Instead I am quietly observing what is going on around me, waiting for the first signs of spring and tidying up a few stray ends in the garden, ready to pounce when the right day comes.

Wherever you are, in the midst of whatever season, I wish you a very happy and prosperous 2011.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Simple, Green & Frugal in the BIG SMOKE!

By: Notes From The Frugal Trenches

When I first began writing for the co-op, I was in a small city surrounded by countryside and I was waiting for the day when homesteading was in my future. While I've not let go of that dream and do expect one day to be surrounded by fields of donkeys, pigs, hens and rabbits (oh my!) right now I'm embarking on a new adventure, big city living. For a variety of reasons this is the right option for now and truth be told, the longer I'm on this journey & the older I get, the more I realize it doesn't have to be all or nothing when it comes to the simple, green and frugal life!

Since I knew I'd be moving I've been reflecting, researching and deciding what simple, green and frugal choices I can make during this new adventure in big city living; the more I think about it and begin to put new rhythms into practice, the more I've realized I'll be living quite a green existence. Some of the ideas I'm incorporating into my daily and weekly rhythm, which allow me to live to the values I hold, even in a city are:

1. I'm going car-less - one of the readers from the co-op challenged me to this and at the time I thought it would be impossible. Well, I made a decision to accept a position which I didn't "need" a car for. Yes a car would be easier, but it isn't "needed" so alas, I'm going without!

2. I'm creating a home filled with mostly second hand items! In fact I'm now the proud owner of some pretty funky retro furnishings!

3. I will be shopping at a market sourced by local farmers! This also means I'll be able to source large amounts of seasonal fruit and veg for canning!

4. My apartment is within walking distance to work! My two feet are pretty much the greenest form of transport available to me! [For the curious, I cast my apartment net within a 1 hour walk to work, although settled on something a little closer!]

5. I plan to grow salad herbs inside my apartment and enjoy fresh cut local & seasonal flowers when possible!

6. I will be volunteering in the outdoors: city farms, fruit picking clubs and local park clean up projects will help fill my time!

7. I've found knitting and crafting clubs to join!

8. I'll be making my own shampoo and soap.

9. I will be using re-usable toilet paper! [Yes, really!]

10. I'm budgeting for 10 subway tokens a month in order to make the wider communities (aka communities with parks, ravines and nature areas) accessible!

11. I'll continue being paper-less and chemical free! No paper towels or chemical based cleaners - I'll be using re-usable cloth, vinegar and baking soda!

12. I'll actually be able to go home for lunch probably three days a week! This will drastically make meals easier, more frugal and simpler!

13. A lot of people want to spend time in the city I'm in, but hotels are very expensive! I'm hoping I'll be able to do a house swap for holidays and enjoy a few days a couple of times a year on a farm, small-holding or home in the country for minimal cost!

Finally, I'm considering a worm farm compost, I just need to check the landlords opinion! :)

Do you have any suggestions for me about ways in which one can lead a simple, green and frugal life in the city? Like me are you surprised at how green city living can be?

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

My Dichotomy

by Gavin, from The Greening of Gavin.

Have you ever been split between two paradigms?

Well, my life seems to be a constant tug of war between the two main parts of my day that both demand equal amounts of my attention.

Firstly, my job.  I work with a multi-national in Information Technology in the central business district of Melbourne, Australia.  I need to travel from my semi-rural home to the city each day with a total round trip of 2 and a half hours, door to door which is 50 km one way.  I drive to the train station in my Hybrid car, then catch a country train for 50 minutes, then a city train for 10 minutes, and walk from the underground station to a high rise building and work on the 31st floor in a little cubicle that a battery hen would enjoy, surrounded by workmates who probably do the same.

Whilst at work, I do the best I can to be sustainable as I possibly can in an office environment.  I avoid printing, turn off lights in unused meeting rooms, shut down my computer and monitor when I leave, and take the stairs when travelling between floors.  I also work very hard and am proud of my accomplishments at the end of the day.  It is a complex and stressful part of my day, getting even more complex as time goes on.  I often think about the diminishing returns of technology, and that increasing complexity creates larger and larger technology failures.  It is this complexity that is one side of my dichotomy.

Alternatively, when I arrive home, my entire day changes.  Simple tasks like checking on the chickens, enjoying good food from our garden, savouring time with loved ones, and just enjoy the little things like pottering around the garden at my own pace.  Life just slows right down.  I don't need to try and be green and sustainable at home because that is just the way we have designed everything around us, the way we all behave, and what we like talking about.  A very simple lifestyle and we continue to simplify it at every chance we get.

So, as you can see, I have opposing forces at play each Monday to Friday.  One of complexity, hustle and bustle of city life during the day, and a slow, simple lifestyle during the non-job times.  I often remember back to what my life was like when I only had one reality to deal with.  It was unfulfilled, boring, and mind numbing.  Now that I have this yin and yang thing going on, I find that feel kind of in balance and certainly in tune with the things that really matter in my life being, family, the environment and sustainable living.  However, if the balance was tipped the other way towards a completely slow lifestyle, would I still strive so hard in my endeavour to make my local community a better place to live by promoting and educating other about the joys of a simple and sustainable lifestyle? 

I don't really know the answer to that question because I haven't reached that part of my journey yet.  However I can tell you that I know which one I prefer, which is the sustainable lifestyle that our family constantly strives for.  I bet by now you are wondering why I don't throw away the complexity and fully embrace the simple life I so enjoy and desire.  Well, there is this little thing called a mortgage that still needs to be paid off.  We have been pulling together all of our resources together to pay it down as quickly as possible, and all being well, I predict that it will be paid off in 5 and a half years, just in time for my 52nd birthday!  When that happens I believe that my dichotomy will vanish, and all I will need is part time work to earn enough for the few simple needs we will have.

Do any of you have the same dilemma?  City by day, and country by night and weekend.  What are your experiences and what plans do you have to embrace a simpler lifestyle?  If anyone has already made the switch, I would love to hear about your experience.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

These Boots Were Made For Walking...Going Car Free!

By: Notes From The Frugal Trenches

Just shy of a month ago, I moved abroad. I left my little eco friendly car behind (no room for it on the plane you see!) and arrived car-free, but not quite care-free. The decision to go car-less for as long as possible was both purposeful and intentional and while I had a small moan yesterday on my blog, the reality is, I have found it a very blessed experience. I suppose, for me, owning a car is like owning a TV, it provides opportunities, but it is very easy to over-use. If a car, or TV, charged $10 for a 30 minute use and you had to pay to drive/watch I would probably find it easier to choose to walk when the car is in the driveway or find something else to do rather than stare at a screen...but alas "free" at point of entry is too tempting at times. And while I didn't own a car from age 17-24 I have gotten a tad too comfortable with the convenience of it all!

The weather has been hot, well over 100 degrees each day, yet my commitment to walking everywhere has meant I've simply found a rhythm which works for me, a rhythm which makes me be more purposeful and sacrificial, which chooses priority over apathy. I walk to a pool and swim (to exercise and cool off), walk to shops, job interviews, visit friends, run errands, go to the bank, volunteer or pretty much do anything else. Most of where I need to go is no more than about a 75 minute walk each way and to be honest, walking has opened up a whole new world. While I'm in a smallish city on my walks I've seen deer, beavers, raccoons, groundhogs, robins, blue jays, cardinals and an adorable yellow bird I've not yet been able to name. Friends of mine who go the same route in their cars have never, in 10 years (compared to my month), seen any such beauties. Through walking I've met people, happened on community farmers markets, found new places to explore and felt an incredible connection not offered by the disconnect which is an easy consequence of using a car to get from point A to B, B to C, C to D. I've noticed that many people are happy to "go for a walk" but not to "have to walk" to a specific point. Many people have asked me how I've walked in this heat and the answer is, I try to accomplish tasks early in the morning (which has provided a natural rhythm to my days), I wear long sleeves and a hat, I drink water and when it gets too much I simply "pull over" and find a new place to explore for a bit of a breather! I've also found that walking everywhere has made me need to be organized, I can't simply "nip to the shops" when the shops are a 65 minute walk each way, so being purposeful about my time has become a necessity!

The reality is, at some point I may "need" to get a car, because in my line of work 90% of jobs advertised list one as essential for being hired. Many years ago, I remember seeing a neighbour who lived 40 feet (1 house away) from the postbox drive down her drive and stop at the postbox, collect her mail and drive back. I asked her if she forgot something and she said she simply couldn't be bothered to walk. I hope, my couple of months with no car makes me choose to connect when possible rather than disconnect, helps me keep with the simple, frugal and green commitment of walking whenever possible and makes me less like my old neighbour and more like the person I am today.

While I know for many a car is a need, if for some reason I find a job which doesn't require a car, I am seriously considering trying to go a year without. When you add up car insurance, tax, petrol, break-down cover and (for many) the car payments, compared to my two working feet it seems like a very expensive want...or I could find some sort of a pay as you go system, $10 for 30 minutes which I think would mean I choose my feet a whole lot more and sitting behind the wheel a whole lot less.

Have you ever gone without a car out of necessity or circumstance? What did it teach you? Did you find it a simple, green and frugal choice? Have you ever cut down on your use of your car and how did you keep yourself motivated when it was there to be used?

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

10 Steps We Take To Live Sustainably In The City

Ellis on our apartment's rooftop deck

By Melinda Briana Epler, 

A few weeks ago, I was asked what my husband and I do to reduce our impact on the earth in the city (thanks to Chookie for asking).  Let me start by telling you all that three years ago, we lived in the middle of Los Angeles and thought we couldn't live sustainably in the city.  We believed that so steadfastly, that we moved to the country and lived on a vineyard outside of a little rural town, where we grew most of our own food and made nearly everything from scratch.

We loved it.  At first.  We became healthier, we relaxed after a stressful few years in the film industry, I started writing, and we watched the sun set and the stars rise nearly every night.

But slowly different realities began to set in:  we didn't quite fit into our town no matter how hard we tried.  Worse, we couldn't find work that paid enough to live on.  Worse still, we couldn't get anywhere without driving very long distances.  And worst of all, it turned out the vineyard we lived on (and just about every farm in the US) heavily sprays pesticides several times per year - our cat nearly died, and I'll guess we took a couple months off our own lives.  Our carefully cultivated organic garden was not really organic, it turned out.

While we learned a great deal, we realized that for us, back to the land was not the answer to sustainable living.  So we began to search:  across the world, we sought a place where we could live sustainably.  And it was a tough search, because sustainable now meant economically, socially, personally, and environmentally sustainable.  

After researching for several weeks, we settled on Seattle.   The Emerald City has made major changes to become a greener place to live, focusing on walkability, public transportation, recycling, community gardens, green spaces, community building, and much more.  Seattle will also fare fairly well as the climate begins to change.  We also chose to live not just anywhere in Seattle, but the densest area of Seattle, so that we could live almost completely without a car.  

Here are the most important steps we take to live sustainably in the city:
  1. Walk.  If you can't walk, Bike.  If you can't Bike, take Public Transportation.  If you can't take Public Transportation, Carpool.  If you can't Carpool, don't go.  Or at least think twice about it.
  2. Stop watching television.  Cruel, isn't it?  I know, but listen:  not only does the television suck up a lot of electricity, but it also sucks up a lot of your time.  That's time you could spend gardening, cooking, cleaning, or talking and laughing.
  3. Eat fresh, local foods.  You can find them in your garden, the farmer's market, a local farm, a CSA, a local co-op, a natural foods store, or a local grocery store - but the more you eat fresh, local foods, the less packaging you use, the less refrigeration you need, the less gas is used transporting your food, and the better the flavors and vitamins within the foods.
  4. When not in use, turn it off.  That goes for water, lights, computers, televisions - you name it, if you aren't using it, turn it off.  It's amazing how much money you can save this way, let alone resources.
  5. Take advantage of thrift stores.  Suss out the best ones in your area - you just might be amazed at what you'll find!  I wear nice, fashionable office clothing and about half my wardrobe came from thrift stores.  Including some nice pairs of shoes!  You can also find some household items this way, and even decent furniture.
  6. De-complicate.  There is no reason to have twenty different cleaners in your cupboard, when vinegar mixed with water can do just about everything.  And if vinegar doesn't work, try baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, or good old soap!  Cheaper, easier, and better for the environment too.
  7. De-stuff.  Stop buying stuff because society says you need it.  Instead, do without or buy it conscientiously - buy something that will last.  And by the same token, go through your cupboards and closets and garage and start to give away stuff you don't need.  Someone else probably does need it, and right now it's probably unnecessarily complicating your life in little ways.
  8. Become a part of your community.  It's an amazing feeling when the small world around you is somehow tied to you, and you are tied to it.  When you're connected to your neighborhood you create an informal barter system by learning and sharing both things and ideas.  You can also work to improve the neighborhood together, and become a unified voice in political campaigns.  There are a number of ways becoming a part of your community can reduce your negative impact and increase your happiness.
  9. Compost and recycle.  Of course, right?  It's amazing how little garbage we have each month because just about all our waste can be reused in one way or another.  If you don't have regular recycling pick-up, collect your recycling in your garage and take it to a local recycling center - almost every city has one.  And composting is easy in your own backyard or under the kitchen sink!
  10. Plan ahead.  Plan ahead for the holidays by making things to give.  Plan ahead for work by making your lunch in the morning.  Plan ahead for tougher economic times by putting a bit of money away.  Plan ahead for the winter by canning, freezing, or drying foods in the summer.  Plan ahead when you're buying an appliance or a piece of furniture - make sure it will last a long time and work in different locations.  Plan ahead on your trip to work or your trip across country, so you don't have to buy anything at the last minute.  Plan ahead when you go to the grocery store - plan your meals, or at least write a list before you go - so you know what you need later in the week.  Plan ahead.
I hope this helps some of you.  Most of these things are probably no different than what you all do in the country or in suburbia to live more sustainably.  

Please add your most important steps to living sustainably in the comments!