Even the tiniest of towns can do good things for the environment and contribute to global efforts to fighting climate change. We usually cover big cities and their efforts of improving their relationship with the natural environment, so it’s worth looking at the other end of the scale. We’ve looked at a zero-waste town in Japan, a town banning bottled water, and way back in 2007 we looked at a town banning smoking around kids and another that was Europe’s first town to ban plastic bags. This all proves that no matter where you live you can make the world a better place and maybe you can get inspired by these villages.
Grist has collected recent examples of small towns making big change. Here’s one that decided to fight apathy:
Ashton Hayes, a small town in the British countryside, set out to be the country’s first carbon-neutral community in 2006. But instead of using policy to regulate emissions, the community-led initiative focused on changing residents’ behavior. The townspeople strung up clotheslines, took fewer flights, and improved the insulation in their homes, shrinking their total carbon footprint by 40 percent so far.
Garry Charnook, the villager who jumpstarted the town’s low-carbon quest, told the New York Times: “There’s so much apathy. We need to squeeze that layer of apathy jelly and get it out.” About 200 towns, cities, and counties from around the globe have reached out to the Ashton Hayes community to learn how, exactly, they squeezed their “apathy jelly” (what is that — a dessert?) and got to work.
Something exciting is happening in Cleveland and it’s that beer is bringing a bountiful amount of success to a failing neighbourhood. Great Lakes Brewing Company (not to be confused with GLB in Toronto) is one of many brewers that are drawing people and jobs back into the core of Cleveland. What’s happening there is not unique to Cleveland and similar success can be found all over North America.
Call it a “brewery incubation system,” says Benner, one that provides space, equipment and start-up assistance for hobbyists itching to hit the beer big leagues. “We’re bridging the gap between the home and pro brewer.”
Platform’s brewhouse will also house an onsite taproom, meaning patrons will be able to sample a seasonal lineup of beers in the very space in which they’re brewed. “It’s a manufacturing place where you can have a beer,” says Benner. “People are going to feel a connection to their product.”
The business model is not all that unusual, he believes. Benner estimates that 95 percent of professional brewers started out making beer in their home kitchens. He brewed up his first batch of homebrew (summer wheat) after being introduced to the hobby by a friend. Benner was instantly hooked, and he thinks that mentality will help Platform carve out its own niche in Ohio City’s — and Cleveland’s — craft brew scene.
The meat industry is very energy intensive and the raising of animals for food takes up a lot of land. It’s no surprise then that to help save the environment one ought to eat less meat, but many people find it difficult to cut back their meat intake. Over at Flexitarian there’s a nice post on eight steps one can easily accomplish to decrease their meat consumption.
3) Go Local, Go Seasonal: visit your local market or farm shop. See what vegetables are in season and plan a dish around them. If you are not sure what to do with some of them ask the vendor.
4) Try World Cuisine: some cuisines (especially the ones blending lots of flavours and spices) are particularly well suited to meatless cooking. Try Indian, Mexican, Ethiopian etc..
Way back in 2008 I blogged on Open Source Ecology (OSE) which is an open source project to create tools and knowledge to build a fully sustainable village. The project has grown since then and they are going even further by designing tools that can be fabricated on site. Recently, they made a good video explaining more about what OSE is all about.
The University of Winnipeg was once lambasted in the annual MacLean’s ranking of Canadian Universities for having some of the worst campus food in the country (which is saying a lot…). Instead of wallowing in self-pity and eating another Big Mac to dull the pain, they hired a young, idealistic executive chef and completely overhauled their food services program. They now offer real food based around fresh, predominantly local ingredients, and have made this change using a business model that not only provides jobs to inner-city residents, but also manages to turn a profit.
Food is not historically a major priority of university administrations. But having taken over the school’s top job in 2004, [University President Lloyd] Axworthy, the former minister of foreign affairs, grew tired of the harsh reviews. Two years ago, he decided to buy out the contract of its large, multinational catering firm. In its place, the school established its own arm’s-length culinary company, Diversity Foods, in partnership with local non-profit SEED Winnipeg.