People come to us all the time and say, “the garden thing is great, but I live in an apartment – what can I do?” The answer is: PLENTY!
- Understand the issues. Humanity is facing climate change, peak oil, “peak everything”, and long-term economic contraction, simultaneously. Any solutions we implement must work for all. Reflect this understanding in your conversations and interactions with others. Don’t nurture false hopes (like “When the economy improves …” because it won’t.) Don’t outsource action by expecting political representatives to fix it (because they can’t). Encourage your friends and family to join you in PROACTIVISM: grassroots positive action to adapt and prepare for the realities of the future. Society must be prepared if we are to maintain any semblance of peace.
- Simplify. The typical American lifestyle – what most people call “normal” – consumes so much resources that if everyone on earth lived this way it would take five planets to produce it all. We must all adjust to something much more in line with what ONE small planet can produce. Learn to UNSHOP. Ask your self “Do I really need this?” When you do buy, buy resilience. Every dollar you spend is a vote – are you voting for a more-sustainable, more-resilient future everywhere you can? Reusable cloth napkins and real china dishes (cheap at garage sales) rather than the use-it-once-and-send-to-landfill kind. Locally grown food (try farmers market or backyard harvest swaps) that economically supports agricultural land use in close-to-the-city places where we need it for a lower carbon, post-petroleum future. Adjust your diet to in-season plants and view meat as an occasional condiment. Make reuse and local the way you do things within your family and circle of friends. How about consignment clothing and repurposed clothes. Break the chain: boycott local-business-destroying and community-destroying chain stores. Online, boycott the giants (Amazon, etc) and support small: Etsy, Bookfinder, etc. “Reduce” and “reuse” trump recycling every time: Quit bottled water, forever. Take reusable bags everywhere. Leave packaging with the store clerk to deliver a message to the store.
- Rethink transportation. Experiment with public transit and/or human-powered transport (walking and bicycles). Strive for one car-free day each week, and later increase it to two. When you must use a car, group your errands for efficiency. Learn the driving habits that are fuel conserving. Carpool or car share (Check CraigsList postings). Take the no-fly pledge. Long term: as a renter you are not as tied to an address as a homeowner – can you reduce your commute (to work, to family, to regular social gatherings) by moving?
- Co-everything. Set up worm bins in your apartment complex to process kitchen scraps and train fellow tenants to use them; then donate the valuable castings to a local school garden. Get landlord permission to create a gorgeous edible garden in front of the building (sell him on the $$ saved by eliminating the mow-blow-and-go) and get other residents involved. Get together with friends and try a big canning session with farmers market fruit. Perhaps get a community garden plot. Donate to support resilience-building projects and sustainability nonprofits. Join a gift circle or time bank – share your passions and skills. Volunteer for resilience-building causes: tree maintenance, school gardens, cob building projects, community building, neighborhood-rallying street art, Transition groups. Begin to experience the interconnected “ecosystem” of human relationships.
- Skill up. Learn the skills of a post-petroleum, economically leaner lifestyle. Functional handcrafts, sustainable health care, producing rather than consuming. Grow a vegetable or a few herbs in a large container on your balcony, or try other small-space food gardening ideas, to begin to learn about food. Perhaps help create a Skill-Sharing Open Mike in your local neighborhood. Acquire the skills of mediation, conflict-resolution, and consensus and practice them in your volunteer work. Learn about post-growth economics. Trouble with your job? Shift to, or supplement with, a resilience-building proprietorship. Take a Permaculture course, or self-educate in the concepts. As you learn, share your knowledge and skills. Become a resource-sharer. Blog/tweet/share about your journey, and make this stuff “the thing to do” within your circle of friends. (Share this article: http://tinyurl.com/apartmentcando )