written by Aaron Miller and Stefanie Valovic
We came up with some easy ways to be green in 2013. You will find that these are the same commonsense things that our parents and grandparents have always done and you are probably doing some of them already. You will also find that you help our community in the process. Are your New Year’s resolutions to save money and lose weight? These will help with those too. Here are 8 Steps to a Greener 2013:
Clean up after yourself (and your dog).
Sometimes the most obvious things are the most overlooked. For some reason, too many people think that they are not responsible for their own messes. Pick up your Dunkin Donuts cups, your cigarette butts and soda cans and then recycle them. Many responsible members of our community (including Sister
Susan Morris and the Youth Ambassadors) devote regular time and energy to cleaning up litter and it is disappointing when others don’t pitch in. You don’t want to agitate a nun. Seriously. Good news on this front: many
West and East Broadway shops have signed a pledge to keep their storefronts clean. Here is a list:
Save big money by saving energy.
You can save so much money immediately by taking some very simple step to weatherize your home. The City of Boston’s Renew Boston program is offering no-cost home energy efficiency improvements to qualifying Bostonians. Renew Boston will provide a range of no-cost efficiency services including a comprehensive home energy assessment and up to $3500 in insulation and air sealing. With a cold winter and high heating costs upon us, call 617-635-SAVE or visit www.renewboston.org. Other small ways to save big on your energy bill are to unplug unused appliances and wash your clothes in cold water. And don’t forget Dad’s favorite: turn off the lights when you leave the room.
Buy less new stuff.
The kind of commonsense our grandparents practiced is even more relevant today. Frequent our fabulous Goodwill (470 West Broadway), Craigslist and garage sales to find great deals and also to unload your extra stuff. Little kids don’t care if their toys and cloths are hand-me-downs; teens appreciate vintage style; adults love to save a buck and people in need can use your extra winter coats. Everybody wins. Also, remember that we have a great library; so new books are not always necessary.
Not only will you be supporting our community’s local economy, you will be helping the environment as well by saving gas. Walk there and bring your own bag. Some of our eco-friendly shops include Blue Tierra Chocolate Cafe (at 258 West Broadway); the Running Emporium at 343 West Broadway (save 10% the last Friday of every month if you walk, ride the T or wear green) and the brand new American Provisions at 613 East Broadway. American Provisions offers organic and locally-sourced food staples such as eggs, bread and milk that are actually quite affordable compared to your average chain convenience store.
Boston makes it easy with the new big blue bins; no more sorting. Just rinse and toss it in. Need a bin? Go to HYPERLINK “http://mayors24.boston.gov/Ef3/General.jsp?form=SSP_PWDx28_RequestforRecyclingCart&page=notificationto”http://mayors24.boston.gov/Ef3/General.jsp?form=SSP_PWDx28_RequestforRecyclingCart&page=notificationto request one from the City. It is also easy to recycle electronic gadgets, computers, paint and other materials. Just visit www.earth911.com and enter our zip code and the kind of stuff you are looking to get rid of. Another form of recycling is to compost food scraps to make garden soil. Grandma was big on this. The City offers discounted compost bins and information about how to build your own:
Finally, say goodbye to plastic bags. We picked up a half dozen reusable cloth bags at the street festival. The Goodwill has a bunch too. Got questions about recycling? Ask Patti at Broadway Lock (313 West Broadway). She’s an expert.
Ride the T, bike or walk.
Leave the car at home and save your parking space in the process. Save money; burn some calories; cut down on the road rage. Enough said.
Save or plant a tree.
South Boston doesn’t have a lot of trees. In fact, we have fewer trees than almost any other Boston neighborhood. Trees work to cut down air and noise pollution, soak up extra rain, increase property values, and even help keep down crime. Sure, they lose their leaves and can be some work to maintain, but that’s just a good reason to hire a local kid to earn a few extra bucks cleaning them up for you.
Eat locally grown food.
Last but not least: grow some of your own fruits and vegetables. You don’t need much space and can grow things like herbs in containers on your porch or windowsill. Start small. Kids love to garden too. Don’t have room for a garden? Volunteer with South Boston Grows ( HYPERLINK “http://www.southbostongrows.org” www.southbostongrows.org) community gardens at St. Monica’s and West Broadway (coming this Spring). Also, in the summer, remember to shop at the South Boston Farmer’s Market (460 West Broadway). Tell lovely Mary, the Market Manger that we sent you.
About the authors: Aaron Miller and Stefanie Valovic are West 2nd Street residents who help organize Planet Southie, an all-volunteer neighborhood group. Learn more at