by Stefanie Valovic and Aaron Miller
We at Planet Southie (www.planetsouthie.org) came up with some ways to be “greener” in 2014. You will find that many of 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 10 Steps to a Greener 2014:
- Join your Neighborhood Association. Over-development got you down? Do you think there should be more families, green space, walkable streets and other good stuff developed alongside the slew of new Southie residences, hotels and businesses? Save the date for your Neighborhood Association’s next meeting and show up. Find it here https://www.sbnac.org/ Why? Southie’s not going to get any more livable without everyone’s engagement. It can be a frustrating process (we know!), but look what happens when we don’t show up. Tired of meetings? Make a New Year’s resolution re-engage (maybe bring cupcakes to cheer up battle-worn neighbors). New to Southie? Please don’t be shy — these meetings are for you too! A great way to meet your neighbors and learn how to be a positive community force (you, especially, should bring cupcakes).
- Accept that Climate Change is Happening Right Here (and resolve to do something about it).This is not a faraway issue about icecaps and polar bears. This is about our neighborhood and it’s happening now. Yep. The debate is over. More than 97% of scientists http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus agree. What does this mean? The MA Department of Public Health http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus and the City of Boston http://www.cityofboston.gov/climate/adaptation/ both say we need to prepare for means more extreme weather, disease, floods, droughts, scarcity, etc. in the short-term (as in now) right here at home. Example: Morrissey Blvd is closed today due to flooding. OK. OK. But what can we do? Two of many options: 1) Participate in Boston’s 2014 Climate Action Plan http://engage.greenovateboston.org/. Neighborhood voices http://engage.greenovateboston.org/sustainable-neighborhoods drive this process. Southie needs to be at the table. 2) Are you a Southie mom concerned about your kids’ future? Planet Southie is working with Mothers Out Front https://www.facebook.com/mothersoutfront to organize Southie moms to work for a livable climate. Interested? Sign their Declaration http://www.mothersoutfront.org/sign_our_declaration and email us ([email protected]) to get involved. And now for the funny parts…??
- 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 https://www.facebook.com/SBYouthambassadors ) 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 http://planetsouthie.blogspot.com/2010/11/43-east-and-west-broadway-stores-sign.html. Hold them to it.
- ?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 https://www.facebook.com/renewboston 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), posh consignment shops http://covetboston.com/ , Craigslist, and garage sales to find great deals and also to unload your extra stuff. Little kids don’t care if their toys and clothes 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.
- Shop locally. 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 Covet http://covetboston.com/ (stylish consignment clothing shop at 395 West Broadway) and American Provisions at 613 East Broadway. American Provisions offers organic and locally-sourced food staples such as eggs, bread and milk that are actually priced comparably to your average chain convenience store.
- Recycle. Boston makes it easy with the new big blue bins; no more sorting. Just rinse and toss it in. Need a bin? Go to here http://www.cityofboston.gov/publicworks/wastereduction/curbside.asp and 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. http://www.cityofboston.gov/publicworks/wastereduction/composting.asp 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. Find out more from Southie Trees http://southietrees.techboston.com/ and get involved!
- ?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 www.bostongrows.org community gardens at sites including St. Monica’s and West Broadway Also, in the summer, remember to shop at the South Boston Farmer’s Market https://www.facebook.com/pages/South-Boston-Farmers-Market/293116144114043 (460 West Broadway). Tell lovely Mary Lou, the Market Manger, that we sent you. Also: Valley Green Feast https://www.facebook.com/ValleyGreenFeastCollective recently partnered with Boston Collective Delivery, https://www.facebook.com/BostonCollectiveDelivery a South Boston-based worker co-op and bicycle courier, to bring local, organic food to homes all year round by bike! Orders can be placed at www.valleygreenfeast.coop.??
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 planetsouthie.org or email us at [email protected]!