Here are 10 easy ways to be sustainable, healthy, wealthy and wise. Living more sustainably is good for you, your wallet, and your community. Transition Howard County has compiled a list of some easy things you can do. Send your ideas for ways to be sustainable to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Eat down on the farm. Get delicious, healthy food from local farms. Once you taste local produce, you will not want to go back to the grocery store. There are many farms that operate Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in Howard County. Check out the list here. You can also get food from the Roving Radish, Howard County's program which promotes healthy eating habits through meal kits comprised of locally and regionally grown foods. The meal kits include recipes and ingredients to make 2 dinners for a family of four for $32. That is only $4 per meal! You order online for the kits that you want and there are several options for pickup location. Learn more about the program as well as place orders here: http://www.rovingradish.com/
2. Toss it? No Way. Repair Café. Don't throw out broken items. Get them repaired for FREE at the Repair Café. You can bring clothes for mending or small appliances, jewelry and more. Learn more here.
3. Clean up your air. Maryland has some of the dirtiest air in the country because we live downwind from coal power plants. In the latest American Lung Association State of the Air Report, many Maryland counties received an “F”. You can be part of the solution by switching to clean energy for electricity here. It only takes a few minutes.
4. Go native. Native plants attract and support native pollinators (bees, butterflies) and other wildlife such as birds. Enjoy watching these beautiful creatures from your home. It’s like nature TV in your own yard. Find native plant nurseries here.
5. Be in the neighborhood know. Neighbors are a great source of local information, from recommendations for plumbers and babysitters to information on crimes and safety. See if your neighborhood is already on Nextdoor.com, which is the social media platform for communities. If your neighborhood does not already have a Nextdoor.com site, then start one! It is very easy to create a site, and it’s FREE!
6. Grow your own food, glorious food. Guerilla gardener Ron Finley says that growing your own food is like printing your own money. Learn how to garden from places like the Master Gardener’s Grow It/Eat It program (www.extension.umd.edu/growit) and local business Real Food Real Close (www.realfoodrealclose.com.)
7. Saving in the rain. Your plants need water. Don’t pay for water when you can get it for free. You can capture rain water in a FREE barrel and use that to water your plants. Go to the Alpha Ridge Landfill and the Watershed Stewards will teach you how set up your barrel: http://hodiak.net/howardwsa/your-watershed/rain-barrel-workshops/.
8. Turn trash into treasure. Did you know that you can turn many kitchen scraps and yard waste into compost? Your plants get hungry so feed them good compost that you can make for free while reducing the amount of trash you need to take out to your curb. You can get a FREE compost bin from the Department of Public Works. Learn more about composting at http://livegreenhoward.com/live/your-home/composting/.
9. Jump on the 3-R bandwagon. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle can save you money. You can give away and get items for FREE on sites like www.freecycle.org and Nextdoor.com. You could borrow things you don’t use very often, like a ladder, from a neighbor instead of buying one. Also, you can recycle things that cannot be reused: www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Public-Works/Bureau-Of-Environmental-Services/Recycling
10. Ask for an audit. Getting an energy audit is the first important step to make your home more energy efficient and save money. Energy audits can cost $400, but thanks to a couple local non-profits, you can currently get a thorough audit for $100. Retrofit Baltimore (retrofitbaltimore.civicworks.com/save-energy/how-it-works) and Groundswell (groundswell.org/clean-energy/energy-efficiency) will help you through the process.