Town vs. country

Can you live a sustainable lifestyle in town?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

You better for otherwise we are doomed for sure.

Many people think that in order to live a sustainable lifestyle, including growing your own food and such like, you have to go and live in the boonies. Well, the truth is that – one – not everyone is going to be able to do that and – two – we need to green our towns and cities for otherwise things will go belly up; period.

Far too many people believe that in order to live a sustainable life and lifestyle they have to live in the boonies or at least in the countryside, away from the big cities and towns, or at the very least at the very outskirts of the suburbs.

The Transition Town Movement has some ideas that we will need to make living in towns and cities sustainable and many things that work in the boonies can also be adapted for life in towns and even cities, including growing your own food, alone or in community.

Make do and mend works everywhere, as does upcyling and reuse, and is definitely not restricted, and never was, to life in the sticks. In towns and cities upcycling and reuse probably works better even as we can find a lot of things aside from what we end up with in general to upcycle and reuse.

Foraging too can be done in town and city and the open spaces and parklands have abundant wild food for the taking. Just do not take more than you need and leave some for other and for our non-human cousins.

One of our most important things to do is to “green” our towns and cities as far as the building are concerned. We need to make them energy efficient and we need to fit renewable power generation on each and every one of them.

During the previous Labour Regime in the UK the talk has been about the “need” for the creation of “Eco Towns”; a total futile exercise. It is not NEW eco towns that are needed but the retrofitting of our existing towns and cities and, yes, even villages, and making them all eco.

Our existing housing stock and office buildings need to be made “green” and our towns, cities and even villages, our existing ones, must become ec0-towns and villages themselves.

The Transition Town Movement has the right idea – though I am still having problems with the importance of pressing apples – but it must start with Transition Blocks and Transition Streets, with Transition Hoods.

Transitioning an entire town or city is not going to work immediately but area by area this might work, nay, will and must work.

Sustainability must become part of all of us whether were live in the sticks or in town or city. Otherwise it is not possible to do it at all and there is then no hope for us.

Studies have shown, also, that the majority of people living in towns and cities have a lower environmental footprint over many in rural areas and that, predominately, because in towns and cities stores, and work, and such like, are much easier to reach by foot, bicycle, and public transport.

The same studies have found, not surprisingly, that those in rural areas have a greater impact on the Planet than those living in towns and cities and this is due, mostly, because of the distances that they have to travel by car.

Not so long ago, as far as time goes in planetary terms, many great cities, Paris as an example. And it is one of the best ones, has more or less total food security by having urban farms and market gardens within the city walls, as well as every trade that was needed. And we must recreate that and hundred times improve on that even. It is not rocket science, for what once was can be again. It is that simple.

Today community gardens and allotments are one answer and allotments can be put anywhere, even on old so-called brownfield sites as long as the growing is done above ground using the deep soil method. Such raised beds in use for this can be created in a number of ways including by using so-called builders' bags, aka tonne bags.

Sustainable living in the suburbs, in towns and cities, is a must for we cannoty all move to the sticks.

In fact, greening the areas where most of us live, and work, e.g. the suburbs, the town and the city, is not just a must, which it is, but it is also feasible and could make far less of an impact on the Planet than many more moving into the countryside.

Urban farms also can and must be the norm again and homesteading in town and city must be the aim.

Let's do it! It can be done. It is but our lack of imagination that is holding us back.

© 2012