"Go green!" isn't just the rallying cry for the MSU Spartans. It's also the motto for sustainable living. It's all about spreading the message of eco-sustainability and making the Earth a better place. It's not enough to live green if you don't preach what you practice. Here are seven fun ways to teach your friends about sustainable living.
1. Instagram the Environment
Social media was made for something like this. Start an Instagram account about sustainable living and invite your friends to follow. Then, showcase eco-friendly practices and knowledge that will engage your friends and inspire them to start composting, or use all-natural cleaning products. You may go beyond teaching your friends and encourage complete strangers to be more eco-friendly too.
2. Zoom Book Club
Start a book club on Zoom dedicated to learning about sustainable living. It's a great excuse to socialize, at a distance, with friends over a glass of organic Michigan wine and learn more about being good to the environment. With the abundance of good books to read on the topic, you can sustain your sustainability chats as long as you like. Whether you're learning about urban homesteading or how to make your home zero waste, there's a book out there that has you covered.
3. Start a Community Garden
Hands-on learning and a return on your investment of time and sweat are some of the best ways to teach your friends about sustainable living. A community garden is an excellent way to get started. Whether you choose a barren patch of earth in the neighborhood, or a container garden in the common area of an apartment complex, plant vegetables, and fruit, and give your friends a stake in the harvest. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it's easy to stay socially distanced by scheduling the work in shifts.
4. Challenge Friends to Sign up For Community Cleanups
Detroit has come a long way in the last couple of decades, and a lot of that is due to volunteers who've put in the work to make the Motor City thrive again. You can challenge your friends to sign up for community cleanups, whether it's picking up trash in a neighborhood park, or joining the effort to keep Belle Isle clean. It's a great way to get outdoors and give back to the community at the same time.
5. Race to Go Carless
Choose a platform such as Strava or FitBit to log the miles, and get your friends to log on. Track the miles you do in your walking or running shoes and your bike. Auto emissions fell sharply as coronavirus lockdowns around the world kept cars in "park." Experts worry we could see a sharp increase in pollution as cities open up. You and your friends can keep your emissions low by pledging to go carless when possible — and challenging each other to see who can log the most miles without driving. Go a step further and hand out reusable water bottles. This will encourage your friends to reduce their consumption of disposable plastic.
6. Arrange a Plant Cutting and Seedling Exchange
If you're already an avid gardener, you know there are plants that get aggressive and need thinning. Peppermint is a good example, or phlox, or even irises and other bulb plants. Instead of throwing those plants out, arrange a free pick up for your friends to inspire them to begin gardening on their own. If they're already gardeners, you can arrange a trade. Free plants are never a bad thing.
7. Organize a Joint Garage Sale
Once the pandemic eases, organize a joint garage sale and invite all your friends and neighbors to add their unwanted stuff to the inventory. It's a great way to keep stuff out of the landfill and make a little pocket money. You'll also free up space in your home, reducing clutter. Appoint someone to take the leftovers to the recycling center.
Don't forget to get the little ones involved in your sustainable living efforts. Your kids and your friends' kids are the ones who will carry on these environmentally friendly practices. Kids who learn to go car-free, or grow their own salads in a garden, are better prepared to guide this world into the future, long after today's adults are gone. Go green! Larry Jergins has worked in his county's waste management division for 20 years and recently became certified as a recycling specialist. His favorite project is turning Christmas trees and yard waste into mulch for the community.