Moving to a new city can be daunting, but finding your niche and pursuing the life you want in a new environment is also very rewarding.
In the midst of such a transformational moment, directing some of your energy toward minimizing your impact on the planet is a great way to set the foundation for sustainable habits. By starting these habits early, they’ll be interwoven in your daily life in this new home, making them easier to stick to.
You may have to sacrifice certain aspects of sustainability while improving others. For example, maybe you’re moving from a city with phenomenal public transportation to a city with very little. If you have to drive, you can still offset your carbon emissions by composting. Whether it’s a metropolis or a small town, there is always something you can do to help the planet.
Learn About the Recycling System
The Public Works department of every city lists acceptable items for recycling and exactly how they should be disposed of. They’ll let you know if your cardboard needs to be flattened, if your plastic bottle caps need to be removed, and if food residue needs to be cleaned off prior to disposal.
If you have curbside service or live in an apartment building, pay attention to your welcome information to learn drop off dates and what they accept. In some circumstances, you may need to set aside your glass and bring it to a convenience center yourself, which can also be found on your city’s Public Works site.
Composting is a wonderful way to give back to the planet with minimal effort on your part. If you live in an apartment, check your local government site to see if there are collection centers or if you can bring it to your local farmers’ market.
These services are included in a lot of city recycling programs, and they are usually free. To make the process even easier, you can freeze your compost until you’re ready to take it. Then only go once or twice a month.
If visits to a convenience center don’t fit in your schedule, Google your city name and “compost” to see if there are any paid services. These services typically pick up compost from your apartment or home and turn it into healthy soil for local farmers. Some organizations will even give you a cut of fresh soil for your own garden.
To fully compost on your own at home, all you need is some space for a turner or an area to dump your food scraps and maintain a small pile with yard clippings. You’ll be able to see the entire composting process from start to finish and get some pretty fertile soil out of it.
Check Your Walk Score
This is a great way to get to know your new neighborhood. Just put in your address and a Walk Score will pop up based on the amount of services, restaurants and shops you can get to on foot. The app also shows public transit options and gives you a bike score. Anytime I move to a new apartment, I check the Walk Score to get an idea of what’s around.
Find Your Farmers’ Market
A quick online search will be able to show you the closest farmers’ market and a list of vendors. Markets are a great way for city dwellers to connect with the agricultural community and learn more about the surrounding area.
Many markets have compost collection and egg carton recycling, and they always need volunteers. If you’re looking to get involved in urban farming or even working on the local market, a table is usually set up for just that.
Purchasing your produce and goods from a market supports the local economy and ensures high quality, fresh ingredients. Bonus points if you can sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. For a fixed rate, you can prepay for an entire season of wholesome farm goods and often pick them up at the market. CSAs are a great opportunity to support your favorite farm, eat more seasonally, and challenge your cooking skills.
Locate Your Green Spaces
It can be difficult to find green spaces in a new city, especially if they aren’t within walking distance. Take a look at your local Parks & Recreation site for information on parks and greenways. You might even find a hidden gem in your own neighborhood!
Greenways are a fantastic way to get outside and be active in nature. More and more cities are converting former transportation hubs into bustling green spaces to reintroduce species and encourage healthy living.
The High Line in New York City is one of the most famous examples, while the Washington D.C.-based Rails to Trails Conservancy is working to create a “nationwide network of trails from former railway lines”. Use their tool to discover trails in your new city and get outside.
Don’t Forget About the Move Itself
If you haven’t moved yet, remember that the moving process can generate a lot of waste. Try to compost and recycle as much material as possible. For items that can’t biodegrade or be recycled, see if they can be donated to nonprofits or upcycling companies. The landfill should be your last resort!
Download Our Free Guide to Sustainable Living.
From reducing waste to recycling and upcycling, our e-book shows simple ways to make choices you can feel good about.