What Are Characteristics of Sustainable Communities?

Environmental conservation has become an important way of life for an increasing segment of the population. Some people are committing themselves to green living to the extent that they are choosing to live in sustainable communities. These populaces come together with a common goal of living in a way that focuses on environmental, economic, and social health and resilience.

The Mindset

Economic growth and development is imperative for ongoing human wellbeing. However, if this development causes harm to natural resources by polluting water, air, and soil; destroying forests; flooding landfills with garbage; and producing toxic waste, the net result ends up being negative instead of positive. The premise of sustainable communities is finding a way to improve quality of life with economic development, while preserving the environment. Neighborhoods embracing sustainability are pursuing alternative options for economic development that do not produce harmful side effects such as air pollution, urban sprawl, congestion, and full landfills.

Strategies for Achieving Sustainable Economic Development

Use Local Resources Carefully – Every community has local resources that are available for use. When a neighborhood explores its local resources and then commits itself to meeting the needs of its residents with these commodities, everyone benefits. This internal resourcefulness creates jobs, boosts the economy, and reduces negative impacts. A community that works together to meet these basic needs internally usually thrives.

Creating an Efficient Infrastructure – Urban sprawl and inefficient city design have a negative impact on the environment. A city without careful planning requires its residents to rely heavily on their individual vehicles for transportation. An environmentally conscious alternative involves careful planning of neighborhood design so that people can reach work, school, and shopping more easily. The availability of public transportation is an integral component of sustainable communities.

Pursuing Energy Efficiency – When everyone in a neighborhood works together to conserve energy, big results usually happen. Businesses and households that focus on waste reduction, pollution prevention, and recycling can work together for the good of everyone. These types of neighborhoods usually experience a reduction in various kinds of damage such as air pollution and misuse of land.

Prioritize Quality of Life – Many people are becoming more aware of the importance of pursuing quality of life in their daily lifestyles. When a community prioritizes this type of lifestyle in its design, residents are generally happier. Creating an attractive neighborhood with clean water and air, open green spaces, and access to natural areas is a positive strategy for benefitting both humans and the environment.

Creation of Jobs – Pursuing environmental consciousness often creates new jobs. Job creation in the areas of environmental technology, waste reduction, pollution prevention, and recycling will often help to create a booming economy in a community.

Realistically, achieving sustainability is a process. A neighborhood will not attain this status overnight, but it is possible to work toward it by making important improvements. For success, sustainable communities must adopt a long-term perspective by adjusting focus to both today and tomorrow. This type of perspective will help ensure that current and future resident needs are met.

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