According to the UN researches in 2014, 54% of all people on the planet live in cities, and the world is moving towards the further urbanization. In addition to economic opportunities, cities provide access to the basic things that are needed for each of us: shelter, clean water, electricity, sewerage. To provide such benefits in a limited area is cheaper and more environmentally friendly. It is obvious that everyone should be a responsible consumer, but it is also important to act on the global way.
Megalopolises are thrown a real challenge: will they be able to cope with the traffic collapse, to reduce the emission of harmful substances into the atmosphere, provide accommodation and access to the infrastructure? Urban ecologists together with futurists coming up with eco-city concept, where the carbon dioxide emissions are minimal, the energy will be taken only from the renewable sources, and the stone jungle will be in harmony with the ecosystem.
Urban Vegetable Gardens
The time has come when the city is tired of itself. Fruits and vegetables from the supermarket are no longer encouraging, junk food in minds is replaced by healthy one, parents want to share the knowledge of where the cabbage is taken from with the younger generation. In many kindergartens and primary schools in the USA, there are gardening classes and they teach how to grow plants in a proper way. Maybe you have had such course. Residents of cities are getting tired of the stress at work and want to be closer to nature. So, more and more people fond of agriculture and urban gardens are appearing. Even colleges and universities are involved in this trend – students are allowed to organize public gardens on the territory of educational establishments. The projects of gardening exist in many countries. Farmers’ movement is strongly developing in the US cities. In Brazil, there are similar initiatives: citizens collect organic waste and then project participants compost it and enrich the land with organic fertilizers in parks and urban gardens.
Where Did It Come from?
In 2009, Marco Clausen and Robert Shaw after a trip to Cuba set a moving garden called “Garden of the Princess” in the urban area of Berlin. They were inspired by a combination of elements of urban and rural life in Havana, where office buildings are located next to the carrot beds, and it is not annoying. Back in Berlin, they found a vacant lot in the center of the city, took it to the short-term lease and set up a portable garden in pots and plastic bottles. The hundreds of active citizens gathered to clear the territory. Now Clausen and Shaw are working with schools and kindergartens, clearly showing the children, where to get the vegetables. On the territory of the mobile garden there is a cafe, which serves dishes that are made of local products. Organizers of the project show that the changes in the city space can be made by the residents.
The concept of zero-production is becoming more and more popular: it implies that residents of the city are trying to produce as little waste as possible, and then those remains are sorted and processed. The small Italian town of Capannori achieved almost completely processing of waste produced. In 2007 city was first to run a Zero Waste pilot program. During 5 years’ government has established the collecting and sorting waste system. First, there was an educational work conducted: free special containers with the instruction were delivered to people’s houses. Later, government lowered the tax rate for families, who emit less waste. People organize their lives in order not to produce waste: do not use plastic bags, purchased at farmers’ markets, buy things at second-hand.
Benefits for Both Sides
Local farmers also benefited from zero-waste program: their products are sold in local stores, bypassing retailers and without packaging. Residents come to the store with their own bottle for milk, a container for powdery products and jars for shampoo. Thus, it manages to reduce the amount of waste by 90 thousands of plastic bottles per year. The authorities have also established a system of drinking fountains in public places. Even manufacturers of coffee machines have met ecological interests and started to produce the capsules from the new material. As a result, the level of waste processing has raised up to 82%.
No Need in Packaging
The experience of zero wasting is widespread mainly in small towns, where it is easier to organize the infrastructure than in megalopolises. You also can support a Zero Waste program no matter if your town or city is a part of this program. It is not so hard to live your life with minimum waste: do not use plastic bags, go to local grocery stores, where products are not packaged or the packaging are made from recyclable materials, carry a thermos and container for food. Perhaps it may seem radical and impractical to someone but youth and adults show in their own example that during one year it is possible not to throw away any packaging in the trash, and such a conscious attitude will change lives in the better way. There will not be an excess of things in your apartment. Moderate consumption will also save you a considerable amount of money that can be spent on something important.
Solar and Wind Cities
Soon all of us will have to learn to use the renewable sources of energy. That is sunlight, wind, rain, geothermal rills, tidal power and any other renewable resources that are able to generate “green” energy. A few years ago it was believed that alternative energy production was utopian. Nowadays it is not only environmentally friendly, but also profitable. For example, Google is investing in the development of solar panels and wind turbines. Our bright future is in our hands. For example, the wind turbine is relatively easy to create and use. You can learn how to design it on the YouTube, then set a couple of windmills on your backyard, and forget about the bills. There are other options – for example, the Tesla company sells generators that provide home with energy obtained from solar panels.
Germany is a leader among industrialized countries on energy use from renewable sources. In 2014 27% of country electricity was produced by wind and solar energy. The US is also trying to switch to the “green” energy. For example, in Texas, it became the cheapest energy. Increasing competition in the market of alternative sources, as well as the development of technology, makes alternative energy more accessible. As part of the experiment, several cities in the US have completely switched to energy only from renewable energy sources like Aspen, Colorado, and Burlington, Vermont. China is trying to reduce the level of air pollution and switch to “green” energy but the results are still unsatisfactory. China is a Coal Power, and the level of use of alternative energy sources is only 10%. The paradox is that people are producing elements for solar panels in factories, often live in the cities, which cater to the coal power plant.