Go Green: How to make your community more sustainable

You’ve done it: you’ve gone green at home! You’ve replaced your incandescents with LED light bulbs, you’re eating less meat, and that low-flow showerhead is in effect. High five!

Now that your home is in good green order, you might be wondering what it would mean to go green in your community. What could it look like to make your whole block—or neighborhood, or town—a little more sustainable? And how would you go about it?

For over 10 years, ioby Leaders have been going green in their communities in all kinds of ways. Get inspired by three of their very impressive, highly replicable environmental projects, along with the guiding visions that helped them succeed. (March 8 is International Women’s Day 2019, so we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that these three commendable Leaders are all women!)

Go Green! 3 projects to make your block, neighborhood, or town more sustainable

Go Green project #1: Compost NOW

Vision: Aim for inclusivity

The project: Compost NOW is a free residential food waste collection project in New Orleans, started by master composter Lynne Serpe. They raised more than $1,500 on ioby to expand their pickup sites and drop-off times. Their ultimate goal is to build a network of community composters in every NOLA neighborhood to collectively divert thousands of pounds of food waste from the city’s landfills each month.

The problem: New Orleans is foodie heaven. But that also means there is a lot of food waste. Unfortunately, the city doesn’t yet have a municipal composting system in place that would allow residents to recycle their carrot tops and coffee grounds into nutrient-rich compost for local green spaces. Instead, it all rots in landfills.

The vision: Lynne and her team of volunteers partnered with the New Orleans Public Library to build on the library model of reuse and resource sharing in a place that’s familiar and welcoming to everyone in the community, not just those accustomed to “go green” practices.

→ Lynne says: “One of the challenges of a lot of ‘green’ programs is that it tends to appeal to a certain demographic, whereas a library is a space for everyone. For a lot of people who are doing this for the first time, it’s an easy gateway to composting. … The idea is really to keep community resources in the community so that community people can use them—in this case, to grow more healthy food and vegetables.”

Go Green project #2: Evergreen Rain Garden

Vision: Demonstrate the possibilities

The project: Three-time ioby Leader Robyn Mace raised the money, buy-in, and helping hands needed to convert a neglected lot adjacent to her family’s Memphis, Tennessee, home into the Evergreen Rain Garden, a stormwater-thirsty piece of local green infrastructure. She raised nearly $1,400 on ioby to bring the project to life. The land can now divert 200-300 gallons of rain water from the city’s wastewater management system during a big storm.

The problem: Robyn had seen problematic flooding at the site and wanted to do something to help. But she didn’t want to have to maintain the area like you would a lawn. She also wanted a place to experiment with propagating low-maintenance native plants.

The vision: Robyn also hoped the rain garden would serve as a demonstration site to show other Memphis homeowners that they could do something to reduce runaway stormwater runoff, right where they live.

→ Robyn says: “The goal is to spread the positive impacts, not get an award for best idea. … I have heard from other people and groups in the city that they’re trying out their own green infrastructure projects after seeing this one, so I’m glad to see it working.”

Go Green

Go Green project #3: Bagley Community Pocket Park

Vision: Community—and sustainability—grow in green spaces

The project: Detroit resident Samoy Smith led the charge to buy an unused plot of land from her city’s land bank to create her neighborhood’s first park. She raised over $3,300 on ioby to outfit the space with a gazebo and play area.

The problem: You read that right, Samoy’s pocket park is the first park in the neighborhood of Bagley, Detroit. In fact, the entire city falls below the National Recreation and Park Association’s “10 acres of park space per 1,000 residents” recommendation (it has just 6.7 acres per 1,000 people).

The vision: In addition to the recreational benefits a park would provide, Samoy wanted her neighborhood to have a community space apart from houses of worship, schools, and senior centers: a place where every resident could feel equally at home.

→ Samoy says: “I’ve seen what’s possible if you welcome everybody. There is no ‘us’ vs ‘them.’ It’s only us! Just to see the kids playing football on the green space [during our launch event] was the most satisfying feeling. That feeling of community… No matter what age you are, no matter what race you are, no matter if they’re Black, white, came from India – I don’t care! We just need to come together and talk to each other.”

Did these awesome projects get you fired up to go green in your community? Tell us what you want to do! We can help you raise the support you need to make it happen.

Further “go green” reading:

– Browse all 200 compost projects on ioby!

– The ioby guide to green infrastructure

– More cool pocket park projects