If everyone in the world consumed as many natural resources as an average American, we would need 4 planets to support us. This is a sweeping statement and is impossible to definitively support as so many factors are involved. Back in 2012, science writer Tim de Chant produced an infographic illustrating how much land would be required if seven billion people lived like the people of nine selected countries. The US was in second place to the United Arab Emirates.
The Global Footprint Network estimates that we need one and a half earths to cope with the amount of carbon emissions that the world as a whole produces. Forests and oceans absorb a lot of carbon dioxide but we are currently emitting more than they can handle. One doesn’t need statistics to realize that here in the US we are a consumerist society.
WHAT IS AN ECOVILLAGE?
EcoVillage is the new word to describe communities that are dedicated to green living. These villages may be located in rural, suburban and urban settings and may be purpose built developments or a couple of city blocks, but the one aim they have in common is the desire to integrate everyday life with sustainable practices. Residents make conscious and ethical choices regarding where and how they shop, reducing consumption, recycling what cannot be composted and encouraging green practices.
PURPOSE BUILT DEVELOPMENTS
The advantage of purpose built development is that all the green design work has been done for you. At the greenest end of the spectrum, houses will be built according to Passive design principles to be as energy saving as possible. The community may be supported by solar and wind energy.
Living in a well designed ecovillage means that you can ditch the car for many of your everyday needs. A mini neighborhood provides markets, shops and services.
Vegetable gardens are a common feature of EcoVillages. Tending of the gardens is a communal practice. There may also be fruit trees, chickens and beehives. Communal living is encouraged among residents, such as sharing meals and trading rather than purchasing.
Community features such as playgrounds or a swimming pool reduce the energy and resources it would take to build and maintain these amenities in individual homes. Developments may have a clubhouse that serves as a central meeting place for events.
SENSE OF COMMUNITY
The shared areas and close proximity of like minded neighbors creates a sense of community and kinship.