You Don't Have to Do Everything All By Yourself

>> Friday, January 9, 2009

A week ago, I wrote this post with tips on how to go green on a budget. I've thought of one more tip, based on this discussion at Arduous Blog, which stemmed from a discussion at Crunchy Chicken:

You don't have to do everything all by yourself.

I have this great quote from Bil McKibben: "Cheap energy created a world where we became affluent, that same cheap energy used in huge quantities is now destroying the environment, but it had a third affect too. Cheap energy and the kind of prosperity that it built has allowed those of us in this country to become the first human beings who essentially had no need of our neighbors."

As Americans, we have a tendency to desire complete independence. We want big houses for our 2-3 person families and big cars so we can commute by ourselves, and now among environmentalists, the trend seems to be toward self-sufficient homes where we grow, can, freeze, and dry all our own food, make our own soaps and cleaners, sew or knit our own clothes, and even raise chickens, goats, and bees.

Okay, I admit that lifestyle appeals to me, and I've done my share of talking about DIY projects for the sake of saving money. But as I said at the beginning:

You don't have to do everything all by yourself.

Building a sense of community is not only nice, but it can be a time and money saver. Consider this: you and your neighbor both have gardens, but you choose to grow a bunch of tomatoes and he grows a bunch of strawberries. You can lots of tomato sauce, and he makes lots of strawberry jam, and then you each take half. Canning in bulk is a lot more efficient than canning small amounts of a variety of things.

You could also trade skills. Say you're good at sewing but your friend is good at knitting. You could sew your friend a couple skirts in exchange for a home-knitted sweater.

I've even heard of people who trade cooking nights with their neighbors. One night, you make double of whatever you're cooking for dinner and take half to your neighbor. The next night, she does the same for you. You each get a night with a home-cooked meal and no cooking. Sweet!

Do it yourself projects can be good for the environment and your pocket book, but you don't have to do everything all by yourself. Get to know your neighbors and you can do it all together.

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