MELINDA
Hey everyone. In today’s video, we’re going to be outlining seven ways in which living together enables sustainable living. It’s going to be a lot of fun, so let’s cut to the chase. 

1. Sharing Vehicles/Carpooling

RICHARD
You know when you’re a kid and you hear something you don’t understand and you get this weird mental image?

MELINDA
Yeah?

RICHARD
For me that was carpooling. I just imagined a car with a swimming pool in back. Never bothered to ask about it. Anyway – at the Bruderhof we share all of our possessions and that includes our cars. There’s not a vehicle per person or even a vehicle per family. Sharing vehicles means there’s an added level of consideration before you take a trip somewhere. For example, if I want to take my family to the beach, but Melinda’s got to go to the hospital, the priorities are obvious there.

MELINDA
Thanks. Bottom line: when vehicle usage is based more on need vs. want, you travel less and we all pay the environment a favor. (Listen: Of course, joy rides are still a thing… I see you all looking at me like, Who are these people who never have any fun?)

2. Shared Housing

RICHARD
Next, Shared Housing. here at the Bruderhof each family gets an apartment with a living area and bedrooms. There’s a common kitchen area with a fridge, oven, and all the other normal kitchen appliances and that’s usually shared by several families. Bathrooms are also shared for the most part. As you can imagine, there’s a lot less energy consumption per person to heat these houses in cold weather. Some communities use these centralized woodchip boiler systems which are efficient and environmentally friendly.

MELINDA
Granted most people in the western world would find this type of living arrangement a bit much. But if you realize that shelter is associated with 25% of greenhouse gas emissions making changes in this area can have a real impact. And it’s only relatively recently we’ve come to think that living individually and all spread out is normal. And it’s had its effect on the planet.

RICHARD
Yeah I often think as I’m waiting for the bathroom “At least I’m doing my bit for climate change”.

3. Centralized Food Acquisition

MELINDA
The next point’s pretty simple: communal meals mean less people cooking and less cooking facilities and equipment used. Also saves on human resources! And because there’s only a handful of people involved in purchasing food supplies, things are automatically simplified.

RICHARD
Not to mention since only a few people have to go to the store you reduce the amount of errands people have to run which equals less gas consumption

MELINDA
Also you reduce the number of angry people in line at the check-out counter.

4. Localized Food Production

RICHARD
Fourth, Local food. As much as possible, we grow food on our own property. That includes vegetables, poultry, beef, and so forth. We do end up buying some fruit, but here in the Hudson Valley we can at least source a lot locally. While we’re not 100% organic, our gardeners prefer regenerative farming practices and use environmentally friendly methods and products. And they keep experimenting with different aspects of sustainable farming. Melinda – have you heard of compost concentrate?

MELINDA
No I haven’t. Part of the reason using locally grown food is such a big deal is that it doesn’t have to be shipped halfway around the world. If you think about it, that’s a crazy way to operate.

RICHARD
Another non–trivial aspect of this is by growing your own there’s less packaging that goes in the trash. For example we have a guy who brews beer and instead of putting it in cans or disposable bottles he put it in reusable glass jugs. And by the way it’s insanely good.

5. Sharing Used Stuff

RICHARD
That brings us to five: Reusing Stuff. This one’s a bit of a sore subject because I grew up wearing hand–me–downs from two older sisters, and no, I didn’t love it. But it’s cool. I’m over it now. I recently even inherited some hand–me–ups from my younger sister. And hey, if clothing, shoes, toys, tools, etc. are still usable once you outgrow or no longer need them, why not pass them on to someone else to use up? Intentional community life obviously makes this one super organic, but in terms of sustainable living tips it really is something everyone can put into practice.

RICHARD
Roxanne and I just had a baby and I’d forgotten how quickly they grow. They grow out of their clothes from one day to the next. When he was born we were literally inundated with barely used baby clothes from folks on the community and we didn’t have to buy anything new. And once he’s grown, we’ll be passing them on to the next person.

MELINDA
This also applies to things you need but don’t use all the time like lawnmowers, or camping equipment, mountain bikes, or even cameras.

RICHARD
Speaking of sore subjects: Melinda’s always trying to borrow my camera.

6. Minimalist lifestyle

RICHARD
Number 6 is an old practice that has seen new life recently: minimalist living. We actually have a commitment to keeping our lives uncluttered by material things that predates Mari Kondo by a couple thousand years. Jesus speaks frequently about how the cares of the world and the lure of wealth are to be avoided. Sayings of his like “You can’t serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24) mean very practically that we should beware of acquiring more than we actually need to live.

7. Mutual accountability

MELINDA
And finally, Accountability is super important in all aspects of living together. Having a mutual commitment to one another and being open and honest with each other is critical to the success of an intentional community like ours. (We talked more about that in our last series which was on Intentional Community) but this is actually something which translates really well for sustainable living. Because sustainable living is not the most easy and convenient route (obviously, or everyone would be doing it) surrounding yourself with other like–minded individuals who share the same goals, value the same outcomes, and can hold you to your commitments, makes living this way possible. And sustainable. (See what I did there?)

RICHARD
Hopefully this all doesn’t seem daunting, if you’re trying to decide how to live more sustainably. Pick one or two areas to begin, and find someone who shares your goals and can help you with the accountability. Let us know how it’s going in the comments throughout this series.

Thanks for watching. Please like and subscribe! (Also ring the bell for notification every time we upload.)