MELINDA
Hi everyone! In this round of Life Together videos we’re going to be talking about sustainable living and how by living together in community with other people you are able to reduce your demand on the earth’s resources.

RICHARD
So these videos are just going to be us sitting around and congratulating ourselves on how earth–conscious we are?

MELINDA
Why not? Actually, no because I know there’s a lot more we could be doing to live more sustainably. But a really neat by–product of community is the way we’re able to reduce consumption. So how do we jump into this?

RICHARD
Well I guess we could start by talking about the different angles to sustainable living. Because it’s about more than recycling and planting trees. In fact, I recently heard that recycling – which is probably most people’s immediate mental association when they hear ‘sustainable living’ – may actually do more damage to the environment than putting your plastic bottles in the landfill.

MELINDA
You’ve got to be kidding.

RICHARD
Well there are some caveats. There was an interesting Planet Money episode on the subject that’s worth a listen. I’ll put a link to it in the description.

MELINDA
Ok. That’s cool. But now, on to some other angles of sustainability that might actually be sustainable: beyond recycling there’s reducing or eliminating use of plastic because it doesn’t decompose. And did you know that a can of Budweiser is one of the most energy intensive, Co2-producing, waste-generating products on the planet?

RICHARD
(I don’t drink Budweiser. More of an IPA guy myself)…. But everyone actually knows this stuff. And it’s really depressing. So what vision or ideas are we going to offer that are inspiring?

MELINDA
Well, the argument that I – we – are going to make is that the best way to reduce your impact on the environment is to start living together and sharing with other people. Just doing that one thing will have more of an effect than any number of sustainable living life-hacks. Ethical consumerism or frugal living are a step in the right direction, but still won’t push back on the ultimate problem.

RICHARD
She’s right. Everything from vehicle use to food acquisition and waste to energy consumption to clothing purchasing is affected when you live cooperatively together with others. The author and environmentalist Bill McKibben, when he was asked where people should move to be safe from climate change, said “Any place with a strong community.”

MELINDA
That actually makes me feel pretty good.

RICHARD
Right. He specifically talks about the insane amount of energy wasted on building big houses far apart where only two or three people live. But we’re not gatekeeping here; you don’t have to join a full intentional community for a more sustainable lifestyle. Start by inviting your neighbor to ride along on your next trip to the local farmers market.

MELINDA
Very crunchy. So again, in this next mini–series, we’re going to talk specifically about how the way we live at the Bruderhof enables us to live more sustainably. We’ll talk about why TRUE sustainable living is really hard, we’ll interview a Bruderhof member from Australia who’s been part of an effort using sustainable agriculture to restore a piece of heavily damaged farm land, and we’ll answer any questions you might have. Make sure to drop them in the comments as we go along. Also please subscribe and ring the bell to be notified every time we upload.