Living green at home and promoting green practices at the office are both very important first steps, but to truly beautify the world around us – it’s vital to take that same eco-friendly energy out into our neighborhoods and the surrounding community. Not only will it make the space around you a more beautiful place to live, but your environmentally-focused activities could have a very positive impact on your local economy. In addition to placing an emphasis on picking up litter and wiping out graffiti, you can form a neighborhood or community-based garden club or green committee to work together on landscaping projects and energy-saving initiatives in and around your neighborhood. Here are just a few tips to help you get started:
1) Approach your HOA Representative about conducting an Energy Audit at your Clubhouse and common areas: In the event that your neighborhood has a clubhouse, swim/tennis amenities, community pavilion/fireplace, and/or other facilities that draw from electricity, your HOA representative should be able to schedule an Energy Audit with your neighborhood’s electric company. Audits are often free and can provide you with detailed information about areas that could use some energy-saving improvements. Some ways to do this might include added insulation, incorporation of programmable thermostats and the installation of ceiling fans in the clubhouse to cut down on HVAC usage; replacement of regular bulbs in light fixtures with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs); and use of energy-efficient appliances.
2) Form a Committee to Tackle Landscaping Projects around your Neighborhood: The careful placement of shade trees around the clubhouse is another way to help cut down on energy costs, and the placement of trees and shrubs around common areas and entry ways serve as natural filters by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Be mindful to select hearty plants that require little water and are pest/disease-resistant, and use mulch in the flowerbeds to stabilize soil temperature, prevent weeds, feed the soil and conserve water. Besides the environmental benefits, landscaping beautifies your neighborhood – and when combined with a litter-free, graffiti-free environment – could have a hand in raising the curb appeal for your future neighbors, ultimately raising the value of the homes around you – including your own.
3) Offer to Help those in Need with their Beautification Projects: If you know of someone in your neighborhood or community who is ill, elderly or physically challenged, encourage others to volunteer to help them with their landscaping and beautification projects – picking up litter, trimming the trees and bushes, cutting the grass, and shaping up the flower beds employing many of the suggestions listed in #2 above. Not only is this a great thing to do for another human being, but it builds a sense of community and helps the environment.
4) Take Part in Landscaping and Beautification Projects in your Community: Neighborhood groups, churches, families and even individuals can make a big difference by picking up trash, repairing fences, spreading mulch and planting trees, shrubs and flowers during a day of service at local parks, roadways and green spaces in their community. Visit www.gwinnettcb.org regularly to check our calendar for beautification projects near. If you know of a need in your community that is not currently scheduled, feel free to suggest a solution to the good folks at Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Businesses that wish to take part in the beautification of the community where the company is based might opt for the Take Pride in Gwinnett program – where they are responsible for the maintenance of a media along a major roadway (including litter removal). As a thank you, two two-sided signs will be placed on the median – which serves as great marketing to show you care about your community!
5) Adopt-A-Road: Much like the Take Pride in Gwinnett Program, Adopt-A-Road is a great way for neighborhood groups, churches, families, and companies to take “ownership” of a stretch of road near you. You and your group can organize regular trash pick-up days to show pride in your community and keep your road litter-free. This joint venture between Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful and Gwinnett County Department of Transportation rewards those who elect to Adopt-A-Road with two signs featuring the group, business or family’s name – in hopes that others will follow the shining example you set.
6) Consider Supporting or Developing a Community Garden: Contact the schools around you to learn if they have a community garden you can help support or start scoping vacant lots in your neighborhood/local community where you might develop one. Ideally, this space should receive plenty of sunlight and the soil should test free of pollutants. You may want to host a fundraiser or seek local sponsors to help purchase a plot of land for the development of your community garden. Gain the involvement of other interested individuals throughout the community to help you plan, plot, maintain and manage the garden. Community gardens are not only beautiful, but they are also an excellent form of sustainability – as many grow fruits, vegetables and herbs for cooking and canning. They also serve as a wonderful way to get to know your neighbors. Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful is working to generate a list of community gardens in our county, so once you get yours off the ground – be sure to let us know! GOOD LUCK!
7) Volunteer with Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful to Make a Difference: A broader view of community takes you beyond the confines of your neighborhood and the boundaries of your city. Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful is Gwinnett’s leading non-profit organization focused on making Gwinnett America’s cleanest, greenest, and most livable community. We regularly schedule special volunteer days such as Great American Cleanup, America Recycles Day, Bring One for the Chipper and more.
8) Donate to Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful: As busy people, we understand that time is not always a gift our supporters can give. Donations are equally important to the success of our efforts, as 100% of the proceeds support our programs – which include education and implementation of our programs.
To learn more about Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful, including additional ways to green up and beautify the world around you, please visit us at www.gwinnettcb.org.
Image Credit: Boris Kyurkchiev/Stockvault