6 Ways to Improve the Environment in Your Neighborhood

By Maureen Wise in Helping Hands

Establishing more environmentally friendly habits at home is a great way to live more sustainably, but you can widen your reach by extending those initiatives to the land and people around you. Look beyond your own domicile and help those in your community green their lives, too. You don't have to be an "activist" to do some good for your neighborhood. Here are a few ways to improve the environment where you live.

1. Plant a Tree

Or, plant lots of trees. Find an area in your neighborhood that would be perfect for some tall, woody plants or is currently succumbing to soil erosion. Planting new trees is a great way to let nature take hold again and get a group of neighbors working together. Buy them in bulk through the Arbor Day Foundation or ask a local nursery for a discount or donation. When your saplings grow larger, they'll help cool your neighborhood, combat climate change, foster living habitats, and clean the air.

Fall trees along a neighborhood road

2. Participate at the Park

Your local park or playground is a natural gathering place. These green spaces attract kids, pets, and families, and are the perfect spot to meet your friends and hang out. Help your local park continue to be a fun and relaxing place by picking up litter and collecting pet waste—even if it isn't your own. Better yet, volunteer to help maintain or create a garden at the park. Be sure to use native species that are already familiar with the climate and soil in your area. They won't need to be watered as often and typically require less maintenance.

While you're there, what about starting a community garden? The American Community Gardening Association has tips to get you started, like ideas for finding sponsors.

3. Pick Up Litter

Look for litter beyond the park, too. While on a walk or jog around your community, carry a small trash bag with you to pick up waste. Trash that isn't bound for recycling or a landfill often ends up in a stream, which can harm aquatic life. Participate in an organized litter or river cleanup event, or create your own through Keep America Beautiful.

4. Get Involved in Your Watershed Group

No matter how close or far you live from the nearest stream or river, your actions impact its health. Everything on Earth rests on a watershed—the area of land around a body of water—and affects its quality. Find out which river is yours and discover if there's a watershed group associated with it. These organizations often hold tours and educational events that teach you how to care for your watershed right from your own backyard.

A watershed with mountains in the background

5. Encourage Recycling

One of the easiest ways to improve the environment is to recycle. A community that produces less trash by using existing items to create new products is a great thing. Next time you're hauling the trash and recyclables to the curb, chat with your neighbor about doing the same. To encourage others who may be less equipped, hand out recycling bags or help them replace broken bins. Go even further and volunteer with your local waste district or environmental health department.

6. Bee Kind

Colony collapse disorder—a syndrome where worker bees flee a colony—is a very real threat not only to bees, but to our food production as well, reports the United States Department of Agriculture. Maintaining a bee hive can be very rewarding, particularly to the bee colonies in your area. It's not an easy job, but it's not always an enormous commitment.

Beginner beekeeping has some strong support through major university extensions such as Ohio State. Beekeeping groups in your area can also help you to learn a great deal from those with experience. With minimal equipment and a little space, you can get started quickly.

How else are you improving the environment where you live? Let us know on Twitter!

Image Source: Flickr | Flickr | Flickr

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Why It's Good

When looking for ways to improve your neighborhood environment, you don't need to look very far to make a widespread difference. Small acts like planting a tree go a long way to supporting your community and the health of our planet.