Sustainable City Living


In the near future, humanity will be challenged by the converging trends of energy depletion and climate change. It will be necessary for us to transition into a culture that consumes drastically less, and to shift away from the paradigm of perpetual material growth.  As part of this transition, the means for securing food, water, energy and waste management must be re-localized into people’s home communities. As currently more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, it will be critical to make our cities more sustainable.

Toolbox book coverThe book Toolbox for Sustainable City Living: A Do-It-Ourselves Guide, written by Stacy Pettigrew and myself (South End Press, 2008), is a collection of skills, tools and technologies usable by urban residents wanting to have more local access and control over life's essential resources. Through practical descriptions and wonderfully vibrant illustrations, the book describes how to build sustainable infrastructure using affordable, simple designs that utilize salvaged and recycled materials. In addition, the book promotes radical sustainability, a philosophy that emphasizes the interconnection between ecological and social justice struggles.

Useful ideas for aspiring sustainable city dwellers include:

Make a duckweed pond: Raise duckweed, a tiny, floating protein rich water plant in a kiddy pool. Using only sunlight and nutrients, duckweed can double its mass every other day. The duckweed can then be harvested and used as a food for humans, chickens and fish, or be used as a “green manure” for building soil fertility. 

Raise edible and medical mushrooms on logs: Many urban spaces don't receive adequate sunlight for gardens. Mushrooms only require indirect light and moisture, making them suitable for marginally sunny spaces such as alleys and shady backyards.

Build a floating trash island: Inspired by a natural phenomena, floating trash islands create habitat for plants and microorganisms to assist in purifying contaminated storm water runoff — a major urban problem. They are made buoyant by floating debris, such as bottles and polystyrene, stuffed into a giant life-ring. Water plants are zip-tied onto the island’s surface, and develop an extensive submerged root network that hosts water cleansing critters.

4/2/2009 1:09:06 AM

I bought this book as soon as it came out and love it very much! It has excellent ideas that I haven't heard of anywhere else, and that are both ecologically and socially innovative. Sorry to gush, but I highly recommend this book to everyone, even people who are not in cities!

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters