Are you the friendly neighbor with an open door living in the southwest suburbs and ready to help if there are any fellow neighbors in need? Are you also concerned about the health of your neighbors or the future of your neighborhood? If all of that sounds like you, we have 10 ways you can take your friendly neighboring to the next level as well as activating your inner environmentalist.
Many of these ways to help a neighbor, a hummingbird, or a cactus, are dependent on being done together. Life in the desert is challenging for all life to thrive naturally and its survival depends on a fine balance of species that have evolved to work together. The more changes you make, the more life cycles you heal.
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1. Install Solar Panels
I know what you’re thinking, how would installing solar panels on your own house help your neighbor? First, that’s a great question and second, supporting the solar power revolution helps shut down coal and natural gas burning power plants. Why do we want to shut down these power plants? Because you and your neighbor don’t want to breathe in the pollutants these power plants emit and both you and your neighbor are being affected by the greenhouse gasses they are putting in the air contributing to climate change.
Not only is solar power the cleanest and smartest choice for those living in the southwest sunny climate, having solar power in your home makes it possible to be even more eco friendly with more ways that are even cleaner powered by solar power.
Going solar can be a challenging task for homeowners making it difficult to weight the pros and cons. Sunpower has an incredibly user friendly website with all the answers for you from calculating costs to energy storage options. Sunpower has all the state of the art technology for a smart solar home and their panels are record breaking energy output per drop of sunshine. Check them out here! They’re nationwide and leading the way!
2. Drive an Electric Vehicle
The next eco friendly way to help your southwest suburb neighbor is to switch from a heavy polluting gas guzzling vehicle to a clean electric vehicle charged by your new solar panels. Yes, you can charge your EV at night with Sunpower Sunvault storage options. Solar power has evolved and even electric vehicles have evolved to come with a variety of options to meet most everyone’s needs in today’s society. The car industry is so evolved, you can even order your electric vehicle out of a car dispenser! Check out Carvana!
Similar to the solar power concept for your home, driving an EV also means less greenhouse gas emissions for a healthier neighborhood. Maybe you can start car pooling with your neighbors as well!
3. Install a Whole House Water Filter
The next eco way to help your neighbors as well as your neighborhood wildlife would be to install a whole house water filter. Another huge change! We all want one though. No more chlorine bi-products making us sick from taking a shower (not to mention the back breaking soap scum), no more hard water making us repair plumbing and appliances, and clothes that only look new the first week of buying them. Most importantly, we don’t want the dust storm dirt to stay on our vehicles and we don’t like water spots from the hard water.
Washing your car at home is a big deal for us southwesterners. We work hard for our luxury hopefully electric vehicles and those dust spots are frustrating. What we don’t realize is how the chemicals from treating the water runs off from our homes and into the environment upsetting the neighborhood ecosystem. The run off causes more chemical reactions killing plants and getting right back into our water system where treatment is increased to compensate for the additional chemicals that bioaccumulate. This creates an ongoing chemical cycle that does more and more damage as it cycles through.
The end result of not filtering the water throughout your house is more climate change, less nutritious food to eat, less food in general, reduced plant life (reduced O2 that we breathe), increased pollution, less natural beauty, and health effects for all living things from chemical exposures in the water and the environment. This article can highlight some of the risk involved with environmental chemicals we are exposed to including in our water.
SoftPro is the #1 whole house water filter that gives you the best filtration and the best price. A truly caring company not out for profit but out for making a difference just like you.
4. Wash Car With Eco Detergent
Once you filter out the bad chemicals from treatment out of the water and soften the water by removing natural minerals, you can start using natural chemical free soaps. Any soaps you use whether to clean, wash your hair, wash your clothes, or wash your car, chemicals are added to work with the treatment chemicals in the water. Another vicious cycle of added chemicals hurting the environment, yourself and your neighbors.
The soaps used to wash your car runs off down the road killing plant roots as it accumulates and it is. Have you all noticed the bubbles on the streets when you’re driving during a rain storm? The chemicals build up in the environment just like they do on your shower or bath tub.
If a neighbor sees you washing your car with more eco friendly car wash soap, maybe they will be influenced to do the same and spread the word to help make a difference and stop the chemical water and soap cycle.
Charlie’s Soap Store has all the natural soaps to use that are safe for everyone and everything!
5. Xeriscape/ Plant Native Trees
Once you have safe water on your property, it’s time to bring life back to your neighborhood. Xeriscaping is a method of landscaping designed for dry climates like the southwest. The term literally means ‘dry landscaping’ in greek. No need to run the sprinklers twice a day in the middle of summer when you xeriscape. Adding more plants can help stabilize the neighborhood ecosystem and provide clean air!
My favorite southwest drought tolerant trees to plant in your front yard:
- Chinese Pistache
- Desert Willow
- Coral Gum
- Coolibah (Eucalyptus)
- Native Mesquite
4 ways these trees improve air quality in your southwest suburb neighborhood
- Absorption of gaseous pollutants such as ozone (O3), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and
nitrogen dioxide (NO2) through leaf surfaces
- Interception of particulate matter (PM10), such as dust, ash, dirt, pollen, and smoke
- Increase of oxygen levels through photosynthesis
- Transpiration of water and shade provision, resulting in lower local air temperatures,
thereby reducing ozone (O3) levels
6. Use Electric Yard Tools
With the suburbs in the southwest often comes with an HOA. HOA’s have rules for many reasons and some actually do support green living and some support aesthetics which isn’t a bad thing but can be annoying for some. Regular yard maintenance is a must in an HOA. If you have a landscaping company or looking for one, it’s best to find one that uses electric yard tools. That’s gonna be hard to find because they would be dependent on using the homeowners electricity. Most use gas powered tools. Have you been outside when landscapers are around? Did you notice the polluting gas burning smell? It’s actually very strong! That’s because they are not regulated as they should. They are more polluting than gas powered vehicles because vehicles have more regulations to try and reduce air pollutants.
If you start xeriscaping and find yard maintenance has now become a minimal occurrence, these electric yard tools and eye opening information about using gas powered yard tools might be handy for you.
7. Compost/ Recycle
Once you have your yard clippings or leaves you blew in a pile with your electric leaf blower, you can compost them. Public composting services is a work in progress nationwide. Litterless has a website page you can pull up the composting services for your state. The compost material goes to making organic fertile soil for farmers or other uses the city has thought of to recycle those yard scraps.
You can also create your own indoor worm compost for food scraps and have your own compost high in nitrogen. This is a fun and easy way to make your own worm compost! Kids love it!
Most southwest cities offer recycling services with your trash service so make sure you’re also being a positive neighbor influencer with that blue trash cart. Here’s a detailed guide to recycling from Waste Management!
8. Start Backyard Gardening
What better way to be a good neighbor with sharing the fruits of your labor from your backyard garden. Make some fruit pies or exchange veggies with each other. Potatoes make a great bargaining chip! Having a backyard garden helps influence healthy eating among neighbors and sharing your veggies can really make a difference in your neighbors nutrition. You would be amazed how backyard gardens start to pop up once someone on the road takes the lead and spreads the knowledge. You can even have fun with neighbors by learning how to can and preserve food.
Backyard gardening doesn’t have to be hard and an irrigation system made for the southwest can help make it easier for you: Best irrigation for dry hot climates
9. Improve Indoor Air Quality
A neighborhood party is no fun when ozone or formaldehyde invades the party! Ozone from that polluting gas powered vehicle or gas powered yard tools reacting with the sunlight and heat bringing ozone right into your home or your neighbors home when they open the door or the windows. Learn how these chemicals can crash a party and which houseplants are best for filtering these party poopers out with this article! A house full of plants does make for a great conversational piece also.
You can also share plant babies from a mother plant your neighbors like with propagating.
You can have the best quality houseplants delivered to you with The Sill easy-care plants
10. Take the Zero-Waste Challenge
The first methods I chose to start the Zero-Waste challenge was to get a Hydroflask water bottle to stop buying plastic water bottles, start carrying a backpack out and about and bring reusable shopping bags when grocery shopping. Once you filter your whole house including your drinking water with a reverse osmosis system for the cleanest drinking water, you can eliminate bottled water for good. Put it in your backpack and always have clean drinking water wherever you go.
Zero-Waste doesn’t stop there. That was just the start but hey, you gotta start somewhere! Zero-Waste is the ultimate neighborhood challenge to help prevent landfills growing into our communities.
Benefits of Zero-Waste for neighborhoods:
- Zero waste is environmental justice
- Zero waste mitigates the climate crisis
- It’s the cool thing for neighborhoods to do
- Zero waste protects public health
- Zero waste saves money and creates good jobs, leading to a stronger, more vibrant local economy
Not going Zero-Waste always reminds me of the Wall-E movie as our future. Anyone want trash cube towers for their neighborhood and nothing but brown for miles and miles? No thank you says any friendly neighbor.
So start somewhere, grow a plant in a Wall-E inspired boot planter, and start a New Health Cycle in your southwest suburb neighborhood today. You’ll be the coolest neighbor on the block!