The Emerald City has a reputation for being green in more ways than one.
Whether you’re a newcomer to the city or a born-and-bred Seattleite, it’s no surprise that the Emerald City has a reputation for being green in more ways than one. In July, Seattle became the first city in the nation to ban the use of plastic straws at cafés and restaurants. In 2015, composting became not just a nice alternative to trash and recycling, but mandatory within city limits.
“Living a greener lifestyle is almost second nature for Seattleites, whether that’s recycling, composting, riding a bike to work or carpooling,” says Randy Bodkin, assistant manager in Amica Insurance’s Seattle office.
If you’re looking to get into the Seattle groove and start living a more eco-friendly lifestyle, there are many ways you can get in on the action. “We suggest checking with local ‘green’ energy efficient affiliates, your power company, or your waste management company for safe and easy ways to live greener,” Bodkin says.
One quick and easy change to make? Sign up for paperless billing from your insurance company and other utilities. Many companies will even offer a discount for going paperless. “Insurance companies, for one, generally send many policy documents. When our customers go paperless, this helps in reducing their carbon footprint,” Bodkin says.
Of course, if you’re looking to make a bigger change, there are plenty of eco-friendly options that Seattleites are trying out in the city.
Some Seattleites start their green lifestyles with their homes. Take Veena Prasad and Andri Kofmehl, for example. Their West Seattle home was built to the highest standard of green living, Emerald Star, by TC Legend Homes as part of the Built Green program, a nonprofit residential building program of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties.
If you’d like to tackle other green renovations, you could install solar panels, use extra-efficient toilets, faucets and fixtures, add on-site rainwater cisterns, or use reclaimed, recycled and non-toxic building materials.
Making major green living renovations can seem like a huge undertaking, but knowing you are reducing your footprint on the planet can make it all worth it – and it doesn’t have to break the bank.
For Seattleites with access to an outdoor space, planting a garden that can provide some of your own food is a great option to start a greener life. Kane and Kristina Jamison, West Seattle residents, made a deliberate decision to try to live off their land as much as possible when they moved to their house in 2011. “We live on 1/7 of an acre in the city, so we’re obviously not going to raise our daily food needs in the backyard,” says Kane. “But for us, it was about moving away from having to run a lawnmower every week and to take advantage of the fact that you can grow things year-round in the Northwest … I really loved gardening and wanted to see how planting a fruit and veggie garden could work as opposed to growing ornamentals.”
He suggests taking urban homesteading slow. “It’s really easy to get excited about doing these things and run out and try to do 10 things all at once, and that’s great if you have all the time in the world, but for most people I recommend biting it off in smaller chunks.”
Jamison says it took them years to get their gardens where they wanted them to be. “Especially if you’re just learning to garden in this area, it’s a lot better to start with an 8- by 10-foot garden space than an 80- by 10-foot space. That way, you figure out why your tomatoes won’t ripen or how to battle mildew and aphids before you expand.”
The Jamisons also have kept chickens for the eggs (until a run-in with a racoon a couple of years ago), and built an eco-friendly arterial wall with earthbags in their yard to block traffic noise. They chronicle their urban homesteading ways and offer advice to others on Insteading.com.
Kane says living in Seattle is a huge boost to their efforts, as the city has some of the most forward-looking urban agriculture laws on record. “If you look at a lot of other big cities across the country, they often have regressive or restrictive rules on urban agriculture — there are even some that say you can’t have garden beds in your front yard!”
If you’re looking to get into the gardening lifestyle and want to learn more, Kane suggests checking out some of the helpful community groups in the city, like Seattle Tilth, Sustainable Ballard and Beacon Food Forest.
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