5 Steps to Sustainable Living in the Hudson Valley
How everyday Hudson Valley citizens can strengthen the environment
5 Steps to Sustainable Living for Hudson Valley Residents
It’s never been easier to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle – particularly in the Hudson Valley, a national leader in building and supporting sustainable communities. If you’ve been considering ways to reduce your environmental impact and live greener, there are numerous ways to play your part locally. From the energy you use, to what you buy or where you live, here are some practical tips for living more sustainably.
Look to green innovations for powering your home
The beauty of a sustainable home is that both the environment and the owner benefit by minimizing unnecessary waste. Installing double-glazed windows or investing in insulation can significantly decrease heating and cooling costs, and water-efficient appliances can save on mounting water bills. For people making home improvements or building new homes, Hudson Valley boasts numerous sustainability-minded architects such as David Borenstein and Allan Shope, who focus on building homes that are low-maintenance, energy-producing and draw on the natural beauty of the area.
Some homeowners turn to renewable energy for their home, installing small-scale wind turbines or solar panels on their roofs. If that sounds like a hassle, Hudson Valley residents are luckier than most – thanks to exciting new community solar farms, they can support renewable energy sources without the difficulty (and expense) of rooftop solar equipment installation or maintenance. For example, NRG Community Solar builds and maintains solar farms equipped with industrial-grade solar panels that deliver clean energy to the local power grid. When homeowners sign up for this solar farm program, there is no rooftop installation or up-front cost. The farms are maintained year-round by trained professionals, which not only takes rooftops out of the equation, but also means more jobs for Hudson Valley locals. In fact, this program can help you better manage your home’s energy costs: while the solar energy generated from the subscription goes to the local power grid, solar credits for the same solar energy are then applied to the subscriber’s utility bill. It’s not only great for the environment but also for residents.
Rethink your mode of transportation
Though the hype has died down on electric cars, the benefits and technology are better than ever. In fact, new generations of electric cars like Tesla can go up to 280 miles on a single charge. Local organization, Sustainable Hudson Valley, provides programs such as Drive Electric Hudson Valley to guide potential car buyers through the latest in electric cars so they can make an informed decision.
If plugin cars aren’t your thing, good old-fashioned methods of transportation are still cost-effective, reliable choices for you and your family. Innovative local groups like Metropool are changing how entire communities think about transportation by helping commuters access rideshare options, find park and ride lots, understand tax incentives for carpooling and more.
Buying secondhand clothing is an excellent way to save money, and offers fashionistas a way to express themselves without consuming new materials. If the thought of thrift stores brings up images of outdated fashions or dingy merchandise, you’ll be glad to know that there are diverse, quality options for secondhand-shopping. Throughout the state, The Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries have thrift stores that offer a wide variety of goods. Local joints like The Barn Thrift Stores are more boutique, with fabulous finds for those willing to go hunting. For consumers looking for vintage and chic offerings, look for consignment stores, which offer high-end products that generally have been vetted in some capacity.
Make simple changes to what you eat and drink
As populations grow and available farming land is reduced, food consumption is quickly moving to the forefront in discussions about sustainability. One of the easiest ways to combat the waste of food distribution and storage is to eat locally. There are a variety of indoor and outdoor farmers’ markets and co-ops in virtually every corner of Hudson Valley, like Barton Orchards Farm Market and Bakery in Poughkeepsie and Westchester’s indoor Pleasantville Farmer’s Market.
Because factory farming is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, many are adopting vegetarianism and veganism. Even if you don’t want to convert, it’s helpful to replace meat with plant-based meals throughout the week, as a low-effort, high-impact way to be more earth-friendly. Vegetarian and vegan offerings at Hudson Valley favorites Art Café and Karma Road prove that herbivores don’t only eat lettuce – these restaurants offer foodie-approved fare at reasonable prices.
For those who want to spend zero money on becoming more sustainable, chuck the bottled water and go for the tap instead. Hudson Valley nonprofit Riverkeeper, which has been studying drinking water in New York since 1966, reports in its fact sheet that the quality of drinking water is “very high” across the state.
If you’re unaccustomed to living a cloud-based lifestyle, going paperless can seem like a daunting and terrifying task. But with a few simple ideas, it’s never been easier to save room (and maybe the planet) through living online only.
First things first: make sure that you take advantage of the programs your bank, employer, credit card company or charity of choice might have for going paperless. It’s as easy as checking online or with a customer service representative, who can ensure you aren’t getting unnecessary bills via snail mail. It’s also important to bring this mindset to the office. Try to cut out one thing you regularly print – like meeting agendas – that can instead be accessed on your phone or tablet and brought to the meeting. Instead of business cards, consider digital business cards through apps like Haystack.
No matter if you’re taking baby steps or making grand gestures towards a sustainable lifestyle, remember there are exciting transformations every day that will benefit you and the community.
Whether you sign up for NRG Community Solar or commit to shopping at your local farmers market, supporting renewable energy and reducing your carbon footprint can be easier than you think.