Have you ever felt that your efforts to live sustainably would be more impactful if done with a group of other like-minded, committed individuals? This is precisely what many ecovillages across the world had in mind when they were created. Although ecovillages vary in goals and location, most all agree on a few basic principles: social, ecological, and economic sustainability. This may sound like a list of lofty goals but think of how much easier it would be to achieve them if a group of 100 or so individuals agreed to live this way alongside you.
Ecovillages are often referred to as sustainable or intentional communities. These living spaces are intentional because they live by agreed upon goals in a way that respects nature rather than ignoring or abusing nature to make a profit. Some common practices may include: growing shared crops organically, implementing renewable-energy sources, and innovating green building technologies and waste management. Some communities also offer child care and schooling, and many share workloads by setting community work schedules each week.
Although most people picture ecovillages existing in some remote mountain valley with little to no contact with the outside world, this is false. Many modern ecovillages exist either just outside of or even inside of cities. Of course, remote ecovillages exist too, which is partially why the day-to-day practices of an ecovillage vary according to group size, location, and community practices. Some communities may share income and live almost completely separate from the modern world, while others may keep financial independence and work outside of the defined living area. Rules and practices depend upon group needs and agreed upon norms.
An example of a modern ecovillage is the Twin Oaks Community located in central Virginia. For members of this community, “conservation is key.” To make conservation possible, space and resources are shared. This includes vehicles, tools, and living spaces. Much of the food eaten at Twin Oaks is grown in the community through organic farming, and most of the buildings rely on locally harvested wood or solar power for heat. Twin Oaks members also run community businesses, such as certified organic seed production, certified organic tofu production, and even hammock production.
Ecovillages may not be for everyone, but intentional living is something we can all practice in our daily lives to help reduce our environmental impact. A few practices from ecovillages that we can all adopt include: growing our own food, recycling, avoiding single-use plastics, taking shorter showers, and sharing food and resources with coworkers, family, or friends to avoid waste. Many of these practices would take little to no extra time from our daily lives, but they require intentionality, something often missing from our modern, chaotic lives and something that ecovillages couldn’t survive without.
Would you enjoy living more communally?
Why do you think communal living better supports environmental sustainability than individual living?
What do you do to live with intention?
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