The Guide to Being an Urban Conservationist

When you move to a big city, it can be hard to stay in touch with nature. Instead of being surrounded by trees and greenery, you find yourself bombarded by concrete and traffic. Living like that can cause a disconnect between your life and what our beautiful planet has to offer.


Thankfully, it doesn’t take much to reconnect and become an urban conservationist. After all, we should all be working to live in a way that’s good for the planet, regardless of our address.


Here are a few tips for adopting an urban conservationist lifestyle:


Transportation options (that aren’t your car) abound

If you live in a big city that relies on public transportation, this step is probably already part of your life. When you have great trains and bus routes, why depend on your car? But for slightly smaller cities where public transit may not be as reliable, this gets trickier.


Never fear - even in the most car-friendly of cities, there are still ways to reduce your use of your personal vehicle. You could carpool, take advantage of the electric scooter trend, or even shorten your normal driving routes by choosing options closer to you. One easy switch I made was to change my membership to a gym in my neighborhood. Instead of sitting in traffic for 20-30 minutes each day, I am now a five minute walk from where I’m working out.


Batch errands and tasks


To cut down on time spent driving around the city, work on batching tasks and errands. Maybe that means that you map out stores you need to go to that are close to each other and visit them all at once instead of making separate trips. Or, you could connect an errand to an activity. One store I visit is close to the animal shelter where I volunteer, so I schedule that errand for nights when I know I’m going to be at the shelter.


Utilize citywide recycling centers


Some cities have great curbside recycling programs, but other times (especially for apartment dwellers), recycling is not as accessible. I don’t have curbside recycling, so I keep a large tote bag in my kitchen that I can throw recycling into and take to a local center. Most cities, even those without curbside programs, will have recycling centers available. With a little initiative and planning, you can still recycle things instead of tossing them in the trash.


Map out local parks


Numerous studies have shown that nature is good for our brains and our bodies. Spending time in green space can help reduce cortisol, give us better attention spans, and keep us healthier over time. Spending time in nature is important, especially when you spend the rest of your time surrounded by skyscrapers and asphalt.


Thankfully, there’s an easy solution: city parks. Map out your local parks and plan different outdoor activities. You might spend your day hiking nature trails or (if you’re like me) playing with your dog in a park with a great view. It all counts, and spending time in nature is not just good for your health - it reminds you why taking care of our planet is so important. 


Shop local


Living in a city means there are SO many options for shopping local. Whether it’s a good farmer’s market (who can pass that up?) or a local vendor, shopping local means less of an environmental impact is made by shipping produce and products to the area. Plus, locally grown or produced food (read: local honey) is just so good for you.


Your location shouldn’t impact your ability to be a conservationist. City dwellers have opportunities to make a positive impact on the planet - let’s take advantage of them.

Kelvey Vander Hart