In an article she wrote for The Soapbox Project about sustainable holiday gifts, Ms. Achanta did not list a bunch of eco-friendly products people can put a bow on, instead writing, “The best way to be sustainable is to stop buying stuff.” Her gift suggestions include digital subscriptions and educational resources, along with some products that replace single-use versions. (This is also a practical matter: Ms. Achanta went from a six-figure paycheck to making a few hundred dollars a month and living off her savings.)
Through The Soapbox Project, Ms. Achanta aims to educate readers about practical ways to decrease their impact on the planet, whether or not they are strapped for cash. For example, she’s writing a lot about buying things secondhand. “Now I’m really following through on that advice, because it’s environmentally and financially responsible,” she said.
Cynthia Tina, the communications director of the Foundation for Intentional Community, sees another option for guilty consumers: joining intentional communities where goods are often shared, made and traded among members. “Not everyone needs to own their own lawn mower or washing machine,” she said.
Intentional communities range from economically self-sufficient communes with their own systems of income to city-based apartment complexes with shared living space. But sharing resources almost always means sharing germs, too. So while some smaller, rural communities have benefited from the safety of isolation and a closed-off pod of social interactions, others have struggled to balance differing expectations of social distancing among members.
Nevertheless, Ms. Tina, 27, has noted a surge of interest in communal living this year — particularly around sharing resources. She herself moved into the intentional community Headwaters Garden and Learning Center, an eco-village in Cabot, Vt., this year. She said she is in the process of building her own home there — solar-powered, made of straw and clay — surrounded by land on which she and fellow community members grow and share food.
It doesn’t relieve her of having to buy things or employ people to undertake services, especially when it comes to building her home, but she said, it helps her live life “peripheral to the capitalist, nine-to-five reality.”