July 4: How are you celebrating Independence Day?

Like millions of Americans, we’re celebrating July 4th, Independence Day.

However, we’re celebrating this national holiday by focusing on the many aspects of our life that, in various ways, have led us to quite a different vision for a sustainable tomorrow – complete with local, renewable energy and lots of delicious meals harvested within ten miles of where we live – if not from our own kitchen garden.  Sometimes we even celebrate July 4th with a rainbow.

Here’s how our Independence Day is different — and yours can be too:

•  Be energy independent by generating all our power with renewable energy systems.
For a vast portion of the United States, there is enough solar and wind energy to completely meet our needs right where we live.  True, adopting renewable energy will require an investment either personally or for your business if you work from home.  But with present Federal tax credits and many state incentives, the time couldn’t be better.  We completely power our Inn Serendipity Bed & Breakfast and Farm with solar electric and wind turbine systems.  In fact, we overproduce renewable energy to the tune of about 4,000 kWhs (kilowatt hours) a year.  We share the surplus with our neighbors.

•  Be your own water utility.
While rarely possible in the city (or suburbs), owning your own well can eliminate yearly water bills.  As water becomes even more precious and increasingly scarce in many parts of the United States, having your own source of clean, safe drinking water can be a key element of sustainability.  We won’t last long without water.   Closely related, however, is also conserving and collecting the water that does fall on our property with rain barrels and various rainwater catchment systems, another way to cut down the amount of water you actually need to pump from the ground.

•  Be your own grocery store by growing most of your own food in a kitchen garden.
Forget about the checkout lines and rising costs of food.  Plant seeds in containers, mini-plots, community gardens or a kitchen garden in your backyard (or, as a recent B&B guest did, in their front yard), then harvest nature’s abundance for pennies on the dollar.  Growing your own food is the ultimate inflation buster.

When you can’t grow your own, eat local and support area farms.  Make a statement this Fourth of July with the menu you serve and join a movement of kindred spirits — and state governors — who are doing the same through the Food Independence Day campaign.

•  Be your own boss.
Ecopreneurs own the ladder, not climb it.  Millions of ecopreneurs – all bent on making the world a better place – work from a home office or have an enterprise that is place-based.  They don’t need to find a job, or hope the government provides one.  They create an enterprise that they’ve always dreamed about, one filled with meaning and purpose that also offers sufficient revenues, while operating it in the emerging restoration economy.

•  Be your own garbage company and recycling center.
There’s no curbside pick-up where we live, so it’s a pain to drag waste to the dump.  Therefore, we endeavor to reduce or eliminate as much “garbage” waste as possible and then aggressively sort through the rest of the recyclables.  One key we found is simply selecting things that have little or no packaging.  For example, when we do pick up items at the grocery store, they’re in biodegradable bags or we bring our own containers to fill up.

•  Be your own transportation (and fuel) company.
Forget about GM or Chrysler and their fancy, often powerful and mostly fuel-inefficient, vehicles.  Go on foot, by bicycle, on public transportation or, our favorite, by CitiCar.  Sustainability is largely about reinventing our communities where the car is not a requirement to live in one.  Some cities, like Madison, Wisconsin, find well more than half the population using bike and pedestrian corridors to go to and from work, shopping districts and the like without even using motorized vehicles.  Curtaining all our commuting around goes a long way to save money and the planet.  When we need to run to the bank, we do so in an all-electric CitiCar recharged with a solar electric system.  There’s also the possibility, as some have done, to fuel a diesel vehicle with filtered veggie oil or homemade biodiesel processed with waste fryer oil.  Who needs foreign oil?  Sometimes independence is re-creating interdependencies with people or businesses within the community in which we live.

•  Sharing the abundance with friends and family.

In the Great Depression, many people defined their wealth by the number of friends and family they held close.  Community was what mattered, since there wasn’t much money for consumption.  Likewise, we celebrate July 4th with lots of friends, some family members and our neighbors, giving thanks for what we do have, including our health, food on the table, and friends to share it with.

So, how have you declared independence on Independence Day?

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