5 Steps Towards Tangible Sustainability

This past Sunday, I was setting up to play music in support of the Whole Planet Foundation at Whole Foods in Westport CT when a man approached me to say hi. He looked over my meager media table mentioning something about a birthday party for his son and asked me about Gatsby’s Green Light. As I was explaining the project, his attention perked up when I said the word ‘Sustainability’. He was intrigued but clearly frustrated. “What does it mean in terms of action? Specifically?”

Seems many people, in his estimation, are hearing a lot of the buzzwords in the sustainability field, ‘green’, ‘organic’, etc but not knowing exactly what they can do to invest in our collective future.

I could empathize with his frustration. Having spent the last year studying the problems and trying to find or create meaningful work in the field, I was just getting through the initial learning curve of sustainable living practices. Habit transitions are tough but look deeply and you will understand the crucial nature of the change that is required. Here’s my list of 5 things you can do to create a foundation of sustainable living for yourself and hopefully, by discussing and encouraging these actions, for others as well

1.) Grow Something: We started a small garden and compost late last year. To our amazement, our mustard and spinach grew through some pretty cold conditions and we enjoyed the fresh food on omelets and salads. In the spring we plan to double the size of our garden, fence it and grow food inside. You can grow sprouts in a jar and many traditional retailers have a variety of seeds on hand. Take the challenge, fresh direct from you garden vs. store bought. I think your bodies and taste buds will know the difference.

Our Compost Bin gets started last year

Our Compost Bin gets started last year

2.) Vote with your Dollars: I was playing music in Whole Foods and here’s the thing. For a multi billion-dollar company Whole Foods does some great things but they are not local. I hope WF continues to become a learning center, using their scale and success to do things like: buy their buildings and install renewable power to become their own micro grid, onsite composting, waste energy implementation. WF aside, you need to vote local and vote clean with your dollars. Here are three great ways: 1.) Join a CSA for some of your fresh produce throughout the year: http://www.ctnofa.org/CSAs.htm. 2.) See a community play or music event 3.) Bank with a credit union or local bank. Why? They typically will invest directly in your community making small business loans, grants, scholarships etc

3.) Make a Culture Investment: For those of you around in the 60’s, you knew that music and art defined, not only our smiles, but our hearts, souls and minds as well. This is the understanding that drove me to express myself through these very mediums. In a very real way, supporting local and traveling artists over the monopolized commercialized alternative is a very real way to promote sustainable living. Pick culture that supports the ideals of your community and lift it with your dollars.

4.) Speak up on Clean Energy: I had the pleasure of doing a deep dive into Solar Energy production over the last year. It is truly amazing and makes me happy just to think about the fact that we could power ALL we do with clean from the sun and wind forever with zero fuel costs. The public tide has turned on this now it’s time for the government to do what we are asking here. Sign this petition here: http://ecowatch.org/2012/expedite-renewable-energy/

Solar at a waste facility in CT

Solar at a waste facility in CT

5.) Waste Not: One of the biggest things we have transitioned to over the past year is adhere to the four R’s:

Recycle: .Our local transfer station is pretty good where we can recycle glass, plastic, junk mail, mixed paper, cardboard and more. The key is to be really diligent (store you used batteries up for a bigger trip) and, if you can, to get involved with your town as to why they might not be able to recycle certain things.

Reuse: I’m pretty excited for our used ‘Chobani’ container pepper garden this spring. You’d be amazed at how many plastic containers you are throwing out. Most recycling centers don’t handle these well so re-use is the best option. The uses are unlimited from spare change containers to plant pots even a drinking bowl of the cat.

Reduce: Focusing on writing over the past year and being out of the ‘traditional’ work pattern has made this one easy for me. In our home we turned a $75 dollar investment in energy efficiency into an estimated $3000 saving in year one. For you financial types, annualize that rate of return then think about the growth potential if even a small percentage of building and residences achieved such savings.  Here’s info on the CT program: http://www.cl-p.com/home/saveenergy/rebates/homeenergysolutions.aspx

Rethink: When you start to understand how serious the problem of waste is (I won’t inundate you with scary facts here but there are many) you’ll understand the importance of taking the above actions. Additionally, we need community leaders to help redefine how our communities function, standards at restaurants, zoning for new building, incentives to waste less. All these actions and more need to be community driven. The government should be steering the ship, the people need to row. That is the only way true change will occur.

Thanks for considering these changes, there are many more that we can all take together through our communities and I’d love to hear and share your successes as well.


Ken Coulson is the founder of Sonic Bomb LLC, a mixed-media company that uses art to raise awareness about sustainable living solutions. He is an advocate of Natural Capitalism, a multi-instrument musician and is writing his first book, Annalee & The Forever Smile. 


About gatsbygreenlight

I am an natural economist, artist, musician, songwriter and a supporter of the planet and sustainable living. I am the author of Annalee and the Forever Smile, a Harry Potter of Sustainability and Little House on the Prairie for this generation. Annalee is a multi-novel, multi-film franchise in the YA sci-fi fantasy genre. I am a musician and songwriter with Gatsby's Green Light and as a soloist and have released over 10 albums. More info at www.kencoulson.com. I promote tangible trillion dollar markets in Sustainability at www.futurebrightllc.com. Promoting Love, Compassion and Intelligence.

Posted on February 26, 2013, in Artist Communities, Gatsby's Green Light, Modern Philosophy, Sustainability, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Wonderfully Stated

  2. Great post! It’s so important for people to just take those first few incremental steps.

  3. What a great post! It’s clear and direct and reminds me again how, with just of mind, easy it is to do what’s right. Thanks for writing this – sharing now.

  4. It’s interesting because here in India, they understand love and family and kindness so much better than we do. They shop local, mostly because they have no choice and everything is grown but they have not handled the waste situation. They just throw everything out on the ground. There are literally no trash cans. Of course, years ago, when it was much more rural and they were throwing away food stuffs that could nurture their soil…but not so now with the influence of western foods – packaged, bottled…..it’s hard to see.

    • Hey Lyn. Your pictures from India look beautiful. I hope to spend some musical time there someday. I know that there are big problems with trash and pollution in India as there is in China and other developing nations. It’s a real worry that as these developing nations rush to industrialize they are neglecting principles of waste management and natural resource investment. It poses a global problem for people everywhere. I hope the US turns its ship and becomes a leader in this space like leadership examples in Germany, Sweden and Japan. Looking forward to some body and mind stretching when you return and some stories!

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