21 Actions For 2021

Sustainable living is important because it ensures future generations a habitable world they can enjoy. But what does it mean to live sustainably and what exactly are we trying to accomplish? 

A sustainable lifestyle attempts to reduce our impact on the environment by altering our methods of transportation, energy consumption, and diet to reduce our emissions; reducing the amount of waste we produce and throw away to conserve resources; and taking other actions to enhance and protect our remaining natural areas to preserve wildlife habitat and biodiversity.

Every little change we make as individuals adds up to big changes for the world. And these big changes are going to impact how future generations live here.

That’s why we have created a list of 21 Actions for 2021. These include steps we can all take in our individual lives as well as throughout our community that put us on a path to sustainable living.

Week 18 Recap: Reuse or Repair Something You Already Have Instead of Buying New

We have talked a lot about the need for a circular economy that keeps returning items, or the materials from which they’re manufactured, to the system to be used again and again, instead of the mostly linear economy we currently have in which items are manufactured, used and then disposed of. One of the key problems with our current system is that many items are designed to be used only once and thrown away. Many other items are no longer designed to last for a long time and when they stop working they can be difficult to repair. This week, we talked about resources for keeping existing items going as long as possible so we can use what we have instead of buying something new.


Much of our system encourages us to just buy a new item when something breaks, but in addition to being sustainable, it can be gratifying to fix it and keep it going. The Hacksburg makerspace runs appliance repair, electronics, and woodworking classes to help people learn how to repair and maintain things on their own. Hacksburg is a non-profit makerspace started in 2014. It’s a community workshop focused on enabling creatives and entrepreneurs in the NRV to complete projects that would otherwise be out of reach. Whether you need equipment, mentorship, or just some space to work, Hacksburg is meant to be an accessible, collaborative, and affordable resource for building anything from rockets to robots to rocking chairs. Their first post-COVID Open House is Sunday, August 8, 2021, so you can visit and find out what they’re all about.

NRV TimeBank

Our community is stronger when neighbors make a practice of helping each other.

The New River Valley TimeBank helps connect people to exchange skills and services, using time rather than dollars. When a member provides one hour of service for someone, they earn one Time Credit. They can then spend this Time Credit by receiving an hour of service from someone else. Some of the exchanges being offered and requested are mending and other repairs. Pre-COVID, the TimeBank also organized Repair Cafes in partnership with the Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley ReStore. They assembled people with a variety of repair skills, from sewing to small appliances to furniture repair, who provided their services at no cost to the public. They’re planning to restart these events in the future and we will share that information when they do. In the meantime, by joining the TimeBank you can gain access to the skills offered by other members to get some of your items repaired. Or, if you are skilled at repairs yourself you can offer those skills to others.

Sustainable Blacksburg’s Repair and Restore Directory

It can be difficult to locate information about businesses that offer repairs for items you might be tempted to just replace instead, so we are trying to help out by establishing a Repair and Restore Directory on our website. We have been gleaning this information through our own queries and questions asked by others through local Facebook and other groups and would appreciate if you would let us know of other businesses or related resources. We’re not trying to leave anyone out and we’re not specifically recommending any of these, just trying to provide a place to start to get things repaired instead of throwing them away. We think home and auto repair resources are readily available so are not trying to address those.

The Right To Repair Movement

Some companies don’t want us to be able to fix the items we bought from them ourselves. Sometimes you have to send it back to them for repair and sometimes, “planned obsolescence” means you just have to replace it. The Right to Repair movement is trying to change this dynamic and helped lead to a recent Presidential Executive Order to try to give consumers more ability to repair our own items. Try to keep things going and circulating in the economy as long as possible before buying something new and hopefully change is coming to make it easier. You can learn more here.

State of Repair is Motherboard’s exploration of DIY culture, device repair, ownership, and the forces fighting to lock down access to the things you own.

DIY Repair Guides

Sometimes a repair is simple but you may need a little instruction. If you prefer to DIY your own repairs, iFixIt offers free “Repair guides for every thing, written by everyone.”

We would love to hear about your repair experiences, whether you patronized a local business, the TimeBank’s repair cafe or did it yourself. Please help encourage others that it’s worth repairing rather than automatically replacing.

Coming Up…

Week 19 starts tomorrow! Join us as we talk about utilizing shared community resources and next weekend, visit our booth at Steppin’ Out to share your favorite community resource. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook to see daily updates.

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Done reading the most recent post on 21 Actions for 2021? Check out our archive of actions to continue learning and taking action!

Week 20: Home Energy Use

According the the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average home in America consumes about 11,000 kWh (kilowatthours) per year, which accounts for roughly 20% …
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Week 15 Recap: Choose Reusables

As we look to implement last week’s action to reduce single-use plastic, we talked more this week about how to accomplish that by choosing reusables …
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Week 15: Choose Reusables

Last week’s discussion about reducing our reliance on single-use plastic was a great introduction to this week’s action – Choose Reusables. Decreasing (or eliminating) our …
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Week 12 Recap: Recycling

Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are many benefits to recycling, including …
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Week 12: Recycling

According to the National Institutes of Health, 94% of natural resources used by Americans are non-renewable. Through recycling, we not only save these resources, we …
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Week 11 Recap: Cut Water Use

We are fortunate in our area to have access to abundant, clean water for household uses, agriculture and recreation, but that doesn’t mean we should …
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Week 11: Cut Water Use

The Earth might seem like it has abundant water, but in fact less than 1 percent is available for human use. The rest is either …
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Week 10: Reduce Food Waste

The FDA estimates that 30-40% of our food supply is wasted and the EPA estimates that in 2018 about 68% of this wasted food (that’s …
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Week 9 Recap: Eat More Sustainably

Throughout the week we shared tips from Brenda Springer, Sustainable Blacksburg’s Treasurer and a member of the Blacksburg Farmers Market Board of Directors. Meatless Monday Go Meatless …
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Week 9: Eat More Sustainably

While shopping for groceries, eating sustainably can often be one of the last things we think about. Our focus may be on getting the most …
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Week 8 Recap: Buy Smarter

Since consumption is at the root of our environmental issues, our choices can make a difference. When we’re talking about “buying smarter,” we mean looking …
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Week 8: Buy Smarter

When we initially hear the term “Buy Smarter” our minds tend to think about buying good quality products (at least mine does) but that is …
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Resources for Sustainable Transportation

By Cat Woodson Sustainable Transportation Resources Carshare/pool RIDE Solutions A Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Agency dedicated to expanding the efficiency and life of the roadway network and reducing the …
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Week 6: Sustainable Gift Giving

We all love to give and receive gifts, especially when they are presented to us in shiny paper and sparkly ribbon, but gift-giving creates millions …
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Week 5: Spend Time Outdoors

Studies have shown over and over the immense benefits of spending time outdoors – both for us and also for the earth. However, according to …
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Week 4 Recap: Volunteer

This week we highlighted many different ways you can volunteer around Blacksburg – activities that help the earth as well as activities that help each …
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Week 4: Volunteer

This is a special week for us and for the Earth. Earth Day is this Thursday (April 22nd) and there are a lot of activities …
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Native Tree Giveaway!

Plant SWVA Natives and Sustainable Blacksburg are partnering to distribute native oak and red bud trees in the New River Valley this spring. Both trees …
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Week 3: Native Plants

We touched upon this briefly last week but Adding Native Plants to Your Landscape is such an important topic we want to dedicate week 3 …
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Week 2: Lawn & Garden

Use Sustainable Practices in Your Lawn or Garden Photo by CDC on Unsplash It’s that time of year where we awake from our winter hibernation and head outside to start …
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Week 1: Support Local Food Sources

Support Local Food Sources Photo by Katie Jowett on Unsplash We’re kicking off our 21 Actions for 2021 with Supporting Local Food Sources. One of the {many} awesome things about …
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