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 17 Recap: Donate or Give away Something You No Longer Need

To truly break away from the take-make-waste cycle we need to put things we no longer need or want back into the cycle so others can use them.

Continuing to just pile up stuff in our houses makes it more likely it will end up in the landfill as it becomes outdated, obsolete, or maybe gets broken or loses pieces or becomes musty from sitting around for years. Throughout the week, we talked about some of the more well-known places to donate or give away items so they can be reused or repurposed, as well as some you may not know about.

Keeping Things in Circulation

We need to keep things in circulation in order to fuel the secondhand economy and a lot of people have been getting rid of things – first inspired by Marie Kondo and her “Tidying Up” method and then while stuck at home during COVID. Some people worry about what happens to their stuff when they donate it and, as someone who volunteers at a local thrift store, Ann Raridon (Sustainable Blacksburg’s Board President) can tell you that they work hard to get your items out on the floor to be sold. They also try to put a value on it that’s commensurate with its original value. However, hundreds of items come in every day so it takes some time to sort it all out and there are some things you can do that would really help out:

1. Make sure clothing and other items don’t smell musty or have picked up other odors. People don’t want to buy things that smell and they can also make other nearby items smell. Many (maybe most) thrift stores don’t have the capability to launder items before they are put out for sale.

2. Put fragile items in a box with some protective paper or padding because the boxes are going to get moved around before the items inside get sorted and priced. Items could get broken before anyone has a chance to see what they are and we really do want to get your items out in the store.

3. If you’re donating something with multiple pieces, put them in a bag so the pieces don’t get separated. It’s really helpful if you can bag puzzles and the pieces of a game or craft kit inside their boxes because it’s very easy for loose pieces to get lost if the boxes are turned on their sides or if there are gaps in the packaging (a particular problem with craft kits). If you know crucial pieces are missing, consider offering it to someone for free or throwing it away. Volunteers don’t have time to check everything and people can get upset if they pay for something that’s missing important parts.

4. Please consider taking your interest in sustainability a step further and join the volunteers working hard at local thrift stores to keep items out of the landfill.

Habitat NRV ReStore

The Habitat NRV ReStore is a special kind of secondhand store that accepts unused home project items, gently-used furniture, appliances, doors, windows, unused contractor items, etc. When you donate to (or shop at) the ReStore, you support affordable housing initiatives throughout the NRV while redirecting waste from the landfill. Our local store can even pick up your donations for FREE if you live in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and other select areas in the NRV.

New River Creative Reuse Center

The New River Creative Reuse Center collects items that might otherwise go to the landfill or conventional recycling and makes them available at no cost to local educators and nonprofit organizations for use in art and other projects. By REUSING these materials we are REDUCING the need for the manufacture of new items. In addition, research shows that using these unconventional materials actually stimulates greater creativity in children and provides them with better learning opportunities. Creative reuse is better for the environment, better for children and saves teachers money – we call it a win-win-win! They operate out of a storage area in the back of Wonder Universe: A Children’s Museum at the mall in Christiansburg and donations may be dropped off at their front desk during their open hours.

Little Free Libraries

Have books you’re ready to pass on for someone else to enjoy? There are lots of options, including thrift stores and the library for their ongoing book sale. A fun way to share your books is to find one of the Little Free Library spots around town. Locations include the Rec Center and the Blacksburg Farmers Market and more seem to be popping up all of the time. You can leave books in one of these locations anytime. The Montgomery County Christmas Store will also accept gently used books and cookbooks. Don’t let books you’re not going to use again languish on your shelves when you can pass them on to someone else to help keep the secondhand economy going.

Give New Life to Old Athletic and Soccer Shoes

You can drop off your used athletic and soccer shoes at RunAbout Sports at 1470 S. Main St. and they will get them to people in need. They ask that you tie the shoes together and be mindful of the condition of your shoes (used but not abused): “If your shoes have holes and are in noticeably horrible condition, please don’t bring them as we just end up throwing them out.”

Coming Up…

Week 18 starts tomorrow! Join us as we talk about how much of an impact reusing or repairing something you already have instead of buying new can have on sustainability. 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

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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

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Week 1: Support Local Food Sources

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