July 17, 2008

Living Sustainably

For the past few months I've been writing about finding personal sustainability most often in the emotional realm. Now that I'm back in San Francisco I feel like that is so quickly becoming a reality. But sustainability is more than just about emotion it encompasses economic and environmental issues as well.

I experienced this in action when I stayed with Matt and Rachel in DC for May and June. They are living what I would call a sustainable lifestyle and perhaps others would call it Green. Their home operates more as a collective in terms of sharing a house with roommates, keeping expenses down through conversation, a focus on recycling and using public transit and bicycles as much as possible.

Last night I had the most wonderful conversation with a new friend Miriam who is a sustainability consultant who believes that collaboration is the key to success. Needless to say we had a lot in common. During our conversation I reflected on my choice to rent a room in my friends' house, to use public transit and my bike to get around. Yes, some of this is motivated by the high costs of living in the Bay Area, but it also stems from my desire to live sustainably.

Sustainable living in the East Bay of San Francisco seems to be the wave of the present (as opposed to the future). In a conversation this morning I learned that the Fruitvale BART station has a free valet bike parking from 6am to 8pm at the Fruitvale Bike Station operated by Alameda Bicycle. I was so concerned about riding my bike and parking it at BART. Today I tried it out and the service is fantastic! Riding my bike adds 20 minutes on to the commute into San Francisco but it saves me $1.75 each way and I get my exercise. Plus, the route is direct and safe with a really wide bike lane.

In yet another conversation today I was thinking out loud about how long I will live with Stacey and Stefan. The woman I was talking to said that I should stay as long as possible to save my money. Rents are going up as people move out of their houses and rent apartments instead. Living arrangements such as mine are going to become more common. Yesterday's New York Times confirmed this with their article, Homeowners Take in Boarders in order to make mortgage payments. That's exactly my current situation. It is such a lovely deal for all of us, especially since we've been friends for over ten years.

As the economics of living in the US get more challenging with costs of fuel rising, job market potentially dipping, food costs increasing - you'll start to see more people evaluating their lifestyle choices in order to live more sustainably.