With more brands and corporations engaging in the sustainability dialogue, it’s easy to start thinking that the only sustainable actions worth taking are ones that can be measured in terms of emission reductions or supply chain alterations. However, many of these corporations continue to use this language to greenwash their products without taking substantial action.
What’s missing from these conversations is actual reflection on the word sustainability, which comes from sustain. In order to create a future that can be sustained and sustainable, we need to start looking at how we can achieve that same goal in our own communities. At We Thieves, we are always wanting to amplify the amazing community programs that are happening all around us.
This Earth Day, we’ve taken the time to highlight local organizations and resources that you can support, use, or contribute to so we can all better sustain our communities and feel empowered to tackle these complex environmental issues at the local level.
SUPPORT THE STEWARDS OF BIODIVERSITY
An image of the Chappaquiddick Wampanoag Instagram feed
Indigenous folks around the globe have been persecuted for protecting the land and water from harm. According to the Slow Factory, 80% of the Earth’s biodiversity resides within Indigenous territory. Indigenous land management and stewardship is critical to a sustainable future. Here in Massachusetts, the Chappaquiddick Wampanoag, a tribe in the Wapanoag nation from Chappquiddick island, is working to acquire lands on Chappquiddick. You can take this opportunity to donate or share to help them cover the legal fees and operating costs needed to help them achieve their long term goal of having their land returned to them. This is only one local example of many so we encourage you to explore other ways you can support Indigenous folks to regain their land in the U.S.
DAMAGED CLOTHES? GET THEM ON THE MEND
Image via Jessamy Shay
“The most sustainable wardrobe is the one you already have” is a phrase that’s tossed out across the internet again and again but that’s mostly because it’s the truth. Clothing care is a big component of ensuring that your clothes live a long life before its high time to dispose of them. Clothes will tear and stains will form because that’s part of its lifecycle. However, just because those things happen does not mean that your clothing is ready to be donated or ditched. High Hand Mending and High Energy Vintage’s Jessamy Shay are wonderful local options for complicated alteration and mending projects. We have a community-sourced list of cobblers and tailors for everyday needs such as hemming, taking in/letting out garments, and putting new soles on your shoes.
WHY BUY SOMETHING WHEN YOU CAN BUY NOTHING
The core values of the Buy Nothing Project via their website.
Life changes and that can mean something you bought is no longer needed; maybe it's because you’re moving or you have a child who’s grown out of something. While the first instinct might be to sell, donate, or ditch it, there’s a fourth option that better supports your community — Buy Nothing. Buy Nothing is a movement, accessible via Facebook or Buy Nothing's new app, where folks are able to directly offer up resources they no longer need for those who would have use for them. It’s a fantastic way to reduce waste and find someone who will give it a longer lifespan.
‘TAKE WHAT YOU NEED, LEAVE WHAT YOU CAN’
Image via the Cambridge Fridge Instagram
‘Take what you need, leave what you can’ is a phrase that, in the last 2 years, has become deeply synonymous with the community fridges that have sprouted up in the wake of severe food insecurity amplified by the pandemic. In the holistic spirit of sustainability that we referenced at the beginning of this guide, sustainability means that we participate in a system where abundance is redistributed to the community in solidarity without strings because it helps a community sustain itself. The closest fridges to us are the Somerville Community Fridges and the Fridge in the Square. You can check out the location of all of the community fridges in the Greater Boston area here.
FOOD WITHOUT THE FOOTPRINT
Image via Soul Fire Farm
Food, as you can see above, is a hyper-complex issue because of the disparate levels of accessibility. To avoid diving too deep into food as a whole, we wanted instead to share different ways that folks can be involved with their local food systems and, hopefully, share any food abundance with their community fridge. If you want to support food sovereignty in the Northeast, you can donate to Soul Fire Farm, "an Afro-Indigenous centered community farm committed to uprooting racism and seeding sovereignty in the food system" primarily in the Toy-Albany area (with work that spans the Northeast U.S.). Additionally, you can source your food from local MA farms through Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) — Dave’s is one of many farms that offers pick up locations in the Greater Boston area and beyond — or by joining a community garden in Cambridge, Somerville, or Boston.
AN ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION — FOR FREE
Cover of Consumed by Aja Barber
This guide is by no means comprehensive nor do we claim to have the answer to every environmental problem that we currently face as a global and local community. That being said, the last resource we wanted to recommend is your local library! In addition to a plethora of community classes that they offer, they carry some wonderful resources if you’re looking to learn more about how you can be more involved. Our favorites include Consumed by Aja Barber, the All We Can Save anthology, and The Red Deal: Indigenous Action to Save our Earth. We have even more books, articles, and videos on our Conscious Consumer guide.