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We were part of our neighborhood Buy-Nothing Facebook group when we lived in Altadena, California, and found it a great way to generate good feelings and meet neighbors. And of course get rid of stuff we were finished with and gain some free items we loved.

So when we moved to Colorado and discovered that there was no existing group in our mountain town, Cat decided to start one. The online training was comprehensive, painless, and quick, and they soon launched a local group encompassing three close-by small towns. The group swelled to 250 members in less than a year, and many great items changed hands.

But the best stories of participating in Buy Nothing were again the relationships we've built. Early on, we put out an "ask" for someone to help us learn to use the circular saw that we inherited with our new house safely. A neighbor volunteered, and turned out to be one of the friendliest, most generous humans we've ever had the pleasure of befriending. (Paul not only taught us to use our circular saw without cutting a limb off, he also gave us some saw blades and a load of composted horse manure, and later we hired him to adjust our doors and build our greenhouse.)

Cat gave a neighbor a cozy pair of cashmere sweatpants they'd outgrown, and the neighbor jumped at the chance to reciprocate later on by gifting us with a gently used massage table we'd been wanting that they didn't have room for. All the good feelings generated have us itching to get together for dinner as soon as we get the chance.

How does this relate to climate action?

Not only does sharing extra stuff freely with neighbors save the carbon used to manufacture and transport new things, but it also creates relationships of mutual goodwill that contribute to the resilience of the community in the face of challenges such as the increased risk from wildfires and drought due to climate change.

The Buy Nothing project has recently launched a separate app, which has the advantage of including people who live just over the artificial boundary lines of the Facebook groups, and including people who aren't on Facebook. It also has the disadvantage of being a separate app to check, rather than piggy-backing on the fact that many of us already check Facebook regularly. So we'll see how the group evolves.

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Some recreational activities, like flying to Europe or off-roading in a gasoline-powered vehicle, are less climate-friendly than others. We've been adding to our list of fun recreational activities that emit less carbon. Here's our list. What climate-friendly recreational activities do you enjoy?

  1. Archery. We installed a very homemade archery target on our property, so we can practice at home and avoid the 3 hour round trip drive to our favorite indoor practice range. Our septic field makes a nice flat archery range. We pounded the T-posts in just beyond the end of the drain field to avoid puncturing the pipes. (See photo above)

  2. Music. Cat enjoys playing acoustic chamber music with pick-up groups of neighbors. It's a great way to meet other musicians in the community.

  3. Board games. Our family loves playing classic board games like Pictionary, Pit, and Scrabble when we gather for the holidays. They are also fun when we are conserving power.

  4. Hiking, mountain biking, snow shoeing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, and cross-country skiing are great ways to get exercise in the clean mountain air and enjoy the views. The gear we use depends on the trail and the weather, but none of it burns fuel, and we often start from our driveway as a "trailhead."

  5. Gardening and food preservation. Ota relishes gardening and canning enough for it to count as a recreational activity, as well as a way to reduce the carbon footprint of our diet.

  6. Snuggling. Snuggling with partner, family members, and our cat calms the nervous system, strengthens relationships, and doesn't emit carbon.

  7. Photography. We enjoy taking pictures of the natural beauty around us, including wildflowers, trees, mountain vistas, birds, moose, elk, and coyotes.

  8. Connecting with family and friends online. We started using online meeting software for virtual visits with family and friends during the pandemic, and have found it to be a good way to stay in touch without burning the fuel needed for an in-person visit.

  9. Online exercise classes, music and theater performances, religious gatherings, meetings, and movies. We've also found online dance and spin classes are a great alternative to driving to in-person classes. And we are now able to attend performances, gatherings, meetings, and movies that used to be problematic for Ota to attend in person because of the chemical exposures from laundry fragrance.

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Updated: Jan 13

In our climate (zone 4B), a greenhouse really helps to extend the growing season.

We decided to add a greenhouse on the south side of an existing shed on our new property. It's right by our driveway, has good solar exposure, and the dark brown wall of the shed soaks up the sunlight and radiates heat into the greenhouse space.

We hired a wonderful neighbor (Paul, shown in the photo above) to build the greenhouse out of mostly reclaimed materials. The windows came from another neighbor via our Buy Nothing group (documented in another article).

We added a raised bed along the southern wall, made of redwood and filled with composted horse manure from Paul's horses.

The interior of our greenhouse gets toasty warm on sunny days, and the back wall radiates enough heat overnight to keep our herb garden (in pots along the wall) from freezing months into the winter. We are growing lettuce in the greenhouse in January, when it is near zero degrees F overnight, with no heat other than the passive solar gain from the windows.

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