4 Sustainable Reasons To Live In A Big City

Why urban density creates the perfect environment for collaborative consumption, and 4 reasons why that's where you want to be.

In 20 years, experts predict 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities. Here are a few reasons why urban living might be the greenest lifestyle of them all.

When I picture my ideal of sustainable living, it always seem to be in a rural setting. I see an off-grid house in the mountains somewhere, with just enough of a yard for growing food and raising a few animals. The only problem with this idyllic scene is that it doesn’t offer much of an opportunity for collaborative consumption.

When you’re isolated from the community geographically, it becomes hard to pool resources with others in anΒ efficientΒ fashion.

Consider this point from The Mesh by Lisa Gansky:

“The massive migration to the cities is simultaneously creating freater density within urban areas. Many cities do not have the option of growing out. That land is long since taken, or is valuable as farm land and protected. Instead, cities will grow up, literally vertically. While desnity is still a dirty word with many people, there are many benefits to desner, more populated cities. In a word: amenities. More cafes, well-designed public spaces, taxis, transit stops, bike sharing, and restaurants. More cultural destinations. More efficient ways to move goods in and out.”

What Gansky means is that the closer we live to each other, the easier it is for us to develop systems and relationships that facilitate sharing, like:

1. Shareable Transportation

Getting rid of your car and walking, biking or using public transportation makes a huge impact on your personal carbon footprint as well as national air quality. But ditching the car when you live more than 5 miles from your job or in a town without reliable public transportation is nearly impossible.

Big cities have subways, bus lines, taxis, car sharing services, and bike sharing services, as well as the infrastructure to support them and facilitate easy access.


2. Shareable Housing

As ScientificAmerican points out, “cities offer aΒ high proportion of multiple-family housing, which reduces per capita consumption of land, infrastructure and just about everything else.” Instead of living in a single-family home, which is expensive and time consuming to maintain, urban dwellers forfeit the big backyard and picket fence for more efficient apartments and co-housing arrangements. As a result, more emphasis is placed on shared outdoor spaces like community gardens and public parks.

3. Shareable Environment

When many people think about big city living, they imagine traffic, pollution, and a lack of green spaces. However, big cities offer opportunities for co-generation of electricity and use of industrial waste heat to reduce per capita energy consumption. And as we’ve mentioned before, the fact that there are more opportunities for car-free travel and more convenient access to recycling services and outdoor spaces mean that people are more likely to reduce their contribution to carbon emissions and waste through these channels.

4. Shareable Work

Urban areas are a magnet for coworking spaces and other professional, collaborative work environments. Because big cities are a huge draw for those in the creative and technological fields, the diversity in urban coworking spaces is inspiring and unique. Being able to work in close proximity with like-minded professionals creates a fertile environment for innovations that often improve the quality of life for those in the community. If you want to be part of something that will change the world, chances are the big city is the place to be.

Any Insteaders live in big cities? Tell us why you love your urban density!

Image Credit: Flickr – wolfgang staudt

Written by Beth Buczynski


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