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Cooperation is Green
Cooperation is green… in every sense of the word. Cooperation builds community, saves resources, and saves you money.
That was part of the theory behind our original name of "Green America," and it's an important part of our green mission that we have retained, as we transitioned to our new name, "Green America," on January 1, 2009.
Here, we collect some of our greatest-hits from our Real Green newsletter (formerly Real Money), to point you toward cooperative resources and strategies that will save you money in today's economy.
In 2009, to help with the tough times, our newsletter's theme will be living green on a tight budget. We'll feature going-local strategies – to help you save money and help your local community. Best of all, we'll show how living green helps families and communities become more sustainable, secure, and resilient. If you're not already a supporting member, please join today to receive our Real Green newsletter.
In the meantime, meet fellow Green Americans Ruthann, Maria, Anne, and Thom below, and get inspired to start taking a new, cooperative, green step today.
1. Dinner Cooperatives: Cook One Meal, Eat for a Week
Let us introduce you to Ruthann's family in Birmingham, AL, where the kids sit down once a week to a "Caroline" dinner and to a "Leigh Fran" dinner – not two expensive, resource-intensive brands of frozen entrees, but Ruthann's friends who have cooperatively shared weekly dinner preparations with her for more than a decade.
Ruthann estimates that she saves 25 percent at the supermarket compared to cooking all of her family's meals herself.
Here at Green America, we were so inspired by the families profiled in this article that we've organized our own workplace lunch cooperatives.
2. Home Repair Teams: Neighbors Pool Their Resources
Meet Maria from Tampa, FL. When she bought her first home, she didn't have a lot of money to spend, but Maria found a "fixer-upper" that was in her price range, and resolved to slowly improve it.
It was while Maria's mother was helping her strip the floors that her mother observed that the job might be quicker and cheaper if Maria collaborated with the rest of the home-owners in her neighborhood.
Her mother inspired Maria to form the "HIT" ("Home Improvement Team") group for her neighborhood, and since 2000, Maria and her neighbors have saved thousands of dollars on projects from erecting fences to landscaping to painting – even ripping out and replacing a porch, and building an entire garage.
3. Carpooling: Save the Climate, Build Community, and Save Your Cash
Talk about building community…
Anne from Shirlington, VA wasn't looking for romance when she joined her carpool. She just wanted to slash her gas budget by 75 percent, so she started sharing rides with three of her colleagues – including Andrew, the man who would become her husband after three years of commuting back and forth to work.
Even better, ridesharing cuts global warming gas emissions, and the Internet has brought many new tools for finding carpools within the click of a mouse. Our article links you to new online resources for finding rides-shares to special events, and ways that large workplaces can set up a ride-share pool online.
4. Bartering: Get What You Need Without Money
You can step out of the money economy altogether, whenever you're able to organize a direct exchange of goods and services with somebody else.
For Thom in San Marcos, TX, this meant putting an old laptop computer that he wasn't use up for barter on Craig's List. Another Craig's List user had the "solid workhorse" computer that Thom, a teacher, needed for his classroom, and was looking to exchange for a lighter, more portable computer. "It was a solid trade for both of us," says Thom, pointing out that neither party spent one penny to get what they needed.
Our article also links you to even more sophisticated bartering systems, such as the Time Dollar system, and various local currency systems around the country, which allow larger groups of people to exchange goods and services without money.