With the increasing evidence of human-initiated climate change, people throughout the world are coming together to try to reduce their carbon footprint. Groups are trying to move away from the dependence of fossil fuels and consumerist practices. There is a focus on producing and consuming locally, and living as sustainably as possible. Many initiatives are encouraged, such as reducing energy use, creating sustainable local businesses, localizing farming and creating environmentally minded communities known as “eco-villages”.

Eco-villages are urban or rural communities of people who strive to integrate a supportive social environment with a low environmental impact way of life. To achieve this, they integrate various aspects of ecological design and building, green production, alternative energy, community building practices, and much more. These sustainable neighborhoods are typically planned and managed cooperatively. They represent an effective, accessible way to combat the degradation of our social, ecological, and spiritual environments.

Compared to sustainable cities, they are smaller and typically aim for a population no more than 50–150 individuals, this is the nuclei of the village. When this nuclei is formed, the village slowly starts to grow, sometimes up to 2,000 individuals. Those individuals exist as networks of smaller sub-communities. Certain eco-villages have grown by the addition of individuals, families, or other small groups who are not necessarily members settling on the periphery of the eco-village nor effectively participating in the eco-village community. An eco-village is often composed of people who have chosen an alternative to centralized power, water, and sewage systems. Many see the breakdown of traditional forms of community, wasteful consumerist lifestyles, the destruction of natural habitat, urban sprawl, factory farming, and over-reliance on fossil fuels, as trends that must be changed to avert ecological disaster.

Eco-municipality is often associated with eco-villages. An eco-municipality is a local government that has adopted environmental and social justice values in its charter. The development of eco-municipalities stems from changing systems in Sweden, where more than seventy municipal governments have accepted varying principles of sustainability in their operations as well as community-wide decision-making processes.

An eco-village usually incorporates components of “green” infrastructural capital; for example autonomous building or clustered housing, to minimize ecological footprint. Also renewable energy sources are installed to power the houses and facilities. The goal of most eco-villages is to be a sustainable habitat providing for most of its needs on site. However self-sufficiency is not always a goal or desired outcome, specifically since self-sufficiency can conflict with goals to be a change agent for the wider culture and infrastructure. An eco-village’s organization usually depends upon some instructional capital or moral codes—a minimal civics sometimes characterized as eco-anarchism, which involves local purchasing so as to support the local economy; local food production and distribution; moral purchasing to avoid objectionable consumption; consensus decision-making or other consent-based methods for governance and a choice to respect diversity.

In 1998, eco-villages were first officially named among the United Nations’ top 100 listing of Best Practices, as excellent models of sustainable living.


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