The twenty-first century has witnessed a global reckoning in regards to the way that we relate to and interact with the natural world in which we live. More and more, the desire for sustainable, environmentally-friendly modes of living is gaining momentum in the general
population-including among older adults.
A large part of sustainable living is adjusting the structures and habits of our day-to-day lives. And in this regard, older adults are making incredible strides toward eco-friendly living. In particular, communal living facilities (such as retirement communities and long-term care facilities) are uniquely situated to take collective action toward reducing the impact of climate change.
Room for (Green) Growth
Historically speaking, senior living communities and long-term care facilities have been somewhat lacking when it comes to sustainability practices. Many retirement communities are located on the edges of towns or cities, meaning that residents who need to run errands or attend doctors’ appointments are often commuting by car.
Multiple studies have also explored the amount of food waste that occurs in assisted living or retirement communities. One study in Massachusetts estimated that over 250 pounds of food waste is produced each day in senior living communities-waste which ultimately ends up landfills.
How Retirement Communities Are Shifting to Green Living
The move toward living sustainably in senior living and retirement communities seeks to address these and other opportunities. Here are a few examples of the changes being made at Seabury and other senior living facilities across the country:
- Installing solar panels-at Seabury, the impact made by our solar panels is the equivalent of planting 87,625 trees!
- Planting community gardens-Seabury’s grounds feature raised garden beds for growing herbs
- Utilizing alternative energy sources such as geothermal energy for heating and cooling
- Switching to energy-efficient light fixtures
- Installing low-flow water fixtures
- Implementing recycling and composting programs-Seabury recently acquired an EcoRich 300 composter, which is expected to save more than a ton of organic waste each week and generate more than 15,000 pounds of compost each year
- Building in urban or central areas so that residents can walk or travel shorter distances to stores and other amenities
- Buying foods and materials from sustainable sources
- Reducing the use of disposable products and containers-at Seabury, we have recently made the switch to reusable containers
The ultimate goal of these measures is to reduce the carbon footprint of senior living facilities, thus alleviating the detrimental effects of climate change.
Benefits of Sustainable Living for Seniors
It’s not just the developers and builders of senior communities who are driving the change toward environmentally sustainable living. As baby boomers and Gen Xers age, their desire for eco-friendly lifestyles is also creating a demand that incentivizes these sorts of changes. In addition to being good for the environment, residents of these communities also have a lot to gain from the switch to sustainable living. For example:
- Green living saves money.
Solar panels, geothermal heating, water-saving appliances, and other energy-saving measures all drive down the utility costs. This reduces overhead costs for the facilities in question and often qualifies them for tax credits, allowing them to potentially pass those savings on to their residents.
Alternatively, for residents of independent living communities, reducing energy usage in their homes results in direct savings in their monthly utility bill.
- It builds community.
For residents, collaborating on sustainability initiatives is a great opportunity for social connection. At Seabury, a group of over 50 residents called Seabury EnAct work9 together on an environmental action community group. Social connection, in turn, has been proven to come with a multitude of health benefits for seniors, including lower risk of depression and longer life expectancy.
- Positive change is fulfilling.
Maintaining a sense of purpose is important for seniors who have retired, or who no longer have children to care for. In fact, purpose in life has been linked with better mental and physical health outcomes in older adults. Contributing to green living efforts can give senior individuals a sense of working toward something that is bigger than them.
- It keeps seniors healthy and active.
Green communities have been shown to have a positive impact on individuals’ mental and physical health, including higher cognitive function. Activities such as gardening and helping to maintain green areas also provide great opportunities to spend time in nature and get some exercise, both of which are beneficial for individuals’ overall well-being.
If you’re looking for a green senior living community to join, Seabury wants to hear from you! Seabury provides peaceful living opportunities for adults ages 50 and older looking for fulfilling, independent lifestyles. Our philosophy centers the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness of our residence. Living options range from independent apartments and villas to cottages as well. Our continuum of care model is designed to make residents’ lives as comfortable as possible. Your Life Plan Contract at Seabury, should you require it in the future, also includes a transition to assisted living, memory support, and nursing care services for the same monthly fee. Contact us today for more information!