Transition Streets On-A-Budget

Water Saving Edition cover

Transition Streets is a tried-and-tested, lifestyle-change project where neighbors come together with neighbors to implement simple no-cost and low-cost actions using a thorough and well-laid-out handbook. By using the Transition Streets On-A-Budget Handbook you will SAVE MONEY on household bills (an average of $938/year), REDUCE your annual household carbon emissions (by an average of 1.3 tons!), and BUILD COMMUNITY - all at the same time. 

How it works: A small cluster of neighbors gets together and follows clear and easy steps from a user-friendly handbook. The focus is primarily on low-cost (and no-cost) actions that result in the lowering of both expenses and water use of each participating household. With the handbook and the support of near-neighbors, our behaviors do change. The added incentive, of saving money, works as a further motivation. Transition Streets On-A-Budget Handbook is comprised of four chapters (128 illustrated pages), and outreach and facilitation guides.

Chapters include:

  • Chapter 1: “Getting Started” provides an overview of the handbook and the sections to come.
  • Chapter 2: “Energy”. Much of our energy use is within our power to change. A few practical actions to take are:
    • If you use a dishwasher, set it to air dry, not heat dry.
    • Turning devices off, rather than using standby power, can save $100 off your annual electricity bill. Use a power strip in areas where you have multiple devices and turn them all off at once.
    • Don't leave chargers plugged in when not in use.
  • Chapter 3: “Water”. In the U.S., the average person uses about 88 gallons of water every day, nearly twice the global average. Some practical actions to reduce indoor and outdoor household water use:
    • Baths and showers make up more than 20% of the average American's water use. Consider installing a low flow shower head, which limits water flow to 2 gallons or less per minute
    • You can save 200 gallons of water a month by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth.
    • When washing dishes by hand, use a tub or plug your sink. You’ll save 20gallons of water or more each time. “Outdoor Water Use” which provides suggestions for simple to more complex landscape improvements such as: Rainwater catchment, easy laundry to landscape installations, water-wise irrigation, and much more.
    • A dripping or leaking faucet is not just annoying, it can add up to staggering water losses and wasted money.
  • Chapter 4: "Food". In the past, communities had more self-reliant food systems. We can start to rebuild our local food systems by:
    • Joining or starting a "crop swap" or "produce exchange" where fellow gardeners exchange what they have too much of (zucchini?) for things they want more of (cauliflower?).
    • Growing some of your own food such as a container garden or a small plot can yield an abundance of fresh vegetables.
  • Chapter 5: "Waste". Americans individually produce almost 4.5 lbs of waste per day, on average. We can reduce this by doing things such as:
    • Composting food waste reduces the amount of methane gas going into the atmosphere.
    • Repairing items and getting more use out of things we already own, rather than throwing them away and buying new. If you don't know how, see if there is a repair cafe nearby. These are generally free and offer skilled help at fixing all manner of items.
  • Chapter 6: "Transportation". Pollution from car exhaust increases a number of serious diseases. Here are some solutions:
    • Carpooling reduces each person’s travel costs and carbon emissions. In 2014, carpoolers saved $1.1 billion and 85 million gallons of gas. 
    • Get a bicycle. While walking might currently be down, bicycling is up. The number of trips made by bicycle in the U.S. more than doubled between 2001 and 2019. 
    • Buses and trains do consume a lot of fuel, but when you divide that energy by the number of passengers, this generally shows these vehicles are more efficient at moving people around.
  • Chapter 7: “What’s Next?” provides a bridge for participants to consider additional actions including: Advanced neighborhood projects like our Ready Together Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness Handbook, water-saving work parties (i.e. to install grey water or rain-water collection systems), neighborhood crop swaps, and more. 

Prior to undertaking any of the Transition Streets solutions, participants conduct a resource-use audit and complete an introductory evaluation form that primarily uses EPA conversion data. When complete, participants tally again to assess their redustions and cost savings.

Benefits: The Transition Streets On-A-Budget curriculum pulls together practical resources and tips on changes that can be implemented at a household scale. Along with SAVING MONEY, and REDUCING ENERGY/WATER/WASTE, participants BUILD COMMUNITY. Neighbors form rich social bonds that go well beyond the project. Often they continue to engage in other projects; they move into action and come up with resourceful new ways to further support and involve their neighbors and improve their communities.

Transition Streets resources currently include:

  • Transition Streets website (Please note: Transition Streets On-A-Budget will be posted to this website after the pilot feedback has been incorporated and this edition is made available to the public.)
  • Transition Streets 1 minute animation

Now, more than ever before, we all need to do our parts to limit our waste, reduce our household energy use, and conserve indoor and outdoor water. study in the US from earlier this year, predicted that in just five decades, the central and southern Great Plains, the Southwest and central Rocky Mountain States, California, and areas in the South and the Midwest are likely to experience significant water shortages. Particulate matter from car exhaust and burning fossil fuels in our businesses and homes, have increased asthma attacks in children, impaired lung function, and COPD in adults. What we do to reduce and conserve on a household scale can have profound cumulative effects.  

We warmly welcome your participation. If you are interested in coordinating a pilot of Transition Streets On-A-Budget in your neighorhood, please complete this form. For more information email Carolyne at or call (707) 824-1554. 

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