When families cloth diaper their children instead of using disposable diapers, they save money and also support the environment. Another way families can save money and support the environment is through participation in a local Community Supported Agriculture*, or CSA.
CSAs provide benefits for farmers. Many CSAs offer free or discounted farm products to families who help out on the farm. Other CSAs help farmers stay on their lands through monies paid by families early in the year. Families then receive farm produce in the form of a weekly subscription. The subscription may vary by what farmers grow and how the CSA contract was drafted.
Supporting your local CSA also gives back to the environment. Many CSAs involve local farms, so produce has fewer miles to travel from the farm to your table. Fewer miles traveled reduces the fuel-emissions to our atmosphere. Many CSA farmers also use natural and/or organic farming practices; avoiding the use of fertilizers and herbicides or pesticides as much as possible. As a result, our waterways experience less pollution from farm run-off.
Families also benefit from CSAs. Produce from CSAs often costs less than what a family would pay to purchase at the market, as there is not a middle man. Fresh produce delivers more nutrients to growing bodies; generally the fresher the better. Local produce may travel through a few states to get to your home, but it is not held in warehouses or shipped overseas. Few CSAs involve trans-continental travel, which would result in more fuel usage and less fresh, vitamin rich foods.
One potential difficulty for families would be the seasonality of foods; Americans have become accustomed to having a large variety of produce available year-round. Local CSAs provide foods that are available in your area at that time. For variety, some CSAs may source produce from several states away to avoid monotony. However, as most foods provided were grown on local farms, your climate will determine what foods become available and when. This means that families would need to learn how to prepare different foods than what they may be accustomed to at different times of the year. However, this could be an avenue for families to expand their horizons and try new foods!
All-in-all, if you already cloth diaper your children and are looking for more ways to positively impact your checkbook and the environment, consider CSA. Community Supported Agriculture can be beneficial to families, farmers and the environment.
*Local Harvest allows you to search for CSAs in your area at http://www.localharvest.org/csa