With summer finally here, many will be out and about with barbeques, traveling, and reaching for the air conditioner to keep cool. Some of these activities can take their toll on the environment so it is important that we balance summer fun with green summer thinking.
You might be asking: “How can I be environmentally conscious and enjoy my summer?” Well, take a seat in your lounge chair by the pool, here are some suggestions for how you can stay green in the red hot summer.
With the coming of summer means traveling, and lots of it! Whether it’s a trip to the amusement park or a weekend at the cottage, traveling can emit quite a lot of carbon into the atmosphere, especially if you’re unfortunate enough to get trapped in a gridlock!
Your best alternative would be to travel locally. Most communities have events going on in the summer; so why not take advantage of the opportunity and check them out? Depending on where they are, you can walk, bike, or take public transit to get there, which can save you money at the gas pump while also being sustainable.
Localize your Food
The season of the barbeque is upon us. Which means almost anything and everything will be thrown on the grill from ribs to veggies. If barbecuing is your thing, try buying food that is produced closer to home. This action has a two-fold response in that it helps the local economy while also reducing your carbon footprint.
The average food item travels 1,500 miles (2,414 km) to get to your dinner table. Because locally produced products don’t have to travel far, fewer emissions are produced in the process allowing for a more sustainable source of food for your barbeque.
Prune out Paper and Plastic Products
Summertime socials mean lots of people, which means lots of dishes. In cases like this, convenience is key. Unfortunately, Styrofoam, plastics, and paper products are the best option since you can throw them away after, which leads to more waste in the landfill.
One answer could be to have your guests bring their own cups, plates, and cutlery to the party, but that might not be a great hosting choice. A great solution would be to purchase non-treated paper plates and unbleached napkins.
These products are biodegradable and are great for composting after they’re used.
To AC or not to AC…
One of the bigger problems during the dog days of summer is the need to keep cool. Air conditioning, though useful, takes up quite a bit of electricity which means a higher electric bill, and more carbon is entering the atmosphere. In the United States, 100 million tons of carbon dioxide is emitted each year.
If you want to keep cool and not expand your carbon footprint, you can always limit its use to rooms that you are using or use a lower setting during the day. Also, one way to make sure your air conditioner is minimal in energy consumption is to make sure that its air filters have been cleaned, and all vents are open.
Simple maintenance means that the machine will not have to work as hard, preserving energy and lowering emissions.
Not allowing your summer festivities to have a negative impact on the environment is the coolest thing you can do in the heat!
cwdavis3. “Secrets of a Sustainable Summer Cookout.” NC State Sustainability. June 09, 2014. https://sustainability.ncsu.edu/changeyourstate/secrets-sustainable-cookout/. Accessed May 24, 2016.
The Sustainability Co-Op. “5 Tips for Sustainable Summer Fun.” The Sustainability Co-Op. May 22, 2014. https://thesustainabilitycooperative.net/2014/05/22/5-tips-for-sustainable-summer-fun/. Accessed May 24, 2016.