I think ANY change, big or small–makes a big difference in the world.
Summer is great time to start making changes to lead a more green and eco-friendly life. No matter how you decide you want to start, I always encourage baby steps. Here are but a few tips on starting that journey!
- Get Outdoors- The summer is a great time to spend time outdoors with your friends and family. Often, simple and local activities make for the most fun! Walk to your local park or nature reserve and take in the sights! Pack a litter-less picnic, bust out those bentos and find a nice shady tree to spend the day under. Bring a book (I prefer an e-book) and relax! If it’s close enough, walk or bike there! Take advantage of nature, go for a hike or nature walk, strap-on the life jackets and take a canoe-ride! Other great options are to take advantage of your local events, your own city is a hidden gem for you to explore with your family!
- Fire That Grill Up, Baby!- Summer is all about enjoying the weather, good company and good food. BBQ’s are a staple in summer celebrations. The simplest way to go green when grilling up those ribs– and something you may already being doing–is to opt for propane while cooking. It burns cleaner than charcoal or wooden briquettes, so if you can skip that you are already making a good change! When you are cleaning, use greener options such as Seventh Generation to eliminate chemicals all summer long! After cooking it up, enjoy some quiet and cool time in the evening around your firepit. Use an Eco-Log that burns for over 10 hours, some come with Citronella that will keep the bugs away too. Eco-Logs burn longer and burn cleaner, leaving behind little to no sediment and ash. I buy mine at Canadian Tire.
- Can You Pass the Salad?- When tossing your greens, make sure that you buy LOCAL! Most cities have a farmer’s markets during the summer months where you can buy delicious fruits and vegetables that haven’t crossed the country to get to you. The further away that produce comes from, the more chemicals and preservatives that are added to them so that they arrive “fresh” to you. Not to mention, when you buy local, you are cutting down on thousands of fossil fuel kilometres and you are supporting your local farmers! You can’t go wrong! The more raw and organic food you eat the better it is for you and the less energy you use to cook them.
- Turn Up the AC!- And by that, I mean, turn up the AC a few degrees. If you need to, use a floor fan. They use about 90% less energy and if you have an EnergyStar fan, they are about 50% more efficient than regular fans. Wear loose and thin clothing while at home, spend time in your basement/rec room where it is cooler. If there is a cool breeze, shut the AC off altogether and open the windows! Though it’s hot outside and AC is sometimes a much needed relief, if you are comfortable with it not being ice cold in your home, turn up the thermostat and you will not only save money during the summer months (about 10% decrease in your bill), you will be helping the Earth too! I know with kids, it’s often unavoidable to NOT use the AC but, during the evenings are great times to give the AC a break! Also, make sure you stay hydrated and drink plenty of water!
- Skip the Chemicals- Do you have those creepy crawlers in your yard? Opt for natural remedies and plant rosemary and citronella in your yard, they ward off mosquitoes and other critters in a way that won’t harm wildlife or your own family. Lavender is a great repellent and smells very pleasant. Dab some behind your ears, wrists and neck and you’ll be keeping them away. They say eating garlic and basil keeps mosquitoes away as well, though I haven’t tried it yet!
- Getting Wet n’ Wild and WISE about H20- Water fun is one of THE most entertaining and memorable activities to do during the summer. But, be vigilant as to how much water you are using on a daily basis. Use a kiddie pool with the kids, they will have a blast and you will have a ball watching them in it. You can use a rain barrel to collect rain water so you can water your plants as needed. Wating until it is cooler and when the sun has gone down to water your lawn is a better option. The water will not quickly evaporate and will sink into your lawn more efficiently. Out and about and your car needs a wash? Go to a car wash, they recycle their water and it is a better option. Want to take a cool shower? Make sure you install an Energy Savings Kit that Union Gas provides for no charge, it’s a $60 value and will help conserve energy and water and help lower your monthly bill!
- Life’s a Beach!- Go to your local beach and take in the rays! Have the kiddies play in the sand and build sand castles! Make sure you check if it is safe to to get into the water (if the water is not contaminated), always follow water safety precautions, bring TONS of sunblock (there are greener options that are better for you and the planet, like this one) and water! Pack litter less snacks and drinks and if you do have any waste or see any around you, take it with you and dispose of it properly. If you don’t, there’s only one place it’s going to end up. Swimwear? There are also green options for bathing suits if you want that option.
- Get unplugged- While you may spend most days outdoors, make sure you unplug appliances that are not in use. This avoids phantom energy. Every appliance that is plugged in requires and uses energy, just by being plugged in. About 5% of your energy consumption is due to phantom energy. This includes, DVD players, computers and TV’s. So unplug away! Look into solar powered chargers for your devices as well! By shutting down your PC every night, you will save about 4 cents a day, which is about $14.60 a year! Hey, it’s something!
- Happy Baby, Happy Mom- Have a new bundle of the joy this summer? Look into greener diapering options for their little bums! There are plenty of ways to go green when it comes to baby. You can choose the cloth diapers that are completely reusable, the hybrid diapers (like gDiapers, which I love and use) or greener disposables like Seventh Generation, Earth’s Best and President’s Choice which I also use when I’m out and about. Some parents are brave enough to try baby-led toileting, where from birth–infants are trained to use the toilet. I’ve never tried this but, I can imagine you save lots of money and obviously have a lot less waste.
- Garage Sales, Yard Sales, Oh My!- Gather all the things you don’t use anymore and if it’s your thing, throw a yard sale! If you’d rather, like I do, I donate to a charity or local second-hand stores. Or if I know someone who will get more use out of them, I give it to them. As our kids outgrow toys and clothes, there are plenty of people who are eco-conscious and would love to take it out of your hands!
Lastly, get outdoors as much as you can and enjoy the beautiful weather with your family. Some of my best memories happened on summer days, I urge you to make little changes everyday and work towards living a greener life in order that our children and their children can have the same memories of lazy summer days like we do! Remember your 3 R’s–Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! Don’t litter and shut off the lights! Those are the simplest ones to start with!
My girls are already in the summer spirit, but what kid isn’t? Good luck and I can’t wait to hear all about your summer adventures!
Til then, cheers m’deres!