By: Amy Lu
Now that summer has arrived, many previously hidden activities and recreational events are open to explore! After saying goodbye to skiing and sledding, swimming and beach volleyball have come to greet us. Excluding those of us who enjoy drinking hot chocolate in the middle of the blazing summer, we can finally change our drink of preference to a lemonade, piña colada, or any refreshing beverage to fend off the heat. With so much to do in the two months that make up summer vacation, it’s easy to forget about our actions’ impact on the environment. However, given that we are traversing through Plastic-Free July, use our following points to continue showing that you care about our future on Earth! Here are ten fun ways to have an environmentally-friendly summer:
1. Daily Dose of Vitamin D
Summer brings not only sustained heat, but also extended periods of sunlight. Compared to the wintertime, when the sky darkens early, the sun stays up for longer throughout the hottest season – sometimes even well into 9 PM! This additional vitamin D makes electric lighting no longer necessary – instead, we can turn to the warm glow of natural sunlight to satisfy our illumination needs.
2. Two Legged/Wheeled Race
One of the most common (and best!) ways to save money and gas is to travel by bike, foot, or even rollerblades! Many people choose these environmentally-friendly methods of travel over automobiles because of their affordability and plethora of other advantages, particularly regarding the environment. Good exercise? Check. No gas pollution? Check. Fresh air and a crisp breeze? Absolutely. Not only are these options great for individual health and efficiency, you can also bring other people with you for the adventure! Summer is the perfect time to take a bike ride with your friends – and maybe even stop for some ice cream en route.
3. Local is Best
Buying local groceries has recently become a more prominent choice in comparison to imported foods. As a result, we now have more opportunities to support local businesses while also reducing the amount of pollution caused by transporting the goods. Although we can (and should) choose local at any time of year, the sun and warmth of summer means that there will be a much larger variety of freshness available to you!
4. Hang Out-side
Another benefit of having prolonged periods of sunlight and warmth is that many more recreational activities open up for anyone and everyone. These options are not limited to only traditional sports and games; you can also host barbecue parties and picnics, go for a stroll in the park, go to the beach, and so many other choices. So rather than staying cooped up indoors, you should take advantage of the warmth and light and have some fun outside!
5. Use Our Natural Dryer
We have a better solution to stop wasting money on the drying machine for all of us tired of the same old chores of washing clothes! Utilize the summer heat and hang washed clothing on a clothesline or similar structure to dry out the garments! Enjoy the fresh outdoors as you hang your clothes to blow in the wind – isn’t that such a picturesque scene? You don’t need to worry about smoothing wrinkles, which may even save you time when folding them away. Finally, who doesn’t love the smell of sunlight on a freshly cleaned shirt?
6. Turn Off the A/C (Yes, That’s Right)
Ah, air conditioning. The one thing everyone yearns for amid humid summer heat. Sure, it definitely feels refreshing to be the center of cool airflow’s attention, the chill breeze blowing against your face rather than having your clothes stick to your clammy skin…but will it be worth it when the terrifying A/C bill comes in? Will it be worth all the carbon dioxide you single-handedly released into the atmosphere, contributing to even higher temperatures in the future? I hope that those doing this find a worth, but for everyone else who would much rather just save the thousands of dollars, all you need to do is turn it off! Click a button or switch, and bam, you’re on your way! And if that’s too difficult, you could try only turning it off at night because even if you’re sweating and can’t sleep, you can simply use a thinner blanket or ditch it entirely! Change into looser, lighter clothes that cover a minimal amount of skin, and keep a glass of water next to you. This way, you can save some money by not having your appliances running 24/7 and also decrease the pollution that would have been produced for the A/C to function.
Calling all the gardeners! Now that summer is upon us, many of your plants and flowers must be getting ready/already sprouting. To ensure you’re growing the best of the best, you’ll need rich soil, and for that, you’ll need compost. Composting not only enriches your soil, but it also reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and suppresses plant diseases and pests. In turn, this also reduces the amount of waste that goes into landfills and harmful emissions. Win-win for everyone!
8. Reusable Water Bottle
A classic environmentally-friendly approach, carrying and using a reusable water bottle has taken over the plastic bottle industry! Reusable water bottles are easy to clean, carry, and customize, as they can be modified for straining tea, pressing fruits, and even being used as a speaker. Although this quick switch can be done any time of the year, it is even more crucial to use a reusable water bottle in the summer because of the heat and the many outdoor athletic options that open up, calling for further hydration! So what are you waiting for? Your Hydroflask is waiting!
While it is always best to reduce dependency on automobiles, sometimes usage is unavoidable, and it’s always important to remember to use everything in moderation. With students off of school in the summer, there will be many long-distance vacations with friends and family with people ranging all ages. While this will undoubtedly produce quite a bit of harmful pollution, the amount can be minimized by carpooling. For example, say three two-parent single-child families go on a road trip together. Rather than having three cars for each family, they can carpool into two cars instead. This way, emissions are minimized, and the gas cost split between each family is also reduced!
10. Reusable Bags
Reusable bags are something that’s quickly taking over our shopping habits and causing us to be more mindful of how we shop. We have continuously used plastic shopping bags with short shelf lives that ultimately end up being another piece of the landfill puzzle for so long. However, recently, more and more places and people are offering reusable shopping bags, so take advantage of the new convenience! As mentioned earlier, summer means more grocery options and dining opportunities, which most likely calls for buying more food to take advantage of the seasonal variety. So, instead of shopping with one-time-use plastic bags for all the groceries every single time you go shopping, get reusable bags that can be utilized again and again! This will help reduce the amount of garbage piling up in landfills and is more accessible as well. There are so many fun and aesthetic reusable bags just waiting for you to get your hands on them!
Which tip will you be trying first? Let us know in the comments!