The earth is suffering due to the stress of the human population and its consequences. In order to slow climate change and make strides towards reviving the planet, we must as individuals work towards living more conscious and sustainable lives. With school activities wrapped up for the season and more free time on your hands, summer is the perfect opportunity to think about reducing your footprint and leading a more sustainable lifestyle. I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle, but rather encouraging you to make a conscious change in one or two aspects of your life. Everyone’s approach to becoming more green is different, so take a look at a few of the options below that you can take steps to a healthier planet.
Bike and walk when you can
The warm weather and clear skies that come with the summer months provide an opportunity to leave the car at home and walk or bike to your in-town destination. We are fortunate enough to live in a bike-and-pedestrian-friendly town that is small enough to cross on foot in an afternoon. Take advantage of this by ditching the car and biking to work, soccer practice, or your friend’s house.
Drink tap water
Hydration is important in the summer, but don’t be tempted by the deceptive convenience of plastic water bottles! Instead, opt for a reusable one that you can refill at water fountains and taps throughout your day. You can find BPA-free reusable bottles at most grocery stores or sports stores. It may seem like a splurge, but investing in a high-quality bottle that will last you a year or more will not only be a benefit to the environment but will also save you money in the long run.
Camp, picnic, and party smart
Summer social events, including picnics and parties, often are accompanied by single-use cutlery and dishes (think plastic forks and styrofoam cups). These items, while convenient, add up to an immense amount of plastic that could easily be avoided by switching to reusables. Try ceramic dishes, bamboo utensils, or even sturdier plastics that can be washed and reused. Additionally, be a conscious camper and clean up after yourself: whether it be a gathering in your own backyard or a camping trip at the coast, make sure you leave your venue cleaner than you found it; Mother Nature will thank you.
If you don’t have an intensive work schedule, consider spending a few hours each week volunteering in the community. There are various organizations, such as Youth Volunteer Corps, Kiwanis International, that can connect you with opportunities to clean up the environment or raise awareness about sustainability. If organized community service isn’t your niche, you can also purchase a trash picker (the long stick with a claw at the end that allows you to safely pick up trash) and head to the beach or a nearby park to clean up.
Conserve resources at home
There are numerous small alterations you can make in your lifestyle to be more sustainable at home. Consider hanging your clothes to dry rather than using a drying machine. With the sun out and the air warm, summer is a perfect opportunity to hang a clothesline outside and conserve energy. Also, be conscious about what you consume. Try searching for a natural sunscreen without harmful chemicals that will damage the environment.