Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice

Happy Summer Solstice and the longest day of the year! The weather is warming up and many of us are thinking about vacations and outdoor activities. This time of year, however, can present us with some unique environmental challenges ... keeping cool, vacationing in a responsible way, maintaining a beautiful & Eco-friendly yard, etc. Is it possible to turn unique environmental challenges into opportunities? Well sure! Here are some ideas:

  • Turn your A/C thermostat to 75 degrees or higher. Better yet, don't use it at all.
  • Use ceiling fans. Adjust them so that they run in a counter-clockwise direction (stand under the fan and if you feel a breeze, it's set correctly).
  • Use box fans or small space fans to help circulate air. And here's a tip ... when it's cool outside, put a fan in the window facing in and blow cool air into the room. When it's hot inside, reverse it ... put a fan in the window facing out and blow the hot air outside. It works amazingly well.
  • Adjust the curtains and windows. Open them when it's cool and the sun isn't shining in. When the sun comes around, close both the windows and the shades.
  • Turn off all electrical devices when not in use. For example, when you're not using the computer, turn it off ... you'd be surprised at how much heat a computer puts out (there's a reason there are little fans inside of computers). And don't forget lights ... they generate quite a lot of heat as well.
  • Eat local and organic. Summer is the perfect time to eat fresh, local, organic produce. Support farmer's markets, CSAs and roadside stands. Or, start a garden and grow your own.
  • Get some exercise and leave the car at home. This is the perfect time of year to walk or ride a bike ... so give the car, and our air, a break.
  • Are you planning some landscaping this summer? Be sure to opt for native plants ... they'll require far less water and fertilizer.
  • When mowing lawns, use a push mower instead of the power version.
  • Does your deck, patio or walkway need cleaning? Sweep it instead of using a vacuum, blower or hose.
  • If you use large appliances like dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers ... operate them either early in the morning or late at night ... you'll not only save money by not running them during peak hours, you'll save energy.
  • Consider using a clothes line and make use of the sun.
  • Going on a picnic? Be sure to use reusable dishes and utensils ... no paper plates or plastic forks. And don't forget cloth napkins instead of paper. When the picnic is over, be sure to clean the area ... leaving nothing but your footprints.
  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you instead of buying bottled water.
  • Opt for counter top cooking rather than using an oven ... toaster ovens and crock pots make wonderful meals without using a lot of energy.
  • Are you planning a vacation? Consider a "staycation", playing tourist in your own town. If you decide to leave town, check out this post first: Vacations - The Eco-Friendly Way.
  • When buying typical summer products (sun lotions, swim suits, pool toys, etc.) be sure they are Eco-friendly.
  • Forgo expensive souvenirs and take digital photos instead. If you really want a souvenir, consider something from nature ... a rock or piece of driftwood.
  • Start a compost bin ... summer is the perfect time for composting.
  • Planning a little hiking or camping this summer? Remember to carry out what you carry in ... no littering. In fact, it's a pretty good rule for any activity, anytime.
I haven't forgotten those of you who are moving into winter. For our friends on the other side of the world, check out these posts:
With just a little effort, any season can be Eco-friendly ... and wonderful!

Happy Summer (or Winter) everyone!