Going Green This Summer You know you should start living a greener life, and summer is the perfect time to start. BY FRANCINE KIZNER
It only takes a few actions to lessen your carbon footprint.
Summer is the perfect time for you and your family to become a little greener. Whether you’ve never thought about how you’re impacting the ecosystem or you’ve already installed solar panels on your house, we have some tips that can help your family conserve more energy, reduce your environmental impact and help you live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.
Jamie Wallace, an environmental consultant and founder of Walkit.com (www.walkit.com), a site that provides city-walking guides, helped us pull together these tips. And though this list isn’t exhaustive, it will get you well on your way to living greener.
Reduce Your Energy Consumption
Hang the laundry out to dry: With summer temperatures helping your clothes dry faster, there’s no excuse for using the dryer unless you’re living somewhere with 100 percent humidity and rain showers every afternoon.
Think before you turn on your air conditioning: Do you really need it? Try opening windows and turning on ceiling or portable fans, instead. If you must use air conditioning because you’re in a particularly hot and humid area, try upgrading to an Energy Star-rated unit and close the doors to the rooms that don’t need to be cooled.
Get energy-saving light bulbs: Buying energy-saving light bulbs is a simple step to help lower your energy use, and it has the added bonus of helping keep your house cool, since the new bulbs emit little to no heat. These lights can also last for years before they need replacing.
Buy solar lights for your yard: You’ll never have to spend another penny again to light it up. Just stick in some solar garden lights that are available for about $15—no wiring needed—and the power of the sun will light your yard automatically.
Consider your power source: Do you know how your power company creates your energy? If you have the option, try switching to another company that uses a greener source. Or consider installing solar panels on your roof to supply some of your own electricity.
Think About What You Eat
Buy local produce: Summer is the perfect time to indulge in your local seasonal delicacies, whether it’s sweet corn and berries or avocados and watermelons. You can even try buying from local farmers’ markets and roadside stands—an added bonus for buying organic, too.
Eat less meat: We’re not saying to scrap your Sunday barbecue, but being conscious of your meat intake can put a serious dent in your carbon footprint. During the summer when you crave lighter meals is the perfect time to start. It takes a lot of energy and space to raise animals, and by making a few meals a week vegetarian you’ll save a lot of resources.
Cut your bottled water habit: Save money, don’t toss away plastic needlessly and embrace your local water source. Invest in a water filter if you don’t like the taste of what comes from your tap and pick up a water bottle so you can take it to go.
Conserve on supermarket trips: Bring your own reusable bags to the market, opt for paper if additional bags are necessary, and only buy as many perishables as you need so you don’t end up throwing out unused items.
Plant a low-water lawn and garden: Depending on where you live and what grows well in your area, you can get plants, grasses and flowers that’ll lower your watering bill. When you do need to water, do it in the early morning hours, and don’t keep the sprinklers on any longer than needed.
Cover your pool: Using a pool cover helps conserve water and save energy. First, it’ll keep your water from evaporating so you won’t have to fill the pool as often. Second, it’ll trap heat in the pool so you shouldn’t have to expend energy on anything but the hot tub.
Use low-water bathroom fixtures: You can use less water in your shower and toilet by getting low-water models. And saving doesn’t have to require a remodel—you can get water savers to put in your showerheads and displace some water in your toilet tank with a brick. Shorter showers and fewer baths also help conserve.
Use a front-loading washing machine: If you’re in the market for a new washing machine or have the choice when at a laundromat, opt for a front-loader that’ll save water and be gentler on your clothes. Also, don’t forget to wait until you have enough dirty clothes to run a full load, and keep the water temperature low to save power.
Use human power to get where you’re going: With the nicer weather, consider doing more walking and biking to get where you’re going instead of relying solely on your car.
Buy an efficient car: If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, consider getting one that’ll run on a reasonable amount of gas. If you do a lot of city driving, consider a hybrid car. If you do a lot of long-distance highway driving, consider a smaller car that gets great mileage.
Do you need to fly this summer? When planning your vacation, seriously consider whether you need to take a gas-guzzling flight that produces tons of carbon dioxide. Consider a family road trip or camping adventure.
Other easy ways to go green include buying eco-friendly cleaning products, which are easy to find even in big chain stores, investing in organic cotton clothing and using natural beauty products.
There’s a lot to think about when living an environmentally conscious lifestyle, but by starting small—especially in the places where being green can save you cash—you can get into some good habits that will reduce your impact on the earth.