As the end of summer approaches, I’m sure you are all taking advantage of every last minute of freedom while you can. I just wanted to give you a friendly reminder that you can have your summer fun while living sustainably too!
Here are a few guidelines for when you want to go on vacation:
- Unplug Everything! This includes microwaves, TVs, DVD players, any type of charger, printers, routers, computers, stereos, etc. These things draw power from your home if they are left plugged in, even if you aren’t using them. If you invest in a power strip, this could be even easier for you. With a power strip you can just hit the off switch on your way out the door to turn everything off at once and stop those power suckers!
- Turn it down! When you can’t unplug an appliance (like a fridge or the AC for example), turn it down or move it to a lower setting. You may even consider turning the AC off altogether if possible. Why cool an empty house? Those ghosts don’t need AC!
- Travel on wheels and rails. Trains, busses, and cars need less fuel and emit less carbon per person than commercial airplanes. They’re especially great if you’re afraid of heights too.
- Don’t go too far. Staying close to home will use less fuel and energy. There are bound to be some places near your house that you have never been. Explore your surroundings!
- Choose a Green hotel. Green hotels usually advertise the fact that they are sustainable very well. You can take comfort in the fact that they are helping you care for the environment while you’re away from home.
- Try to find Green dining. When you eat out, eat well! Green restaurants tend to have locally grown produce, locally raised meat and fish, and perhaps locally made alcohol. Yum!
- Rent a Green car. If you need to rent a car, try to find a hybrid or electric one. These vehicles lower the environmental impact of traveling and save you money on gas. What a deal, right?
- Ride a bike or walk. You can use your own energy to transport yourself to and from tourist sites. It makes the sites go by slower too. This means more time for pictures and discovery!
Here are some tips for spending time at home this summer:
- Use fans instead of air conditioning units. Fans draw less power and can circulate the air just as well as an AC unit. They are especially great for the nighttime when the air is naturally cooler.
- Use your Dishwasher and laundry machines at night. When they run these machines generate a lot of heat that you don’t want in your house during the summertime heat. It will make your AC have to work harder to cool the air. Besides, who wouldn’t want to do midnight chores?
- Use public transit or carpool to travel to work. This will lower your carbon footprint and therefore the amount of CO2 in the air. Thus, there will also be less heat trapped in the air and a lower temperature will result. Yay for not sweating in the sun!
- Buy local produce and other food products. There are tons of farmer’s markets in the summertime. Take advantage of them! Buying local gives you healthier food, supports your community’s economy, and lowers CO2 emissions. How can you go wrong with that? And don’t forget to bring your reusable bags to carry all that great food!
- Line-dry your laundry. There’s plenty of heat and sunshine in the summer. This is a form of free energy. Use it! Put your clothes on a line to save money and energy. Play it old school—it really works!
- Use the microwave as much as possible. Ovens and stovetops use more energy than microwaves. Did you know that you can cook almost anything in the microwave? The other day I cooked corn on the cob! There are loads of recipes online. Try it out!
- Avoid bottled water! This is one of the toughest ones. It’s very tempting to just buy a bottle every time, but plastic is very bad for the environment. Try to bring a reusable bottle with you everywhere instead. You’ll be helping both the environment and your wallet!
As you can see, there are so many things you can do to live sustainably during the summer, no matter where you go. They’re not even too difficult! There are more to add to this list, but this is a great way to get started.
Enjoy the last few weeks of your summer and remember:
Do Great Work, Do Green Work!