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5 Ways To Reduce Your Environmental Impact This Summer

By Sebrina Zerkus Smith |
Don’t give up on your green goals just because it’s hot and you might be traveling. Summer is a great time to recommit to a healthier, planet-conscience lifestyle.

Don’t give up on your green goals just because it’s hot and you might be traveling. Summer is a great time to recommit to a healthier, planet-conscience lifestyle.

Summer is usually a time of family get-togethers and outdoor fun. But with all that hot weather and togetherness also comes the desire to make everything as easy and carefree as possible. But you don’t have to lose your sense of eco-responsibility. Just follow these easy summer tips to keep you and your family on track all summer long.

Rethink - and reduce - your consumer choices.
By becoming more mindful about the amount of plastic, paper, glass and aluminum you’re consuming, you automatically reduce the amount of trash you’re creating.  This is good year-round advice, but with summer heating up, you might need to rethink things like the standard paper plates you use at your yearly bbq. Use traditional plates, or at least choose one of the newer, more eco-friendly disposable dinnerware types like LeafWare for serving. You might also want to rethink the number of glass bottles of beer and cans of soda you haul to the lake or beach on weekends.  Can you bring homemade iced tea or lemonade, served in reusable cups? Can you switch all those bottles of beer for a small keg instead? If you have the room, a keg will last a lot longer that a six-pack and save you money per serving.

Reuse and Recycle.
By making a conscious effort to recycle everything you can (and reuse what you can’t recycle) you lessen your impact on the environment. Get into the mindset of stretching the use of everything you buy, whether it’s a pair of jeans or a garden pot. Reuse those worn out jeans for summer decorating projects like a neat beach tote or pillows for your patio. And any garden pot that has seen better days can easily become useful drainage material for the bottom of another pot. Or break that old pot apart and use the pieces to make an artsy tabletop design. Think durable, not disposable.

Just say no -- to plastic grocery bags.
Summer is the perfect time to ditch the old plastic bag routine at the market and switch to light and reusable cloth bags. Toss them in your trunk so you always have them handy. One summer advantage to cloth bags, they can be packed tighter and will hold more, so you’ll make fewer trips. And another summer plus, cloth bags absorb the condensation from cold foods, so no more slippery, wet bags to deal with.

Become a locavore.
Take a trip to your local farmer’s market and get some delicious summer produce. Buying from a local market will mean fresher produce with less packaging. You’ll also be helping your local economy by supporting farmers in your area. If you have a market close, as I’m lucky enough to have here in Houston, leave your car behind and ride your bike to your farmer’s market. Bring your own cloth bag for your purchases and enjoy the fresh air and sights of summer as you shop.

Keep an eye on your storm drains during summer rains.
With summer heat usually comes some stormy weather, too. And that can mean flooding. So it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what’s going down your storm drains. Use this opportunity to encourage your neighbors to properly dispose of dangerous substances like car oil, pesticides and other household chemicals. Take batteries to an appropriate disposal center in your area.

A summer revamp of your environmental choices is a good place to start on a lifetime of better care of our planet.

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