By Amber Qalagari
Schools out. Vacation mode is switched on. All signs point to summer! It’s easy to get distracted by cookouts and camp trips, but making eco-conscious efforts while enjoying your favorite pastimes will have a positive impact both on your community and your earth. Here are nine easy ways to adopt a more eco-friendly summer at home and on the go.
1) Switch To Electric — Gas engines like your lawnmower and weed wacker may be small, but they have big effects on air quality. For example, using a gas-powered lawnmower for one hour will produce the same amount of emissions as driving your car 193 miles! Switching to an electric mower will reduce your emissions to zero. If you’re not able to give up your gas engine, cutting less frequently and mulching grass clippings are a great way to reduce the impact.
2) Use A Reusable Water Bottle — Staying hydrated is especially important when out in the heat of the summer. But staying healthy doesn’t have to come at an environmental cost. One of the simplest ways to make a difference is to swap your plastic bottle for a reusable one. Creating a single liter plastic water bottle requires at least 6 liters of water to produce. Not only will you help to conserve water you will also help limit the number of plastic bottles that flood landfills.
3) Have A Green Picnic — Barbecues and picnics are almost synonymous with summertime. While they are great ways to gather outdoors with friends and family they can create a lot of unnecessary waste. Here are a few quick tips to make your next gathering more environmentally friendly:
- Use compostable plates and cutlery.
- Opt for washable rags versus paper napkins and towels.
- Ditch the plastic straws.
- Swap out hot dogs and hamburgers for some of these delicious meat alternatives.
4) Mindful Irrigation — Did you know that Utah is the third-driest state in the nation? As one of the drier states, we manage to rank first in per capita use of public water and second for domestic water use. One of the best ways to conserve our much-needed water is to use your sprinklers less. Watering one less day a week can reduce your personal water consumption by 10-15%.
BONUS: Rather than grass, try incorporating these types of Utah native plants into your landscape design instead to cut back on water usage.
5) Collect The Rain — You already know water conservation is essential, especially in Utah, but here is another lesser-known way you can help. Rain barrels are a fantastic rainwater collector that can then be used to water your gardens during times of drought. Organizations like Utah Rivers Council run awesome initiatives like this discounted rain barrel program to help make water conservation easier for Salt Lake County residents.
6) Natural Energy — Electricity fuels our air conditioners, lamps and appliances — all household commodities that are pretty nice to have around. Cranking up the air conditioner is tempting when the heat rises. A great way to save energy, and money, is to opt for a fan instead. Or, try to limit use during the hottest part of the day. Another great way to conserve energy is to use natural sunlight instead of interior lights and let the sun dry your clothes instead of putting them in the dryer.
7) Compost — Watermelon rings, coffee grounds, eggs shells and other everyday leftovers can help your gardens grow. Instead of throwing away food scraps, make a compost bin that will break this trash down into usable fertilizer. Whether you live in an apartment or have a large yard, here are some ways you can compost in any space.
BONUS: Give vermicomposting a try. The kids will love it!
8) Eat Locally — There are so many health and environmental benefits to buying your food from local farms. You will know exactly where your food comes from and you will support the preservation of local lands and wildlife. Buying locally will also reduce the miles your food has to travel, which means fresher produce and a reduction of air-polluting fossil fuels. Great local organizations to check out are Community Supported Agriculture and Utah’s Own.
9) Volunteer — Time is valuable, which is why it’s one of the most important ways you can help your community go green. Volunteering for organizations that protect our parks, people and the environment will keep Utah healthy, safe and green. Whether it’s cleaning up a public space or helping to grow healthy food for those in need, whatever your interest, there’s a program in Utah that could use your time and expertise.
Have an eco-friendly tip you’d like to share? Leave us a comment on social or send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am a public information officer for the DEQ and an avid explorer and protector of our Earth. I tell stories with words, graphics, paint, ink and animations. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter at @amberqalagari.