Go Greener During the Summertime:

 Go Greener During the Summertime:

Practical Eco-Friendly Tips

By Tom Last

Summertime is here and it’s a great opportunity to implement some simple Eco-Friendly practices that will help you to reduce your carbon footprint and, at the same time save you money and protect your health.

Bug Repellents – Beware of bug repellents containing DEET. Instead, use a home remedy containing natural ingredients like lemon eucalyptus oil, lavender, cinnamon oil, thyme, citronella, and many more. You can also search for organic and natural bug repellents solutions online. Most of these organic repellents are plant based. Check out ‘Murphy’s Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Oil’ for an organic solution.

Air Conditioners – Relax on the AC. Very few of us sacrifice when it comes to our precious ACs. Try turning up the thermostat to 76 degrees and use the air conditioner only when needed (turn it off when nobody is home). An air conditioner timer may help with efficiently cooling your home/apartment. Ceiling fans and other types of fans can suffice most of the time. The same rules apply to car ACs.  Try driving with the windows down, especially on short trips, and stop idling with the AC on. Cars cool off faster when you open the windows first and let the heat out, before turning the AC on. Use a sunshade on your car to help reduce its temperature.

Cool off the house – Close your blinds or drapes in the daytime to keep out the greenhouse effect of the sun. Southern and western facing walls take the brunt of the sun’s heat, so invest in good shades and drapes and keep them closed during the hottest time of the day.

Ditch the straw – We enjoy our iced coffees and teas this time of year. Let’s try these refreshing drinks without a straw or try re-usable (stainless steel) or eco-friendly ones made from bamboo, paper, or other organic material. Request your store owner to stop supplying plastic straws which are not recyclable and take hundreds of years to decompose.

Start your own garden – Start your own backyard vegetable and fruit garden. They’re organic and taste better than store bought fruits and vegetables. Vegetables and fruits planted in pots work well too.

Switch to electric gardening tools – Gas engines used for your lawnmowers, weedwhackers, and blowers have a major harmful effect on air quality. These devices emit CO2 into our atmosphere at an alarming rate. In addition, leaf blowers erode, compact, and dry out soil and harm plants, microorganisms and pollinators. Converting to electric gardening tools will save you money in the long run plus contribute to a healthier garden and environment. Check out companies like ‘Ego’ for a full suite of electric gardening tools.

Mindful Irrigation – Use your sprinkler less by replacing grass lawns with native plants and shrubs. If you are using an automatic sprinkler system, then use the ‘rain delay’ feature on rainy days. The rain delay feature can help save hundreds of gallons of water in a single day. Also, water your lawns between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. for maximum effectiveness on your garden.

Use a pool cover – By using a pool cover, you will maintain and even slightly increase the water’s temperature and therefore reduce your heating bills. Installing a pool cover will reduce water loss that occurs when the pool isn’t in use. A pool cover will also reduce your need to add chlorine, as UV light degrades chemical chlorine. Another advantage of a pool cover is that it reduces the amount of leaf litter in your water.

Use green materials at your next party – Focus on reusables as much as you can: no single-use plastic cups, plates, utensils, straws, paper napkins. If reusable items are too much trouble, then at least buy bio-degradable and compostable products.

Sunscreens – With sunscreens, the focus is usually on the SPF level and not how safe the product is for the environment. Experts say that mineral sunscreens (ones with titanium dioxide and zinc dioxide) are generally safer choices, but not perfect. Avoid sunscreens with ingredients such as – Benzophenone-3, Oxybenzone, and nano particles. Uses sunscreens that mention – reef-safe, coral-safe, biodegradable, or non-nano zinc oxide. PABA sunscreens are not always the same as biodegradable and may contain harmful ingredients, so avoid sunscreens with the PABA label. So, check the ingredients next time you buy sunscreen. Also, shower before going into natural waters, as sunscreens wash off into the waters and cause environmental damage.

Use a clothesline this summer – Try using a clothesline or clothes rack to dry your clothes outside this summer. Hanging out your laundry to dry in the sun will conserve energy and reduce your utility bill. Also, clothes dried in the sun will last longer than those put in a drier.

Eat locally – Farmers markets and seasonal products are a great way to eat healthily, while helping the environment. Compared to food found at the supermarket, eating locally will reduce the amount of energy required to transport goods. Eat ‘organic’ foods whenever possible to help reduce the chemicals that contaminate water and soil.

Walk and bike more – Now that the nice weather is here let’s walk and bike more. In addition to improving our health we can reduce carbon monoxide emissions, as motor vehicles are responsible for 80% of carbon monoxide emissions in America. Whenever possible, use public transportation instead of your car.

Shop second hand – Garage and yard sales abound, in the Rockaways, this time of year. Buying second hand is good for the environment and can save you money. Fewer items being produced helps to reduce our carbon footprint. If you do not want to have a yard sale, then post items that you want to sell or donate on local websites.

Replace grass lawns – Replace grass lawns with native plants and trees. Grass lawns are a serious environmental hazard due to the amount of water they require, and fertilizers used. By replacing grass lawns with native plants and trees you will conserve water and reduce harmful chemicals from seeping into our land and groundwater. Trees and plants also produce oxygen while absorbing harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide.

By acting now and following these simple steps we can all help reduce our carbon footprint and fight climate change, in addition to saving money. Let’s change our behavior today for a healthier environment tomorrow. Please pass on these tips to your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.

Rockaway Stuff

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