In the fast-paced bustle of city living and keeping up with the daily grind, an appreciation for nature can get lost in the shuffle. Long hours at work, commutes and trendy nightlife can overshadow the beauty and power of nature. But even urban dwellers can enjoy the outdoors with a bit of time and effort. Here’s how to engage more with nature and care for the earth with eco-friendly choices.
Green Your Sanctuary
Surrounded by concrete and high-rise buildings, the city gal can start to disconnect from the beauty and peacefulness of the true outdoors. If you spend your days commuting on the train to and from an office building, transforming your home into a sanctuary with eco-friendly decor and live greenery can provide a natural escape.
Recycled glass jugs mimic the look of a vase with a rustic feel. Add twine tied around the neck for an earthy flair. For a weekend project, refurbish used furniture with recycled materials and eco-friendly paint to personalize your space and unleash your DIY creativity. Inviting green into your home with an indoor garden can also improve your health (and aesthetics). Apartment Therapy offers inspiration for greening your home, like a DIY garment rack hanging garden or vertical mason jar herb garden.
To grow herbs indoors using mason jars you’ll need:
- Quart size mason jars
- Small rocks or gravel
- Potting mix
- Herb plants or seeds
- Jar labels
Fill the jars with about two inches of small rocks or gravel to create a drainage system at the bottom. Then pour in the potting mix (not to be confused with potting soil!) to just under the rim of the jar. Now sow your seeds or transfer mature plants into the jar. Make sure to label each jar so you know which is which!
Live as a Weekend Warrior
Office burnout and work stress can break down your health and spirit over time, day after day. If you’re a weekday working woman who is a boss in the office, freeing yourself from your Monday through Friday role to become a weekend warrior can help rejuvenate your soul.
By Friday at 5pm, escape the city to outdoor destinations, where you can get away for the day or the whole weekend. For those of you who reside in the United States, the U.S. National Park Service is celebrating its centennial year this year and is offering free admission to all 412 national parks from August 25 through the 28th. Search NPS.gov to find a natural escape near you.
To really connect with nature, show your commitment to eco-consciousness by renting a hybrid or electric car for your weekend travels. Need more of an all-terrain adventure vehicle with off-road traction? You can check to see if rentals with fuel-efficient and low rolling-resistant tires are available to ensure your trip is an earth-friendly getaway. Then pack your eco-friendly backpack and leave your phone at home. The weekend is your time to get lost on purpose.
Retreat to Your Favorite Outdoor Destinations
Not every nature-loving gal has the resources, time or responsibility-free lifestyle to ditch town for the whole weekend. Most cities offer outdoorsy activities and hotspots where you can soak in the good vibes of Mother Nature — leaving behind any worries or troubles — without leaving town.
For Austinites, refresh at Barton Springs Pool or go stand-up paddleboarding on Lady Bird Lake. The Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail offers 10 miles of beautiful scenery and serenity, and if you want to test your limits, try mountain climbing at the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Midwestern urbanites in Chicago have access to a variety of beaches, where you can lounge and soak in the sun or rent kayaks and jet skis for a more thrilling afternoon. If you’re a D.C. gal, explore Rock Creek Park and the Capital Crescent Trail for epic views and relief from the city. And alfresco yoga empowers New Yorkers who want to find calmness and re-energize out in the open air, under the sky and sun.
Commute on Two Wheels
Cycling is no longer reserved for just bike trails or indoor spin classes. It’s grown into an eco-friendly, efficient and even trendy form of urban transportation. Since 2005, the states have seen an average 46 percent increase in the share of people who commute by bike, according the BikeLeague.org. In 2013, the following top cities grew in bike commuting — Minneapolis (3.7 percent), San Francisco (3.8 percent), New Orleans (3.6 percent), Washington D.C. (4.5 percent) and Portland (5.9 percent).
A major pro to commuting by bike is not only that it’s better for the earth, but it’s also better for your wallet. Kiplinger, a leader in personal finance news and business forecasting, offers a free online tool that allows commuters to calculate how much they’ll save by entering the length of their daily commute, as well as any parking fee or toll costs. While money in your pocket can be a major pro, one con of going completely car-less is that in a city without great public transportation, getting from one side of town to the other can be a hassle. In these cases, it’s nice to have both options.
So if you’re a car owner in the city, reduce your carbon emissions by biking regularly, like to work, while running errands or even just for fun. A backpack can sufficiently carry your belongings as you ride, but you may need more cargo space as biking becomes your primary way to travel. Outfit your bike with a front or rear rack and attach a basket or milk crate. Panniers even attach right to your bike. Transport groceries and your belongings as you stay kind to the earth and pedal freely in the open air.