You want to make this summer a greener experience in your house, but you’re worried the process will be difficult. Read on and find out how to make the coming sunny season a sustainable summer.
1. To start, do a general audit of your household.
This might not sound like much fun because at face value, it really isn’t. Going through bank statements and figuring out where to cut spending is pretty straightforward, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable.
Try running a contest with a reward at the end for cutting down on your energy use. Then, reserve a cash prize or a night out on the town for the biggest contributor to your household savings.
2. Move your living space outside.
One of the easiest ways to reduce the consumption of large energy users, like your air conditioner, is to simply switch them off. You can do this by spending more time outside.
Obviously, being able to enjoy lounging outdoors depends on how high temperatures are. Avoid the hottest hours of the afternoon, find a shaded spot—near water if possible. Take time to hang out in the hammock while you save on dollars and CO2 emissions inside.
3. Declutter and have a yard sale.
Most likely you’ve got stuff just hanging around your house that isn’t being used. Instead of throwing them out, try resale or donation to avoid adding to landfills and risking further pollution.
You can even make a profit by using mobile apps, social media, or a good old-fashioned garage sale. Whatever you can’t sell, you can donate to local charities for use elsewhere! You can also make a contest out of this activity by awarding a prize to the family member who sells or parts with the most.
4. Get creative with dinner.
Make a ritual of cooking at least three family dinners a week. This will help with your wallet and reduce food waste. Make it fun by adopting a theme each time. Italian, Japanese, Greek, Thai—what better way to save some money and try new, delicious foods from around the world? There’s bound to be leftovers too, which is another save for your food budget.
5. Start a garden.
You can also get more sustainable—and tasty—food out of your very own home by planting a vegetable garden. If you feel like you might be out of your element here, you can always find beginner gardening classes at a local greenhouse or gardening store. This way, you and your family or friends can all learn to grow your own food together.
6. By all means, eat outdoors.
Take advantage of the summer weather and have family-style meals outside. There’s nothing quite as relaxing as enjoying a nice glass of red and a beautiful plate of pasta under the stars. This is also another great opportunity to turn off that air conditioner.
7. Try adding more vegetarian meals to your diet.
Before you panic, this does not mean you have to give up meat. It just means you should be a bit more conscious about how much meat you consume. Livestock and animal agriculture contribute about 18 percent to greenhouse gas emissions globally. Reducing your meat intake lets you lessen your own carbon footprint a bit.
Not to mention, you’ll have fresh, delicious homegrown veggies from your garden to use in your meals.
8. Shop local, too.
For the vegetables, fruit, and herbs you can’t grow (or are still trying to grow) in your garden, turn to your local farmers’ market. By buying produce from small suppliers nearby, you can keep the quality of your food high, while supporting local businesses and farmers at the same time.
One of best ways to build a sustainable community is to support each other. Plus, it’s a great way to teach young ones about the importance of understanding where your food comes from.
9. Get involved in the community you support.
Sustainability isn’t just about cutting down on CO2 emissions and being more environmentally friendly. It’s a holistic approach to living, which means that in order to make lasting, effective change toward sustainability, you need to be an active part of your community and help shape the lives of those around you in the same way.
Try volunteering at your local food pantry or soup kitchen, or create your own green initiative to get others involved, like monthly clothing swaps, plant-based cooking workshops, or community yoga, dance, or martial arts classes. These are all rewarding in their own right, they also let you live and share your sustainable lifestyle.
10. And seriously, recycle.
The need to recycle is a no-brainer now. If your city or town doesn’t have recycling as part of its waste removal system, petition for one. Then, educate yourself about establishing an efficient community waste management and recycling program. Keep it fun by setting various targets and offering rewards to community members who meet them.
11. Transition all energies to greener options.
After auditing your home and figuring out where you use the most energy, transition what you can into greener, more efficient options.
Replacing any incandescent lightbulbs with energy-efficient, longer-lasting fluorescents. Make sure your air conditioner is in top working order, or have it evaluated to see whether or not it needs replacing. Doing so gives you great savings even in the summer months, easily.
12. Keep track of your progress and grow your circle.
Make sure to check periodically that the goals you set out in your audit are being met. If they aren’t, make the necessary adjustments. Task other members of the household with specific areas of your greening-up plan to make sure you don’t miss anything. You want to involve everyone in all efforts and work as a team.
Consider expanding the endeavour into your community, and make sure to celebrate the fruit of your labour so they understand the value of sustainability. A big end-of-summer block party, colour run, or town festival are just a few suggestions to help celebrate everyone’s progress and renew goals for the next year.
The sustainable summer starts with you
While it requires a certain amount of preparation, collaboration, and careful execution, you can’t deny the benefits of a sustainable summer—and both the earth and your wallet can vouch for that!