The summer weather is here and it’s time to start thinking about ways we can enjoy the outdoors and the sunshine. But the summer also brings a number of new opportunities to green up your lifestyle and save you a little cash.
From reducing the energy usage inside your house and using the great outdoors to help with a household task or two, to making sure that you use better products, a more eco-friendly summer is not that far away.
Here are six green summer tips to help you enjoy the warm weather while helping to cut down on your carbon footprint:
Reduce your air conditioning use
Your air conditioning unit uses a lot of energy. The average machine can eat up from 2,900 to over 4,100 watts per hour. That means that you’re not only increasing your carbon footprint but you’re spending a lot of money on electricity.
If you need to cool down and want to save some money, fans use considerably less electricity and are a great alternative to using a full-fledged air conditioner. With your standard portable tower fan, you’re looking at roughly 100 watts of energy.
Now, fans don’t quite pack the same punch that an air conditioning unit does. But a portable fan can be moved around the house with you, positioned where they make the biggest impact, and you can throw a bucket of ice in front of them to help cool the air down even more—when your ice melts, freeze it again or use it to water your plants.
Grow a garden
Speaking of plants, gardening is a fantastic summer activity that’s not only fun to undertake (for some of us anyway) but it also has positive environmental impacts.
Planting an outdoor garden can help you cut back on your grocery spend if you focus on growing edible plants that you can add to your family’s menu. Who doesn’t like to snack on fresh strawberries or eat a real garden salad?
If you’d prefer to keep your garden indoors—Canada can have some pretty wild fluctuating weather conditions, even in what’s supposed to be a warm summer—you’ll find yourself with cleaner air.
The air quality in our house can be contaminated by biological pollutants—like bacteria, mold, and animal dander—along with things like dust and chemicals. Indoor plants can remove these air pollutants and leave you with fresher air to breathe.
Cut your dryer out of the equation
Another culprit of high-energy use in your home is your clothes dryer, and the warm summer months are the perfect time to cut its usage. Your average household dryer uses 3,000 watts, but some can clear up to 5,000 watts.
For those looking to cut their energy consumption down this summer and want to do things a little old school, hanging your clothes to dry outdoors can do the trick. While, admittedly, it does take longer to dry your clothes, a fresh wind-blown dry is a great eco-friendly summer activity.
Use reef-friendly sunscreen
You should absolutely wear sunscreen outdoors to help protect your skin, but not all sunscreen products are made equally. Beyond the chemicals that are in them that can harm you—like oxybenzone, octinoxate and octisalate, which all get absorbed through the skin and which, tests have shown, can be detected on your skin and in your blood weeks after—the chemicals can be bad for the environment.
Reef-friendly sunscreens avoid the use of these chemicals, which not only helps you but can save the ocean too. It’s essential to use reef-friendly choices when you’re headed to the beach because they are made without chemicals that are suspected of being the cause of coral bleaching and are generally bad for marine life. But reef-friendly choices can be a bit more expensive, so you might want to save them for just ocean swimming.
Switch out the oven for the BBQ
The average household stove and oven combination can run you upwards of 8,000 watts—the oven can use anywhere between 2,000 and 5,000 watts, and your stovetop can expend another 3,000. That’s a lot of wattage for your Friday night meatloaf.
Try ditching the stove and oven combination (as in use less, not eliminate from your house) and turn on the BBQ. While using any BBQ will take less energy than the stovetop or oven, gas is more eco-friendly than charcoal and propane because its more energy efficient and releases fewer pollutants. Plus, honestly, everything tastes better on the grill.
Opt for an off-the-grid vacation
Instead of packing up the family and heading on a jet plane for this year’s summer vacation (which isn’t currently recommended by the Canadian government), opt for an off-the-grid destination. You’ll still want to make sure that you do this in a safe way that respects all local health recommendations.
Camping can be a great eco-friendly summer vacation, though it can get out-of-hand pretty quickly (you know, glamping), so you’ll want to make sure that you do a few things, like:
- Only camp in designated areas.
- Practice fire safety.
- Don’t purchase a bunch of new camping equipment you’re only going to use once. Instead, borrow from friends or family, rent from a retail outlet like MEC, or buy second-hand.
- Ditch the plastic water bottles—opt for refillable instead if it’s practical. But make sure to check out your destination beforehand and confirm there’s a safe water source.
- Opt for washable, reusable dishes instead of paper and plastic.
Finally, make sure that you leave the outdoors the same way that you found it. Take away everything you brought with you, including garbage.
If you want to give your family a real recharge, consider a truly off-the-grid camping experience by turning off the phones and electronic devices to enjoy nature. Go for a swim in the lake, stargaze, and have some real outdoor fun.
Ready to make more positive changes?
Living a more eco-friendly life isn’t something that happens overnight. But taking small, calculated steps can help move you closer to living a more green lifestyle that produces a smaller carbon footprint and saves you a little bit of cash.
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