Written by: Janine Salabritas

With the longest days of the year before us, summer is the perfect time to entertain friends and family, bask in the sun, and take the vacation you waited for all year.  But before you fall into your summer routine, follow these simple words of advice to have a fun-filled, environmentally-friendly summer.

The sun is your friend – With a few extra hours of daily sunlight during these few short months, we are able to lessen our impact on the Earth by using natural energy.  Shining for more than twelve hours a day, the sun easily replaces artificial light.  Use the sun as an excuse to turn off your lights, open your house up to the natural light, avoid using electronics for entertainment, and just get outside.

The sun can also be used to power our lives.  Solar powered phone chargers are becoming a mainstream practice, but even more solar-powered products exist.  Earth Tech Products sells solar powered lighting and radios, along with other products.  Similar products can be found on Amazon.com and in retail stores across the country.

Environmentally-friendly products – With the summer months, comes summer pests and pains: ants, bees, and sunburns.  Be sure to use bug repellents, sprays, and sunscreens that do not harm animals, the atmosphere, or the environment.  Try eco-friendly sunscreens and aloes from Tropical Seas, and eco-friendly bug repellants from EcoSmart.  Companies such as Burt’s Bees produce well-known products that are “…for the good of the environment ….”  Burt’s Bees natural products can be purchased at leading convenient stores, supermarkets and other retailers.

For your Garden – Spending more time outside calls for more attention to your backyard’s lawn and garden.  While relying on rainfall to regularly water your plants is plan A, it is not always possible.  To maximize a summer’s rainfall, collect it in buckets so it can be used a day or so afterwards instead of running your sprinkler.   When you do choose to water, do it in the morning when temperatures are cooler and more water reaches your plants’ roots before being evaporated.  Utilize all of your resources by learning how to “grasscycle” your grass clippings to better feed your gardens and avoid harmful fertilizers.

Traveling – While traveling may be the highlight of your summertime, be sure to try to make the least impact possible along the way.   Travel in groups if cars are necessary, avoid speeding and sudden stopping to increase gas mileage, and choose public transportation whenever possible.   What about adding environmental vacations or volunteer vacations?

Activities – With schools closed and children home, parents sometimes have to work harder to keep their children safe and entertained.  Avoid using the television or other electronics as entertainment and advocate for outdoor eco-friendly activities.  Have a picnic, go for a bike ride, take a swim.   If necessary, check out some of TerraCycle’s DIY (Do-it-yourself) step by step instructions on how to make upcycled accessories and more for rainy days.

While summer is associated with fun, don’t let the planet pay the price of your good time.  Enjoy the sun, get outdoors, and remain eco-friendly along the way.

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