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Go Greener During the Summertime: Practical Eco-friendly Tips

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.

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). 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 – The plastic straw will soon be banned in the EU, so stop using one now or at least use a stainless steel or silicone alternative. Kudos to Claudette’s restaurant for no longer offering straws to their customers. If your local store owners feel they need to offer straws, then ask them to use straws made from organic materials (e.g., PHA or PHL straw types).

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.

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 works well too.

Conserve water – Conserving water is an important tool in fighting climate change. An easy way to save water is to take a shorter shower and do not let the water run while you are brushing your teeth or shaving. Also, if you are using an automatic sprinkler system use the ‘rain delay’ feature on rainy days. The rain delay feature can help save hundreds of gallons of water in a single day.

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. Oxybenzone, a known chemical sunscreen ingredient is especially bad for the ocean and coral reefs and may be unsafe for humans too. So, check the ingredients next time you buy sunscreen. Also, it is better to 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 local – Farmers markets and seasonal products are a great way to eat healthy, 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.

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.

Tom Last

Go Green Rockaway

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