With the traditional start of summer in the United States, I recently got a request for a post on recommendations I have for how to be ‘more green’. This post is my top 5 recommendations for simple, easy, and cheap ways to live in a more Earth-friendly way this summer.
1) Stop – Don’t use pesticides, herbicides, insecticides or other poisons in your yard
- Although when pesticides and other poisons are mentioned, the most likely picture brought to mind is one of large farms or crop dusting planes, backyards are often where the highest concentrations of these poisons can be found. Due to drift from neighboring yards, as well as the mixing of many different types of poisons in one yard the concentrations can be many times higher the recommended levels noted on product labels. (And regardless of the recommendations on the label consider if you would like to ingest the product you are putting onto your yard or garden.)
- Additionally, consider the yards and gardens of your neighbors if you use these products. They may have pets, children, or edible plants that could be harmed by the products you use on your yard.
2) Grow – Plant and enjoy something edible
- Regardless of the amount of space your have at your resident, grow one plant you can consume this summer. It’s a great way to learn about a new plant and enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you are looking for an option that is easy to grow inquire at your local nursery and consider tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber or squash, cilantro, basil, or rosemary.
- If you’re short on space or just have indoor room available consider herbs like rosemary, dill, basil, or mint.
- Hopefully one plant will encourage you to try new varieties in the future. Here are a few that I haven’t tried before that we planted for this summer.
3) Learn – Read a book about sustainability, greening, or the environment
- Education is key to better understanding on any subject whether you’re an adult or a child. With the longer days of summer enjoy a new book on vacation or on summer evenings. Here are some titles I recommend (in order of preference):
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Rambunctious Garden by Emma Marris
The God Species by Mark Lynas
4) Compost – Reduce your trash output and improve your soil
- A large portion of the U.S. trash stream is comprised of discarded food. Per the EPA, in 2010 food waste was the second largest category of waste that went to landfills (behind paper). Composting food waste helps to reduce the trash going to our landfills (and increase their useful life).
- There are many composting systems available today – from simple bucket-type containers to worm based vermicomposters and many other varieties. I have a worm composter and a compost pile as well. My compost pile is simply a pile of our food waste that I put underneath of our guava tree in the backyard. (Note: we have very little meat waste and the compost pile is almost exclusively plant-based waste. I generally wouldn’t recommend putting meat-based waste in a compost pile.) Inquire at your local nursery about what type of system might be best for you, or simply start a pile in the back corner of your yard to try it out.
5) Enjoy – Take a walk, hike, or run through your neighborhood or a park or wilderness area every week
- Take the time to enjoy the outdoors and the insects, plants, birds, etc. that are present where you live. It’s good for your health and a reminder of why it’s important to live more sustainably. If we want the world of the future to be even more biodiverse and green than it is today we need to take action now to ensure that it will be. This weekend’s Wall Street Journal noted the positive impact that getting outdoors can have on your mental state, happiness, and creativity that’s a good read on the topic.
- This step is especially important if you have children. We need to ensure that the next generation knows about nature. If they don’t, why will they care about it?