Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately1220pm (central) every Wednesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.
GREEN TIP: Look for sustainable ways to enjoy your summer.
Here are some simple ways to enjoy your summer while doing something good for the environment:
- Eat local and organic. Purchase local groceries from your farmers’ market, sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program or choose local food at the grocery store. You’ll be supporting local farmers and lessening transportation energy.
- When landscaping, plant native plants. According to Wild Ones,
Native plants have evolved and adapted to local conditions over thousands of years. They are vigorous and hardy, so can survive winter cold and summer heat. Once established, they require no irrigation or fertilization. They are resistant to most pests and diseases. Thus, native plants suit today’s interest in “low-maintenance” gardening and landscaping.
Americans spend $27 billion a year on lawn care, 10 times more than we spend on school textbooks. The average lawn requires 9000 gallons of water per week, and 5-10 pounds of fertilizer per year, more than the entire country of India uses for its food crops. With natural landscaping many of these costs are weeded out. Best of all, these landscapes demand less routine maintance so people can spend more time enjoying and feeling connected to the wonders of nature. Simply stated, natural landscaping is designed to work with, rather than against, nature.
- Get a rain barrel and use the water for your garden. A rain barrel on a 2000 sq. ft. home can capture as much as 36,000 gallons of water a year.
- Make your yard a pesticide-free haven for birds. Hang up a bird feeder, build a bird house.
- Wash your car at a car wash. Washing your car in the driveway sends soaps, oils, toxic metals and chemicals into nearby waterways and is harmful for downstream drinking water. Use a commercial car wash instead. They are required to send water to the sewer system for treatment before being released.
- Avoid purchasing new stuff. Instead check out a garage sale. You’ll be reusing and saving money at the same time.
- Take advantage of the beautiful weather and bike or walk whenever possible. You’ll be doing something good for your body, the environment and your wallet.
- Avoid too much harmful UV radiation. The best defenses are protective clothes, shade and timing. Read these tips from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) before applying sunscreen:
- Don’t get burned. Red, sore, blistered (then peeling) skin is a clear sign you’ve gotten far too much sun. Sunburn increases skin cancer risk – keep your guard up!
- Wear clothes. Shirts, hats, shorts and pants shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays – and don’t coat your skin with goop. A long-sleeved surf shirt is a good start.
- Find shade – or make it. Picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella, take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade – they lack tanning pigments (melanin) to protect their skin.
- Plan around the sun. If your schedule is flexible, go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. UV radiation peaks at midday, when the sun is directly overhead.
- Sunglasses are essential. Not just a fashion accessory, sunglasses protect your eyes from UV radiation, a cause of cataracts.
For more sun safety tips, visit the EWG’s 2011 Sunscreen Report
- Put up a clothes line and use it.
- Replace parts of your lawn with no mow grass or groundcovers and mulch around plants to cut down on evaporation.
My Green Side’s web pick of the week:
PlantNative.org is dedicated to moving native plants and naturescaping into mainstream landscaping practices. The sites contains:
- Directories for local nurseries, community services and professionals
- A detailed and engaging tutorial with an introduction, step-by-step descriptions of how to create a native plant landscape, and examples
- Regional native plant lists
- Recommended books for each region of the country