Summer sustainability might conjure up images of homeowners conserving energy on hot days or business commuters riding their bikes to work, but it is much more. A sustainability mindset must exist in our homes, communities, and businesses.
What is sustainability?
According to Investopedia.com, “In the broadest sense, sustainability refers to the ability to maintain or support a process continuously over time. In business and policy contexts, sustainability seeks to prevent the depletion of natural or physical resources so that they will remain available for the long term.”
The most often quoted definition comes from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Ten tips for summer sustainability
It really does not take much to make a difference in the environment. Here are some sustainability tips for consumers to consider this summer.
- Grab a usable water bottle. The hot weather keeps us grabbing a cold drink. Try keeping a reusable water bottle with you to reduce single-plastic use. Don’t forget the straws! Use paper or reusable straws to avoid plastic waste.
- Take a bike ride. Swap the car ride to work/school for a bike ride. While saving energy, you’ll also get some great exercise and avoid morning traffic. If you can’t bike ride, try public transportation or organize a carpool. Many small towns have local businesses or farmer’s markets within walking distance. Lace up your tennis shoes and talk a walk. Why enjoy a fresh peach or other fruit on the walk home?
- Compost. Why waste our food scraps when composting provides a great way to turn those items into soil for the garden. The single largest source of waste in the U.S. is food. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that 94% of the food we throw away ends up in landfills. In 2015 alone, that added up to 37.6 million tons of food waste. This is a problem because food (wet) waste decomposes in landfills without proper oxygen, producing methane gas and polluting our environment (methane is over 20 times more deadly than carbon dioxide). You can do something to impact change while saving yourself money in food and disposal costs.
- Use rain barrels. Instead of using sprinkler systems or hoses, use rain barrels to collect the rain to water your garden and lawn. Rain barrels capture more water than you might think. You can also decorate the rain barrels with your family to represent your favorite college, professional teams, or perhaps a favorite animal.
- Air dry clothes. Nothing smells or feels better than freshly dried bed sheets and towels. Summer is a great time to conserve energy by hanging laundry on the clothesline to dry and adding a beautiful, natural scent. Living in a city and clotheslines are not possible? Try hanging some items in your bathroom instead of drying them on a delicate cycle in the clothes dryer. It is better for your clothes and the environment too!
- Turn off the lights. Sometimes, we turn lights on by habit. Take some time to check the lighting throughout your house and determine if less light can be used. Add timers so the lights are only on when needed, such as during dinner, study time, or reading a book. Enjoy all the extra sunlight the season offers. Use timers to rotate lights so only some are on at a time. Outdoor lighting can be achieved using solar lights. Check out some exciting options at your local hardware store or gift shop.
- Plant a tree. Yes, even one tree can make a difference. You can plant a memorial tree for a much-loved and missed family member or even a special pet. Use solar lighting to highlight the tree from dust to dawn. It can be an excellent way to remember the ones you love.
- Summertime beverages. Sun tea and homemade lemonade can be made in glass containers with the sun as your heat source. Rather than using the stovetop to boil water, fill a glass jug with your ingredients and place it on your balcony or porch, and the sun does the cooking!
- Electric landscape tools. Rather than gas-powered lawnmowers and clippers, opt for electric devices. They work just as well and with no emissions. Are you feeling stronger? Go old school with a hand-pushed mower and hand tools such as clippers and hedge trimmers.
- Cleaning with the environment in mind. Use cleaning products, where possible, that are environmentally friendly and cost-effective. We prioritize procurement products approved by certifying agencies, including EPA, ISO, Safer Choice, and Green Seal. You, too, can replace harsh chemicals and bleaches with natural products like vinegar, baking soda, lemon, essential oils, and other eco-friendly options.
At Exquisite Property Services, our cleaning equipment is also critical in our effort to increase productivity while lowering our carbon footprint. Our equipment is designed to use less energy. For example, our power washing machines use less water, and our disinfectant sprayers use 65% fewer chemicals per square foot.
Be mindful of sustainability year-round
Are you feeling inspired? We hope so, and you may be ready to take it to the next level. Try gathering some friends or coworkers and cleaning up the community you live and work in. According to Brightly, There are 5.25 trillion pieces (and counting) of garbage in the ocean. They suggest you gather some of your closest pals for a beach cleanup or host an open event for anyone in your area to participate. You can even make a day out of it and picnic on the beach afterward. Think outside of the box and have fun together. You could even make it a fundraiser, gather recyclables, and donate the money to your favorite nonprofit.
Sustainability does not have to be difficult or expensive
Being mindful of the simple suggestions made here can make a difference. Bring tips to the workplace and expand your commitment to sustainability. So many options are available to businesses, such as solar power energy for buildings, cars, and fleet vehicles. Have any suggestions or exciting tips? Contact us, and we will share your comments on social media or include them in our next blog post. Enjoy the rest of the summer. Fall will soon be here.