Keeping It Green All Summer

Back in February, we posted about keeping warm during the winter months while saving energy. Now that summer has arrived, there are plenty of things you can do to enjoy the warmer months and reduce your impact on the planet.

Hit up your farmers market

Locally grown food doesn’t travel thousands of miles before reaching you, reducing the carbon footprint of your meals. Farmers markets, such as those in Washington, offer many other benefits as well, such as supporting local farmers and connecting with your community. 

Grill more, cool less

By heating food outside, you’ll keep your home cooler inside – reducing the amount of energy needed to run your air conditioner. Plus, grilling can be environmentally friendly if propane is used, as well as certain types of charcoal briquettes. 

Turn off the new gaming console

According to a recent study, the new Xbox and PlayStation models use a lot more energy than their predecessors. About two to three times as much, in fact. By unplugging electronics when you’re not using them, you might find you don’t need them on constantly anyway. 

Keep your freezer full (but not your fridge) 

It turns out that a packed freezer uses a lot less energy than an empty one. For refrigerators, it’s the opposite, so be sure to throw away expired food instead of pay to keep it chilled. In addition, unplug that secondary refrigerator in the garage if you are not using it because the warmer the outside temperature, the more electricity the appliance will use.  Be sure to clean the back of your fridge too because dusty coils cause it to use more energy. 

Use your dishwasher 

Newer dishwashers use about three to five gallons of water per load, whereas doing the same amount of dishes by hand might require nine times as much water and twice as much electricity. 

Quit buying disposable kitchen items

Americans use 25 billion Styrofoam cups annually, according to the EPA. That means the average citizen is putting about 80 of these non-biodegradables into landfills each year. Be sure to use durable kitchenware as much as possible by storing food in reusable containers instead of plastic sandwich bags, for example. 

Stop by your neighbor’s garage sale

Buying stuff used obviously saves money and puts the “reuse” in “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” Who knows what you’ll find. 

Roll the windows down

According to Popular Mechanics, your best bet is to leave the air conditioner off and the windows rolled down when not on the highway. However, fuel economy will be best with the windows up (even with the a/c running) when going over 55 mph. 

Have your car professionally washed (if you must)

By using a commercial car wash, you won’t be sending soap, oils, toxic metals, and chemicals downstream. It’ll also use a lot less water. Plus, there are probably other things you’d rather be doing than washing your car by hand. 

Lower your cooling costs

Just as in winter, setting your thermostat to run the air conditioner only at certain times can save a lot of electricity. Installing a programmable central thermostat could be one option. 

Make it a road trip

Unless you’re driving a very long distance, taking a road trip is a lot better for the planet than flying. There’s even a website that can calculate and compare your environmental impact of flying versus driving. 

McKinley Kant is a junior majoring in Political Communication at The George Washington University.

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