SHOP AT FARMER’S MARKET
Summer is a great time visit the local farmer’s market in Lafayette or Moraga. It’s a fun family activity and a great way to buy produce that’s organic, grown locally, and affordable. Buying produce directly from farmers helps retain farm land in the local region and puts more of our dollars in the local farmer’s hands vs. large distributors and corporations. See our recommended farmer’s market recipes.
MINIMIZE AIR CONDITIONING
Air conditioning is the #1 use of energy in the home and an easy place to cut back. Use windows to keep out hot air and let in cool air at night. If you must use your air conditioner, set the thermostat to a balmy 81 degrees rather than a cooler 75 degrees to reduce energy use by nearly a third, and use your ceiling fans-they will improve your air conditioner’s efficiency. Make sure to turn off your air conditioner when you’re not at home.
PREP FOR ROAD TRIPS
Before heading out on a road trip, check your car’s tire pressure, get a tune-up if needed, and changing the air filter will improve your car’s mileage by 17% or more. Also, remember that how you drive makes a big difference. By accelerating slowly, driving at moderate speed, and avoiding the need for hard braking, you can dramatically increase your mileage. At 75 mph, your car uses 15 percent more fuel than it does at 65mph.
If you’re adding new landscaping consider adding one or more trees for shade and try to use drought tolerant native plants (visit “bay-friendly” landscaping page at www.stopwaste.org)
“SOLAR CLOTHES DRYER”
An electric clothes dryer generates more than 6.5 pounds of greenhouse gases per load. Summer is a great time to experiment with a “solar clothes dryer”, better known as a clothes line or an indoor or outdoor drying rack (which can be collapsed and put away). When you do use a dryer, make sure your washing machine’s spin cycle removes as much excess water as possible, dry only full loads, and keep the dryer’s lint filter clean so it operates at maximum efficiency.
Between 60-70 percent of our treated drinking water is used to water lawns, and the average irrigated home lawn consumes more than 10,000 gallons of water each summer. Tune up your irrigation system to reduce water waste. Deep water once every 3-5 days and adjust spray heads to prevent overspray. Water in the evening or early morning to minimize evaporation.
Summer is a fun time to cook outside with a BBQ, but remember that agriculture and livestock in particular is the largest contributor to global warming after the energy sector. One pound of grain-fed beef requires 10 pounds of grain and 2,700 gallons of water to produce. More than a third of all raw materials and fossil fuels consumed in the United States are used in animal production. Choose to eat less resource-intensive meat such as chicken and turkey, or better yet reduce meat and grill more veggies. Try vegetable kabobs.
REDUCE AIR TRAVEL
Even though there aren’t many alternatives, flying for business or vacation is one of the worst things for the environment. A coast-to-coast trip will emit double the emissions as driving an SUV across the country. Look for opportunities to reduce your total # of flights per year.
BIKE & WALK
Half of all car trips are less than 3 miles-a distance research has shown can be covered just as quickly on a bike once traffic and parking are taken into account. Summer is a perfect time to ride a bike for healthy, non-polluting transportation (contact the Lafayette Bike Network at 925-299-1664).
Food scraps and yard clippings make up on quarter of U.S. solid waste. When this organic matter ends up in landfills and decomposes without air, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Use an electric mulching mower or push mower to “grasscycle” grass clippings. Grass clippings fertilize a lawn and help retain moisture (visit www.wastediversion.org)
GO LITE ON LIGHTING
Lighting the average American home generates about two-thirds of a ton of greenhouse gases each year and consumes 20 percent of the average household’s electricity bill. Summer is a great time to rely more on natural lighting from windows and skylights, especially since it’s light well into the evening. Transition light bulbs to compact florescent bulbs (CFLs), which pay for themselves in less than a year, and turn off lights when not in a room (visit PG&E’s Rebates and Incentives)
GROW YOUR OWN
These days produce travels hundred or thousands of miles from where it is grown to where it is sold. The farther your food travels to reach your plate, the greater the expended energy and resulting greenhouse gas emissions. Summer is a perfect time to grow fruits and vegetables in your own backyard. It’s easy, fully organic, tastes better, and requires no energy for transportation and refrigeration.
COVER YOUR POOL
A pool can lose its equivalent volume in water every year, or up to 1,000 gallons every month, as a result of evaporation and over–cleaning. Use a pool cover to cover your pool when not in use, which eliminates evaporation, reduces heating costs by 50-80 percent, and keeps it clean-saving on chemical cleaners.