Now that we've launched our guide for How to Go Green: Summer, we got to thinking: what other kinds of green summer fun can we have? From cooling your home without air conditioning to "growing" your own lawn furniture, these tips range from fun to challenging to even a little wacky.
That means if your destination is equal to or less than 2 miles away, you leave the car in park and make it a walking trip. All summer, no exceptions, and you?re guaranteed to lose weight while cutting down on pollution, your gas bill, and the climate crisis all at the same time. It's a toughie, but that's why they call it a challenge!
2. Cool off without air conditioning
Air conditioning, whether a central system or an in-windom unit, uses tons of energy, ultimately leaving the planet a warmer place when the day is done, so if you're committed to staying green this summer, shut the suckers off in favor of natural ventilation and oscillating, box, and ceiling fans -- the D.O.E's Consumer's Guide to Energy Efficiency and Alternative Energy has some good tips. Other alternatives include using an evaporative or swamp cooler to cool off; if you want to go low-tech, you can always string up a hammock in the shade and grab a glass of cold lemonade, or simply find ways to work your schedule around the hottest part of the day. Have to make a trip to the grocery store? How about doing it during mid-afternoon when their A/C is pumping anyway so you can give yours a nice, planet-cooling, cash-saving break?
Not content with conventional alternatives? Get (way) outside the box and use the frozen white stuff -- seriously! You'll first need to gather a whole bunch of ice, so some significant planning ahead is required, but, according to our pals at HowStuffWorks.com, it really works and certainly sounds like a fun, wacky way to cool off! If a ton of ice isn't in the cards for you this summer, a slightly more attainable form of frozen cooling is the Ice Bear, which connects up to a conventional air conditioning system, but uses it to make ice at night when the power is cheap and melts all day to keep you cool.
That's right, you can "install" a grass chair in your yard. Choose the location carefully -- under a nice big shade tree, maybe? -- because once it's grown, it isn't going anywhere, considering the 240 liters of soil it needs, but you'll certainly be the proud owner of the greenest chair on the block!
5. Build your own solar oven Use the power of the sun to cook your food, and turn off the conventional one and the gas grill as well, cooling your home and the planet while amazing your neighbors at the same time. 6. Try living on The 100 Mile Diet The first ones to try it awhile back had a rough time during winter, but the availability of local farmers markets and backyard gardens in summer should make it a much easier proposition during this time of year. Check in with our farmers' market archives for more tips on sourcing your food locally. 7. Make art from summer's trash Take some time to turn that old propane tank into art, and keep it out of the landfill when it's time to get a new one. In the meantime, check out what artist Shirra Wall is doing, and see if it inspires you to tackle the challenge. Want more tips for a greener summer? Check out How to Go Green: Summer and learn more about going green in your home and on the road this summer. Difficultly level: Easy to moderate to difficult