Whether you’re single or swimming with a passel of children, old or young, summer fun does not need to leave a huge footprint on the planet. Here are ten ways to enjoy summertime without busting the environment or your wallet:1. Get in gear–your bicycle gear, that is. Emission-free, silent and accessible to anyone. Ride tandem or solo, recumbent or off-trail. Whatever your ability level, there is a bicycle for you. You can find bike trails all across America, or just hop on a bicycle for a trip to your local ice cream parlor. Summer’s a great time to swap out your vehicle for a bicycle to run errands or transport yourself to work. Secondhand stores are a sweet way to find cheap rides, but Enviro Girl suggests you don’t skimp on a quality helmet. Safety first!
2. Pick a little. Strawberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries–summer is the season for picking your own food. You might forage for wild berries in the woods or head to a local farm. However you fill your bucket, the fruit you pick yourself always tastes sweetest.
3. Grab a paddle–and a kayak or canoe or rowboat. Inboard and outboard motors churn up the water, damage shorelines, destroy habitats and create a lot of air and water pollution. Head to your favorite fishing or swimming hole using a less expensive boat. You might not be able to waterski behind a kayak, but you’ll discover more wildlife and burn more calories than petroleum if you paddle yourself across open waters.
4. Get carded–at your local library. The ultimate in affordable resources, public libraries offer free materials from books to movies, programs on a range of topics, discussion groups and more. Summer reading programs have incentives to get between the covers of a good book for readers of any age. Check out a free read from your local library–and educate or entertain yourself!
5. Plant yourself–a garden, not in front of a screen! It’s June, so many garden centers have moved products to clearance. Beautify your porch, patio or yard with some flowers and shrubs or grow a season of salads and salsa. All you need are plants, dirt and water to get started.
6. Grill out. While Enviro Girl swears by charcoal, this post by Recycla can help you get started on enjoying the pleasures of food cooked over open flame. Not only will grilling out keep the inside of your house cooler, it’s a great excuse to make mealtime an event. Invite the neighbors, have everyone bring a dish to pass and you’ve gone from ordinary dinner to festive party with no effort.
7. Hit the trails. First, spray down to prevent bug bites (eco-friendly recipe here) and get out there! Enviro Girl always laughs at people driving to gyms to sweat indoors on electronically powered equipment when it’s free and easy to work up a sweat while enjoying nature and fresh air. Cancel your gym membership, put your treadmill in storage and open your front door to the world outside! You can stroll through a neighborhood, run down a paved trail or challenge yourself across a rocky terrain beyond your city limits. No matter where your feet hit the planet, it’s exercise and it’s good for your mind and body.
8. Take me out to the ballgame. Or take a friend. You can watch Little League for free or ante up for box seats at a major league park, but baseball is the quintessential summertime sport. It’s also a very eco-friendly sport–no engines, almost no noise other than the crack of the bat hitting a ball, and no pollution. Even more fun–play a little ball yourself. Join a city softball or baseball league or set up a friendly competition with friends and family. And if all-American baseball’s not your game, there’s always soccer or kickball or tennis, equally cheap to play at a local park or in your back yard.
9. The play’s the thing–or the music. Summertime offers a variety of outdoor concerts, theater and other entertainment. Your local chamber of commerce website or newspaper is a great place to start finding free entertainment. What’s easier on the environment–a huge pyrotechnic/laser lit rock concert in an amphitheater or an outdoor performance at a city park? Not only do the small, free, local venues create less pollution and a more intimate experience, they’re a better deal than shelling out a hundred bucks to see Bruce Springsteen … through binoculars … from bleacher seats 50 rows back from the stage … while surrounded by screaming fans drowning out the sound of Born in the U.S.A.
10. Find a lawn chair and relax. After all, that’s what summer’s about–relaxing. Snag a spot beneath a shade tree, on the beach, under the stars or beside a bonfire. Turn off all electronic devices and pay attention to the beautiful world and people around you. Swap ghost stories, admire fireflies, watch birds, gaze at stars, sing songs or sip a cold beverage. You can watch TV or surf the net all winter.
Tell the Eco Women: What eco-friendly, free and low-emission ways do YOU enjoy summer?