Every day we make dozens of choices that impact our environment. There are many different ways to handle simple chores and tasks. When you make these everyday choices, are you really making the smartest decisions? And, for that matter, do you know why certain choices are better than others? You might be surprised. Here are some handy facts about things you don’t even think about, but likely do all the time.
• Repelling insects: Enjoying the outdoors when the weather is pleasant can become bothersome if biting insects are part of the equation. However, not everyone wants to rely on chemical repellents to keep bugs at bay. There are some greener options that may be adequate for most daily situations.
Instead of traditional bug spray, choose citronella. It is safe for human use and produces no threat to the environment when used correctly. It is generally applied to the skin and may cause mild irritation if used in abundance. Because some people find the smell of citronella off-putting, it can be mixed with lemongrass oil to minimize the smell. Lemongrass may also be another natural insect repellent.
• Decorating your home: Carpet traditionally is the cover of choice when it comes to floors, but there are many new alternatives on the scene. Instead of berber carpet or linoleum, chose a soy-based finished floor.
These hardwood floors have zero VOC content, are hypoallergenic and antimicrobial. Now that’s a healthy floor!
• Summertime outdoor activities: The warm weather is tailor-made for children who want to enjoy some fun in the sun. As kids enjoy the last few days of summer, parents can find activities that are fun and beneficial to the environment.
Consider the activities that fill warm days: Pool parties, water balloon tosses, bicycle riding and afternoons spent on a swing set. Small changes can add up to big benefits for the planet.
What’s more fun that getting sprayed with cold water on a hot day? Instead of purchasing disposable latex balloons that will end up in the trash after the first pop, look for reusable absorbent balls that can be dipped into a bucket and then tossed to a partner. When he or she catches the ball, splashes of water will fly out.
And while we’re on the subject of water, let’s compare sprinklers to pools. Sure it’s fun running through an icy-cold sprinkler, but leaving a sprinkler running for a while is a waste of water. Plus, it can drown surrounding plants and other landscaping items. Instead, take a dip in the pool or fill up a child-sized pool and later use the water to give a drink to potted plants.
• Growing a garden: Eco-friendly or conservative landscaping is growing increasingly popular among homeowners. Often referred to as eco-scaping, conservative landscaping includes removing invasive plants, conserving water and reducing reliance on chemical pesticides.
Homeowners looking to landscape in a more eco-friendly way this gardening season should choose native plants whenever possible. Native plants have adapted to the local climate and soil, which can offer numerous eco-friendly benefits. Because they’re accustomed to native conditions, native plants do not need chemical fertilizers and require less water to thrive than their non-native counterparts, which have not adapted to the climate and soil and, as a result, need help to grow and survive.
• Your daily commute: Men and women might prefer driving themselves to work. Driving to work alone is more convenient, but it’s almost never more cost-effective. Now that we have the new Liberty Transit bus system, many local residents actually have a choice. Public transportation can remove the stress from traffic jams, as bus users can bury their noses in books or watch a movie on their iPads rather than stare at the vehicle in front of them.
If no public transportation is available, propose a carpool to co-workers. Both of these alternatives can save people money on gas while adding years to a vehicle’s life expectancy.
• Lights out: With the economy still in flux, many people are looking for ways to save money. Some people might be unaware that it’s possible to save money and benefit the environment by simply turning a few lights off around the house.
While keeping a light on can make it easier to navigate the house at night, keep a flashlight on the night stand or in the kitchen and turn those night lights off when not in a room or when going to bed. The monthly utility bill no doubt will take a turn for the more affordable, and the planet will be grateful as well.
Upcoming KLB activities
• Win-dex Awards nominations: We are accepting nominations of attractive businesses through Sept. 30. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 880-4888.
• Saturday, Sept. 24: The annual St Catherines beach cleanup is coming up. Boaters and volunteers are needed. Register by calling 880-4888 or emailing email@example.com.