- Want to know in advance the status of your favorite beach, river or lake? For information on beach closures, water pollution and water level updates, visit the Environmental Protection Agency's site at: http://www2.epa.gov/beaches. This site has links to national databases that report on the quality of over 6,000 American beaches, which have had health advisories now or in the past, and if your beach is subject to water quality monitoring and public reporting. They also have links to regional EPA representatives and local beach contacts. California has its own page, which includes coast waters, bays and estuaries and regional waters: http://www.epa.gov/region9/water/oce/. For local lakes and rivers, check the website of the county water agency.
- Get out of the sunscreen habit. Or how about reexamining the sunscreen you are using? Yes, we know the dangers of UV (ultraviolet) rays and we encourage protecting skin in the sun. Be aware of your time in the sun and seek out shade if your skin is warm. Wide-brimmed hats can be your friend in the sun, too! There are several eco-friendly formulas of sunscreens on the market now, too, and many contain coconut, raspberry and cranberry seed oils that protect the skin without harmful chemicals like parabens. Parabens are preservatives that have been discovered to cause estrogen disruption in women after having been found in cancerous breast tissue. Look for parabens listed in your favorite sunscreen. Here is the website for the Environmental Working Group's sunscreen guide: http://www.ewg.org/release/ewg-2015-guide-safer-more-effective-sunscreens .
- Enjoying a backyard “staycation”? When gardening this season, remember to use bee -and butterfly -friendly plants and flowers. Sustainable practices include those that support our plant and animal neighbors. Bees and butterflies, along with other pollinators like birds, bats and beetles pollinate at least 30% of the world's crops and 90% of wild plants, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council's website, www.nrdc.org. Attract pollinators with nectar-producing plants, plants that bloom at different times throughout the season, and drinking water (they are affected by the drought, too). Tried and true plants bees love, and this is a short list, are: strawberries and blackberries, cilantro, lavender and dahlias. Get your kids involved for a family activity of growing and tending your garden!
- And for the bugs you don't want around? Make your own insect repellent that won't harm your skin or the air or water when it gets there. To repel mosquitos, add 10-15 drops of essential oil into a liquid castile soap. Oils like pennyroyal, lemon balm, lavender and rose geranium work well. Wash before and after spending time outdoors. Have fun and experiment with oil combinations and concentrations that work for your family. And don't forget your pets; put a drop of rose geranium oil on their collar weekly as a tick repellent. There are also ready-made essential oil-based insect sprays on the market as well; make sure they have no DEET, chemicals or allergens.
- Join a fan club. Using fans to cool off your home can decrease your energy use—and costs—this summer. Use the fan instead of or in conjunction with your A/C on a higher temp and you can be both comfortable and sustainable.
Here it is, summer again! This month we have some tips on how to have a fun, relaxing, and earth-friendly season. We have been realizing recently that every season offers a unique opportunity to incorporate new practices as we learn how to be more sustainable. For this season of being outdoors, traveling, gardening and enjoying the beauty of Nature, here are some easy new ways to be green this summer:
SBS believes in the value of collaboration. Our post come from ideas and issues our team feels passionate about. We offer a combination of topical sustainability issues and applicable tips for every month of the year.