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Eco-Friendly Summer-2015 Edition

June marks the official beginning of summer.  What a great time of year to get outdoors and practice the principles of reducing waste and honoring G-d’s creation, the Earth.  Here are a few suggestions of summer activities to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment.

  • Use natural methods to protect against the sun:  Use of sunscreens is commonplace from May through August.  Many sunscreens, however, contain chemicals and may be harmful to the skin and the environment.  Look for a sunscreen made with organic ingredients and no chemicals. Read the label before you buy anything.  Brands such as Alba Botanica and Jason Natural Cosmetics carry natural sunscreen products.  Adorable Baby and Earth’s Best are a few safe brands for infants and young children.    Also don’t forget to wear a wide brimmed hat during the middle of the day when the sun is strongest, a natural sun protection technique.

 

  • Travel as much as possible by bike and by foot:  The benefits to your health of biking and walking are many.   Adding additional exercise to your day by biking or walking to  work, to summer activities, to run errands or just for pleasure can improve your physical health and can help combat problems that come with a sedentary lifestyle, such as obesity, diabetes and heart problems.  Regular exercise via biking or walking also is a great stress reliever, improving your mental health and well-being.  It also reduces your carbon footprint because it means you will be spending less time driving in a car.

 

  • Shop at local farmers markets:  Typically, fruits and vegetables grown locally and sold at farmers’ markets are picked just as they ripen so they have a better taste, texture and aroma at the time of purchase.  In addition, since the produce is picked at the peak of the season, it will have a higher nutritional content and contain more phytochemicals (plant-derived chemicals believed to have beneficial health effects) than non-local produce purchased at a supermarket.The markets also help the environment because travel time and, therefore, the use of fossil fuels, is reduced for locally grown items.  In addition, many of the vendors have organic produce, which also helps the environment because many farm chemicals are made from fossil fuels.
  • Think reusable/recyclable with items you take with you:  Chances are, you are going to eat or drink as part of your visit to cheer on your favorite team or watch outdoor Shakespeare.  So make it a point to bring items you can re-use whenever possible. Bring your own stainless steel water bottle rather than buying bottled water.  Pack munchies in re-usable glass containers rather than in throwaway plastic bags.  If you must purchase food at your venue (probably unavoidable at a sporting event), look for recycling bins on your way out rather than throwing things in the regular trash bins.  Many sporting locations now regularly recycle.  St. Louis’s Busch Stadium currently diverts close to 30 percent of all items purchased at a game and recruits volunteers for a Green Team at each event to help collect recyclable plastic and aluminum.

Enjoy celebrating summer in an eco-friendly way!

Gail Wechsler is the Director of Domestic Issues/Social Justice at the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. She is the staff person for the Jewish Environmental Initiative (JEI), a committee of the JCRC and a part of the JCRC's Bohm Social Justice Initiative.
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