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How to live more sustainably and become more environmentally friendly

How to live more sustainably and become more environmentally friendly

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Summer is here and while it usually means fun in the sun, in many areas the heat is becoming unbearable. Take Texas, for example, where cities like Del Rio and Laredo are experiencing sweltering, record-breaking temperatures. Elsewhere, people flocking to the beaches may catch the foul smell of dead fish and rotting seaweed due to the increasing heat.

In both cases, the culprit is climate change, which can only exacerbate these problems if it continues on its current course. While there’s not much we as consumers can do to reverse climate change, there is some we can do, and every little bit helps. While summer, like winter, is a season of extreme temperatures that make us more reliant on emissions, there are still ways to go green. Here are some ways you can have a greener summer this year.

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Bring a reusable water bottle with you

This summer looks to be getting hot, but before you decide on a crate of plastic water bottles, consider the environmental impact. Like all plastics, these bottles take a very long time to degrade and when that happens, they degrade. Not to mention that it takes many times the amount of water in a single bottle to make. To reduce the use of plastic water bottles, we recommend using reusable bottles instead. Our favorite reusable water bottle is the Brita BB11 filter water bottle because it keeps water cool for 24 hours, can be opened with one hand and filters out smells and tastes.

$30 from Amazon

Opt for a fan instead of air conditioning

If you want to beat the summer heat, we recommend using a fan instead of air conditioning. Air conditioners use a lot of energy compared to fans. So much so that you could run a fan for 24 hours and use less energy than an air conditioner would use in 15 minutes. Using a fan not only reduces the amount of fossil fuel burned, but also the amount of money you spend. The best fan you can buy is the Vornado 660. It has an impressive air speed and provides a comfortable breeze over long distances. Note that while a fan uses less energy, you should use air conditioning when the temperature is above 30°C, as fans cannot prevent heat-related illnesses at these temperatures.

$100 from Amazon

Buy second-hand clothes

Summer is the season when you don’t have to worry about the cold limiting your wardrobe. Unfortunately, many of the hottest shopping platforms contribute to wasteful production (which means buying and wearing clothes that are cheaply made and meant to be thrown away) through fast fashion. If you’re looking for a more sustainable way to shop for clothes, we recommend buying second-hand at thrift and resale stores.

Buy Goodwill

Walk or ride a bike instead of driving

When the sun is out, it’s a good time to take a walk rather than driving, which emits carbon dioxide into the air. The only thing more environmentally friendly than walking is wearing shoes made from recycled and sustainable materials. Allbirds shoes are manufactured in a climate-neutral manner. We tried their Treerunners and loved how comfortable, breathable, durable and supportive they are. Plus, like all Allbirds shoes, they’re machine washable.

We understand if you don’t want to walk long distances in this heat. To get to places faster and at the same time in an environmentally friendly way, we recommend riding a bicycle. Schwinn’s mountain bike is one of the top rated bikes on Amazon thanks to its easy assembly and the brand’s helpful customer support.

$135 at Allbirds. Starting at $293 at Amazon

Buy sea-friendly sunscreen

If you are planning to go to the beach this summer, you should carefully consider what type of sunscreen you use. Many types of sunscreens damage coral reefs due to the chemicals they contain. To avoid this, we recommend using a mineral sunscreen like our favorite Hawaiian Tropic Mineral Skin Nourishing Milk SPF 50 sunscreen, which smells nice and doesn’t leave a white tinge on the skin upon application.

$14 from Amazon

Wear swimsuits made from recycled materials

You can also make sure that your stylish swimsuit is green on the beach. Summersalt swimwear is made from recycled materials, including old fishing nets pulled from the sea. If that’s not reason enough to buy, the brand carefully analyzes metrics to design swimsuits that fit different body types. We tried the brand and quickly fell in love.

$95 from Summersalt

Use a reusable shopping bag

Another prominent member of the plastic waste gallery is the plastic bag. Aside from getting caught in trees, this plastic menace bears an uncanny resemblance to jellyfish and causes unsuspecting sea turtles to suffocate, mistaking them for food. To protect these beautiful creatures, use a reusable shopping bag. This Amazon shopping bag is particularly useful in summer, as your frozen and chilled goods do not thaw in the hot car thanks to the insulation.

$19 from Amazon

Install a smart thermostat

A smart thermostat can save you money and the environment by only turning on the air conditioner when you need it, such as when you are at home or even in a specific room. The best smart thermostat we’ve tested is the Nest Learning Thermostat. This intuitive device supports temperature sensors as well as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

$190 from Amazon

Use a rain barrel

Using a rain barrel allows you to use water falling from the sky instead of water from your home. As long as you use it wisely, rainwater can be used for a variety of purposes around your home. If you’re looking to start harvesting rainwater, we recommend the RTS Home Accents 50-gallon flat-backed polyethylene eco-friendly water butt, which has over 1,600 five-star ratings. Reviewers cite the keg’s sturdiness and price as reasons they love it.

$160 from Amazon

Get a compost bin

If you want to find another use for some of your organic waste instead of having it taken to a landfill by garbage truck, you can compost it for later use in your garden or yard. The best compost bin we’ve tested is Redmon’s 65-gallon compost bin. This large compost bin is both easy to fill and easy to empty.

$77 from Amazon

Protect yourself with eco-friendly bug spray

While the proper use of DEET, the most common form of insect repellent, has been shown to have negligible effects on humans, its impact on the environment is less clear. While it is generally believed that DEET does not pose a serious threat to flora and fauna when used as directed, if you prefer to be on the safe side, you can opt for bug sprays with more natural ingredients. For this we recommend lemon eucalyptus oil (OLE), a synthesized form of eucalyptus oil that is effective at repelling insects.

$8 from Amazon

Try grilling meat substitutes

It’s BBQ season. Unfortunately, these delicious burgers come at a price, as it’s estimated that agriculture, including livestock, is responsible for 11% of carbon emissions. Thanks to meat substitutes from brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible, you can get the same great taste you love in your meat while supporting a more sustainable way of consuming it. One bite and you’ll say, “I can’t believe it’s not meat.”

$13 at Amazon $13 at Walmart

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