With days remaining before finals week, just about everyone’s mind has surely drifted to thoughts of some warm, poolside evenings, or the feeling of freedom upon arriving at a vacation destination. We’re almost there! I am personally looking forward to spending a week in the Adirondacks and enjoying all the joys that nature can provide. While I’m out there, I’m going to do my best to follow some of the following tips to stay sustainable while enjoying the summer haze.
As I have mentioned in several of my past articles, being conscious of the environmental impact of our food is of the utmost importance. Participating in home gardening, and canning the fruits and veggies of your labor can cut back on your summer expenses, freeing up money for other activities that only the summer months can fulfill. I plan on bringing some of my homegrown goods with me to the mountains, and whenever possible, buying from local farmers markets or roadside stands instead of supermarket chains. Be conscious of food miles, and support the people around you! I promise, it will feel good and chatting with the locals may help you find interesting and less touristy places to explore!
Many of us are preparing our swimming pools as a method of combating the summer heat. I cannot wait to jump in after a long day at work, nothing is more refreshing. Considering that more than 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, but less that 1% is actually drinkable, let’s make sure we don’t waste any more than we need when managing our pools. Same goes for watering your garden! Build some raised beds for your veggies and flowers. Not only is it an attractive way to decorate your green space, it also helps preserve water by preventing run off, and when you fill the beds with your own soil, you can be sure you have the cleanest and most nutrient rich soil available.
Another summer favorite is to break out the grill, an American pastime. Propane burns much cleaner than charcoal...but if you insist on using charcoal for flavor, try natural lump charcoals. They burn hotter, and much cleaner than briquettes, which give off a bunch of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when lit! Then, when the food is laid out on the table and ready to serve, think twice about using styrofoam of plastic plates and silverware. It might take a little more time to clean up your regular dishware, but it is better than those pesky plastics sitting in a landfill for hundreds of years. If you are serving too many people, or you’re out in the mountains and don’t have access to the regular plates, forks and knives, purchase compostable ones! Future generations will thank you.
Most of all, get outside and enjoy the weather. Take your bike to the local market or to work a couple times a week. A stroll through the park, the forest or the beach can do you wonders after the stress of another spring semester. If you’ve spent more than a year in Buffalo, you know that the blistering cold will be back before you know it, so enjoy the warmth while you can and turn off the air-conditioning when it’s not completely necessary. I’m much more comfortable sleeping a chilled room, but no one needs to be wearing a sweater in their home during a Buffalo summer. Put those away until October when you have no choice!
Congratulations to all who are graduating this semester! And for the rest of us...another semester down my friends. Sadly, this will be my last post as Student Sustainability Coordinator. I’d like to thank Campus Dining and Shops for this opportunity to write to you all, to speak with you in the dining halls, and to learn from both of those experiences many valuable things about being sustainable and promoting it to our community at large. I will still be at UB for a few more semesters, and would like to stay involved with our sustainability efforts.. If you’d like to collaborate, please get in touch!
To a wonderful summer! Thank you UB!
Student Sustainability Coordinator UB-CDS
Cultural Anthropology B.A. (In-Progress)
Vice President, UB Campus Garden Club