As much as I’d like to deny it, the end of the school year is in sight. Summer is near, finals are almost over, and many of us are lining up jobs and planning vacations. I don’t know about you, but I’m eager to spend some well-deserved months in the sun. Whatever your plans are, I hope that you make sustainable choices along the way.
The warm summer months offer new opportunities to be more environmentally friendly that the winter months do not. If you’re interested in becoming healthier this summer, I especially encourage biking rather than driving. Instead of driving to grab coffee with your pals, ride a bike. According to The Sustainability Co-op, the average vehicle emits 423 grams of greenhouse gases per mile. This adds up to 5.1 metric tons a year for the average driver. You are making a huge difference by replacing your drive to nearby stores with a biking excursion while simultaneously self-encouraging a more healthy and fit lifestyle.
Whether you’re camping, spending time in a park, or hanging out at the lake, it is essential to be cautious of how much trash you are leaving behind. Furthermore, pick up after others if you are able. It takes 20 seconds; it’s not as much of a hassle as we make it out to be. Don’t contribute to the already 90 percent of plastic trash floating around in various bodies of water throughout the world. Be responsible and pick up after yourself by bringing a trash bag and recycling bin. Environmental reasons aside, it is common courtesy to keep these areas clean for those around us.
I know it can get rather hot indoors, but try to limit your air conditioner use. If you’re living in a place that has air conditioning this summer, monitor your use.
Your comfort comes at an expensive environmental cost. Millions of tons of carbon dioxide are emitted by air conditioners each year, not including the large amount of electricity used. According to the New York Times, air conditioners typically use between 500-1,500 watts of energy, while a ceiling fan uses between 15-95 watts. Let’s be honest, sometimes having the air conditioner on in the summer is a nuisance. Inside you have to be covered head to toe to stay warm, and the minute you step outside it’s like entering a sauna. Get a couple of fans on hand and do your best to stay cool. Fans may not always be sufficient in extreme heat, but when able, choose the more sustainable option.
The summer is not only a great time to be outside, but it also brings a lot of fresh produce. Instead of shopping for fresh fruits and veggies at the grocery store, check out if there are any farmers markets nearby. Most farmers markets offer reasonably priced, high quality, organic produce. Buying from farmers markets helps support your local communities and reduce the consumption of plastic packaging, so it’s a win-win! Right here in downtown Fargo, the Red River Market is a great option. The 2017 summer season is open from July 8 until October 28 every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. From fresh produce to organic herbal tea, the Red River Market offers endless options and is a wonderful way to spend your Saturday afternoon.
I hope you all have a relaxing, delightful summer. Get outside, soak up some Vitamin D, and remember to make environmentally safe decisions. I cannot express how much I have enjoyed writing for the opinion column of The Concordian for the majority of this semester. I hope my advice has inspired you to become more aware of your choices on an individual basis and that you encourage those you know to be more self-aware as well. Happy summer, Cobbers.