The Common Good

Hot, Humid, and Green Summer Ideas

"So what are you up to this summer?" seems to be the question du jour. With the calendar about to flip into June everyone seems antsy for a summer plan. Even if that plan is to find a great book and good flip flops and call it a day. Every morning my kindergardener asks me "mom, is it the last day of school today?" Today I told him "nope, but only five more days honey." Five more days until we can sleep in and kick ditch the tyranny of the clock. Five days left of school. Awesome.

A friend just returned from a visit to Panama. A great week she had on the beach and with the locals. A week that made me wonder what I could do to score a little beach time like that. And I started to think about this summer and all the plans we make and the way many of us in the U.S. start to sweat and melt and hit the pool and eat ice-cream and declare ourselves officially "on vacation."

So I wanted to nudge us all to thinking about these vacations in a wider global picture if we can. To consider trips and everyday summer days as a way to make a difference at home and around the world. For example, my other friend who just returned from Panama stayed off the resort side of things and truly adventured into the culture. If you travel this summer to another country, make sure to skip the resort for a few days and learn about the real place, the people behind the vacation place. It shows them respect and opens you up to the real culture and issues of that place rather than the ones all prettied up for the gift shop.

If you are sticking around and just hitting the pool, think about walking to the pool or beach rather than driving. Don't take a plastic water bottle with you! Fill up some sippy thing at home and tote that along. Check your summer reads out from the library so as to cut down on resources and waste from taking a trip to the store.

Consider skipping make-up and products this summer. Women spend billions of dollars and billions of hours primping. And for what? To put toxins on our skin that will melt off in the next heat wave? Consider taking a vacation from your eyeliner or bronzer. Encourage a bunch of friends to do the same and then you won't feel like the only frumpy one when you are out! Make sure to keep on with the sunscreen and to lather the kids up as well.

If gardening is not your speed then consider taking your kids to a local farm for a day to pick berries or other produce. Many farms allow local folks to stop in and pay to pick strawberries, blueberries, raspberries etc.

Take a day off and have a garage sale! Get your kids to think about selling their stuff and introduce them to the idea of reusing items from others. This can be a marvelous way to spend a day with your kids. When you are finished, encourage them to donate a percentage of the money made that day to a local charity or nature conservation organization.

There are so many ways to green up your summer. Got any of your own to share? The week of June 14th I will feature all the best ideas on this site! Share them if you've got them. Funny stories or eco ideas are welcome!

portrait-tracey-bianchiTracey Bianchi blogs about finding a saner, greener life from the heart of the Chicago suburbs. She wrote Green Mama: The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet (Zondervan 2009) and blogs at

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