Longer and warmer days are here, it must be summer! There is so much to love about this season. Schools are out, the ocean is warm, and the roads are slightly less congested. If you’re feeling stuck on ideas for things to do this summer, try some of the following sustainable options. It’s important to keep sustainability in the back of your mind when planning activities to make sure it doesn’t hurt the planet, or the welfare of an animal, doesn’t create unnecessary waste and it supports local vendors.
- Go on a hike/kayaking
Sarasota has no shortage of hiking trails and beautiful kayaking locations. Oscar Scherer State Park offers many hiking trails, and some are wheelchair accessible too. If you’re interested in birds, this is a great place to spot the beautiful scrub jays. If you’re interested in birds of the area, check out this great local program. Myakka River State Park is another beloved location in the county if you’re looking to escape into nature. They have extensive hikes that could take you days to complete or just visiting the canopy walkway is a great activity that kids of all ages will love. If it’s too hot to hike, a kayaking tour of Lido Key mangrove tunnels might just be your best bet to get up close to nature and cool down with a dip in the water.
- Start composting
Composting is a fun and easy project that you and your family can start during the summer but can continue to use all year long. If you have little ones at home, it’s a great way to start to teach them about food waste and being sustainable. At our office, we conduct composting classes and even vermicomposting classes which means you get to include cute little worms in this project. Composting is easy to start, and it creates nutrient-rich soil from your food scraps that you would have just thrown out anyways.
- Host a beach clean up
This is a great idea to give back to our planet while enjoying the beautiful beaches in our county. Grab your closest friends and family, or even create a bigger event on MeetUp or Facebook and make it an opportunity to get to know people in the community and even possibly make a new friend.
Bring empty buckets that you can use to fill up with any litter you see while walking along the beach. According to Earthday.org, in 2050 there will be more plastics in the ocean than there are fish (by weight). Looks like there’s a lot of work to be done!
Don’t forget to wear reef-safe sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
- DIY up-cycling projects
Feeling crafty? There are so many projects you can take on with “junk” from around the house. You could also make this into a double activity of cleaning out the house all at once then find new uses for these items and let your creative juices flow. If you decide not to upcycle some items, make sure to donate them. If you can’t come up with anything, Pinterest offers a multitude of activities for a sustainable up-cycling project. Some of my favorites include creating soy-wax candles in empty jars I no longer use, painting planter pots with new designs to make them look new again while adding some color to the yard and wine bottle citronella torches to keep the mosquitos away when I’m outside.
- Start a garden
Whether you like flowers or vegetables, having a garden is always a good idea. First, you’ll have to visit your local nursery to gather some items like pots, gloves, soil, and some seeds. You could also skip buying the seeds and use some of the produce you already have at home like the seed from an avocado you just ate or some peppers. There’s a bit more that goes into gardening, but once you start seeing great results you’ll be hooked. It’s also important to remember when you are choosing which plants you want to have in your garden, that they are Florida Friendly. This means that they will do well in the Florida climate, won’t require as much water, and aren’t invasive. To learn more, you could take a class with us.
- Going to museums on rainy days/watching documentaries at home (build a fort)
With the sun, there must come rain but that doesn’t mean we need to let it dampen our summer fun. Sarasota is an artsy county with plenty of museums to explore and learn from. There’s the most well-known museum in the county, The Ringling Museum which has free entry on Mondays. The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is another great option if you’d rather be exploring and learning in nature. Then, there’s Mote Aquarium and Laboratory where you’ll be able to check out some neat underwater creatures. On top of that, when the rain is really coming down, why not build a little fort in your living room so you can pretend to be camping and watch a documentary that will also teach you something new about nature.
- Grab a book and a hammock
One of my personal favorites is finding a nice shady spot near the beach or the lake where I can set up my hammock and enjoy a good book while feeling the cool breeze. You can head to your local library to pick up an interesting new book or look for little community libraries where you can leave an old one you’ve already read and pick up a new one. Pack some drinks and snacks with minimal packaging and you got yourself a little picnic, makes for a great sustainable date night. Make sure to leave no trace by picking up everything you brought or recycling any waste after you’ve enjoyed your relaxing day in a hammock.
- Visiting a farmers’ market and then making popsicles or smoothies
Visiting the farmer’s market is a great way to support your local farmers and it means even fresher produce for you and a smaller carbon footprint for the planet. Going to the farmer’s market also gives you insight into what is found locally during each season, which is more sustainable. You’re also able to talk to the sellers and residents about any fruit or vegetable that piqued your interest but have never tried and have no idea how to prepare it. After you had a nice stroll and collected all the fruit you want to get, go home, and prepare some delicious and refreshing smoothies or popsicles to beat the heat. You can find great recipes online and don’t forget to compost any waste.
Volunteering in the community you live in, if you have some extra time on your hands, is one of the greatest things you can do. According to Denmark, the happiest country in the world, a sense of community is extremely important to living a fulfilling and happy life. There are many ways you can volunteer your time for a good cause. A useful tip is to find a subject you are passionate about and start looking for opportunities there. Love wildlife? Why not volunteer to protect sea turtles. Enjoy cooking? Try to help out at a food bank. Relish in knowing you’re making a difference in the community? Volunteer to become an Energy Coach where you will help teach low-income families how to save on their energy and water bills. Find out how you can become an energy coach here.
At this point I hope you have plenty of ideas to never have a boring moment this summer and to keep sustainability in the back of your mind during the activities you choose to do. Now, time to go explore this beautiful planet of ours!
If you are interested in becoming an energy coach volunteer, would like to receive energy efficiency devices or a free consultation, or just want to learn more about energy equity and our energy upgrade program, please contact us and learn more through the following links:
- Become an “Energy Coach” to Help Those in Need
- Eventbrite Classes
- Energy Upgrade Consultation Application
- Blog: Energy Sweeps
Source: UF/IFAS Pest Alert