August’s Zero Waste Wins and Goals

For our family, this is the last true week of summer vacation before school starts again! Three of us head back to schedules and our daily routines. While I’d say we’re looking forward to getting into the swing of things, we’re also sad to say goodbye to leisurely beach and pool days. My to-do list is starting to lengthen, and I’m adding some eco-goals. Sure, Hannah and I practice our own environmental routines and share them here on GreenLifeNH, but I want to do more. Here are some of my recent plans, accomplishments and “failures”.

My family limited our AC this summer! I will be honest and admit that we sleep with ACs on every night. Using them allows for everyone’s best sleep and I feel that’s important health-wise. That said, our home is older, and doesn’t have central air, yet stays pretty cool. We follow a lot of Hannah’s advice, including keeping the blinds down and the windows closed on hot days. However my husband bought a floor unit for our downstairs last summer when we were all home due to Covid. He installed it again this summer and we’ve used it maybe a handful of times, despite the high temps! Your body really does adapt if you learn to live without it. Every little bit counts, as ACs do nothing to prevent global warming, In fact, our reliance on them is causing problems. It’s best to limit whenever possible.

Back-to-school shopping was eco-friendlier than previous years. I remember getting ready the night before the first day of school. You pull together your pencil case, lay out a new outfit etc. It’s an exciting time! However since I’ve been trying to live more sustainably, I realized that exciting doesn’t need to always equal new things. Yes, we went to the outlets and I let each daughter pick out a new “first day” outfit. We don’t have to be perfect. But we eschewed the brand new backpack and lunchboxes for ones that still work perfectly fine. Our district provides most of the school supplies, but I’m ready to raid our cabinets, per Hannah’s suggestions, for the few items we do need to bring.

My garden was a disaster this summer. When the girls were younger, and we had a more flexible schedule, I would plan and maintain the garden each spring and summer. But I went back to work this year and have had less time. I started and grew a few plants, but not much took. It’s not fair to just blame myself; my yard has a ton of shady trees, doesn’t get enough growing sun and it was a super rainy couple of months. You know what? It’s ok. We shop at local farmers markets and stands on a weekly basis and my friends happily give me any excess produce they need to use or lose. A win-win! We will try again next summer. Or maybe we won’t. I feel good about supporting local farmers and growers instead, if I just don’t have the energy. But if I want to further green my thumbs, I’ll likely read one of the books that mastered gardener Hannah recommended.

Concord’s Sustainable Tree Program. A few weeks ago, I was walking my dog and noticed a few new bushes on my neighbor’s lawn. I asked her about them and she pointed me towards this government program. It’s no secret that trees help curb climate change by cleaning the air and providing shade and natural habitats to a variety of animals. Yet more and more trees are being cut down for a variety of reasons. How can I help? I plan to apply to this program and encourage all Concord, NH residents to do the same. Don’t live in Concord? Investigate if your town offers something similar. It will provide some added beauty to your yard while helping the Earth. After all, a yard full of grass, and no plants, does nothing and can even hurt the environment.

In general, Concord has a lot of goals they’re striving to achieve before 2030 and 2050. I’m proud to live in a forward thinking city that takes climate change seriously! – Rachel

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