Sometimes living on Long Island, with its high taxes and frustrating traffic, may not seem worth it. Then summer arrives, and we remember why we live here: the beaches, the backyard barbecues, the local pools and the alfresco dining ... did I say the beaches?
Just as the colors of the season are brighter, all that time outdoors seems to bring going “green” into sharper focus.
Last week, for example, when I noticed a Styrofoam coffee cup littered on the beach, it triggered the realization that our less-than-pristine shorelines really need my – and your – personal help. When I lathered sunscreen on my son’s back to protect him from the harsh UV rays that are barely shielded from our eroding ozone layer anymore, I had to wonder: what’s in that stuff?
Here are a few “green” ideas and facts I discovered so far this summer:
Leave home without it. Just how many beach chairs, blankets, towels, coolers, sand toys, boogie boards, cell phones and MP3 players can you load in your SUV?
Instead of taking your whole house with you when you go to the beach, try to simplify and de-clutter as part of the beach-going experience. Why exhaust yourself lugging all that “stuff” and arguing over who will carry what?
Become a temporary Luddite and read a good book – paper, not Nook or Kindle – instead of texting your friends or listening to your iPod.
Dare I say leave the cell phone in the car?
Take it home with you. Before leaving the beach after your relaxed and simplified experience, be sure to put your trash in the bins provided or take your garbage home with you (please).
Be a local! Save gas by driving to the closest pool or beach, perhaps our own or Town Beach. Or try your own backyard, splashing in an old-fashioned sprinkler or blasting the kids with a Super Soaker.
Taste summer. Pack your cooler with fresh, seasonal choices. Chill watermelon, grapes, cantaloupe, blueberries or peaches. Prepare ahead a few veggie specialties using cucumbers, avocados, zucchini or eggplant.
Find these treats at or Oh, and of course, pack everything in reusable stainless steel containers or other BPA-, lead- and phthalate-free containers, some available at or .
Make your own drinks. Make your own lemonade or limeade (squeeze the juice of real citrus and add raw sugar) or sun tea (place a teabag in a glass jar and let it steep in the sun the day before beach day, add sugar and refrigerate). Take these to the beach with you in reusable, eco-friendly stainless steel bottles, which conduct the cold very well, making the most of the ice inside them and in your cooler.
Come back next week for part II of the Green Gal's series on taking full advantage of the summer in the greenest way!