Summer gives us an opportunity to develop and strengthen sustainable habits.
For many of us, this has been a long awaited moment. I’m talking, of course, about the beginning of summer. Whether that means freedom from the demands of a school year, more opportunities to leave your jacket behind at home, or simply the good mood that warm weather often inspires, so many people are thrilled at the fact that it’s finally here.
Summer can also be a great time to develop better habits to care for the earth. A freer schedule, better weather, and seasonal changes create lots of opportunities to focus on learning a couple of good practices.
As much as possible, skip the car!
Depending on where you live, there’s a good chance that better weather opens up more possibilities for your daily commute. Why not take your bike to work? If you live close enough, you may even want to try walking.
If this isn’t a feasible daily practice, why not one or two days out of the week? Even cutting your daily drive by 20% greatly reduces the amount of pollutants and toxins produced.
And don’t forget- this opportunity isn’t limited to the office or the classroom. Is your favorite coffee shop within walking distance? What about the supermarket? Could you get there by bike?
Oh, and speaking of groceries, even that doesn’t have to be an indoor activity. Consider mixing up your shopping routine with a farmers market. Many local markets operate seasonally, with vendors in full swing around summertime.
Perhaps you do have plans for using your car over the summer- like in the form of a road trip. Keep tabs on your distance and offset your mileage by planting a few trees!
Learn a few backyard gardening skills.
Summertime is a great window for learning a new skill or diving into a new hobby. Growing your own food is a fantastic choice.
Do a little research based on where you live to figure out what you’d like to plant and when to start, exactly. No matter what seeds you end up planting, this is a practice that grows your appreciation for the systems of nature God created. Finally getting to eat something you’ve grown from a seed or starter is both emotionally satisfying and physically nutritious.
There are many auxiliary skills related to growing your own food that you can also cultivate throughout the summer. Learning how to compost certain waste products is an extremely useful skill. Learning how to harvest and economize rainwater is also extremely practical. Figuring out how to make your own organic insect repellent also pays off.
Want a bonus challenge? Grow a few key ingredients to use at a Labor Day picnic. That can be a satisfying feast indeed.
Spend as much time outside as possible.
One of the best ways to use a summer is a simple one- going outside!
No matter where you live, there’s likely at least one spot that you’ve been meaning to go to, seemingly forever. Put a date on your calendar! Invite a few friends and put those plans into motion.
As John Muir puts it:
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”
Be sure to leave every place you visit better than you found it, but by all means, go and let God speak to you through the artisanship of creation.
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap.”
All of creation points toward the Creator, and spending time in nature can help us gain a heart of compassion for the world around us. This compassion is at the root of sustainability, environmental restoration, and development. There’s a lot to be gained from some time outside.
Want even more ideas for how you can practice sustainability this summer? Download our guide- 88 Ideas for Living Sustainably and see which ones you can focus on over the next few months. To learn more about how you can promote environmental restoration around the world, learn about becoming a Purpose Partner!