When on campus it is easy to get involved with sustainability. There are ample opportunities to take eco-centered classes, volunteer at the farm, and partake in sustainable club events. When you have a whole summer free however, it is easy to let sustainability fall by the wayside. Here are 5 activities you can partake in during your summer that will help keep you in the environmental mindset!
1. Volunteer at a Local Farm
Summer can be quite a busy time for some. It’s a chance to save up some extra money for when you come back to school, and working nonstop to do so! It has become quite popular nowadays for towns to have what is referred to as CSA programs (which stands for Community Supported Agriculture). Through these programs members purchase a “share” of vegetables from a local farmer through the growing season receiving whatever veggies are in season on a weekly basis. Most of these programs require an upfront cost, which can prevent some from participating. Many local farms have opportunities for what is known as “worker-shares” where in exchange for a few hours of farm work each week you get a whole bunch of in season vegetables! If you’re staying in Galesburg, Barefoot Gardens CSA or Spurgeon Veggies CSA may offer opportunities. This is a great way to connect with the community, get your hands dirty with some old fashioned hard work, support your local farmers, and get free fresh produce to boot!
2. Trade the Car for Other Travel Means
Staying on campus? The Knox Bike Share runs through the summer too, so borrow a bike to get around campus and town this summer! Depending on your job this summer, it might not be possible to get to work simply by means of walking or biking, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get to work sustainably! Public transportation and carpooling are classic tried and true ways to reduce your carbon footprint. When it comes to additional travels such as a run to the post office, or a trip to the bank, consider taking your bike or taking a stroll! Little changes to your lifestyle like this will be both beneficial for your body, and for the planet.
3. Sort Through the Plastic
It’s an inescapable truth that we live in a world of plastic. It surrounds us on a daily basis, and it’s taking its toll on the environment in too many unfortunate ways. If you’re searching for a sustainable project this summer, try taking an inventory of all unnecessary plastic in your household and thinking of ways to improve. For example, most households have a cupboard or drawer overflowing with messy mismatched tupperware containers. Most of which do not have recycling triangles printed on the sides, which means that if something happens where you lose a lid or crack a vessel, you won’t be able to properly recycle them. A simple way to remedy this is to collect all the plastic containers and donate them to local shelters or thrift shops and make some upgrades! Making an investment in metal or glass containers for storing food is a choice you won’t regret. Not only will you be reducing your plastic footprint, but the storage vessels will be much more durable and have a longer lifespan than their plastic counterparts. Little non-plastic exchanges like this around the house is a great sustainable project for the summer.
4. Go on a Camping Vacation
As amazing as a resort vacation may sound, in terms of environmentalism- it’s the farthest thing from it. Long car travels + fast food pit stops + energy sucking hotels= bad for the environment. You can still have just as much fun on camping trip with friends! Not only will you be saving money, but you’ll also be engaging in a tech-free and nature friendly venture that in some ways will be even more memorable. Check out your local campgrounds for the best deals and always remember that Green Oaks is open to all the Knox community and their guests as an option.
5. Participate/ Start a Community Cleanup Event
One sure way to get involved with the community while staying sustainable is to participate in a community cleanup program. Many towns have special events dedicated to cleaning up parks, lakes, rivers, ditches, streams and more that you can be a part of. Check around to see what your community offers. Did you attend the EquiKnox lecture by Chad Pregracke? If you were inspired, check out the calendar of cleanups sponsored by his organization, Living Lands & Waters. If you aren’t able to find any events in your area, see if organizing one yourself is something you might be able to do! If you get the word out and gather enough support, you will be able to help participate (and lead) an event that will not only be rewarding to you, but to the environment as well.
These activities are a great start to keeping you in the sustainable mindset this summer. Always remember that the simplest ways to stay green are to reduce your water and energy consumption, and stay true to the three R’s- reduce, reuse and recycle! With these in mind and the projects above, you’ll be helping to do your part for a more sustainable future.