Summer is in full swing and I’m not ashamed to say that I hate it. I hate wearing sunscreen. I hate bugs. I hate when my ass sweats basically 24/7 because Minnesota has decided to turn into the surface of the sun. I hate eating outdoors (see above: bugs and ass sweat). Just like Friday betrays us every week by eventually turning into Monday again, winter betrays us by thawing to summer. Oof.
On a brighter note, one of the few things I like about summer is all the ways I can actively see our household being green. While I wish we could be even more eco friendly, here are a few ways we embrace the earth in these summer months.
Farmers Market and CSA
We’re part of a CSA – something I highly recommend. Every week we pick up delicious produce grown on a local farm. This year, the CSA we joined also provides bread and meat once a month – so far we’ve gotten bread once and it was amazing. When we need additional produce that our CSA doesn’t provide, we head over to a nearby farmers market. We found a great one we like in a town next door, the next time we go we hope to bike there. Good exercise, plus more frugal and more green than driving our old clunky gas guzzlers. Both the CSA and the farmers market are a great way to support local farmers and eat more locally. What we eat, and how it’s grown/raised, has a serious impact on the environment. We at the LSF household are trying to take that seriously.
Along the same vein, all the fresh produce allows me to get creative with reducing food waste. Next time you’re cutting up vegetables and you have some scraps, use the google machine to see what you can do with them. You might be surprised what parts are actually edible, or if nothing else can be turned into a vegetable broth. This past weekend I tried radish greens for the first time. I sauteed them up and mixed them with pasta and nutmeg. It’s something I never would have thought to do before but now will be my go to recipe whenever I can get my hands on whole radishes. For the food scraps you just can’t use, compost if you can. We’re fortunate to have a yard that allows us to compost discreetly without having to buy a composting barrel/crate. Our property backs up to a woods, so we have a area blocked off with chicken wire that we compost in. Mr. LSF takes on the roll of turning the compost occasionally and replenishing the garden soil with it once dirt forms.
Our garden is exploding!! Seriously though, it is. We’ve got tomatoes, beans, kale, peppers, sweet potatoes, zucchini, cuke nuts, butternut squash, and the almighty hops. I’m a big fan of gardening – mostly the output rather than all the weeding. Come August and September we’ll be able to walk out our front door and pick half our dinner fresh. All the tomatoes will be good for canning this fall and winter, they’ll eventually be turned into sauce or diced and canned to be used in soups and chilis all summer long. For any of you who brew, or appreciate beer for that matter, hops are mad expensive to buy. We bought two hop rhizomes a few years ago and they give us more than enough hops to use throughout the year. We just throw them in the freezer to save them for later use.
These things are the best. We use them to water the garden instead of having to run the hose. Saves on our water bill, and reduces unnecessary water usage. Booya!
I have a love/hate relationship. While there isn’t anything green or frugal about running the AC at all, we keep our set to 78-80 degrees to keep it’s running to a minimal. We do a similar thing with the furnace in the winter – the house stays in the low 60’s. I’d honestly let it go colder, but pipes freezing is no joke.
Biking is a big deal in the FI community. We don’t bike half as much as we should, but summer does allow Mr. LSF to bike to work most days. I rotate between two different facilities, one within biking distance, so I try to take advantage of that when I can. I also bike to run errands that are close by. I need to get more aggressive with this though, and expand the radius that I’m willing to bike in. An opportunity for progress.
There’s a lot of ways that we aren’t green. We use too much plastic. We drive old cars that are pretty inefficient. We travel by plane – as often as we can. But I’m always looking for ways to help offset these offences. The next green project I want to tackle is to set up a laundry line in the backyard, so I can avoid using the dryer for a few months of the year. It will save us money to not run the dryer (also should extend the life of the dryer I hope), and green to not use that energy. In the dead of summer I think it’s a bit too humid for drying clothes outside – unless you’ve got a killer wind and all day for things to dry. But fall and spring should work out really nicely.
Do you all find that being green and being frugal can align? What green things do you do?