At some point, everyone needs to take a break from the daily grind and just relax. With just a bit of planning, you can make your next outing environmentally friendly and a bit easier on the wallet.
Nothing beats the smell of a barbecue grill on a hot summer day. You can make grilling environmentally friendly by making a few changes to the way you grill. After dinner, compost as much of the food scraps as possible and enjoy the outdoor weather, no air-conditioning required.
- Propane gas grills burn cleaner, but if you prefer a charcoal grill, look for lump brands made from sustainable forest timber. For the more extreme "eco-friendly griller," solar powered grills are gaining popularity and amplify the sun's rays just enough to grill those brats and dogs. They take a little longer to heat up but leave almost no environmental impact except the smell of sizzling barbecue.
- If the fire needs a little help getting started, use a chimney starter rather than lighter fluid to get it going. This cuts down on chemicals released into the air.
- When it comes to choosing what to place on your grill, visit your garden or local farmer’s markets for fresh produce. If possible, also look for locally raised and processed meat. By shopping locally, you help reduce the amount of fossil fuel used to transport food long distances to your local grocers.
- When you set the table, use reusable flatware, silverware and cloth napkins. For a unique look, use bandanas for napkins and old quilts for tablecloths. If using reusable products isn’t possible, use paper plates and napkins with recycled content and biodegradable plastic cups that can be composted.
- For the kid’s table, a Frisbee covered in wax paper makes a great plate, which can be turned over and used for fun after the meal is finished.
Camping can be an environmentally friendly experience. To make your next camping trip a truly “eco-friendly” experience consider incorporating the following tips.
- Pick a location close to home to reduce gas consumption and save a little money. Consider camping in one of the most beautiful park systems in the country. Missouri State Parks provides a variety of locations and activities aimed at pleasing every family member.
- Make a list of everything you may need for the trip and go shopping only once. It is more efficient and will save you fuel and money.
- If you are tent camping, look for a tent or sleeping bag made from recycled materials at your local camping supply store.
- Visit your garden or local farmer’s markets for fresh produce. If possible, also look for locally raised and processed meat. By shopping locally, you help reduce the amount of fossil fuel used to transport food long distances to your local grocers.
- One of the best parts of camping is the cooking. Plan to use the campsite grill, if available. Use firewood that may be available for purchase at the campground store or charcoal with a chimney starter to avoid releasing chemicals into the air with lighter fluid. If you're in the market for a new grill, look for a solar powered cook stove.
- Bring reusable dishes that can be used for years, and a bucket with biodegradable soap to wash them in, rather than purchasing paper or Styrofoam one-use plates and plastic utensils.
- Bring dish towels from home instead of paper towels and use reusable storage containers for leftovers instead of plastic storage bags.
- Look for crank powered radios and energy efficient lighting sources such as LED lanterns and flashlights.
- Use citronella candles instead of bug sprays that contain chemicals. The candles are an excellent way to repel insects.
- Enjoy nature by playing outside or taking a hike instead of using the RV’s generator to power a television or game system.
- Stay in designated camping areas to avoid disturbing plants and wildlife.
- Pick up all trash and recyclables before you leave, leaving the campsite in the same, or better, condition it was in when you arrived. If the campsite does not have recycling bins, take your recyclable items back home and recycle them when you return.
If it is a beautiful day, take it outside and get some fresh air! If hiking, biking or walking is how you prefer to exercise, more than 50 Missouri State Parks offer walking or hiking trails and 21 offer some type of biking path, including the Katy Trail. You can also check with your community for walking and biking trails. Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather and take all safety precautions.
If it is just too cold or hot to exercise outside, create your own home gym. Swap workout DVDs with friends, or borrow them from the library, to get a workout in your living room. This saves the plastic waste in buying new videos, and can keep your routine from getting boring. If you want to purchase home gym equipment, look for used treadmills and other cardio equipment. Look for energy efficient equipment or those that don’t use any electricity.
No matter where you choose to exercise, you can also make exercising environmentally friendly by what you choose to wear.
- Use a reusable water bottle instead of plastic water bottles that end up in landfills. Several companies make hard plastic water bottles from recycled plastic, or aluminum varieties, that last a long time.
- Workout gear can be recycled by some companies and made into new clothing. Try to buy clothing made of natural fibers that are easier to recycle, or find clothing and fleece made from recycled plastic.
- You can’t get anywhere without the shoes on your feet, so look for a good quality, well fitting pair of athletic shoes. When they are worn out, consider recycling your athletic shoes through the Nike Grind project, which accepts athletic shoes from any company, and grinds them into rubber chips. This rubber, much like shredded tires, can then be used in tracks, playgrounds and tennis courts.
Growing your own vegetables helps reduce the amount of fossil fuel used to transport food to your local grocers and then to your home. You are also able to control the amount pesticides, if any, used to grow that food. It is also a great opportunity to be creative and reuse and recycle items that might otherwise be thrown away.
- Use scrap tires as raised garden beds. After very carefully cutting off one sidewall on a large tire, place the tire in your garden area and fill it with soil, manure or compost. Raised gardens can increase spring soil temperatures by 8 to 13° F over nearby soil temperatures at ground level. By using a tire, there is also the added benefit of the black, heat-absorbing rubber. When used as a raised bed, the tire warms faster and retains a bit more heat to help the plants grow.
- Plastic buckets, soda bottles and other plastic containers make excellent potting sources for small plants. Old dresser drawers or wooden boxes, metal buckets and washtubs, hollowed out gourds or an old boot or galoshes also make unique planters. As long as the containers have proper drainage and adequate amounts of sunlight and water, they make wonderful substitutes for a larger garden.
- Make plant containers mobile by using a roller skate as a base for the plant container, or using a child’s wagon or wheelbarrow.
- Metal and vinyl mini-blinds can be cut to make plant markers.
- Clean nylon hose are useful for tying plants to trellises or fences.
- To protect small plants from a late frost, cut the bottom off a milk jug and use the top to cover them.
There’s nothing quite like gathering with other sports fans and bonding over some food, games and drinks before the big sporting event. Being environmentally friendly will probably not be at the top of your list at a tailgate party, but there are things you can do beforehand to make your party environmentally friendly.
- Carpooling to the game is a great way to cut down on gas usage and spend time with friends and family. If fans live close to the stadium, tailgate in the yard and walk to the game.
- Avoid using up the car battery for warming up in the cold weather or listening to the radio by dressing appropriately for the season and using a solar or crank powered radio that does not require electricity.
- Grilling in a parking lot doesn't have to be different from grilling in the backyard. Use the same backyard barbecue tips above for your tailgating party.
- Once the game starts, look for recycling bins around the stadium to recycle your paper, plastic, bottles and cans. If no recycling bins are provided, talk to the stadium and ask they be provided in the future. In the meantime, bring your own bag or box for your recyclable items and drop them off at a recycling bin later.
Nothing in this document may be used to implement any enforcement action or levy any penalty unless promulgated by rule under chapter 536 or authorized by statute.