Live through a Tucson summer – sustainably!
Climatologists and environmentalists have worked for years to understand the causes and effects of global climate change, but what about the rest of us? They face the tricky task of convincing people that climate change is real, and the even trickier task of explaining to us all that our own lifestyles and habits may be making the problem worse.
But it’s not only rising panic about climate change – there is good news. Once-unthinkable legislative and industrial reforms (think of the auto industry beginning to convert to electric vehicles) are now becoming a reality. Wind and solar farms are sprouting up everywhere. And in a free market system, a new generation of homebuyers with a “greener” orientation are nudging the construction industry toward more sustainable materials and energy-efficient designs.
But can you and I slow down or begin to reverse some of the damage to the planet?
Absolutely! Here are three very simple ways to do your part, and it won’t even seem like a sacrifice! So to begin, here in the desert, especially in summer, it’s especially important to think about…..
- WATER : Conserve it! The very simplest thing you can change is the way you brush your teeth. Do you leave the water running while you scrub? Turn it off and you could save 6 to seven gallons of water per day! And speaking of personal hygiene, baths use way more water than showers, so choose a shower when you can. Also, as they do at the Reid Park Zoo, how about using “gray water” – that is, recycling water from your washer, shower, or bathroom sink? Think about directing it outside to water your landscaping.
- BOTTLES: It’s absolutely crucial that we drink enough water daily here in the arid Southwest, so it’s not surprising that a lot of Tucsonans go through numerous plastic water bottles, every day. And we’re NOT saying you should drink less water! Although major soft-drink companies are advertising new plastic bottle designs that are made from recyclable materials, how about avoiding single-use plastic bottles altogether? You can buy your own reusable bottle and carry it with you everywhere, but if you forget and need to buy some water, how about buying it in an ALUMINUM bottle or can? You can try one at the Reid Park Zoo!
Brands like Rain, Just Water, PathWater, Aqua Hydrant, and Alkaline88 are already selling water in aluminum, and giants like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Nestle are also developing aluminum bottles for popular brands like Dasani and Aquafina. Aluminum can be infinitely recycled, and it also costs less to recycle an aluminum bottle than to manufacture a brand new one. It goes without saying that this will only be helpful when you recycle. So bring your own water bottle, or try an aluminum one, then find the Zoo’s water station and stop there frequently for a fill up as you visit the Zoo this summer!
- ENERGY: At home, pay attention to the echoing voices of your parents: turn off the lights, the computer, the TV, your phone, and any other devices whenever you’re not using them! Experiment with the temperature you keep your home – could you be comfortable with it at 75 degrees rather than 72? Can you use fans to circulate the air so that you use your energy-hungry AC system a little less? If it’s time to replace a major appliance, can you choose a new one with a great energy efficiency rating? Can you choose some locally-sourced food when you stock your kitchen? Also in the kitchen, is there a way to re-use a bottle or container? If not, please pay attention to recycling rules to be sure you’re recycling all you can.
Any or all of these small changes, multiplied by millions of us (or hundreds of thousands of Tucsonans) can translate into not only a more sustainable lifestyle for all of us, but also a healthier planet!
For more sustainability tips and examples, as well as a lot of cooling shade this summer, take a trip to the Reid Park Zoo! You’ll also get to see the many amazing species who like us, will benefit from our efforts to slow down climate change. And read the signs carefully – the beautiful and highly sustainable Reid Park Zoo expansion is coming our way soon!