Let’s Talk Trash: Beat the heat, not the planet

Summer weather just kicked into high gear, following a very soggy June and early July. We may be enjoying our first warm lake swims and nursing sunburns, or sheltering indoors in the heat of the day.

Whether you’re a heat seeker or not, there will undoubtedly be times you are looking to cool down in the coming months. What are some of the more natural ways to beat the heat that don’t tax the planet?

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Keep your thirst quenching plastic-free by bringing an insulated water bottle wherever you adventure. Adding some ice cubes before you head out helps you stay chill. Herbs, berries and edible flowers from the garden can add unique and refreshing flavours. Our favourites include mint, huckleberries and lavender blossoms. Who knows? They may even be great all together.

Prevent sunburns by covering your skin with light, natural, loose-fitting clothing rather than sunscreen that blocks pores and makes you perspire. You’ll be avoiding the aerosol cans and plastic bottles most lotions come in. A quick reminder: squeeze bottles of all kinds are not accepted in any of our local recycling programs. Top your flowy outfit off with a wide-brimmed hat, especially when working long hours in the sun or tending the garden. Staying indoors at the peak of the sun’s blaze is a simple trick, too.

Cooling down our homes is a hot topic this time of year, and there are some great hacks to making this easy breezy. Instead of using the dryer, save on hydro by hanging clothes on the line. They’ll dry faster than you might imagine possible while getting infused with the smells of summer.

Fans near windows can be made more effective by placing a wrung out cloth over the grate. Bowls or buckets of water and ice can also work to cool air that passes over them.

You can go super low tech and experimental by creating a window insert made from wood and empty plastic bottles with the bottoms and caps removed. As warm outside air passes from the wider portion of the bottle outside to the thinner one inside, it is condensed and cooled. Another simple trick is to create a cross breeze in the house, and also to close curtains on the sun-facing side of your home.

Gardens need cooling strategies, too. Watering in the morning or evenings is the most efficient use of water as it avoids evaporation that is inevitable at the peak of the midday sun. Another great tip is to add mulch over top of your beds to avoid evaporation, which has the bonus of suppressing weeds.

Some local tree limbers and arborists will deliver freshly chipped tree limbs and brush for cheap. Be aware that a composting pile of chips can get quite hot if it is large, and should be spread thin and kept moist to avoid the distant possibility of catching fire.

Frequent ocean, river and lake dips are definitely great to indulge in at this time. They’re free, and you likely know some local spot that is crowd free where you can dive on in. Bring some chilled fruit or homemade popsicles in a cooler for added smiles to all within reach.

Stay cool without heating up the planet.

Let’s Talk Trash is qathet Regional District’s waste-reduction education program. For more information, email info@LetsTalkTrash.ca or go to LetsTalkTrash.ca.

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