Summer is upon us and with the changing of seasons comes the shifting of schedules for your family. Chances are summer will bring road trips, outdoor barbeques and maybe some projects outside the house. To help get you started down a more sustainable path, here are 5 ways to a greener summer:

1. Shop local.

Shopping local means more money stays within your community. According to Ozark Natural Foods Co-op, every dollar spent generates twice as much income for your local economy. Local produce is fresher so it tastes better and it doesn’t come with any packaging. If your community doesn’t have a year round farmers market, they probably have a summer market. Be sure to find out when and where you can find it.

To find out more about farmers markets and to find one in your area, visit

Another local option is a CSA (community supported agriculture) which is a way to get produce directly from a local farm or group of farms by subscribing to their harvest. We have a unique local CSA where I live, The Farmer’s Daughter CSA, they provide local produce year-round and you are able to pick what items you would like to have in your box each week.

To find out more about CSAs and see if you have one in your area, visit

2.Plant a garden.

Growing a garden is such a fun and rewarding way to spend some time with your family. It’s the ultimate in knowing where your food is coming from and it will save you money. If you don’t have the space for a garden, find out if your area has community garden opportunities or plant a container garden.

To find out more about community gardens and if you have any in your area, visit I was surprised to discover I have a community garden less than 3 miles from where I live.

3. Drive less.

Make a plan each week to drive less and either walk or ride your bicycle more. Be sure to plan your errands that require a car to be completed at the same time. Driving less will help your wallet and, if you’re walking instead, improve your physical health.

4. Turn off water and lights.

Turn off the water when brushing our teeth. Limit shower times. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Enlist the help of all family members to reduce the energy used in your home which helps the environment and your utility bill.

5. Recycle more.

If you aren’t recycling all your plastics, cardboard, cans and glass, make that a priority this summer. Check with your city to see what things can and can’t be recycled through your local service. Make it a habit to think about packaging when purchasing an item – can it be recycled? Is there an alternative product that doesn’t require as much (or any) package?

Bonus Tip:

Make it a habit to visit your local library this summer. Most public libraries have a summer reading program for your kids and other free programs. Take advantage of their air conditioning while you look at books, magazines and DVDs you may want to check out. No need to buy the newest summer blockbuster when you can check it out at your library.