Having a Green Summer

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It’s almost time. Summertime! If you’ve got cabin fever and are ready to head outside and catch some fresh air, keep reading! When you are planning your getaway trips this summer consider having some outings that involve being outdoors and enjoying the benefits of nature while having a low-impact vacation.

Experiencing the outdoors has long been viewed as a revitalizing experience that can clear your mind. John Muir, often regarded as the “Father of National Parks” stated, “In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks.” Now, through multiple studies, we are beginning to understand just some of what it is that we receive in benefits.

A study published in the journal for Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine in 2009 found that, “Breathing in antimicrobial compounds found in the essential oils of trees increases relaxation and improves stress management resulting in increased vitality and less anxiety, depression, and anger.” Just being in nature and breathing can help improve clarity and boost your mood.

One of the major benefits of living in Georgia is the amount of opportunities we have to enjoy nature in a multitude of ways. We can enjoy it from right next to our homes on weekend excursions through local hiking trails such as the Disney trail, or the trails at Dalton State, camping in Fort Mountain, or swimming in Carter’s Lake. Or, if you are looking for a bigger change of pace, we can travel farther south and spend some time relaxing at the beach or visiting with the alligators at the Okefenokee swamp.

While you are packing for your trip consider bringing items that can be re-used as opposed to items that will be thrown away. For example, toting re-usable water bottles during your trip. If you are planning to picnic or camp, bring re-usable plates and tableware. This keep you from having to throw away disposable ware, saves you money on buying multiple disposable tableware and plates, and can give the excursion a nicer atmosphere.

As you travel to and from these places, consider the practices you can employ to live and vacation green. Choosing to travel by car, bus, ship, or train are all more efficient than traveling by planes and produce less greenhouse-gas emissions. If you are renting a car, you can try to choose a car that is hybrid or electric which will use less fuel.

When you arrive, you may choose to bike or walk to cut down on emissions. Georgia is ranked as 19th in America as a bike-friendly state with Roswell and Tybee Island the two communities ranking highest in the state. These rankings are determined by the League of American Bicyclists which uses multiple factors to determine ranking such as infrastructure and funding, education, and policies and programs.

I am always happy to hear of residents that prioritize recycling in their life and make it a part of their life every day, including the days when they are not home. Many rest areas and local places of business may offer recycling bins that you can use as you travel. Make sure to read the instructions near the bin carefully because the rules of recycling can differ between locales.

I spoke to someone recently when discussing the opportunities for recycling in Dalton and was excited to hear that when they go on vacation they keep track of their recyclables and tote them back to Dalton along with their suitcases and souvenirs. This way, they don’t have to stop and find recycling areas out of town, but they are generating much less waste by bringing their recycling home to dispose of in one of the local convenience centers. Who says you can’t take it with you!

As you travel this summer, remember that the choice you make on vacation do matter just as much as the choices you make in your everyday life. Simple considerations for the environment and your health can help guide you to a fun and eco-friendly trip this summer.