Posted on: Jun 29, 2016
Summer is off to a scorching start. And hotter, sunnier days can affect our region’s air quality and water resources.
While our region’s air quality has improved significantly in the past 15 years, there are still days when our air is unhealthy for certain groups – especially during hot summer months.
And a drier-than-normal spring and start of summer has the Atlanta region facing drought conditions.
Here are 10 steps you can take this summer – on your commute, in your home and in your yard – that can help reduce your environmental impact.
1. Follow outdoor watering restrictions and only water plants when necessary
If you choose to water your lawn or garden, water only between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. to avoid wasteful evaporation – and because that’s the Georgia law; adjust sprinklers to avoid wasting water on the sidewalk or street; and use a rain gauge to ensure you water no more than one inch per week.
Learn more about water conservation and take the “My Drop Counts” pledge to make a difference by conserving water.
2. Embrace transit
Did you know that a 40-mile roundtrip commute can produce more than 150 pounds of CO2 per week?
Using public transit dramatically reduces your carbon footprint. And it can yield big cost-savings, too – about 50 percent when compared to driving alone, according to Georgia Commute Options’ Save Your Commute tool.
Explore Georgia Commute Options to learn about alternate commuting options, such as carpooling, vanpooling and teleworking. And log on to ATLTransit.org to navigate the region’s transit providers, from suburban express buses to city rail and bus routes. You’ll save dollars and stress while helping improve our region’s air quality.
3. Walk or bike to work
Commuting by foot or bicycle can be fun and is great for our region’s air. Some workplaces incentivize bicycle commuting by providing showers and locker rooms. If that’s not an option for you, wear clothing made of breathable fabric to reduce perspiration on the hot ride.
4. If you drive, use digital tools to avoid congestion
If you have to drive, look up traffic conditions to avoid idling in congestion. Idling produces pollutants like fine particles, as well as nitrogen oxides and other compounds that lead to worsened ozone levels.
Apps like Waze, Google Maps and Apple Maps can route you around the worst bottlenecks. The state Department of Transportation’s Georgia 511 website provides real-time traffic information, including road construction alerts.
5. Check your house for water leaks
According to the EPA, easy-to-fix leaks waste a trillion gallons of water annually. One shower head leaking at one drop per minute wastes more than 3,000 gallons a year – enough water for about 180 showers.
To test your toilet for leaks, put food coloring into the toilet tank. If the color seeps into your bowl, you have a leak.
6. Replace older toilets and shower heads
High-efficiency toilets and shower heads can dramatically reduce water usage in your home. If your home was built before 1993, you may qualify for a toilet rebate.
7. Use only the water you need
Shortening your shower and turning off the water when shaving or brushing your teeth can add up to great water savings.
8. Use your AC in moderation
Home cooling consumes about 5 percent of the nation’s total energy and releases 100 million pounds of CO2 a year. To reduce your consumption, turn the AC up by 7 degrees before you leave the house. (Don’t turn the AC off, as it takes more energy to cool the house down when you get back.) When home, set the temperature no lower than 78 degrees.
9. Don’t feel the burn
Open outdoor burning contributes to unhealthy levels of ozone. The state’s burn ban is in effect each year from May 1 to Sept. 30.
10. Carefully tend your lawn and garden
Consider using native plants, which require less maintenance and chemicals. Excess fertilizer and pesticides can wash off your lawn when it rains and pollute nearby rivers and streams.
Also, don’t blow grass clippings and leaves in the street or down a storm drain. Instead, compost your yard waste, leave it on the lawn or bag it up for curbside pickup.
More tips on lawn and yard care…