It’s getting hot in here!

Written by Lauren


Memorial Day Weekend is just a few short days away, and that extra day off is a perfect excuse to visit a sandy beach or camp out under the stars. Enjoy the outdoors, but keep in mind that a few simple changes make it easy to reduce your impact along the way.

Get grillin’.
Opt for grilling outdoors with propane instead of charcoal briquettes or wood. Although propane is derived from petroleum, it has a very high energy density (meaning more bang for your buck), and burns much cleaner than charcoal briquettes or wood-burning grills. Avoid gasoline and chemical fire-starter liquids at all costs.

Put down the hose.
Though washing your car on a hot summer day can be fun and save some cash, it’s kinder to the planet to leave the job to the professionals. Commercial car washes tread lighter on the environment because most facilities must adhere to strict waste water treatment standards, which prevent chemical runoff such as motor oil, gasoline, waxes and other substances from making their way into local streams, rivers or coastlines. Special pressurized hoses can monitor and reduce water usage, and rinse water is often reused.

If you decide to pull out the bucket and sponge yourself, be sure to use biodegradable soap, try to reuse water runoff (or at least do your washing on the lawn instead of the driveway), and keep water fights to a minimum.

Camp in style.
Pack reusable plates and utensils, and if you must bring disposable items, make them compostable. Buy in bulk to avoid excess packaging, pack your trash, and separate compostables and recyclables before you drop them off. Earth 911 has some other great resources on how to reduce your impact while getting back to nature.

Dig it.
Jump start the summer by starting your own organic garden with an organic garden starter kit. Spend the long weekend planning the ultimate organic garden. May is the ideal month to sow corn, cucumber, cauliflower, melons and tomato seeds. If you’re a city slicker, or have a black thumb, there are plenty of organic herb growing kits that can sprout right from the kitchen counter. Also, here’s a secret: summer garden projects are a great way to introduce kids to science without them suspecting anything of the sort.

You May Also Like…


  1. Jonathan Chen

    “and keep water fights to a minimum”.
    Fun-killing is why the average person doesn’t care about sustainability from my experience. As much as I love the environment, water fights are sacred and should not be meddled with.

  2. Jonathan

    Why exactly aren’t natural hard wood pieces carbon neutral (unlike propane). Tree grows, sucks in carbon. Tree cut and burned. woah, same carbon back in the air and new trees are growing.
    Recommending propane is crazy. Trees grow back. Propane doesnt.

  3. John Brown

    I agree w/ Jonathan that, logically, charcoal should beat fossil fuels, including propane, vis-a-vis net CO2 release.
    This brings up the related topic of Biochar.
    I don’t know if TerraPass is supporting any Biochar commercial enterprises.

  4. Dave

    I believe the recommendation on propane grilling was made with smog, not just carbon footprint emissions in mind. Although most charcoal is made from powdered coal (fossil fuel) not from wood. I’m pretty sure that grilling outside saves me energy another way: I don’t heat up the kitchen causing the air conditioner to run more.
    Rather than putting down the hose, I recommend using a rain barrel which can be attached to a hose or to fill watering cans for spot-watering the garden (just not high pressure for sprinklers). You don’t need to buy expensive kits to garden organically, either. Just make your own compost from kitchen scraps and yard waste, and get growing! I just harvested 1 cubic yard of compost from my bins, and used it in my small city lot. It’s fun to build up the carbon content and fertility of my soil over time this way!

  5. Gail

    The use of any type of wood biomass burning including biochar,charcoal, and wood in a all forms, is much more polluting in terms of toxic gases and ultra-fine particulate matter as well as the least energy efficient. Even though the burgeoning biomass industry would have you believe that burning biomass is carbon neutral, it is in fact NOT a “renewable” energy source. Old growth forests are our only hope for survival in that they are the original and only true carbon sink the earth has.
    If you would like to learn more you can refer to

  6. Jonathan

    Sorry Gail, you’re incorrect on many points. First, many biomass burning programs use quick growing plants, NOT old growth forests. Second, I assure you that permafrost has plenty of carbon locked up. Plus, using natural wood charcoal makes the best tasting BBQ.

  7. Gail

    No surprise but I sorely disagree. I’m sorry but quick growing twigs are not what’s being planned for powering our cities and those nifty electric cars and to power the grid. After we cut down our forests to burn for electricity we can all begin to witness the wonders of permafrost melting. Ah well, we’ll maybe still have some good tasting bbq.

  8. Jonathan

    We’re talking about Grilling in this blog post. Not firing Municipal Electricity plants.
    But, I am curious as to why you believe that large scale biomass using agricultural waste and quick growing plants is not a useful tool (among many) to take us off our dependence on fossil fuels. Right now they use mostly coal, which seems the worst of all.