With a little planning, your family reunion can be both fun and energy-efficient this year. | Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/RonTech2000
Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of friends and colleagues talking about attending family reunions, and as it turns out, July is National Family Reunion Month (although some commercial enterprises celebrate it in August). No matter how you look at it, now is the season for gathering with family from near and far, enjoying good food and fellowship, and listening to stories from when your parents and grandparents were kids.
Whether you are heading to a family reunion this month or next, or whether it’s your turn to host, there are many things you can think about to help conserve energy this reunion season!
- Think about the food you are preparing! Buy fresh, local foods that are in season and haven’t travelled long distances to get to you. Be sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables and other things that don’t come with a lot of packaging that will be need to be thrown away after the food is consumed. This cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions used to transport food cross-country and to create unnecessary packaging. Also, opt for foods that are served cold and don’t need to be baked in the oven for a long time. Cutting down on the time the oven needs to be heated will save energy and help keep your air conditioner from running overtime. And, a full refrigerator is the most efficient kind to have.
- Skip the disposable dishes. Depending on the number of people you have attending and the amount of time you can spend cleaning up afterward, you may decide to use disposable dishes anyway. That’s okay. You can still save energy by opting for an environmentally friendly brand that is biodegradable and made with recycled materials.
- Provide filtered tap water instead of bottles of water. More than 80% of water bottles never find their way to the recycling center and instead end up in the local landfill. If your reunion is not being held in a place where tap water is readily available, at least make sure there is a clearly marked recycling bin for the bottles and opt to get gallons of water, versus individual bottles.
- If the majority of the reunion activities will take place outside, invest in energy-efficient outdoor lighting! Outdoor solar lights can be placed decoratively along pathways and in gardens to keep areas lit as you socialize into the evening hours. If you don’t have solar lights available, make sure other lighting outside is equipped with energy-efficient LED or fluorescent lights instead of incandescent lights. LEDs use at least 75% less energy and have a 25% longer lifespan than traditional incandescent lights.
So sit back and enjoy that one last energy-efficient hurrah before the kids go back to school, the weather begins to cool down, and everyone gets back into the swing of things and waits for football season to begin and pumpkin flavored everything to hit the shelves.