Yay, yay, summer is in the air! Just the very feeling makes me feel lighter and want to go out more and celebrate. Along with that feeling, it’s a great time to live a little lighter too, and try a more ‘green’ approach. Want to carry a freshness into the new season, especially when it comes to entertaining and indulging? Here’s some ideas on what to try.
- Start your own garden – There is nothing more rewarding then watching all my plants sprout, bloom and grow in the extra sunshine after all the lovely winter rains. Gardening can be really relaxing, an excuse to be outdoors, good exercise (if you live on the 3rd floor and have to lug potting soil up the stairs like me) – and is a great way to grow some of your own food too. Give it a go.
- Farmer’s markets – If you don’t feel like growing your own, have a look for markets in your area where home-grown produce is available. This is a great way to not only get the freshest, healthiest produce – but also a way to support local small businesses, and reduce the footprint created by buying goods that have been freighted from far (or even imported).
- Braais can be healthy you say? – Oh how we love a good braai / barbeque, and there’s no reason why they have to be loaded with half-cremated meat and heavy carbs. I love the excuse to get creative with salads, and to simply enjoy a meal outdoors (while cooking off the ‘grid’, pardon the pun). Remember, most items that you can grill or roast in your kitchen will work well on the fire. Have a look for ideas online, but otherwise, try some veggie combinations in a small heat-proof dish covered with foil on the grid – or some veggie kebabs. (and what’s nicer than fish on the braai too)…!
- Picnics: leave no trace – Part of embracing the outdoors is enjoying picnics in beautiful spots. Be sure to leave them as beautiful as you found them by packing in some shopping bags to carry your trash home with you. This will also give you a chance to be mindful of the items you buy and take with you (especially the packaging it comes in!). Have a look at what you can recycle and compost afterwards. Very little will end up in your bin at home if you do that.
- Bring and share – There’s no need to replicate a master-chef episode when planning a meal with friends. That’s way too much pressure for one person (says me, who needs to be left alone for an entire day just to bake a cake…). Plan some ‘bring and share’ meals to share the load, and give everyone a chance to show off their signature dishes.
- Don’t waste water – I know… We hear this all the time, and hopefully we are all mindful now to the big wasters like dripping taps and lavishly long showers. But how about the small savings (that all add up)? How many half-finished glasses or bottles of water do you have after a day of work, social gathering, or a yoga class? Instead of tipping these down the drain before doing the dishes, rather tip these into your plants. Something small can be something very big in the long run.
- Unplug / disconnect – Lastly, while our inate need to share means lots of foodie pics sometimes, take some time to sever that bond with your phone, (especially social media) when you’re with loved ones (or even alone). Take some time to be mindful. Absorb those views with your own eyes, feel the breeze, enjoy real human company and interaction. If you didn’t photograph it and post it ‘live’, it did still happen. You can always do it later. Go out, pretend there’s no signal, and put your phone on silent if you have to. Otherwise your food’s going to get cold.