It’s Official, Summer is here~ Happy Summer Solstice!

Today is the summer solstice, the day that the sun reaches it’s highest point in the sky over the Northern Hemisphere. It’s the longest (sunlit) day of the year. So it’s official, summer is really here! And we should celebrate and spend time outdoors and visit national parks and natural areas and have bbq’s and pool parties… but we should do this with sustainability in mind.

Remember that our individual actions add up; there are a lot of individuals trying to make a difference. They make small changes, that might be the same you’re making…so if you recycle and your neighbor recycles, and the rest of the neighborhood recycles…well that certainly adds up! So as individuals we really can make a difference.  This summer, keep in mind how you travel, what you’re eating, how you’re cooking it, is it really hot enough to run the AC or does the fan suffice?…make individual decisions and changes and be confident others are too (I know I will be!).

What sparked this need to share and encourage you to have a fun, green summer? This article:

Summer Solstice Meets Record Low Arctic Ice http://www.huffingtonpost.com/benjamin-strauss/summer-solstice-meets-les_b_619416.html

In summary, this article helps us understand how over thousands of years we, people, have been following the sun and seasons and how we’ve recorded changes over those years. And what that information is telling us today.

“The solstice always keeps a steady beat; but lately, the rhythm of summer has been increasingly out of sync. As the climate has warmed over recent decades, high temperatures have arrived earlier on average, and a symphony of seasonal events along with them, from plant blooming dates to animal migrations to peak flow levels in snow-fed streams. Nowhere is this quickening more evident than in the Arctic — the fastest-warming region on the planet.”

Interesting about this article is that it examines the impact of the arctic melt vs. that of Greenland and how that might affect the United States. In my opinion, too often we’re told, think of polar bears!! Well, honestly that’s hard to do when we don’t have any here in the US or the Midwest for that matter…So, it’s good to get a perspective of things relative to the way we live.

“But why concern ourselves with the frozen crust of a distant ocean? The big question for Americans, as we move toward a national debate on energy and climate policy, is what comes next.”

I’ll let you read the article to find the thoughts about that question… and for now, I’ll bid you a  safe and fun Summer!!  But remember to keep in mind how you can make your summer activities green, be the 1 individual of the thousands of other individuals trying to make a difference! Of course if you have questions about how to green your summer, you have a resource in Moraine Valley- sustainability@morainevalley.edu – email anytime with thoughts, questions, ideas for you or our community.

Happy Solstice!

Don’t forget your protection, not poison, when enjoying the summer!

Summers in the sun is great! But sunburns are not good at all. They are dangerous, cause aging, spots, wrinkles and sometimes cancer! Sure, we know that. And we know, well just use sunscreen silly. Right? Well it’s not so easy does it actually. A recent study of 500 different sunscreens found only 8% to actually be safe- meaning not expose you or loved ones to potential harmful cancer causing chemicals!!!

Here’s an excerpt, then read the whole article here and find a good sunscreen here:

The fourth annual Sunscreen Guide by Environmental Working Group (EWG) gives low marks to the current crop of sunscreen products, with a few notable exceptions. EWG researchers recommend only 39, or 8 percent, of 500 beach and sport sunscreens on the market this season.

Full report here: http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen

The reason? A surge in exaggerated SPF claims (SPFs greater than 50) and recent developments in understanding the possible hazards of some sunscreen ingredients, in particular, new government data linking a form of vitamin A used in sunscreens to accelerated growth of skin tumors and lesions.

Please pass this on and share with others so we can all enjoy summer in the sun safely.