Thinking Green, Living Green

Planet-friendly ways to keep cool this summer:

  1. Avoid heat emitters. In terms of household appliances, chores, and duties, avoid or modify those that emit heat during the summer. For example: Try to grill or cook your food outdoors, instead of heating up the kitchen with the stove or oven. Put the slow cooker in the garage to stew your dinner. Try your hand at making a solar cooker or outdoor wood-fired pizza oven! Allow dishes to air dry in your dishwasher as this reduces heat emission. Keep the dishwasher door closed after the wash cycle as they air dry, as this prevents hot air from spilling into the room. Set up a clothesline for clothes to dry outdoors rather than using the dryer. Over its expected lifetime of 18 years, the average clothes dryer will cost you approximately $1,500 to operate. Using a clothesline will not only reduce the need for energy derived from fossil fuels, but also save you money.
  2. Eat cooling foods and stay hydrated. You can avoid excess heat in the kitchen and cool your body down by eating more fresh saladsraw dishes, and no oven recipes. Furthermore, eating raw foods like cucumber and watermelon, as well as herbs like mint that have an inherent cooling nature, is a great way to replenish your body with fluids and keep you energized through the energy-sapping summer months. Similarly, drinking water regularly will keep you hydrated, ensuring perspiration to keep the core body temperature down. Ultra-hydrating drinks include water, herbal teas and natural juices. Coconut water especially helps replenish electrolytes, and it also tastes amazing.
  3. Cool your pulse points. Keeping your pulse points cool is an age-old practice followed all around the world to beat the heat. For example, people living in the Sahara cover their necks with scarves not only to guard themselves against the sun, but also because the neck contains vital pulse points. These are areas on the body where you can feel your pulse because your blood vessels are close to the surface of your skin. Because they are so close, you can cool off your blood and body temperature by getting the area in contact with cool water. Your neck, wrists, ankles, inside of the knees and elbows, inner thighs, temples and forehead are all pulse points that relay the sensation of coolness to the rest of your body when they are cooled. Keeping these points cool through the use of wet handkerchiefs, ice cubes, or water can bring down your body temperature fast—even in the desert!
  4. Choose cool linens. Your clothing choices play a big role in how hot or cold you feel. The color white is proven to reflect the sun and keep you cooler. In fact, in hot countries like India, whitewashing the roof of a house is a common practice as it brings down the indoor temperature by 5-10 degrees! So it stands to reason that wearing white clothes and other light colors will help you keep away the heat. Choosing breathable fabrics like cotton also protects you from high temperatures due to its light and airy nature. Avoid synthetic fabrics like nylon and spandex, and opt for free-flowing, pastel linens in the summer months. Lastly, try using cotton sheets to sleep on, choosing percale weave over sateen for optimal coolness. Don’t be fooled by ultra-high thread counts—higher thread counts don’t always equate to higher quality, and can be much warmer than lower thread count sheets.