Wednesday, May 20, 2009

5 Ways to be Green at the Community Swimming Pool

Summer is coming! Summer is coming! You know how I know? The pool opens this weekend. The boys are so excited.

My family and I have a membership at our local pool. Admittedly, the pool in and of itself isn’t a green thing. It uses lots of water and chemicals to keep that water clean.

But when I look at what the pool offers my family – the socialization, the exercise, the something to do every day, the bonding my husband and I do with the boys when the pool is relatively empty and we get to throw them half way across and they come up laughing – I know it’s something I’m not going to give up any time soon.

But I can do things to lessen the environmental impact that our pool membership has in other ways. I started to do some of these things last summer, but this summer I’m committed to doing them as often as possible.

Here is what my family will be doing, and what you can be doing if you have a pool membership, too.

  1. Walk or bike to and from the pool. Throw your pool gear in backpacks or get a basket for your bike and leave the car at home. If you’ve got a lot of stuff, you could throw it all in a wagon (which of course the kids will insist on riding home in).
  2. Take your own food and beverages. Most pools have a snack bar or grill. The food comes on paper plates and the beverages come in throw away cups. And let’s face it – it’s not the healthiest food you’re getting from the snack bar, is it? If you plan ahead and take your own food and beverages along with durable plates, utensils and cups, you’ll save a lot of paper products and calories.
  3. Only buy new bathing suits, goggles, and beach towels if necessary. Just because it’s a new pool season doesn’t mean you need all new gear to go with it. If last year’s stuff is still usable, use it. The boys each got one new suit this year and everything else is leftover from years' past.
  4. Encourage recycling. Our pool has recycling containers, and I’ve been known to stop a kid who has been ready to throw a bottle in the trashcan and redirect him to the recycling can right next to it. If your pool recycles, make sure you encourage those around you to take advantage of it. If it does not, talk to management about starting a recycling program.
  5. Keep the kids out of the showers when they aren’t actually showering. Last year my boys went missing during the “adult swim” time at our pool. Turns out they had been in the mens room standing under the hot shower to keep warm while they weren’t allowed in the pool. I came to find out that many of the kids at the pool do this.

This summer, as you’re heading out to the pool or any other water activity, think about how you can lessen the environmental impact while not giving up your fun in the sun.

Image: Gabyu
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