Il Dolce Far Niente
By Sherri Jackson and Laurel Hood, 52 Weeks of Climate Action
This summer seems even sweeter than others, since many restrictions have been lifted and we can see friends and family, ditch our COVID hair, and visit parks and beaches again. But with these restored freedoms comes a new awareness. Less travel has meant less fossil fuel consumption. Less pollution. Less traffic. Less noise. More space to move around. And, despite the pandemic, many people are liking this new normal. Many regions are creating pedestrian zones, and restricting traffic. Restaurants and cafes are spilling out into parking lots, giving our streets a more continental vibe.
Many people are feeling this slower pace suits them. Fewer scheduled events and commitments, less hustle and bustle. More time at home, with people we love, and more time to connect with them. There is an Italian phrase for this: il dolce far niente: the sweetness of doing nothing. And I’m personally a big fan.
In July, our Climate Action Challenge is to look at ways to decarbonize our summer while slowing down. With warmer weather comes opportunities that don’t exist easily for Canadians in the winter. We can ride bikes, walk, even use e-bikes or motorcycles to reduce our fossil fuel consumption. We can also reduce our electricity consumption in a big way. Homes are one of the biggest offenders when it comes to carbon output. We’re going to see where we can make changes in our normal activity to make them earth-friendlier.
July 1st: Plant a tree, or plant lots of trees! Sign up to help your community plant trees, or donate to help someone else plant trees. If you don’t have space, get some potted plants for your home or patio. Even house plants help sequester carbon.
July 8th: Avoid using the air conditioner as much as possible. When it’s a scorcher, turn it up so it’s a few degrees warmer than normal. Open your windows on cooler, less humid days. Where you can, use external blinds or curtains to prevent heat from entering your house during the hottest part of the day. Invest in thermal drapes (good), or exterior blinds, like Coolaroo (better).
July 15th: Find a moment to be awed by nature this week. Visit a park or beach. Take a walk in the forest. Lie in the grass and watch the clouds with your kids.
July 22nd: This week, do not use your clothes dryer. Hang all your laundry to dry (good). Commit to using a clothes line all summer (better); Hang your laundry to dry, inside or outside, year round (best).
July 29th: This week skip the gym, and tackle your yard work old school. Use a manual push mower, manual hedge clippers, rakes, or shovels to get the job done. If you don’t have a push mower try borrowing one. If you don’t have a yard, see if someone near you needs help. You’ll get a good workout, some fresh air, and reduce carbon all at the same time.
Magical things happen when you make space for life to surprise you. By scheduling ourselves to death, leaving not a single moment for spontaneity or boredom, we miss opportunities. We have mistaken busyness for productivity and status. And along the way, the opportunities we think will enrich us end up draining us. July’s challenges slow us down, and when we move more slowly, we see more clearly. The past months have offered us a glimpse of what il dolce far niente can do for us. And if we keep even a little bit of that awareness as we move forward, we will all be better off.
52 Weeks of Climate Action was created by Sherri Jackson and Laurel Hood. Sherri is a writer, speaker and musician. She is the candidate of record and communications coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Laurel Hood, is a retired secondary teacher, transportation lead for the Collingwood Climate Action Team, and volunteer coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Visit our blog or sign up at www.52weeksofclimateaction.com.