Will watching the solar eclipse be extraordinary and inspiring? Or just another opportunity to create a great big trash heap? Use (and share!) our eco guide to the solar eclipse to keep it green.
Sorry to throw a little damper on the big planetary party that’s happening next week. But parties are notorious for giving people permission to waste food and leave their trash behind. (The garbage left behind on the National Mall after July 4, for example, takes days to clean up and haul away, and that’s just the “regular” Independence Day celebration, nothing so cosmic as a total solar eclipse.)
Whether you’re planning to watch the eclipse at home or head out to a viewing party, follow our eco guide to keep it green.
IMPORTANT: PROTECT YOUR EYES!
Before we offer our green party planning tips, I do want to remind everyone of how important it is to protect your eyes during the eclipse.
Even though the sun is 93 million miles away, you can’t look at it directly, even when it’s completely blacked out during an eclipse.
I got the solar eclipse glasses I’m wearing in the picture above from NASA during a special astronomy night on the Washington DC Mall earlier this summer. They’re guaranteed to protect my eyes so I can look directly at the sun without suffering eye damage.
If you order today or tomorrow, you can probably still get your own glasses from Amazon. Look for ones like these, which are approved by NASA and the American Astronomical Society, manufactured in Germany, and meet the international ISO standard for solar viewing.
They will filter out 100% of harmful ultra-violet and infrared rays, 99.999% of intense visible light, and are 100% safe for direct viewing of the sun and solar eclipses.
Also check your local hardware store, planetarium, or science center. Pick up several pairs so people in your group have them – you won’t want to give yours up once the eclipse starts.
Eco Guide to the Solar Eclipse
√Choose Your Location Wisely
√Get to Your Location Early
√Skip Fast Food, Junk Food
√Take BIG Reusable Water Jugs
√Take Mobile Chargers, Plug Into Solar
By all reports, there will be epic traffic on Monday, August 21, as millions of people drive all over the country to get into the eclipse’s “path of totality” or as near to it as possible.
If you don’t need to drive to a viewing spot, don’t.
If you can carpool with someone else to reduce the number of cars on the road, do.
If bicycling is an option, go for it.
Choose Your Location Wisely –
Get close. The closer you can be to your viewing location, the better. You’ll minimize driving, spend less time in traffic jams, and keep stress under control.
Choose “unpopular.” Try to avoid locations that are being billed as “the best place to see the eclipse,” as they’ll probably be overrun.
Don’t think you can just pull off the highway somewhere to see the sun go dark. Highway patrols will be on high alert and trying to keep cars moving.
Have a plan in case the sky clouds over. Figure out soon whether you are going to try to move to clearer viewing – or just give up and watch the whole thing on your phone.
Get to your location early – really early, maybe even the day before.
And plan on staying on through the day after the eclipse is over to avoid all the traffic that will be on the move once the sun passes on.
Skip Fast Food and Junk Food
Take food with you in your car, in a cooler if it needs to be refrigerated, and packed in reusable bags or boxes if it’s dry food.
Avoid fast food outlets, because everything they sell, they package in throwaway paper and plastic.
Skip junk food packed in single-serving sizes, like individual plastic bottles of water, or individual snack bags. It all just creates a lot of trash.
Bring a trash bag with you. As you do in parks and campgrounds, “take only pictures, leave only footprints.” Whatever garbage you generate, you own. Bag it and take it with you until you find a dumpster or trashcan that’s not overflowing.
We’ve got lots of great tips for a “green party” right here.
Take BIG Reusable Water Jugs
Buy a couple of larger reusable water jugs. Fill them up, and then refill your reusable water bottles from your own jug.
You can see our list of 5 Best Reusable Water Bottles right here.
Even something like this 64 oz. beer growler would be great, and it works for cold and hot beverages alike.
Your mobile devices might easily run out of battery if you’re out all day and taking lots of pictures, chatting on social media, and updating your status.
Take at least one portable mobile charger with you so you can plug in your phone before it dies. NOTE: skip the chargers that require you to recharge external batteries.
Solar chargers can provide plenty of power to a mobile phone. (NOTE: I haven’t tried the one pictured here, but it looks like a good model to work from.)
Rather than stay in a hotel, if you can still find a place to camp out for the weekend, do it.
Sleeping out under the stars the night before the eclipse seems like about the right way to watch the biggest star in our universe get wild and crazy the day of the eclipse.
Are you planning to view the eclipse? Let us know where you’re going to be and how you plan to keep it green!
WANT MORE INFO? NASA’s website tells you everything you need to know right here.