Your summer vacation costs more than money; it can get environmentally expensive! The warmth and fun that summer brings make it the most anticipated season of the year for most people. There is a lot of shopping, traveling, beach hopping, and partying. The frenzy of activities can negatively impact the environment or not; it’s your choice. Below, you will find our top 12 tips to help ensure you have an eco-friendly summer.
An eco-friendly summer is not less fun; it is just better for the planet. And when we all take steps to make summer eco-friendly, we also help by doing our bit to protect nature for future generations to enjoy.
Quick Links to our Eco-Friendly Summer Tips:
Picnics and cookouts are regular occurrences in summer. However, eating outdoors or ordering meals can generate a lot of avoidable waste if you allow it. Don't use disposable paper or plastic plates, cutleries, napkins, or cups. Instead, take reusable alternatives when you go out to eat.
Disposables consume resources like trees and fossil fuels, but you can only use them once. Single usage does not quite do justice to the environmental costs. Using reusable eating utensils can make a massive dent in your carbon footprint. In addition, it helps cut down on waste and natural resource consumption.
Some of the fun activities you have planned for the summer may require shopping trips. Try to buy almost all your holiday goods at thrift stores or yard sales. Second-hand trading is an eco-friendly activity because it gives a new life to products that have come to their end-of-use for the original owners. It also helps slow down production and extract the highest potential value in resources that are already in circulation.
Since yard and garage sales are popular in summer, it would be the right time to declutter your home. You can host a garage sale or use an online store to get rid of valuable but unwanted items.
When you need new outfits for a holiday, choose ethical brands. The fashion industry is a significant contributor to global warming and resource waste, but ethical fashion brands are changing the narrative. They use environmentally friendly processes and materials to produce clothing and, at the same time, ensure social justice.
Furthermore, ethical clothing has a longer life. So, if you want eco-friendly outfits that won't need to be replaced next summer, choose ethical clothing. Many ethical brands make clothing for kids and adults.
And of course in summer we all want to hit the beach. Grab a pair of eco friendly flip flops made from natural or recycled materials for those casual hot beach days in and out of the water.
Protecting your skin with sunscreen can reduce your chances of sun-caused skin cancer and melanoma. However, while it may protect you, chemical sunscreens put coral reefs in danger. One drop of toxic sunscreen can poison coral reefs the size of six Olympic swimming pools. You’re best to replace your chemical sunscreen with a zero-waste, non-toxic sunscreen alternative.
Also, if you are not at the beach to get a tan, don't forget to seek shade and wear eco-friendly sunglasses.
The summer heat can get intense, but you should avoid the temptation to crank the air conditioner to the maximum. That would consume too much energy. Air conditioners also emit greenhouse gas and leak hydrofluorocarbons. This contributes to global warming, and giving up air conditioning completely may be the best chance to change that.
Use the air conditioner intermittently, using a fan to cool your house when you give the AC a rest. A fan uses less energy compared to an air conditioner. To get an even higher cooling effect from your fan, place a bowl of ice in front of it, so it blows the cool ice air around.
You can also use an air humidifier; it consumes less energy than an air conditioner. Other eco-friendly things you can do to cool your house and save electricity include pulling down window shades. In addition, you can use indoor plants as air purifiers.
Want to eat healthily, save on emissions and help to boost the local economy? These are some of the many reasons to eat locally produced food. You will probably eat more meals in the summer as part of the eco-friendly activities you have planned.
A sustainable holiday meal plan starts with shopping for vegetables and other food ingredients at the local farmers’ market. Because of the short food supply chain, it has a lesser carbon footprint compared to imported processed foods. Buying locally grown food also helps your local community save food from going to waste.
Additionally, eating less meat has positive impacts on the health of you and the environment. Research has linked meat production with deforestation1, water shortages, and dangerous levels of CO2 emissions.
Having a sustainable summer vacation starts with eco-friendly transportation to your destination. The transport sector accounts for 29% of world carbon emissions - it has the largest GHG share.
This summer, when going to the lake, the beach, or a picnic to relax with your family, use eco-friendly transport options. These eco-friendly options include taking a walk, riding a bike, or taking public transportation instead of a personal car.
To make your traveling even more sustainable, use eco-friendly travel essentials, like a hemp backpack, bamboo toothbrushes, and ethical clothes. To further minimize the environmental impact of your trips, you can purchase carbon offsets.
When you go on holiday shopping with family and friends, a reusable shopping bag is essential. This helps you cut back on plastic use and reduce plastic pollution on the planet.
For numerous shopping trips, it’s better for the environment if you use a bike or public transport, rather than a personal car every time.
Another important item you need is a reusable water bottle. It’s good for your health to stay hydrated in the heat of summer, which means you get to drink a lot of water. Protect the environment by using a reusable bottle instead of buying plastic water bottles every time you get thirsty.
Take advantage of the sun to hang your clothes out to dry on a clothesline. It can save you over $70 a year on electricity bills. The long hours of intense sunshine in summer can help you make laundering a green activity. You can also let in the daylight provided by the dazzling sunshine to reduce your use of electric bulbs during the day.
Outdoor cooking is one great thing about the holidays; it brings friends together. However, outdoor cooking can pollute fresh air if you don't use environmentally friendly methods. Instead of charcoal or wood grills, use an electric or propane grill. You can also use pellet grills that use compressed wood scrap and emit less carbon.
Eco-friendly activities will generate some waste. Don't just throw everything you no longer need into the trash. Look for opportunities to recycle them instead. You can use food waste as compost for your garden.
Do something this summer; join a community clean-up program. Help to clean up a beach or a park; you would be supporting your community’s progress towards sustainability.
Start making a conscious effort to reduce how negatively your holidays affect the environment. With the eco-friendly summer tips we have provided here, you can make your summer not only exciting but eco-friendly as well.
Springman M., Clark M., Mason-D’Croz D. (2018) Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits. Nature 562.