When summer comes around, all bets are off, especially with kids. Routines are constantly changing with camps, vacations and spontaneous beach days. This often means inefficient, sometimes wasteful moments take their place. Here are a few ways you can create a more sustainable summer.
A new season means new clothes, especially for your growing kids, but even adults often want a new summer look. Because we buy 60% more clothes on average today than we did 15 years ago, the fast fashion industry is allowed to boom. This summer, why not fill your closet with slow fashion?
BuyNothing is an app that connects neighbors and encourages residents to get rid of the stuff they do not need or want and give it to a new home. This means perfectly good toys or a summer dress with a small stain can avoid the landfill and be welcomed into a new home. This a great way to look for new-to-you clothes, especially for kids who outgrow wardrobes every season.
Thrifting is another option when avoiding fast fashion. Whether it is Goodwill, Crossroads Trading or vintage fashion, you can often find a staple piece of clothing that will change how you feel about your wardrobe without breaking the bank.
Sometimes, we do not want to buy used clothes, especially when it comes to swimsuits. With a larger budget, you can buy swimsuits from sustainable brands that use recycled materials, will repair any damage, and are Fair Trade Certified. If these are too expensive, use tips such as rinsing your swimsuit in cool, fresh water immediately after removal and always air dry to make your swimsuit last longer.
Screens can take over without school, and plastic cups reign with guests and outdoor eating, but there are so many activities that get the whole family outdoors without waste and some even without spending any money.
Getting outdoors can be the biggest draw of the summer. Whether you are camping, going on an urban hike, going to the beach or heading to the park, remember to leave it better than you found it. Do not leave your trash behind and pick up the trash others left. You can even host a trash pickup day in your neighborhood. Even if you are just sitting in your backyard or planting a small garden, getting outside reminds us why we need to save the planet.
When it comes to vacations, transportation can seem like it has destroyed all hope of sustainability before you even leave your house, but there are ways to offset your travel and still enjoy your vacation. When planning your trip, research sustainable hotels, nearby hikes and ways to avoid using your car once you reach your destination. If you are renting a car, try a hybrid. If you are staying closer to home, use the freeways when you can because cars are far more fuel efficient at consistent speeds. Choose to camp and hike. Choose to bike, walk or use public transportation around the city you are visiting. And, finally, you probably do not need that t-shirt, but seek a local market to find jams, wines and soaps to support the local economy and take home a souvenir you will actually use.
Furthermore, visit your local farmer’s market to get fresh fruits and vegetables. This keeps your family moving while everyone participates in the grocery shopping. Pick up some lemons and go home to have a lemonade-making party (add a little booze for the adults). Encourage your kids to use old boxes and scrap paper to make a lemonade stand, even if they are just “selling” it to you.
Try a meatless or less meat barbeque and encourage your friends and family to try impossible meat, veggie burgers and mushroom sliders. We may not buy these options for ourselves unless we try them, and offering them to people we love is a great way to introduce new foods. And do not forget, a gas grill produces about a third of the carbon footprint as its charcoal counterpart.
If the weather does not let you go outside as much as you want, find an indoor activity that repurposes your recycling and trash. Make a lemonade stand for the next lemonade day. Dye old clothes with avocado pits, beets, onion peels and more. Summer is the best time for a little cleaning, so if you have something you want to get rid of, why not let the kids (or you) paint it for a fun project?
Sunscreen and bug repellents
Planting a mosquito-repelling garden or even just a few planters around your doors and patio furniture can help deter the pesky bugs. Basil, lemongrass, mint, marigolds, citronella, eucalyptus, bay, lavender and chrysanthemum are all known to keep bugs away. As for natural topical solutions, some work and some do not, but most are better than having nothing on at all. Murphy’s Naturals has several products from candles to balms that are highly rated, and Aunt Fannie’s has insect repellents, including mosquito wipes and ant sprays, for all your summer pests.
Sunscreen is yet another product that we must worry about running into our oceans and lakes, yet it is crucial to our protection. In 2021, Hawaii banned non-reef-safe sunscreens, which in effect banned oxybenzone and octinoxate, chemicals known to harm coral reefs and other marine life. These are the top ingredients to avoid when looking for more sustainable sunscreen, but kid-friendly, allergy sensitive and non-greasy are also factors when purchasing sunscreen. This list of sunscreens will help you decide which brands are right for you. If all else fails, check your local refill store and even the aisles at Target for All Good and Raw Elements sunscreen.
Most summers are filled with exciting new adventures, a few good drinks and some well-deserved relaxation. Those experiences do not have to mean taking a break from your eco-friendly lifestyle, and you may even teach your friends and family a few new tricks to make their lives more sustainable too.