While summer is a season of fun festivities, it’s also full of plastic-filled events, impulse spending sprees, eating out, traveling, and enormous amounts of waste. By making a handful of simple habit adjustments, we can live a more eco-conscious, sustainable summer season.
Reusables: The New Party Staple
Summer weekends are packed with BBQs, camping, picnics, and pool parties. When hosting these events, it can be tempting to opt for the convenience of paper plates, plastic cups, straws, and single-use utensils. Not to mention loading the cooler with dozens of plastic water bottles.
Have you ever been to a summer gathering where the garbage can wasn’t overflowing with paper plates within a couple of hours? The trash adds up rapidly. To host and attend summer events more sustainably, use these tips:
- Serve using glass plates, cups, and real cutlery
- Fill large, decorative, glass beverage dispensers with water (add cucumber or lemon slices for a refreshing touch)
- Know your guest count to prepare the appropriate amount of food without tons leftover
- Send leftovers home with guests in reusable containers
- Bring a reusable water bottle wherever you go
- Keep a set of reusable utensils with you
- Don’t overload your plate with more than you will eat (you can always go back for seconds)
Not only will reusables save mass amounts of waste, but providing real plates and cutlery will give your summer events a more stylish, elegant touch.
Schedule “No-Spend” Days
No-spend days are exactly what they sound like.
During the summer when the weather is nice and the kids are out of school, spending money is like second nature, but it doesn’t have to be.
At the beginning of the month, set a goal for yourself or your family to have so many days a month without spending money. This limits unnecessary impulse purchases on items that we truly don’t need, resulting in waste.
When you do choose to spend, analyze your habits and buy more consciously. How often will you use/wear this item? Is your purchase ethical? Does it support a good cause?
Shop Local & Cook at Home
Shopping local and cooking meals at home is the best way to reduce food-related waste this summer.
Visit your local farmers’ market or produce stand and pick up fresh fruits and vegetables that aren’t being shipped across the country, leaving a large carbon footprint. You’re also helping support and stimulate your local businesses.
Instead of going out to eat, cooking at home helps reduce food waste by choosing where you source your ingredients, making only what you need, and cooking with less meat. You’re also avoiding the mass amount of single-use plastic that comes with a drive-through or takeout meal.
Be sure to pack up those leftovers in your reusable containers, and compost any small scraps!
Make Use of Nature
There are several ways we can use nature to our advantage this summer, especially to reduce our energy consumption. During the day, open the shades and use the natural sunlight to light the rooms in your home. If it’s cool enough at night, open your windows for a natural breeze.
Turn off the TV and go for a walk, take a hike, lay in a hammock with a good book, or go to the park for a picnic with your friend. Get outside and soak up the vitamin D!
To limit your travel-related waste and emissions during the summer, walk or bike to local spots when the weather permits.
By spending time in nature, you develop a stronger love for the planet and tend to better prioritize how you can protect it. It’s a win-win!
Don’t let the busyness of summer get the best of your eco-living efforts. Working to ditch disposables, cook at home, spend less, and get outside more are simple changes that take minimal effort to live more sustainably - not just during the summer, but all year long!