Summer is hands down the best time to bring green to your routine. School’s out, the days are longer, and you have a lot more time to change things up!
Jumpstarting a sustainable lifestyle can seem daunting at first, but it’s easier than it sounds. Whether you’re enjoying a staycation or going off on an adventure, there are some really easy ways to go green. Just start by looking at your current habits and routines, recognize what’s wasteful or could use some work, and make conscious steps to change those habits.
To start you off, we’ve compiled a list of super easy ways to stay sustainable this summer.
Staying Sustainable at Home
- Unplug everything when you’re out. Even when they’re “off” your devices are draining energy (and your money). Unplug anything you’re not actively using, like phone or laptop chargers, kitchen appliances, TV, gaming consoles, speakers… you get the idea!
- Turn off your lights during the day and open your blinds for more natural light. Get the most out of these long summer days. Save energy by turning off all lights unless completely necessary.
- Get an energy-efficient air conditioner. The weather is going to heat up and, while air conditioners are a necessary evil, you can reduce your footprint by choosing the right one with these guidelines.
- Or, if it’s not devastatingly hot outside, invest in a ceiling or portable fan instead! It takes less energy (which your electric bill will thank you for).
- If it’s not super hot outside. Simply close the shades to keep a cooler room so you don’t have to resort to air conditioning.
- Going out? Do #5 and turn off the air conditioning.
- Start composting and stop throwing your kitchen scraps in the trash. Composting allows valuable nutrients to return to the soil, it’s a natural fertilizer made from stuff like your leftovers, eggshells, cut flowers, coffee grounds, and so much more! Ready to start turning your trash into soil food? Start with this handy-dandy guide for backyard or apartment composting.
- Save money and the planet, make more homecooked meals! Getting takeout has loads of waste associated with it. The carbon output from delivery, the huge amount of plasticware, and the takeout boxes. Everybody has at least one drawer full of these boxes!
- If you do get takeaway, reduce your footprint by telling the restaurant to not include disposable plastic dinnerware.
- Start separating your trash! Recycling is hands down the easiest way to start living sustainably, it’s as simple as having two bins, one for landfill and one for recycling in your kitchen (just make sure to rinse the items you’re recycling!). If you’re not sure whether an item should be composted, recycled, or trashed, you can find out here.
- Skip plastic wrap for that potato salad, use beeswax wrap instead! You can buy it or even make it yourself. Beeswax wrap is made from materials you can feel good about including bee’s wax, jajoba oil, tree resin, and organic cotton. Plus, it’s totally reusable and compostable too!
- Need to store food for the freezer or on the go? Say no to ziplock bags, get reusable food bags instead. Although these reusable bags are on the pricer side, you’ll save more cash (and the planet) in the long run since constantly buying Ziplocs will be a thing of the past.
- Try and go paperless this summer. For example, electronic wedding invitations, a Facebook post about your garage sale, making to-do lists on your phone, etc.
- Donate old devices to Back to School programs.
- Do a mail cleanse. Unsubscribe from magazines or catalogs you no longer read.
- Take an audit of all the bills you receive in the mail and choose paperless bills for companies that offer it.
Making Your Yard Green(er)
- Got a lot of time on your hands? Need something to keep the kids busy? Start your own garden! Any produce you find at the supermarket must be shipped or flown to you, which comes with a high eco footprint. Start local (as in your backyard local) and lessen your impact, start here for beginner-friendly veggies to grow.
- We love a green lawn or garden, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of the earth. Use organic fertilizers such as manure, compost (see #7) and chemical-free weed killers.
- Reduce toxic runoff from flowing into drains (and our oceans), by diverting it to your yard. For example, washing your car on the grass instead of in the driveway so it can be absorbed into the soil.
- Start a sustainable garden/lawn. Bright and lush lawns may look great, but lawn care can be terrible for the environment. The EPA found that watering lawns accounts for up to 60% water consumption during summer, and an estimated 70 million pounds of pesticides are applied each year, which can flow into our oceans when it rains.
Taking Care of Your Clothes
- An estimated 75 to 90% off your washer’s energy goes toward warming the water. Save energy by wash clothes in cold water. Washing clothes in cold water also reduces the chance of shrinkage or fading.
- Staying active this summer? Here’s the thing, your yoga pants are polluting the ocean. When workout clothes made from nylon, acrylic, polyester and other common materials are washed, microfibres are released and end up in our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Air out your gym clothes or, when they’re long overdue for a wash, put them in a Guppyfriend Bag or Cora Ball which are specially designed to catch micro waste.
- Skip the dryer, it’s sunny outside! Line dry your clothes and save energy.
- Use your free time to brush up your mending skills. Sometimes all it takes to refresh an old shirt is sewing on a missing button or closing a small tear. Read up on some helpful mending tips here.
- Apart from mastering clothing damage control, everyone (and the planet) can also benefit from learning how to make their clothes last longer too! These handy clothing care tips will teach you how to take better care of your clothes so they’ll last longer.
- Unless you’re sweating through your clothes, you can definitely rewear items multiple times before washing them. Especially jeans, which can be worn 3-5 times before every wash.
Taking Care of Yourself
- Coconut oil is a natural alternative to lotions and skincare products that may be toxic. It’s environmental impact is also very low! For deep conditioning, moisturizing, and cleansing, pick up a jar of cold-pressed coconut oil instead!
- Save energy by dry your hair naturally instead of using a blowdryer.
- Avoid facial wipes which are single-use (plus they don’t clean your face well anyway!), and get an eco-friendly facial cleanser instead.
- Swap out your normal sunscreen for a reef-safe version. Chemicals commonly found in most sunscreens have been found to contribute to the rapid bleaching of coral, which disrupts the ecosystem and leads to coral extinction! Hawaii has banned certain types of sunscreen and offers a helpful list of reef-safe sunscreens to protect you and the planet.
- Unplug from social media. Part self-care, part planet care. Turn off your devices to save energy, and enjoy some time outside, phone-free!
- Keep you and your kids busy by starting DIY Projects like food-based tie-dye (for if you REALLY love onions), patchwork, quilting, and more. Bonus points if you use a long-forgotten T-shirt or clothes you no longer wear. You can also order a DIY Denim Rescue and get artsy like our staffer Autumn!
- Introduce more veggies to your diet. There are SO many fruits and vegetables that are in season during summer, so have your fill of the freshest, low-impact bites. Get hungry and get cooking with this delectable list of 39 summer vegetable recipes.
- Save water by taking shorter showers, and install a water-efficient showerhead.
- Save baths or long soaks for a major treat-yourself moment!
- Turn off the tap when you’re lathering up, brushing your teeth, or shaving.
- Refresh your makeup arsenal with sustainable and natural products. Start with these natural makeup brands that will make you look and feel amazing.
Going Green on the Go
- Going out? Take a bike instead of the car, or better yet, go for a walk!
- Bring a tote bag wherever you go for those spur-of-the-moment shopping sprees or grocery runs. Travel light with a foldable tote bag that you can pack into your everyday bag.
- Bring a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go. In 2015, the average American purchased about 364 plastic bottles! And more than half aren’t even recycled! Using a reusable water bottle will lessen your impact (plus who would say no to these cute designs?).
- Hot summer days call for icy smoothies and frozen frappes. Bring your own thermos to the cafe and save the planet from yet another plastic Starbucks cup in landfill. Plus, the thermos will keep your drink icy cold all day long!
- For your next picnic outing or BBQ, bring your own silverware, cups, and plates. Or if it’s super last minute, opt for a compostable set instead of its single-use plastic counterparts.
- If you are able, say no to straws! Over 500,000 straws are used each day in the United States, which end up in the ocean and kill wildlife. Get a reusable straw instead which can be collapsed and kept in your bag.
- If you’re taking your kids out for a playdate with their friends or meeting up with family, consider carpooling together to save on gas. Better for the planet and your wallet.
- Have a meatless BBQ. Aside from being a major drain on resources like water and land, livestock accounts for a whopping 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Swap out a meat patty for a juicy portobello mushroom, steaks for whole cauliflower, marinated tofu skewers, and more! Check out mouth-watering vegetarian-friendly recipes here.
- Grill with propane which offers a cleaner burn than wood or charcoal. After grilling, use natural cleaning products to avoid any harmful runoff.
- Use that extra free time for good by volunteering at a park or beach clean-up, or even your own neighborhood! Bring the kids to help out.
- Join a tree Planting program and make your area a little greener.
- Skip the supermarket, go to a local farmer’s market for groceries. The produce you find there will have a smaller carbon footprint than those at the supermarket, which have been flown or shipped there. Plus, the produce will be MUCH fresher and you’re supporting your local businesses. Win-win!
- Skip the mall, go thrifting instead. 32 billion garments are produced for the US market each year, and 64% of them end up in landfill. Buying used means you’ll reduce your carbon footprint while keeping perfectly wearable clothes in the circular economy.
- Speaking of used, check out your local flea markets for great deals on everything from small knickknacks to furniture. Secondhand steals are everywhere, y’all.
- Get sustainable sunglasses (or thrift them). Sunglasses are often looked over, but most sunglasses are made from plastic which can’t be recycled. Extend the life of your next pair of sunglasses by thrifting them or find a pair that’s made from sustainable materials like bamboo.
- Visit a pick-your-own farm so your produce doesn’t have to travel to you. It reduces its carbon footprint as well as ensures you’re getting the freshest goodies. Plus, it’s also just really fun to pick your own food.
Taking Sustainability Abroad
- Going on a trip? Choose to buy carbon offsets with your flight. Airline pollution is a serious issue and is only projected to get worse as more and more people start to travel with each year. Carbon offsets are financial contributions to projects that compensate for the CO2 emissions created by taking the flight. Some airlines offer it as an optional addition to your ticket, and some airlines have the offsets already baked into the ticket.
- Splurge a little and fly direct flights instead of multiple transfers. Flying nonstop is more energy efficient since takeoffs use up the most fuel.
- We love a travel #OOTD but you don’t need 15 outfits for a week-long trip. Don’t overpack your luggage, more weight means more fuels used on planes.
- If flying isn’t entirely necessary, consider a less pollutive alternative like a train, bus, or cruise.
- Going green is becoming more mainstream (yay!), and eco hotels are cropping up to meet the demand. These eco-friendly hotels are consciously managed and created with sustainability and a lower impact in mind. From a zero-impact location that supports the local community to non-toxic housekeeping practices and energy-efficient practices, eco lodges will truly make your vacay guilt-free. Get some travel inspo with this guide to the best eco hotels for your next trip.
- Hang up your towels after each use to let the hotel know that you will be using them again. You don’t wash your own towels at home every day, why do it when you travel?
- Take any small amenities like soap, shampoo, or toothpaste with you. Unused hotel items are often thrown away! Plus, you can reuse the bottles in the future for traveling!
- Wash your own clothes when you travel. Hotel laundry typically washes guests’ clothes separately.
- If walking isn’t your thing, many tourist-friendly cities offer bike tours. Or you could rent your own bike and take to the streets yourself!
- If push comes to shove, travel like a local and take public transport to get around the town.
- Instead of taking taxis to get around a new city, take free walking tours instead. You’ll get to see more on your trip without increasing your footprint.
- Buy locally made products. Items that are flown or shipped in have a higher carbon footprint. Plus, you probably want something unique to commemorate your trip.
- Speaking of souvenirs, avoid buying knickknacks you know you’ll forget about the minute you get home or items that your friends will probably throw away. Photos are the best (and free) souvenirs!
- When hiking, stick to the path. You’ll avoid getting some nasty bug bites (and whatever else is in the brush!) and protects the native flora from being trampled or disturbed.
- Clean up as you go when you’re camping, hiking, or at the beach. Bring garbage bags to make sure all your trash leaves with you.
- Plus, do some good and pick up any trash you find along the way.
- If you’re planning a road trip, rent a hybrid or electric car. They use less fuel and produce fewer carbon emissions than cars that run on gas.
- America has 61 GORGEOUS national parks! Stay in the US, support our national parks, and get your adventure fix by taking a road trip instead of flying abroad.