Summer technically starts on June 20th, but for me it's always the 4th of July when I really feel like celebrating all things summer. Long afternoons by the pool, grilling out with friends, eating tons of summer produce and plenty of spicy margaritas. With all these events it can be hard to stick with our #zerowaste goals, but with a few simple tweaks and planning ahead you can have fun this summer without trashing the planet. Here are few simple ways you can make this summer — and every summer hereafter — more fun and guilt-free by going green.
Don't forget to stay hydrated with your zero-waste essentials
It’s important to stay hydrated in the summer heat, but let's do it without trashing the planet.
Instead of drinking out of plastic all summer, remember to bring your own refillable water bottle, reusable straw, and reusable cups that can be used over and over again. Plus they look way chicer!
Go meatless at your next BBQ
Summer is the perfect time to host a barbeque — and vegetables like asparagus, zucchini, and mushroom are great on the grill.
The mass quantity of livestock the world raises to satiate its taste for meat accounts for about 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Beef in particular takes a major toll on the environment. A whopping 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce just 1 pound of beef. Eating one fewer burger a week for a year has the same effect as taking a car off the road for 320 miles, according to the Earth Day Network. In fact, if every person in the US passed on meat or cheese for just one day, the reduction in negative environmental impacts would be about the same as taking 7.6 million cars off the road.
Instead of throwing a burger on the grill, check out some meatless substitutes or swap that patty out for a portobello mushroom.
Try Gardening or Buying Local Produce
Produce from your local grocery store chain (whether it is organic or conventional) travels on average 1500 miles from the farm to your plate. This results in produce that's less fresh, doesn't taste as good, and wastes a lot of natural resources. We know most of use can't grow all our own fruits and veggies but we could start with a few and try shopping local farmers markets for the rest. Home-grown veggies are most often organic, plus they taste much better.
This summer, try starting your own mini-garden in your backyard or even your windowsill if you're tight on space. Here are a few ideas for what to plant in July.
Cool Off Naturally & Save On Your Electric Bill
Knowing how to use your windows is a great way to keep the house cool.
First off, make sure your curtains help to control temperature. Insulating curtains will help your house’s temperature in both summer and winter, by keeping hot air out in the summer and keeping it in during the coldness of winter.
You can also open windows to create a cross breeze through the house–open the top of one window, and then across the room or downstairs, open the bottom of another. Don’t open them very much, and do it in the morning while the air is still cool from the night, before you turn on your air conditioner.
If you’ve got a window-unit AC, know that air conditioners with a higher EER rating will be more energy-efficient, so consider replacing yours for a better model. Make sure any cracks or crevices around the AC unit are sealed, too, so the cold air doesn’t escape.
Practice Sustainable Tourism
Sustainability is probably not the term we think about the most when we go on vacation. However, it actually should be as it’s imperative that we decrease our travel footprint and ease the pressure on countries, places, and people who are swamped by tourists in this season. Sustainable tourism for me means:
Minimize waste – no littering, opting for reusables
Protect the natural environment – keep it clean and beautiful, follow the rules and regulations
Don’t exploit the people and animals – research touristy programs beforehand and make sure it does not hurt other beings (elephant rides in Thailand for example)
Supporting local businesses – local restaurants and accommodations over big chains
Buying local specialties instead of mass-produced souvenirs
Walking a lot, using public transport, and using a car as a last resort