Consumer Tips /

How to Have a Waste-Free Summer

It’s almost summer, summer, summertime! That means the kids will be out of school, the sun will stay out longer, and it’s about to get even hotter.

Here’s how to enjoy the weather while also helping reduce waste:

1. Stay hydrated

Hydration is key when the weather gets hot! We know you’ve heard this before, but bring a reusable water bottle with you rather than buying a water bottle.

You may not have heard this, though: If you must buy water in single-use packaging, go for water in a carton. Paper is made of wood fibers, a renewable resource which can replenish over time. Our friends over at Boxed Water, ReThink, JUST Water and Flow Water are available in stores throughout the country. And after consuming it, you can recycle them.

2. Keep cool

It’s going to be hot, but hold off on cranking up the air conditioner if you can. Open your windows to get some air flow into your home or car and let the breeze do the work. If your home is still too hot, try using fans before resorting to more energy-intensive air conditioning systems. For example, a common central air conditioning unit might use 100 times more energy than a typical ceiling fan.

You can also keep your thermostat at a higher temperature during the summer to help conserve energy and only activate the AC when it’s necessary. And remember to turn off your fans when you’re not home.

3. Pack a cooler for the beach

It’s beach season! Pack a cooler full of beverages to bring with you. Juice boxes for kids, and adult juice boxes for you (provided alcohol is allowed at your local beach). Have you tried wine in a carton yet? You should. Gone are the days of only drinking wine out of bottles — carton wine has a better environmental profile, is more convenient and just as tasty.

4. Go green for picnics & BBQs

Eating outside under the sun with friends and family is one of the best things about summer. For your next summer picnic, go green by bringing your food in reusable containers, buying compostable tableware and cutlery, and using a large communal dispenser for your world-famous iced tea (or providing carton beverages if you must go the cooler route). And don’t forget to bring a plastic bag to collect your recyclables!

If you’re going to grill, gas grills leave a smaller carbon footprint than using charcoal. If you don’t have access to a gas grill, buy lump charcoal (as opposed to briquettes) and light them with a chimney (as opposed to lighter fluid). Read this for more eco-friendly BBQing tips from Grist.

5. Pack lunches for summer camp

Swap the brown paper bags for lunch boxes (bonus points from your kids if it’s a really cool-looking lunch box) and the plastic bags for Tupperware. Again, reducing the amount of single-use packaging in your life will greatly reduce the amount of waste you create this summer. And if you must include single-use packaging products, consider juice boxes that have a low environmental impact — plus, they’re recyclable. Even better, send your kids to summer camp with a reusable bottle filled with juice from home.

This is also a great opportunity to include a cute note in their lunch box that also reminds them to be good stewards of the environment.

6. Be green on the go

Going to do a bit of traveling this summer? Instead of buying single-use travel-sized toiletries, buy reusable travel-sized containers for the things that you need like shampoo, conditioner or sunscreen.

Here are some more tips for how to go green when you travel from Lonely Planet.

What are your favorite pro-tips? Tell us on Facebook.