As finals season comes to an end and summer break is within our reach, you may already be planning summer activities with your friends and family. Especially after a whole year of attending online school, I know I speak for many of us when I say I can't wait for summer break. People will be going to the beaches, going on hikes or having a simple picnic at the park. It's more than likely that people will be enjoying the warm weather outside and trying to make the most out of the summer season. But before I go on, PSA, there's still a global pandemic going on, so please be considerate of others and their health, and make sensible and safe decisions this summer.
Unfortunately, pandemic or not, many of our favourite summer activities are not sustainable choices and have negative consequences on our environment. Since your chances of going out with a whole group of friends are slim for this summer, I encourage you to spend some time learning about other sustainable ways to enjoy the season.
1. Make safe sunscreen choices
If you're someone who loves the sun and enjoys spending as much time outside as possible, it's a great idea to use sunscreen. Sunscreen is great for protecting your skin and health but not always for the environment. Many sunscreens contain harmful chemicals that may harm our oceans and marine life. When finding sunscreen for this summer, look for one that protects you and the environment. A quick Google search will show a list of coral reef-safe sunscreens!
2. Use a reusable water bottle
Bring your own! Make it a habit to bring a reusable water bottle and avoid using single-use plastic water bottles. It’s important to stay hydrated in the summer heat! Most often, plastic water bottles don't get recycled and end up in our oceans. If you're spending the day at the beach, you may accidentally leave a plastic water bottle which eventually follows the tide back into the ocean. Also, most reusable water bottles are insulated and can keep your drinks cool. If you want to go above and beyond to build sustainable habits, look into water bottles from companies that support water and marine life preservation.
3. Bring your own straw
If water from your water bottle isn't going to suffice for the beach day, then yes, go ahead and buy that lemonade! Be sure to order without a straw and make it a habit to bring a reusable straw instead. Much like plastic water bottles and other plastic bags, most of these single-use items end up in the oceans and harm marine life. And if you want to add some style points, some collapsible straws fit into a small case and attach to your keychain.
4. Eat your vegetables
Summers are the perfect time to have an outdoor BBQ with family and friends. Consuming less meat can reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. BBQs can still be good with some meatless substitutes, grilled vegetables and potato or fruit salads. And don’t forget about the s’mores! If you want to barbeque more sustainably, look into switching to an electric grill - it works just as great.
5. Stay cool
The weather is getting warmer, and the days are getting longer. Avoid turning on the air conditioner and instead open the windows for some fresh air. To avoid the heat, close or angle your blinds to direct the sunlight away. Another great way to enjoy the weather and stay cool is to go outside. Lounge on your patio or spread a blanket out on the lawn while tanning or reading a new book.
The pandemic will likely last through the summer season, but don’t let that stop you from having an enjoyable summer break. Remember that every action impacts the environment, but it's possible to build sustainable habits for the summer and beyond. Please remember to keep yourself and others safe during this summer by keeping your social bubbles small!