By Hannah Cooper, Final Straw Foundation Intern
With the days getting longer and the temperatures rising, it’s safe to say that summer is definitely upon us. But how can we make sure that we are looking after the planet as much as possible whilst enjoying the sun? We have put together a list of 10 ways in which youcan be kinder to the planet this summer, so you can get outdoors whilst reducing your environmental impact.
1. Ditch the Disposable BBQ
Barbeques are undoubtedly a British summer staple but using a disposable one can hurt the planet in more ways than one. They are both non-recyclable and can damage wildlife, not to mention the burned toes of anyone who treads where a scorching barbeque has been placed. Instead, we recommend barbecuing at home, using a reusable BBQ that sits off the ground or visiting one of the many bookable barbeques on offer at some country parks and nature reserves.
2. Pack Your Reusable Bottle
Did you know that the UK uses 13 billion plastic bottles per year? That’s 193 plastic bottles used by each person in 1 year. Not only is the cost to your pocket huge, but the environmental impact of this much single-use plastic being produced is also colossal. We come across plastic bottles on every beach clean we do and would love to see this decrease this summer! If you want to reduce the impact of plastic, consider switching to a reusable bottle. Just think how many bottles could be saved from ending up in our oceans if just 1 person switched from plastic to reusable, it’s a small way you can make a huge difference.
3. Switch Out your Sun Cream
This may not seem like an obvious switch to make, but some chemicals in our sun cream can be detrimental to the health of marine life. Sun cream can wash off in the sea when you’re swimming or wash off in the shower and end up in the oceans. Either way, the chemicals in sun cream can kill and deform coral, impair the growth of green algae and deform young mussels and sea urchins, as well as affecting the fertility of fish. Instead, why not try an eco-friendly sun cream to protect your skin without damaging our oceans.
4. Do a Mini Beach Clean
Why not keep it simple and do a mini beach clean next time you’re at the seaside or park. Just taking 10 to 20 minutes out of your day to clear the beach of litter can make a huge difference for both the wildlife and other beachgoers. If you would prefer to have some company whilst you clean, come and join us on one of our beach cleans, you can find out when they’ll be happening here.
5. Have a Plastic-free Picnic
Another way to reduce your use of single-use plastics this summer is to have a plastic-free picnic. Making sandwiches at home and using reusable containers or buying products without pointless plastic can reduce your plastic waste and the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans. The Plastic Free Foundation has created a helpful guide to hosting your own plastic-free picnic this
summer if you need any inspiration.
6. Grow your own grub
Summer is the perfect time to get outside in the garden. If you can, ditch the lawn monoculture or (even worse in our books, sorry!) plastic lawn and have a go at growing some fruits and veg of your own. Food grown at home has a smaller carbon footprint than the food you buy at the shop as it cuts out transport emissions. This is also a great way to get kids involved and learn about plants and where their food comes from. Filling your garden with a variety of fruits and veg is also amazing for pollinators such as bees and butterflies. If you don’t have a garden, why not get involved with a local community garden like this one in Southsea.
7. Leave the car at home
With the cost of fuel rising, this one seems like a no-brainer. Cars spew out a whole variety of nasty air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, not to mention the consequence of global warming from car emissions. Instead of driving your car this summer, why not walk or cycle if you’re not going far. Not only will you be reducing your environmental impact, but it will give you the opportunity to get outside and get active! For longer journeys consider public transport options or even car-sharing to reduce the number of cars on the roads.
8. Get your summer wardrobe second hand
The sun’s out and we all want to look our best but buying new from fast fashion brands can negatively affect the environment. The fashion industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions and cheaply made clothes that follow fleeting trends often end up in landfill. Instead, consider buying clothes from second-hand shops or charity shops, swap clothes with friends and family and donate any unwanted clothes too – some freecycle sites and Facebook pages are great for this. It’s also always better to repair any ripped or damaged clothes rather than throw them away. You can read more about the impact of fast fashion here.
9. Recognise the world around you
Sometimes all it takes to feel connected to the natural world around you is to actually know what you’re looking at! Why not use a nature-identifying app when you’re next in the great outdoors like this one? It will help you learn each species’ name and their special role in the ecosystem. This could be a great activity to do with kids to help them appreciate nature or just if you’d like to learn more for yourself about your surroundings.
10. Treat yourself!
Most of us love would love to cool down after a long hot day with an ice cream, sorbet or ice lolly, you just can’t beat it – we love the vegan ice cream from our local cafe! Next time you grab a scoop of gelato, make sure to avoid ice cream that comes in disposable tubs with plastic spoons – this single-use plastic will only end up in landfill or littering our beaches. When it comes to ice cream, a cone is best If you are unable to eat wheat, perhaps consider taking a metal spoon from home with you for an ice cream tub. You could also try making your own ice lollies using a reusable ice lolly mould. This reduces waste from plastic wrappers and is a great activity for kids. You can find some good ice lolly moulds here.
So, you’ve got your reusable bottle, you’re lathered up in ocean-safe sun cream – you’re ready to take on the summer! We hope you feel confident to enjoy the sun sustainably and have as much fun as possible enjoying the amazing natural environments around us.
You can listen to this blog post as a podcast here!